What To Know About 3+3 Accelerated BA-JD Programs

A classroom in Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Lansing, Michigan campus.

Michigan-Based University Ends Affiliation With Law School

Western Michigan University is officially cutting ties with Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to end its affiliation Cooley Law citing different priorities from the two institutions, Inside Higher Ed reports. The affiliation will officially end as of November 2023.

“As our relationship matured and evolved, the priorities of each school have shifted, and the expected synergy of our 2013 vision were not fully realized,” James Bolger, board chair, said during the board meeting. “Our board has examined the future of these agreements with the desire that moving forward with each institution would allow that institution to improve their strategic position to navigate their own respective futures.”


Back in 2013, WMU had signed a formal affiliation agreement with Thomas M. Cooley Law, which adopted the name Western Michigan University Thomas. M. Cooley Law School.

“The affiliation with Cooley made sense at a time when new ventures for extending the University’s reach could be explored and given time to mature,” WMU President Edward Montgomery says in a press release. “Today, the pandemic is impacting every aspect of our lives. It is transforming higher education in ways that will have lasting effects on our sector and WMU. As a result, we are focusing on our core mission as we chart a course for an even stronger post-pandemic WMU.”

While school officials didn’t specifically state the reasons behind why the two schools are parting ways, Inside Higher Ed reports that a 3+3 program may have been cause for concern.

In a 2013 press release, the school announced the affiliation agreement with the mention of possibly introducing a 3+3 program allowing students to complete both their bachelor’s and law degrees in six years. And while the law school did offer some first and second year classes, it failed to attract large student enrollment, Law.com reports.

Cooley officials stressed that cutting ties with WMU will not impact its ability to deliver a quality education for its students.

“I appreciate WMU’s need to focus on its core mission during this period. WMU-Cooley is also refining its program in the face of COVID-19, and these efforts will expand upon our recent innovations,” James McGrath, president of Cooley, says in a press release. “Since my arrival last year, we have embraced modern teaching techniques, increased our admissions profile, decreased tuition by 21 percent and consolidated our footprint into two campuses. The end of the affiliation will not affect our ability to continue to deliver a quality student experience as we have over the course of our 48-year history.”

Sources: Inside Higher Ed, Western Michigan University, Law.com