What You Should Know About Accelerated B.A./J.D. Programs
For those looking to get a head start on their law career, an accelerated B.A./J.D. program—often called a 3+3 program—may seem like a smart move. Before committing to an accelerated program, however, prospective students should consider a few things.
Jordan Friedman, an online education editor at U.S. News, recently published a few tips from experts that prospective students should consider.
1.) Few people actually pursue 3+3 programs.
One of the best benefits of a 3+3 program is that it saves you time and money—both of which can be critical to a law career. Yet, not a lot of students actually choose to take this route.
Friedman reports that it’s important for prospective students to consider their options before committing.
Stephen Brown is the assistant dean of enrollment at the Fordham University School of Law. Brown says students should weigh the benefits of the 3+3 program and consider whether they want to attend another school that may be more selective or may offer more financial aid.
Often times, Friedman reports, the choice of a school is a big reason behind why few student fully commit to the 3+3 program.
“That’s why we don’t have 30 students a year taking advantage of this program,” Brown tells U.S. News. He added that generally only one to two students a year choose to pursue the 3+3 program at Fordham.
2.) Undergraduate coursework is accelerated.
Generally, a 3+3 program will require students to complete their major and general education requirements by the end of their junior year, Friedman reports.
If you know a law career is what you want, however, the accelerated coursework can work in your favor. Hocine Fetni is an assistant dean for academic advising at the University of Pennsylvania. Fetni says a 3+3 program can be beneficial to those students dedicated to a law career.
“The opportunity is there for those who are really good students, who from the beginning – when they come to the college – the rule of law is so important and so significant to them,” he tells U.S. News.
3.) Admissions structures vary among programs.
The entry point into a 3+3 program tends to vary among institutions. It’s important to consider the admissions structures for the programs you’re interested in attending.
Amy Mangione is the assistant dean of admissions at Albany Law School. She says there is no “set application process” for all 3+3 programs.
“It can be very specific,” Mangione tells U.S. News. “Even for us, as one law school, each entry point can be different for each undergraduate school that we partner with.”
It’s also important to note the requirements for admission into a 3+3 program. Some programs may require students to submit LSAT scores for admission, while some may not. For example, at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, the LSAT is not required for admission. However, applicants must maintain a 3.80 cumulative grade point average until their bachelor’s degree completion.
4.) You won’t have a “traditional” senior year of college.
For many 3+3 students, senior year will feel more like 1L year of law school.
“You now are facing a very intensive 1L experience,” Mangione tells U.S. News. “Sometimes you’re a lot younger than the people around you; and sometimes it’s just a matter of now your peers are having that super fun ‘senioritis’ year.”
5.) Student support services are key.
It’s important to keep track of various aspects throughout your 3+3 program. This is where academic advisors can lend a big hand. Aspects such as “mapping out your undergrad courses” and “looking into how financial aid and housing work for 3+3 students” are all crucial to keep on top of.
Curtis Bridgeman is the dean of the Willamette University College of Law. Bridgeman says the level of difficulty often varies by major. “To the degree that a particular major has more requirements and less flexibility within that major, it’s going to be harder to do this kind of a program,” Bridgeman tells US News.
Taking these pieces of advice into consideration, prospective students should know that while a 3+3 program saves time and money, it isn’t the right option for everyone. However, if you are certain a law career is one you want to pursue, a 3+3 program can pay off.
Sources: U.S. News, USC Gould School of Law