Joint Degree Political Science

The Joint J.D.-M.A. Degree in Political Science is designed to better prepare students for a variety of professional roles in which the knowledge, skills and background of both law and political science are important. These roles can be found in a variety of settings in the public and private sectors as well as in teaching and research.

The world of government and politics and the world of law are closely interrelated. Students who study political institutions and processes will confront legal structures and processes. Students who seek a law degree will often encounter political institutions and processes. Students in each discipline can benefit from a better and more sophisticated understanding of the structures and processes of the other.

Admission Criteria

A new student must independently apply for admission both to the College of Law and the Graduate College and request admission to this joint degree program. Students must comply with the application procedures of each College. If the student is accepted by both Colleges, he or she is automatically admitted to the program.

The factors which weigh most heavily in admission to the College of Law are the applicant's undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. The GPA is evaluated in terms of the applicant's undergraduate institution, courses taken, major and trend of academic performance. An applicant is also evaluated based on letters of recommendation, personal statement, work experiences, extracurricular activities and any other information supplied by the applicant.

Admission to the Graduate College with the objective of the M.A. in Political Science is dependent upon favorable recommendation of the Graduate Committee of the Department of Political Science. The committee considers the applicant's academic record, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and letters of recommendation.

APPLY TO THE COLLEGE OF LAW       APPLY TO GRADUATE STUDIES 

Admission Procedures

The application form for the College of Law is available from the College or on the website.  The College admits first year students only in the fall semester.  The application deadline is March 1.

The application form for admission to the Graduate College is available either from the Graduate College or the Department of Political Science.  Applications are accepted at any time; however, students seeking financial assistance should file their applications by March 1.  All transcripts, GREs and letters of recommendation must be received by that date.

Students may apply to both programs before beginning either. Students admitted into the joint program before beginning either program will take only law courses during their first year.  Students may then take both law and political science courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Students who are already enrolled in the College of Law, who have a cumulative GPA of at least 5.5 and who have not completed more than 51 hours at the College of Law may apply for admission to the Graduate College through the Department of Political Science, and, if admitted, are automatically admitted to the joint degree program.  Students may then take both law and political science courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Students who are already enrolled in a Masters program in the Department of Political Science, who have not taken more than 12 hours of courses, and who have received a grade of B or better in each course may apply for admission to the College of law and, if admitted, are automatically admitted to the joint degree program.

Students must complete the first year curriculum at the College of Law beginning in the fall semester of the academic year for which they are admitted, and may not take any political science courses during that year.  After they do so, they may take both law and political science courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Degree Requirements

The Law College requires 93 credit hours for the J.D. degree.  A joint degree student must complete a total of 84 hours at the College of Law:  the standard first year curriculum of 33 hours and 51 upperclass hours.  The upperclass hours must include Constitutional Law I (4 hours), which must be taken during the first semester of the second year of law school, Legal Profession (3 hours), a professional skills course (Class of 2016, 2017, 2018: 3 credit hours/Class of 2019 and later: 6 credit hours), and a law seminar (3 hours) that satisfies the College of Law's substantial writing requirement. Descriptions of the Law College courses are contained on the College of Law website.

A joint degree student will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the Department of Political Science toward his or her J.D. degree.  A joint degree student will normally receive a J.D. degree only after the student satisfies the joint degree program requirements for both the Masters and the J.D. degrees.

To obtain the M.A. in Political Science in the joint program, a student must pass comprehensive examinations in two of the following five areas of concentration:  American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Public Administration and Political Theory.  The number of hours required depends on whether the Masters is with or without a thesis.  For a Masters with a thesis, 30 credit hours are required.  The student must complete 21 credit hours in the Department of Political Science and will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the College of Law.  The 21 hours in the Department of Political Science must include 3 introductory "core" seminars (3 hours each) in any of the above areas of concentration, 2 methods seminars (3 hours each), and 6 hours of thesis.

For a Masters without a thesis, 36 credit hours are required.  The student must complete 27 hours in the Political Science Department and will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the College of Law toward his or her degree.  The 27 hours in the Department of Political Science must include the core seminar in American politics, plus one other and the seminar in quantitative method, plus 18 hours of electives.

A full description of the programs for a Masters in Political Science is contained in the Graduate Studies Manual.

A student enrolled in the joint degree program must file separate applications for the J.D. and Masters degrees.  A student must also file with the Graduate College a Memorandum of Courses form and a Final Examination Report for Masters Degree form.  

Program Approval & Academic Requirements

Before the end of the student's first year at the College of Law, a dual degree student must submit a course proposal to the Associate Dean of the College of Law and the Chief Graduate Advisor of the Department of Political Science.  The course proposal will clearly show the College of Law courses the student intends to have credited toward the Masters degree and the political science courses the student intends to have credited toward the J.D. degree.  The course proposal must be approved by the Associate Dean and the Chief Graduate Advisor in order for the course to be eligible for credit in the dual degree program.  The course proposal may be modified at any time with the approval of the Associate Dean and the Chief Graduate Advisor.

Before the student is halfway through the Masters program, the student must file a Memorandum of Courses form with the Graduate College.  Any subsequent changes in the program must be reflected on an amended Memorandum of Courses to be filed with the Graduate College.

A student in the joint degree program must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 5.500 in courses taken at the College of Law and must receive a grade of B or better in each course taken in the Department of Political Science.  A student who fails to satisfy either requirement will be dropped from the joint degree program and cannot apply for readmission to the program.  A student who is dropped from the joint degree program can still pursue a Masters degree and a J.D. degree but must meet the normal requirements for each degree and may not pursue the two degrees simultaneously.

Additional Information

For more information on the law portion of the joint program, contact:
Admissions Office
College of Law
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
(402) 472-2161

For more information on the political science portion of the Joint Program, write to:
Chair of the Graduate Committee
Department of Political Science
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
(402) 472-2343