Dual and Joint Degree Programs: Frequently Asked Questions
Admissions, Residency Requirements & Financial Aid
Academic Requirements & Coursework
Admissions, Residency Requirements & Financial Aid
What is the difference between a joint degree program and a dual degree program?
A dual degree program is a combined program of study in which a student earns two different degrees awarded by schools within Columbia University. Columbia Law School offers dual degree programs with the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; the Columbia Graduate School of Business; the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health; the Columbia School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs; the Columbia School of the Arts; and the Columbia School of Social Work.
A joint degree program is a combined program of study offered in collaboration with another university. Columbia Law School offers a joint degree program with Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Additionally, the Law School may, upon a student’s petition, permit a student 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.
How do I apply to a dual or joint degree program?
Applications for admission to the Law School and the other school must be filed separately. With the exception of the Three-Year JD/MBA Program, there is no communication between the two schools at the application stage; each school’s decision to admit or not admit is based solely on that school’s selection criteria. For more information about admission requirements, please contact the Office of Admissions at Columbia Law School and the other school to which you are applying.
Must I apply to both schools simultaneously or can I begin my course of study at one school before applying to the other?
Applicants may either apply simultaneously to both schools or apply initially only to the Law School and then apply to the other school at a later date. For many programs, this process may be reversed, as well. However, students who complete a degree program at another school before matriculating at the Law School will not be eligible for a dual/joint degree program and will thus not receive residence credit or academic credit toward the J.D. degree for their earlier work.
If you are accepted to a recognized dual or joint degree program during your enrollment at the Law School, you should immediately (1) notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office and Robert Ford in Student Services, and (2) submit a Joint Degree Form to Registration Services.
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 twelve academic credits for coursework completed at the other school, thereby reducing the student’s 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, and prospective applicants should consult the Program Overview for their particular program for more information about the residency and academic requirements for the program. Additionally, we strongly encourage prospective applicants to discuss the residency and academic requirements for a particular program with the academic advisers at both schools, and to confirm those requirements in writing, before committing to a dual/joint degree program.
What is the cost of tuition for a dual or joint degree program?
With the exception of the Columbia Three-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program, tuition will be charged according to the rates effective at the school in which the student is in residence each term. (Students in the Three-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program will be charged standard Law School tuition for their first year, 150 percent of the standard Business School tuition for their second year, and 150 percent of the standard Law School tuition for their third year.)
Is financial aid available?
At the time prospective students apply (separately) to the Law School and the other school at which they’d like to enroll, they will also need to submit all financial aid documents required by each school. Each school’s financial aid office will award financial aid packages separately, and only for the terms in which a student will be in residence at its 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 will generally be in residence and charged tuition for only five terms at the Law School, they will generally only receive the award allocation for the first five terms of the original six-term grant. That is, students will not receive the final disbursement of their Law School award. You should notify the Law School’s Financial Aid Office immediately upon your acceptance to the program.
Academic Requirements & Coursework
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. Please visit the J.D. Rules Page for the most up-to-date information about academic requirements and credit restrictions.
EXCEPTION: Students who first matriculated at the Law School in 2017 must complete a total of 72 Law School credits in order to graduate. At least 65 of those credits must represent regularly scheduled class sessions or direct faculty instruction.
Do students pursuing dual/joint degree programs have to take the Foundation Curriculum at Columbia Law School?
Students pursuing dual/joint degree programs must fulfill all of the requirements of Columbia Law School. This includes completing the first-year Foundation Curriculum, a Professional Responsibility course, the Major and Minor Writing requirements, the Pro Bono legal work requirement, and, for students who first matriculated at the Law School in or after 2016, at least six points of Experiential Coursework credit. For more information about the J.D. degree requirements, please visit the J.D. Rules Page. We also encourage you to contact Robert Ford, Associate Director of Academic Counseling and Student Engagement at the Law School, with any questions about these requirements or your options for satisfying them.
May I register for Law School classes when I’m in residence at my other school and vice versa?
