This program allows students to combine coursework in law and philosophy. Successful candidates may earn both the JD and the MA degrees in the three years ordinarily required for law study, not the four years that would be required if the degrees were pursued separately.

Learning Outcomes

Students must complete both the JD learning objectives of the School of Law and the MA learning objectives of the Department of Philosophy.


Students will:

  • Possess knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;
  • Possess the ability to perform:
    • Legal analysis and reasoning
    • Legal research
    • Problem-solving
    • Written communication in the legal context
    • Oral communication in the legal context;
  • Understand the exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system; and
  • Demonstrate the professional skills of collaboration, counseling, and negotiation needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession. All students will also demonstrate a basic understanding of business fundamentals and be able to read and understand basic financial documents.

MA in Philosophy

Students can expect:

  • Practice in presentation: Paper presentations are a key component of the philosophy hiring process; job candidates are required to give papers as part of their interview process or to make a formal presentation of their dissertation work, and a great deal of weight is typically placed on their performance. Moreover, presentations at conferences and other universities play a key role in the dissemination of philosophical research.
  • Breadth of philosophical experience: Students will be exposed to papers from many different areas of philosophy and will receive feedback from students and faculty concentrating in other areas of philosophy. This is likely to increase philosophical breadth and sophistication as well as the ability to communicate their ideas to, and engage with, non-specialists.
  • Feedback: This seminar will generate feedback from a wide audience, consisting of at least one faculty member and 15–20 graduate students. Other faculty members, especially those supervising the particular students, are encouraged to attend.

Academic Requirements

To earn the MA, students must earn at least 32 credits from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS).

The following are special provisions applicable to the MA component of the JD/MA dual degree program:

  • Students must take at least four graduate-level courses in the Philosophy department at GRS.
  • Students also must take a jurisprudence or legal-theory course cross-listed between the School of Law and the Philosophy department. Such a course has been offered each year. The student may register for this course in either the law school or GRS.
  • In addition to the courses mentioned above, students may apply to the MA degree any combination of (1) law courses approved by the program’s Joint Advisory Board as MA-relevant and (2) additional graduate-level courses in the Philosophy department.
  • Students must satisfy the Philosophy department’s MA thesis requirement in one of the following two ways:
    • Joint paper satisfying both the School of Law’s Upperclass Writing Requirement and the MA thesis requirement. With approval from a member of the Advisory Board, students may pursue both requirements with a single paper. Such a paper must be supervised by a faculty member appointed by the Board, and it must include a balance of philosophical and legal material. Ordinarily, the minimum length for the paper is 35 pages. The usual JD Upperclass Writing Requirements apply. The joint-paper project begins with a detailed proposal for study, submitted to a member of the Advisory Board. Students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals before their final year of law study, or at the very latest, by the beginning of that year. No proposal may be submitted after the end of the second week of the student’s final semester.
    • Independent MA thesis. Students who choose not to submit a joint paper, or whose joint paper has been finally rejected for MA purposes, may receive the MA only by submitting a paper that meets the Philosophy department’s ordinary MA thesis standards, including the requirement of an oral defense.

Through either examination or coursework, students must demonstrate competence in logic. Information about this requirement is available from the Philosophy department.

Under GRS rules, each graduate-level course offered in the Philosophy department earns 4 GRS credits toward the 32 credits required for the MA. That means that the ordinary MA student can reach the 32 credits with just eight GRS courses. For two reasons, however, the situation for JD/MA students is more complicated.

  1. Law students may apply no more than 12 “outside” credits, or non-law graduate credits, to the JD degree requirements. The JD/MA student will reach that number with three GRS courses in philosophy. Additional GRS course(s) would count toward the MA, but it would not count toward the JD.
  2. JD students enrolled in the dual degree program can petition the School of Law’s Registrar’s office to limit the number of credits applied from a GRS course to their JD degree requirements. The petition must be completed and approved prior to the start of enrollment in the GRS class.

If the student wants all MA-applicable courses to count toward the JD, then the student should take just four GRS philosophy courses and register for the required cross-listed jurisprudence/legal theory course on the LAW side.

Please feel free to contact Professor Rachell Powell ( for clarification and further advice about the program’s rules.


The dual degree program is administered by a Joint Advisory Board. The Board consists of at least two faculty members affiliated with the School of Law and at least two affiliated with the Philosophy department. The Board establishes the list of MA-eligible law courses. A member of the Board will be appointed each year as the student’s advisor.


Students must be admitted separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

The following special provisions apply to applications by prospective JD/MA students:

  • Students may apply to GRS either before or during the first year of law school. Accepted students will begin the MA program in their second year of law school.
  • Students may use their School of Law applications to apply to GRS, provided that they submit a copy to GRS and indicate that they are applying to the JD/MA program in Law & Philosophy.
  • Provided that they submit copies to GRS, students may use the recommendations and personal statements submitted for admission to the School of Law.
  • GRS will accept the LSAT score in lieu of the GRE. Students should provide a copy of their Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) reports to GRS.
  • Students must submit to GRS a writing sample that demonstrates their philosophical abilities.
  • All applicants should have a substantial background in philosophy—ordinarily the equivalent of an undergraduate major, and typically with an average of B or higher.


Students pay a single tuition, applicable to both programs.