Joint Degree Applicants

Interdisciplinary Learning

Students at Yale Law School often have intersectional academic interests and the faculty encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law. Indeed, many faculty members have degrees in cognate fields and their scholarship is highly interdisciplinary, in fields as diverse as sociology, history, economics, philosophy, and psychology.

Many Yale Law School students have obtained a degree in another field before beginning their legal studies, choose to pursue a joint degree concurrent with their law degree, or pursue additional studies after graduating from the Law School. A joint degree specifically means pursuing two degrees simultaneously, and receiving credit from each program for work done in the other. Students may pursue a joint degree either at Yale or another institution.

Our most popular joint degree programs are with the Yale Graduate School and the Yale School of Management. However, incoming law students have also arranged joint degree programs with Yale School of the Environment, Yale Divinity School, Yale School of Public Health, and Yale School of Medicine. There is a four-year JD-MPP program with the Jackson School of Global Affairs for students interested in the intersection of law and global affairs and leadership. On a case-by-case basis, you may also arrange a joint degree with a program outside of Yale University.

Pursuing two degrees simultaneously through a joint degree will accelerate and shorten the period of study as compared with pursuing the degrees consecutively. The Law School grants up to 12 units of credit for appropriate work in another degree program toward the 83 credits required for the JD program. 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 in which you are enrolled may grant credit for coursework at the Law School, reducing the duration of that degree as well.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • You may apply to the Law School and the other school simultaneously or in separate years. 
  • Each school will evaluate your application and make an independent decision about admission. Admission by both schools does not guarantee approval of a joint degree.
  • After you are admitted to both programs, you will be able to discuss your academic planning with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • 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 the 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 outside of the Law School, you will need to submit a request for a deferral of admission.
  • After you have matriculated at the Law School, 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 either one school or the other. Tuition and financial aid for each semester will be determined by the school where you are in residence. Please contact the Law School's Financial Aid Office to discuss the logistics of enrolling in a joint degree program for financial aid, summer funding, and post-graduate loan forgiveness programs.

After completing the first term, students at Yale Law School are permitted to enroll in 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 formal joint degree program. Often this intersectional academic study provides ample training in another discipline without increasing the length of the three-year J.D. program. Students may receive law school credit for these courses when they are relevant to their program of study or professional career; up to 12 units of credit for such courses may be counted towards the 83 units required for the J.D. degree.