Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Students interested in our dual and joint degree programs can find answers to common questions below.

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What is the difference between a joint degree program and a dual degree program?

See a full list of dual and joint degree options.

A dual degree program is a combined program of study in which a student earns two different degrees awarded by schools within Columbia University.

A joint degree program is a combined program of study offered in collaboration with another university. 

If you would like to create a joint degree program with another graduate school that has agreed to grant advanced standing toward its degree for work completed in the Columbia J.D. program, you may file a petition with the Law School.


 

What are the residency requirements for a dual or joint degree program?
The Law School will generally accept one term of full-time residency and up to 12 academic credits for coursework completed at your other school, thereby reducing your residency at the Law School to five semesters instead of six. The other participating school will generally likewise reduce its residency and/or academic requirements for work completed at the Law School. 

However, there are certain exceptions to this arrangement. For details, consult the overview for the program you are interested in. 

Additionally, you should discuss residency and academic requirements for the particular program with your academic advisers at both schools—and confirm those requirements in writing—before committing to any dual/joint degree program.

What is the cost of tuition for a dual or joint degree program?
With the exception of the Three-Year J.D./MBA Program, tuition will be charged according to the rates effective at the school in which you are in residence each term.

Note: The total tuition for the Columbia Three-Year J.D./MBA Program is approximately the same for the Four-Year J.D./MBA Program. The major cost benefit to students in the three-year program is the opportunity to enter the workforce one year earlier than students who pursue the standard four-year program.

Is financial aid available?
Each school’s financial aid office awards financial aid packages separately, and only for the terms in which you will be in residence at its school. When applying (separately) to the Law School and the other school at which you would like to enroll, you must submit all financial aid documents required by each school. 

Dual/joint degree students will have their financial aid managed by the Law School’s Financial Aid Office during the semesters in which they are in residence at the Law School and by their other school’s Financial Aid Office during the semesters in which they are in residence at that school.

What happens to my financial aid if I commence a dual or joint degree program once I’ve started law school?
Law students receive a three-year financial aid award shortly after admission. That award can be used only when registered at the Law School and will be adjusted accordingly for students who pursue a dual or joint degree program. Since students in dual/joint degree programs are generally in residence and charged tuition for only five terms at the Law School, they typically receive the award allocation only for the first five terms of the original six-term grant. 

Notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office immediately after you are accepted to a dual or joint degree program.

How many Law School credits are required to complete a dual or joint degree program? Are there any restrictions on the types of credits that may be counted toward that requirement?
Successful completion of a dual/joint degree program requires a minimum of 71 Law School credits. At least 64 of those credits must represent regularly scheduled class sessions or direct faculty instruction. 

Accordingly, only seven points of non-directly supervised or regularly scheduled work (e.g. supervised research, supervised experiential project, work as an unpaid faculty assistant, externship fieldwork, law journal work, upper-level moot court work, or work as a Teaching Fellow) may be counted toward the graduation requirement. Consult the J.D. Academic Rules page for the most up-to-date information about academic requirements and credit restrictions.

Do students pursuing dual/joint degree programs have to take the Foundation Curriculum at Columbia Law School?
Yes. Students pursuing dual/joint degree programs must fulfill all the requirements of Columbia Law School. This includes completing the first-year Foundation Curriculum, a Professional Responsibility course, the Major and Minor Writing requirements, a course in Legislation and Regulations, the pro bono legal work requirement, and at least six points of experiential coursework credit. Consult the J.D. Academic Rules page for the most up-to-date information about academic requirements.

Can I register for Law School classes when I’m in residence at my other school and vice versa?
Once you have completed your first year at the Law School, you may cross-register for classes at the Law School while in residence at your other school by participating in the Law School’s ordinary Pre-Registration and Add/Drop processes

If you wish to cross-register for courses at your other school while in residence at the Law School, you should register for those classes directly—according to your other school’s registration procedures—and then submit a petition to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services reflecting your cross-registration before the end of the Add/Drop period of the term.

Can I register for courses at Columbia University outside the Law School and the other school at which I’m enrolled?
Yes. However, any credits you earn in connection with courses offered by another faculty/school/program of the university will not count toward the 71 points of credit required to earn the J.D. degree.

What is the maximum number of credits that I can register for each semester?
While you are in residence at the Law School, you can register for a maximum of 16 credits per semester (including both Law School credits and credits earned through courses at your other school). You must submit a petition to Registration Services to register for a 16th point of credit in a given term. 

While in residence at your other school, speak with your academic adviser to determine the maximum number of credits for which you can register while in residence at that school.

Will I be eligible for Kent and Stone honors?
You will be eligible for honors only during years in which you:

  • Are in full-time residence at the Law School for the entire academic year.
  • Earn at least 15 graded Law School credits.

Keep in mind that grades earned in courses taken outside the Law School will not be factored into honors calculations. 

Can I study abroad?
Students in most dual/joint degree programs can study abroad for one semester. However, students in the Three-Year J.D./MBA program cannot study abroad due to the residency requirement (students must be in residence at the Law School for a minimum of four semesters). 

How do students in a dual or joint degree program fulfill the Law School’s Major and Minor Writing requirements?

  • Minor Writing Requirement: Register by submitting the J.D. Major/Minor Writing Registration Form to Registration Services no later than the end of the Add/Drop period of your final semester. Students typically satisfy this requirement by taking a Law School seminar, many of which confer automatic Minor Writing credit upon the completion of a final paper.
  • Major Writing Requirement: Register by submitting the J.D. Major/Minor Writing Registration Form to Registration Services no later than the end of the Add/Drop period of your penultimate semester. While the Major Writing requirement may be satisfied through a seminar (after consulting with the professor), most students fulfill this requirement by writing either (1) a note for one of the Law School’s student law journals under the supervision of a Law School professor, or (2) an independent research paper under the supervision of a Law School professor.

