Encouraging Interdisciplinary Learning

Yale Law School encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the law. Some students choose to combine their law studies with a program at another professional or graduate school. Yale Law School offers joint degrees in cooperation with a number of other schools and departments of Yale University.

Joint degrees are intended for those who wish to acquire the specialized skills of a body of knowledge related to law. As of the fall of 2018, 36 students are enrolled in joint degree programs.

On a case-by-case basis, you can arrange a joint degree with another university. Joint degrees are most common with the Yale Graduate School and the School of Management, but students have also arranged joint programs with other schools like Forestry and Environmental Studies, Divinity, Public Health, and Medicine.

In addition to the traditional joint degrees described here, Yale now offers a three-year, Accelerated Integrated JD-MBA program. Students interested in law and global affairs may pursue a joint, four-year J.D-M.A. with Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

Pursuing two degrees simultaneously shortens the period of study. In a joint degree, the Law School grants up to 12 units of credit for appropriate work in another degree program toward the 83 credits required for the J.D. This is the equivalent of one term's credit, so joint degree students are generally required to be in residence at the Law School for only five terms. The other program may grant credit for work at the Law School, decreasing the length of that degree as well. Therefore, joint degree students reduce the time needed to complete their two degrees by one year versus pursuing the degrees consecutively.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • You may apply to the Law School and the other school simultaneously or in separate years. For example, a student may enroll in the Law School and then apply to the Graduate School during her 1L year. J.D. First Year Application
  • Each school will evaluate your application and make an independent decision about admission. Acceptance by both schools does not guarantee approval of a joint degree.
  • Once accepted to both schools, you should discuss your plans with the Dean of Students.
  • In most cases, you may start your program in either school, but the two programs must be interwoven. Coursework completed before matriculating at YLS is ineligible for law school course credit. If you are planning to pursue a joint degree with intention of reducing your total study time, you must matriculate at the Law School before finishing your other degree. Students in Ph.D. programs who have reached ABD status are ineligible to receive law school credit for their previously completed coursework.
  • If you plan to begin your joint degree in a school other than the Law School, you need to petition the Dean of Admissions for a Deferment of Admission.
  • After you have matriculated at the Law School, you must petition for approval of your joint degree program. You will need to submit a formal proposal to the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study outlining a course of study and explaining how pursuing a degree in another program complements or enhances your legal studies.
  • The Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study meets once each semester. First-year students are strongly advised to wait until the spring to submit joint degree proposals. You must be enrolled in or admitted to the other school or program at the time you submit your proposal.

During each semester of a joint degree, you will be "in residence" at one school or the other. Tuition and financial aid for the semester will be determined by the school where you are in residence. Please contact the Law School's Financial Aid Office to discuss the ramifications of enrolling in a joint degree program for financial aid, summer funding, and post-graduate loan forgiveness.

Potential joint degree students should consult with the admissions office or graduate studies office in the other school to discuss that school's policies regarding reciprocal credits for Law School coursework, degree requirements, and timing of degree progress in the other program. Information on other academic programs at the University, including specifics on admission, tuition, curricular requirements, and financial aid, can be found on the University website.

After the first-term, Law Students are permitted to take courses in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools at Yale University. This type of interdisciplinary study is an excellent way to explore other areas or to gain specialized knowledge without enrolling in a joint degree program. Often this is enough training in another area, without increasing the length of the program. Students may receive Law School credit for these classes when they are relevant to the student's program of study or planned career. Up to 12 units of credit for such courses may be counted towards the 83 units required for the J.D. degree.