Interdisciplinary Learning

Our students often have intersectional academic interests and Yale Law School encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the law. For that reason, many pursue a wide variety of joint degrees at Yale or another institution. Students interested in pursuing a joint degree petition a standing faculty committee for approval of the joint degree. 

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.

Our most common 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 Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale Divinity School, Yale School of Public Health, and Yale School of Medicine. In addition, on a case-by-case basis, you may arrange a joint degree with a program outside of Yale University.

Additionally, Yale now offers a three-year Accelerated Integrated JD-MBA program with the Yale School of Management. There is also a four-year JD-MA program with the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs for students interested in the intersection of law and global affairs and leadership.

Pursuing two degrees simultaneously 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. For example, a student may enroll in the Law School and then apply to the Graduate School during her 1L year.
  • 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 may discuss your academic planning 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 Deferral 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 logistics of enrolling in a joint degree program for financial aid, summer funding, and post-graduate loan forgiveness programs.

After the first-term, students at Yale Law School 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 intersectional academic study provides ample training in another discipline without increasing the length of the JD 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 JD degree.