Search the curriculum guide for a list of current course offerings that count toward the writing requirements.

For more information about these requirements, visit the J.D. Academic Rules page

Contact Robert Ford, Director of Student Services, to discuss the various options for satisfying these requirements.

How do students in a dual or joint degree program satisfy the experiential coursework requirement?
You must earn at least six experiential coursework credits to graduate. You can satisfy this requirement through a combination of:

  • Clinics, externships, or policy labs.
  • Experiential seminars.
  • Supervised J.D. experiential project work (i.e., internship work supervised by a member of the Law School faculty). 

Search the curriculum guide for a list of current course offerings that count toward this requirement.

Does this program replace the Four-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program?
No. The Four-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program is designed for students interested in a broader course curriculum and additional extracurricular activities in both disciplines.

Must I apply to both schools simultaneously, or can I apply to the program as a current 1L or 2L?
For the three-year program, you can apply to the program either simultaneously or during your 1L year. (2L students can apply to the Four-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program.) Students accepted into the program must spend the entire second year of study as a member of the Business School community. During the second year, students participate in orientation at the Business School, join a cohort of 70 other entering MBAs, and work in a learning team to jointly complete core assignments.

If you are accepted to the program during your enrollment at the Law School, you should immediately:

  1. Notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office and Robert Ford, Director of Student Services.
  2. Submit a Joint Degree Form to Registration Services.  

What happens to my financial aid if I enter the program during my first year of law school?
Law students receive a three-year financial aid award shortly after admission. That award can be used only when registered at the Law School and will be adjusted for students who enter this program to 83 percent of the original amount (40 percent of the original amount will be awarded in the first year and 43 percent of the original amount will be awarded in the third year). 

Notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office immediately upon your acceptance to the program.

Is on-campus housing available?
Yes. Columbia Law School guarantees housing for three years to students accepted into this program. Once accepted, students will receive information on housing from the Law School. Students who apply for housing by the deadline (May 15) will receive a housing offer, and they may remain in Law School housing for three years.

Am I limited to taking only business law-related courses?
No. In addition to the required business and law courses, you can choose from a wide range of elective offerings at both the Law School and the Business School. 

What is the maximum number of credits that I can register for each semester?
While you are in residence at the Law School (during the first and third years of the program), you can register for a maximum of 16 credits (including both Law School credits and Business School credits) per semester. You must submit a petition to Registration Services to register for a 16th point of credit in a given term. 

While you are in residence at the Business School (during the second year of the program), you can register for a maximum of 18 credits per semester.

During any given semester, do credits earned at both the Law School and the Business School count toward full-time status?
Columbia University requires students to register for a minimum of 12 credits per semester to qualify for full-time status. Regardless of the school at which a student is enrolled in a given term, credits earned at either the Law School or the Business School will count for this purpose.

Does the program require participation during the summers?
To maximize students’ career opportunities, and to give them time to explore the diversity of the legal and business fields, the program is structured to allow students to work during both summers of the program.

Must I apply to both schools simultaneously, or can I apply to the program as a current 1L or 2L?
Candidates are eligible to apply to the Four-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program during either their 1L or 2L year at the Law School or during their first year at the Business School. If you are accepted to the program during your enrollment at the Law School, you should immediately:

  1. Notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office and Robert Ford, Director of Student Services.
  2. Submit a Joint Degree Form to Registration Services.  

Candidates may also apply to both the Law School and the Business School simultaneously. However, this option requires the student to spend the first year of the program at the Business School and defer matriculation to the Law School for one year, since the Business School does not allow deferred matriculation. Contact the Business School’s Office of Admissions for more information.

If I apply to the Four-Year J.D./MBA Program once I’ve started my course of studies at the Law School, will any cross-listed courses I took before my acceptance to the program count toward the Business School’s credit requirements?
Only cross-listed courses taken during or after the semester in which you apply to the Business School will count toward the MBA degree requirements. Accordingly, if you apply to the Business School during the fall semester of 2L year, any credits earned in connection with a cross-listed course that semester will count toward the Business School’s credit requirements, but any credits earned in connection with a cross-listed course during 1L year will not.

If I apply to the Four-Year J.D./MBA Program once I’ve started my course of studies at the Business School, will any cross-listed courses I took before my acceptance to the program count toward the Law School’s credit requirements?
No. Only cross-listed courses taken once you have matriculated at the Law School will count toward the J.D. degree requirements.

Am I limited to taking only business law-related courses?
No. In addition to the required business and law courses, you can choose from a wide range of elective offerings at both the Law School and the Business School. 

What is the maximum number of credits that I can register for each semester?
While you are in residence at the Law School (during the first and third years of the program), you can register for a maximum of 16 credits (including both Law School credits and Business School credits) per semester. You must submit a petition to Registration Services to register for a 16th point of credit in a given term. 

During your first two semesters at the Business School, you can register for a maximum of 18 credits per semester. During your third semester at the Business School, you can register for 21 credits provided you (1) enroll in a block week course during the term in question, or (2) have a cumulative MBA GPA of 7.01 or higher.

During any given semester, do credits earned at both the Law School and the Business School count toward full-time status?
Columbia University requires students to register for a minimum of 12 credits per semester to qualify for full-time status. Regardless of the school at which you are enrolled in a given term, credits earned at either the Law School or the Business School will count for this purpose.