Duke is the only elite law school in the country to allow students to earn both a law degree and a master's degree in three years and one summer. Typically, between 20 and 25 students in each class pursue one of these dual degrees. Their motivations vary widely. For some, there is a clear and strong complementary relationship between their legal and graduate school studies. For others, the MA is an opportunity to continue pursuing an academic passion from their undergraduate years, even though it may not be as closely related to their JD studies. In either case, they find that the dual-degree program is as convenient to complete as the application process.
JD/MA and JD/MS candidates do not need to apply separately to the Graduate School - the regular law school application is all that's required. In addition, the Graduate School waives the GRE requirement for JD/MA and JD/MA applicants, so there's no need for an additional standardized test. (The exception is the JD/Master of Engineering Management, which requires a separate application to the Pratt School of Engineering. See "How to Apply" for details.)
JD/MA and JD/MS students (along with JD/LLM students) get a head start on their JD classmates by taking two of the first year law school courses during the summer before their official first year of law school. This allows them to begin their graduate school studies during the fall and spring, and complete both degrees in three years, leaving their later summers free for legal employment. The summer start is also a great way to begin law school in small-class setting and form a close bond with your dual-degree classmates.
More about the summer start
- Art History (Department page; JD/MA)
- Cultural Anthropology
- East Asian Studies
- Economics (MA program; JD/MA)
- Engineering Management (MEM Program; JD/MEMP)
- English (Department page; JD/MA)
- Environmental Science and Policy (JD/MA)
- History (Department page; JD/MA)
- Political Science
- Global Health
- The Master of Science in Global Health (MSc-GH) is designed to appeal to an array of students, researchers, policy makers, managers, analysts, and clinical practitioners who desire a more complete understanding of the diverse causes of and solutions to health problems from an interdisciplinary global perspective.
Dual degree students are required to complete 72 credits in the Law School.
- Taking all required 1L courses (view 1st Year Curriculum)
- Two credits of ethics courses (view JD Ethic Requirements)
- Professional Skills Requirement
- A substantial written product
- Requirements specific to degree program and department
For all dual degrees, the Law School and the joint department or school each reduce the number of required credits in recognition of the students' coursework completed in the joint discipline. JD/MBA, JD/MD, JD/MEM, JD/MPP, and JD/MTS candidates must complete 72 law credits, rather than the 84 law credits required for JD-only candidates. The Fuqua School of Business, the Medical School, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Sanford Institute for Public Policy Studies, and the Divinity School reduce their degree requirements in similar fashion. (For details regarding the non-law credit requirements for a specific dual degree program, please visit the web site of the particular University department or school involved.) Dual degree candidates generally save a full year of study that would otherwise be required if they earned their two degrees consecutively.The MA or MS degree that is pursued jointly with the JD degree in the Law School requires 30 units of paid registration in the Graduate School. Depending upon the department involved, from 18 to 30 of those units must be in graded coursework. If the required coursework is less than 30 units, students must register for enough ungraded research units to reach the required total of 30.
Like all other master's students, dual JD/MA or JD/MS students must maintain continuous registration within the Graduate School, and take a master's exam (a written exam, submission/discussion of research papers, or a formal thesis, again depending upon the department involved).
Candidates for the JD/MA and JD/MS dual degrees do not need to apply separately to any school or program at Duke other than the Law School. In addition, the GRE is not required for applicants to these dual degrees. (The JD/MEMP has different instructions; see below for more information.) Complete the regular JD application, but indicate that you wish to be considered for the dual degree. You may apply to only one dual degree program.
You must be able to start law school in late May to enroll in the JD/MA, and JD/MS programs.
Application Review Process
JD/MA and JD/MS applications are first reviewed through the regular Law School process. If the Law School intends to admit a candidate to the JD program, the file is sent to the appropriate Graduate School department to be approved for the MA or MS program. In most cases, the graduate department grants admission to its program, sometimes on the condition that specific coursework be completed. In cases where the candidate is not offered admission to the MA or MS program, the Law School will offer admission to the JD only.
Additional Application Materials
An additional statement of purpose for the master's degree is required for JD/MA and JD/MS applications. Use the JD/MA-MS Statement electronic attachment. This should be one to two pages outlining your background in the discipline and interest in the master's degree. It is primarily intended to assist the Graduate School department in reviewing the application, so it is not required to address the connection between your legal studies and master's degree studies.
Applicants to the JD/MA in Environmental Science and Policy should submit a statement of purpose describing their prior experience and academic and/or career motivations for pursuing the MA in Environmental Science and Policy and indicating their intention to emphasize coursework in the natural science, social sciences, or both.
Applicants for the JD/MSc in Global Health should submit an additional statement describing their prior experience and academic and/or career motivations for pursuing the MSc in Global Health.
The LSAT is required for all Law School dual degree applicants. The Graduate School waives the GRE requirement for JD/MA and JD/MS applicants. (The exception is the JD/MEMP; see below for more information.)
JD/Master of Engineering Management Program
The Pratt School of Engineering requires applicants to the JD/Master of Engineering Management Program to complete a separate MEMP application and submit a GRE score. The Law School and the School of Engineering will review the applications separately and make independent admission decisions. More about the MEMP application