Opening Statements

It Takes Two

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Taking a cue from its shortened joint J.D.-M.B.A. program, North­west­ern University law school will be­gin offering a two-year law degree program.

Just don’t expect it to come with a cheaper price tag. “The savings won’t be in tuition; it will be in the extra year of salary” and in opportunity cost, says law school dean David Van Zandt. “Our graduates come out earning $150,000 at the median, and that’s a lot of money.”

Students enrolled in the program will attend school for five rather than six semesters. They will have to complete the same amount of course work as three-year students and will likely pay the same tuition, which for the 2008-2009 academic year is roughly $45,000.

Students who enter the new two-year program will start taking courses in the summer of 2009. During the regular academic years, they will take an extra course most semesters but will have the summer free to work between their first and second years, says Van Zandt.

Though the University of Dayton School of Law and Southwestern Law School already offer two-year J.D. programs, Van Zandt says the idea for the accelerated program at Northwestern came from the university’s combined J.D.-M.B.A. program.

Eight years ago, Northwestern shortened that graduate program from four years to three and the number of applicants tripled. Its students did just as well academically as those in the longer program, Van Zandt says.

Applicants to the two-year J.D. program will need to withstand the additional scrutiny of an interview and come with at least two years of job experience as proof of their ability to handle the extra workload, says Van Zandt. But they really should be able to handle it.

“Students tend to put things off to the last minute, and they cram and pull all-nighters, but they really have a lot of time in there,” he adds.

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