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Dual Degree Programs


The dual degree programs are designed to encourage law students to gain a recognized competence in another discipline which has a direct relevance to the roles lawyers play in society. The dual degree programs are based on the premise that some topics covered in the Law School are also covered in the programs of the cooperating departments, so that some credit toward the law degree may appropriately be given for specified graduate work taken in the cooperating department. Similarly, the cooperating departments have recognized that some credit toward the Master's degree may appropriately be awarded for certain work completed in the Law School.

Dual Degrees Currently Offered

The Law School maintains dual degree programs with the Marshall School of Business, the USC Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences, the Price School of Public Policy, the School of Social Work, the Annenberg School of Communications and the Davis School of Gerontology. These programs enable qualified students to earn a law degree (J.D.) and the appropriate degree as follows:

Master of Arts in Economics (M.A.)

Master of Arts in International Relations (M.A.)

Master of Arts in Philosophy (M.A.)

Master of Arts in Political Science (M.A.)

Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

Master of Business Taxation (M.B.T.)

Master of Communication Management (M.A.)

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)

Master of Real Estate Development (M.R.E.D.)

Master of Science in Gerontology (M.S.G.)

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

If a Master's degree normally requires one year of study, a student in a dual degree program earns both degrees in only three years. If the Master's degree normally requires two years of post-baccalaureate courses, a total of four years is required.

The Law School also maintains two other dual degree programs. A program administered in conjunction with the California Institute of Technology enables a student to receive a J.D. from USC and a Ph.D. in social science from Cal Tech. A dual degree program initiated with the USC School of Pharmacy enables a qualified student to earn a J.D. and a Pharm.D. degree. This dual degree differs from the others because students admitted to the J.D./Pharm.D. program must begin their studies in the School of Pharmacy.

At the request of individual students, other dual degree programs may be initiated with the concurrence of the Law School and the other departments involved. All such programs must be approved by the Graduate and Professional Studies Committee and the Provost. This approval process can be long and difficult.

Specific information regarding the requirements for the various dual degree programs is available in the University Catalog at http://www.usc.edu/dept/publications/cat2009. Specific requirements for the dual degree programs may be changed without prior notice.


Applications and information on admissions requirements are available from the individual departments.  Students interested in completing a dual degree are advised to consult with the admissions department of the other discipline prior to applying for admission to the dual degree program.

Timing of Application

Students may apply for a dual degree program when they are accepted to the Law School, although most do not apply until sometime in the first year. Interested students should seek admissions counseling from the admissions office of the other department. Most programs require that students successfully complete the required first year of law school before beginning work in the other degree program.

Application Process

Law students interested in pursuing a dual degree must consult with the Law School Registrar before beginning the application process. Students must notify the Registrar after they are accepted by the other department.

The application process for many dual degree programs requires the student to provide the non-law department with an original and official undergraduate transcript. Although some departments announce that they are willing to accept a photocopy or an unofficial undergraduate transcript, students should submit only original and official transcripts to the non-law departments. Students who submit photocopied or unofficial transcripts may find that the non-law department will place an activity restriction on their academic record until the department receives the original official undergraduate transcript. Although the activity restriction is placed on the student's record by the non-law department, the activity restriction will restrict the student's ability to enroll in law school classes at the student's appointed time during registration.

To assist students in avoiding this activity restriction problem, the Law School will not provide photocopies of undergraduate transcripts. Please note that the Law School will also not provide the non-law department with undergraduate transcripts that students sent to the law school during the first year. Students should request an original copy of their transcripts from their undergraduate institutions.

If a student applying to dual degree programs would like the law school to send any information to the other department on his or her behalf (ex. an LSAT score) the student must make a written request to the Law School Registrar. The request must specify the information required and the address it should be sent to.

Combining the Two Degrees

After a student has been accepted into a dual degree program he or she must notify the Law School Registrar. The student will be required to complete the Change/Addition of Dual Degree form. This form requires the Registrar's signature and the signature of a representative from the other program. The completed form will then be sent to the central University Registrar to combine the two degree programs into one. Students will not be able to graduate with the dual degree until this form has been completed and processed by the University.


