Guide to Dual Law Degree Programs

Dual law degree programs offer students the opportunity to pursue multiple professional interests simultaneously, either within or outside the field of law.

Students who aspire to become lawyers typically enroll in a traditional Juris Doctor (J.D.) program. However, there are also degrees available for non-lawyers, such as the Master of Legal Studies (MLS), and a degree for specialized attorneys called a Master of Laws (LL.M.).

These three degrees can be combined with additional areas of study. We have provided information on dual law degree programs, their differences, and their admissions requirements to help you determine if a dual degree is suitable for you.

What is a Dual Law Degree?

A dual law degree, also referred to as a joint law degree, is a program that combines a J.D., MLS, or LL.M. degree with another program. By completing both programs simultaneously, students can potentially save time and money.

Pursuing a dual degree program also enables students to expand their areas of expertise, which can enhance their job prospects upon graduation.

Admissions Requirements

If you are considering pursuing a dual degree, then it is crucial to keep in mind that many schools may require you to apply for both programs separately.

Certain programs may require you to start one degree before applying for the other, for example, J.D./LL.M. joint programs.

On the other hand, some programs allow you to apply for both degrees simultaneously, such as MLS/Master of Social Work dual programs.

Types of Dual Law Degrees

There are various dual law degree programs available for individuals interested in pursuing law and other professions. These programs include J.D./LL.M. dual degrees, MLS dual degrees, and cross-disciplinary dual degrees.

Juris Doctor (J.D.)/Master of Laws (LL.M.) Dual Degrees

The J.D./LL.M. dual degree program provides an opportunity to pursue a general law degree along with specialized master’s level coursework in specific areas of law.

This program can be completed in a shorter duration if you are a second or third-year law student who already knows the area of law you would like to specialize in.

For instance, if you aim to become a tax lawyer, a dual degree can let you pursue a master’s in tax law while completing your J.D. coursework. By choosing this path, you may be able to complete both degrees within six to seven semesters instead of eight.

You can explore several concentrations such as global health law, international law, or environmental law by pursuing an LL.M. degree. The J.D./LL.M. dual degree students typically commence their LL.M. coursework in their third year of law school and apply at the end of their second year.

Legal Studies Dual Degrees

Legal studies dual degree programs offer professionals who do not require a full J.D. degree the opportunity to gain knowledge in legal studies and enhance their existing skills relevant to the field of law.

There are several types of legal study programs, including Master of Legal Studies degrees, Master of Science in Legal Studies degrees, and Juris Master degrees. These programs can be combined with a master’s degree in dispute resolution, social work, and forensic psychology.

Legal studies programs provide a foundation in basic concepts of law, such as compliance, risk management, and contracts, which can be applied to various careers. Working professionals can choose from a range of part-time, full-time, and online Master of Legal Studies programs.

Cross-Disciplinary Dual Law Degrees

A cross-disciplinary dual law degree program combines a J.D. or MLS program with another field of study, such as Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Doctor of Medicine (MD).

The admissions requirements for these programs vary significantly, based on the respective fields. For instance, a J.D./M.D. program will require pre-medical courses and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores.

Dual Degree vs Double Major vs Minor in Law: Differences and Benefits

Students who pursue dual law degree programs are able to graduate with two degrees, either two degrees in law or one degree in law and another in a second discipline.

These programs allow students to obtain an additional degree in less time compared to pursuing both degrees independently. For instance, a non-J.D. dual law degree is a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) and Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) dual degree.

It is important to note that dual degrees are different from double majors. Double majors enable students to meet the requirements for two majors, but these majors fall under one degree, not two. On the other hand, dual degree students integrate the requirements for two different degrees into their coursework and ultimately obtain both.

Conversely, a minor or concentration provides an opportunity to specialize in certain areas of a larger field of study. Students who pursue a minor or concentration only graduate with one major and one degree. For instance, a J.D. student may choose to concentrate in business and financial law.

Tips on How to Choose a Dual Law Degree Right for You

Deciding on a graduate or professional program can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to dual law degree programs that require significant time and financial investments.

To make an informed decision, it is important to reflect on your career goals and assess whether pursuing such a program is a sensible investment for you.

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to become a practicing attorney or if you simply want to gain knowledge about the field of law. If you are a professional who wants to learn more about law to integrate into your current career, you can complete an MLS program in less time than a J.D. program.

However, if you’re confident that you want to pursue a J.D. degree dual degree, you should consider that studying for two programs may make it more challenging to participate in extracurricular activities.

Another important factor to consider is your previous experience. If you haven’t started your J.D. yet, you will have to wait to apply to a J.D./LL.M. dual degree program. Moreover, you should decide whether you can afford to invest your time and money into pursuing two degrees.

Although dual degree programs require less time than pursuing two degrees separately, they tend to be more expensive as they require you to take more courses.

It’s important to remember that it’s also possible to specialize in law as an alternative to pursuing an extra degree. J.D., MLS, and LL.M. programs offer a wide range of specializations in law, including entertainment, human resources, public policy, and business law, to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dual Law Degrees

Who are dual law degrees designed for?

Dual degree programs in law enable individuals to broaden their professional expertise. These programs are tailored for those with specific career objectives who are willing to invest additional time and money in earning two degrees.

Is a dual law degree worth it?

Dual law degrees typically require a significant financial investment, but if you are certain that you want to pursue two degrees, they can ultimately save you time. They can deepen your knowledge of your specialization, and may even increase your desirability in the job market.

What are the admissions requirements of dual law degree programs?

If you are interested in pursuing a dual degree, it is important to note that you will have to apply and be accepted by both programs. The application timeline for each program may overlap, or you may have to start one program before you can apply for the second. It’s important to keep in mind that requirements for a cross-disciplinary degree can vary from school to school, so it’s best to check with each university separately to ensure that you meet the specific requirements for the program.