Opening Statements

Loyola Chicago morphs its evening JD program into a weekend one

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Loyola JD

For the time-pressed aspiring JDs of the world, Loyola University Chicago's School of Law has an attractive offering: Starting this fall, it is turning its part-time, evening JD program into a weekend offering.

The new format will combine on-campus classes with distance learning. Students will spend every other weekend in class for seven weeks a semester or 14 weeks a year. Classes will meet all day on Saturdays and half-days on Sundays, and up to one-third of the instruction in each course will be taught online.

The redesign is based on market research showing that prospective students would prefer a weekend/online learning program over an evening one, says Michael J. Kaufman, a professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the school.

The new program is designed to attract people who, given their work-life demands, couldn’t attend classes three or four evenings a week, Kaufman says. It is expected to draw students from not only the Chicago area but also those living close enough to fly or drive there on alternate weekends.

The school hopes to enroll up to 25 students in the program the first year and 35 to 50 in subsequent years, Kaufman says. The evening program, which had only 14 students in its entering class last fall and 72 students overall, will be phased out once the last of those students graduate or transfer out.

Loyola won’t be the first law school to offer a weekend JD program, though it will be the first to meet every other weekend and combine on-campus instruction with distance learning, Kaufman says. There are already weekend programs at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law, which also offers a hybrid program that is mostly online.

Early response to the new program has been “extremely positive,” Kaufman says. As of late March, the school had received 112 applications (and had admitted 38 students). About 300 people also signed up for two webinars on the program.

“The big question now,” Kaufman adds, “is how many of them will end up applying.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Weekends Free? Get a Law Degree! Loyola Chicago morphs its evening JD program into a weekend one.”

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