Once dual/joint degree students have completed their first year at the Law School, they may cross-register for classes at the Law School while in residence at their other school by participating in the Law School’s ordinary Pre-Registration and Add/Drop processes. Students who wish to cross-register for courses at their other school while in residence at the Law School should register for those classes directly, according to their other school’s registration procedures, and then submit a petition to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services reflecting such cross-registration before the end of the Add/Drop period of that term.
May I register for courses at faculties of Columbia University aside from the Law School and the other school at which I’m enrolled?
Any credits you earn in connection with courses offered by another faculty of the University will not count toward the 71 points of credit required to earn the J.D. degree.
NOTE: Students who first matriculated at the Law School in 2017 must complete a total of 72 Law School credits in order to graduate (rather than 71). Any credits earned in connection with courses offered by a faculty of the University other than the Law School will not count toward that number.
What is the maximum number of credits that I can register for each semester?
While students are in residence at the Law School, they may register for a maximum of 16 credits per semester (including both Law School credits and credits earned through courses at their other school). (NB: Students must submit a petition to Registration Services in order to register for a sixteenth point of credit in a given term.) Students should speak with their academic adviser at their other school to determine the maximum number of credits for which they may 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 (1) are in full-time residence at the Law School for the entire academic year; and (2) earn at least 15 graded Law School credits. Accordingly, assuming you register for at least 15 graded Law School credits, you will be eligible for honors during any years of a dual/joint degree program in which you reside solely at the Law School, but you will not be eligible during any years in which you reside (for either one semester or the full year) at your other school. Keep in mind that grades earned in courses taken outside the Law School will not be factored into honors calculations. Please click here for further details regarding the criteria for Kent and Stone honors.
Can I study abroad?
Because of the residency requirement (students must be in residence at the Law School for at least four semesters), students in a dual/joint degree program lasting four academic years or longer may generally study abroad for one semester, but not for a full year.
How do students in a dual or joint degree program typically fulfill the Major and Minor Writing requirements?
The Law School has two legal writing requirements:
- Minor Writing Requirement: Students must register for Minor Writing credit by submitting the J.D. Major/Minor Writing Registration Form to Registration Services no later than the end of the Add/Drop period of their 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: Students must register for Major Writing credit by submitting the J.D. Major/Minor Writing Registration Form to Registration Services no later than the end of the Add/Drop period of their penultimate semester. While the Major Writing requirement may be satisfied through a seminar upon consultation 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.
Students can find a list of current course offerings that count toward the writing requirements by searching in the Curriculum Guide. For more information about these requirements, please visit the J.D. Rules Page. We also encourage you to contact Robert Ford, Associate Director of Academic Counseling and Student Engagement at the Law School, if you’d like to discuss the various options for satisfying these requirements.
How can students in a dual or joint degree program satisfy the Experiential Coursework requirement?
Students who first matriculated at the Law School in or after 2016 must earn at least six Experiential Coursework credits in order to graduate. Students in a dual or joint degree program may satisfy this requirement through (1) clinics, externships, or policy labs; (2) experiential seminars; and/or (3) Supervised J.D. Experiential Project work (i.e., internship work supervised by a member of the Law School faculty). Students can find a list of current course offerings that count toward this requirement by searching in the Curriculum Guide.
Are services available for career management and job searches?
Columbia Law School has an active career management and professional development office that is available to students for the duration of their dual/joint degree program. The school offers individualized career counseling and a full complement of career-related activities throughout the year, including on-campus recruiting and interview programs. Students also have access to robust career resources such as online job databases and alumni mentoring. For more information, please contact the Law School’s Office of Career Services.
What if I have further questions?
Please reach out to the Office of Admissions at Columbia Law School with any admissions-related questions. Students should contact Robert Ford, Associate Director of Academic Counseling and Student Engagement, with any questions regarding the academic components of a dual/joint degree program. For career-related questions, please contact the Law School’s Office of Career Services.