The following restrictions apply to students interested in enrolling in a dual degree program:

  1. Credit toward the JD or any dual degree may not be given for graduate work completed prior to the completion of the first year of law school.
  2. Students are not eligible for either portion of their dual degree until they complete the requirements for both portions. Students may not graduate from the law school or sit for a bar exam until they have completed all requirements for both portions of the dual degree.
  3. A student enrolled in a dual degree program may not take non-USC or any additional non-law courses for credit toward the J.D.
  4. Transfer students are not permitted to enroll in dual degree programs.

Considerations Regarding the Dual Degree Programs

Students who are considering enrolling in a dual degree program should review these materials carefully. Although the dual degree programs are well-designed for a student whose specific academic or career interests match the particular program, there are cautionary suggestions which interested students should consider prior to deciding whether to enroll in a dual degree program:

A Dual Degree May Not Be Necessary to Fulfill Your Career Objectives.

Students should remember that the Law School will accept 12 units from non dual-degree students toward the J.D. for USC graduate level courses taken outside the Law School. A student interested in pursing a dual degree should look at the course selections available for the alternative discipline to see if his or her goals may be better served by applying credit from a few key courses to the J.D. degree.

The Law School curriculum itself contains many courses which are already interdisciplinary. For example, a student interested in the J.D./M.B.A. should already be planning to take the standard business-related courses offered in the law curriculum; a student interested in the J.D./M.B.T. should already be planning to take the standard business- and tax-related courses in the law curriculum.

Consider The Impact the Dual Degree Will Have on Your Immediate Plans to Practice Law.

Students considering a dual degree program should have a clear idea about how the dual degree will affect their ability to secure employment. Many students erroneously believe that a dual degree "opens doors" and "leaves open" (or even broadens) their career options. In truth, many traditional legal employers report that, on balance, they would prefer a student with a standard J.D. over a similar student with a dual degree.

The primary reason for this is that, due to the dual degree programs' accelerated schedule, dual degree students take fewer law courses than standard J.D. students. In this sense, the dual degrees have curricula which are actually narrower than the standard J.D. curriculum. Students with clearly focused career ideas which relate directly to the joint area may be able to overcome this employer bias against the dual degrees, but students should keep this issue in mind when considering the dual degree programs.

Sponsors of some dual degree programs often "market" their programs to law students. Students considering enrolling in a dual degree program should ask the program sponsor to provide specific, detailed information to support any marketing claims they make regarding employment prospects for graduates of the dual degree program.

Consider the Impact the Dual Degree Will Have on Your Tuition and Law School Enrollment.

Tuition charges for students in the dual degree programs are difficult to predict in advance.  Most law students pay the Law School tuition flat rate which applies to the standard unit-load of 13-17 units. Tuition charges for dual degree students vary based on enrollment and on the particular dual degree program. Some schools have flat rates higher than the Law flat rate, and some schools do not have a flat rate at all. The actual charges vary depending on the student's specific enrollment selections. Unfortunately, the Law School financial aid staff may not be able to predict how the University's central billing office will calculate the non-law charges.

Also, students should remember that the J.D. requires satisfactory completion of 35 numerically graded USC law units after the first year of law school, and 65 units of regularly scheduled law school classes. Courses taken in the non-law department do not count toward the completion of either requirement. This may cause dual degree students to enroll in extra law units to meet their graduation requirements, possibly incurring additional tuition charges.

Consider the Problems You May Encounter When Dealing With Two Different Schools Within the University.

Many other University programs hold registration earlier than the law school. Since the law schedule is not finalized until after other departments have already registered, dual degree students must register for their non-law classes without knowing the schedule of law school classes.

Students interested in receiving academic counseling will be required to meet with both the Law School Registrar and a representative from the other program. Students are advised to verify any claims regarding the JD portion of the degree made by the other program's representative.

Also please note that if problems occur in the alternative discipline (e.g., grades are late; a needed course is unavailable, etc.), the Law School Registrar and Associate Deans will have limited ability to intercede successfully on the student's behalf.


The following individuals are available as contacts for the different dual degree programs:

Business Administration (J.D./M.B.A.)

Grace Kim, Associate Director of Admissions, 213-740-0685
Keith Vaughn, Assistant Dean MBA Admissions, 213-740-2975
Popovich Hall Room 308
E-mail address: marshallmba@marshall.usc.edu
Website address: http://classic.marshall.usc.edu/fbe/realestate/dualjoint-degrees.htm


Business Taxation (J.D./M.B.T.)

Jessica Chung, Graduate Admissions Advisor, 213-740-4866
Leventhal School of Accounting.
E-mail address: jessica.chung@marshall.usc.edu
Website address: http://www.marshall.usc.edu/web/leventhal.cfm?doc_id=2229


Communications Management (J.D./M.A.)

Contact: Anne Marie Campian, Director, Student Services and Graduate Studies, 213-740-0903
Annenberg School for Communication.
E-mail address: campian@usc.edu
Website address: http://ascweb.usc.edu/asc.php?pageid=107


Economics (J.D./M.A.)

Professor Jeffrey B. Nugent, Director of Graduate Admissions, 213-740-2107
Shiela Williams, Graduate Advisor, 213-740-3507
Kaprielian Hall, Room 300F
E-mail address: nugent@usc.edu; shielaw@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/economics/grad/index.htm


Economics (J.D./Ph.D.)

This program allows a student to earn the Ph.D. in economics from the California Institute of Technology in addition to the J.D. The student must satisfy the entrance requirements of both schools. The length and content of the program depend on the student's academic background.

USC Law Professor Edward McCaffery, 213-740-2567
USC Law School, Room 420.
E-mail: emccaffe@law.usc.edu


Gerontology (J.D./M.S.)

Professor David Peterson, 213-740-5156
Andrus Gerontology Center.
E-mail address: dapeters@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/dept/gero/academic-degrees/dualmasters.shtml


International Relations (J.D./M.A.)

Contact: Ms. Luda Spilewsky, Graduate Staff Advisor, 213-740-8629
Von KleinSmid Center Room 301.
E-mail address: ludas@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/ir/programs/g-jointma.htm


Pharmacy (J.D./Pharm.D.)

Contact: Jim Granderson, Director of Admission and Student Affairs, (323) 442-1466
PSC 206A, HSC.
E-mail address: granders@hsc.usc.edu
Website address: http://pharmacy.usc.edu/


Philosophy (J.D./M.A.)

Janet Levin, Director of Graduate Admissions, 213-740-4084
Ed McCann, Chair, 213-740-5169
Kadri Vihvelin, Graduate Advisor, 740-5185
Mudd Hall.
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/philosophy/gradinfo.html


Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.)

Contact: Ariane Owens, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions, 213-740-6842
Ralph & Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) Room 111.
E-mail address: aowens@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/schools/sppd/programs/masters/dual/mpa_jd.html


Public Policy (J.D./M.P.P.)

Ariane Owens, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions, 213-740-6842
Ralph & Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) Room 111.
E-mail address: aowens@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/schools/sppd/programs/masters/dual/mppjd.html


Real Estate Development (J.D./M.R.E.D.)

Contact: Faye Cameron, Coordinator, Graduate Admission and Recruitment, 213-740-4127
Ralph & Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) Room 111.
E-mail address: sppd@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/schools/sppd/programs/masters/dual/mred_jd.html


Social Work (J.D./M.S.W.)

Richette Bell - Student Services Advisor II, Admissions, (213) 740-6983
Jessica Isomoto - Student Services Advisor I, Admissions, (213) 740-0825
Montgomery Ross Fisher Building.
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/dept/socialwork/academic/dual.php


Graduate Certificate-Gender Studies Program (not a dual degree program)

Academic Advisor, Jeanne Weiss
Mark Taper Hall of Humanities, 422
E-mail address: jeannew@usc.edu
Website address: http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/swms/grad/certificate.html
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