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JD/MPA Agreement with the Fels Institute

Joint Degree Program
JD/Masters in Public Administration

  1. Overview
    1. The JD/Masters in Public Administration is a joint program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Fels Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
    2. Students will have the opportunity to earn both degrees in three years (more on the sequencing of these years follows, below).
    3. Students in this program will be prepared to add substance to the connections between law and government in our society and our world and to assume positions of leadership not only in law and in government, but in policy organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other organizations of influence.


  1. Application Process
    1. Students will apply independently to each department through each program’s specified admission process. The Law School and Fels will make independent judgments about each candidate.
      1. While the Law School and Fels will make independent admissions decisions, each application will invite the student to indicate that they have applied, or been admitted, to the other program.
        1. Students need only take the LSAT.
        2. Students can use, if they wish, the Law letters of recommendation for Fels consideration
        3. The Law School will cooperate with GSE to get these materials to Fels in as timely a fashion as possible.
      2. Both programs will use materials submitted to the Law program for evaluation purposes.
      1. They may make contemporaneous applications to both programs prior to being accepted at either, or
      2. They may apply to the Masters program in the first year of the Law program.
      3. Students at Fels interested in applying to the Law School will not, due to Law School accreditation standards, be afforded the opportunity to apply credits earned at Fels prior to matriculation at the Law School toward the JD degree. Accordingly, these students may be able to earn both degrees consecutively but not contemporaneously. Fels will, however, be able to apply 4 course unit’s from the Law School towards the MPA.
    2. Applicants will have two options as to applying for the joint degree program:


  1. Degree Completion Requirements
    1. In order for a student to receive both degrees, he or she must complete the independent degree requirements of each program.
      1. For Law
        1. For the JD class of 2013 and beyond students must complete a minimum of 86 credits, 52 hours of which must be advanced credit completed in the second and third years of Law study. Students in the joint program may apply twelve credits (four courses)[1] from the MPA program toward that requirement, reducing their credit requirement to 40 credits. These four courses are the total number of non-Law courses that a Law student can take in other departments of the University without exceptional permissions and tuition assessment. Students in this program will not be eligible to also study abroad within the JD program.
        2. Students must also satisfy the pro bono requirement of the Public Interest Center’s Pro Bono Program and fulfill their senior writing and professional responsibility requirements (more on these requirements can be found in the Law Student Guide to Policy and Procedures).
        1. The MPA curriculum requires students to complete eight core courses and four electives. Under the joint degree program, four of the Law courses will satisfy the four MPA electives requirement. In addition, four of the MPA core classes will count as electives in the JD program.
          • GAFL 621 Economic Analysis of the Public Sector
          • GAFL 589 Policy Development
          • GAFL 631 Politics and Public Leadership
          • GAFL 703 Statistics for Public Leadership
          • GAFL 732 Public Management
          • GAFL 735 Performance Management
          • GAFL 783 Public Financial Management
          • Finance Elective: Advanced Budgeting, Auditing Government Performance, Managing Public Funds, Nonprofit Financial Management or Public Finance Investment Banking
        2. The JD-MPA student must complete the following seven MPA core courses and 1 finance elective:
      2. For the Masters program Due to the rigors of combining a J.D. and a 12 credit Masters degree, students must carefully craft their course roster, meeting with representatives of both schools to ensure compliance with all credit and non-credit requirements. Often, students will need more than six semesters to complete both degrees.
      3. Length of Program


  1. Program Sequencing
    1. The joint degree is best earned in the following sequence:
      1. Year 1 spent at the Law School, completing the standard and required 1L curriculum, The summer following the 1L year at Fels taking courses in the Masters program, and Years 2 and 3 spent in residence[2] at the Law School but taking courses in both Law and in MPA.
      2. Students may need to complete some of their Fels courses in the summer or after the J.D. degree has been conferred in order to avoid a course overload, which requires approval, at the Law School.
    2. Other sequences may be arranged on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Tuition and Financial Aid
    1. Law School tuition is paid when the student is taking only Law courses and Fels tuition is paid in the summer sessions when the student is taking only MPA courses.
      1. Penn Law students will be charged for any courses taken in MPA over and above the four courses that are countable toward the JD degree.
      2. Students will be responsible for any tuition or fees incurred for MPA courses taken during the summer months.
    2. In other years, while the student is in residence at the Law School, students pay Law School tuition. The Law School is then responsible for payment of tuition for up to four courses taken at MPA toward the completion of the joint degree.
    3. Financial aid decisions are made by each school. However, Law and Fels will communicate in advance of financial aid decisions to ensure a fair use of University resources.


  1. Scheduling Courses
    1. Students register for courses in one program in that program’s registration period and according to that program’s registration rules and procedures.
      1. Students register for Law courses through the Law School’s standard registration system.
      2. Students register for MPA courses through the University’s registration system.
      3. These registration periods are typically held at the same time, but do require separate student action in the two systems.
      4. Oftentimes, students are able to resolve any issues which arise due to the registration differences during the drop/add period.
    2. Students must be aware of the differences in these procedures:
    3. The timing and location of course scheduling must also be considered so that students are best able to attend all classes.


  1. Communication Issues
    1. Students with questions about the JD/MPA program can address them to the following persons:
      1. Prospective students with questions about the JD program: Renee Post, Director of Admissions,
      2. Currently enrolled JD/MPA students with questions about course selection, scheduling, tuition concerns, etc.: Sherita Ragins, Administrative Assistant, Registrar’s Office/Joint Programs,
      3. Currently enrolled JD/MPA students with questions about financial aid:  Anthony Henry, Director of Financial Aid,
      4. Questions about the MPA program:  Jaclyn Clevenger, Admissions Coordinator,
      1. For the Law School: Jo-Ann Verrier, Vice Dean for Administrative Services
      2. For MPA: Leigh Botwinik, Director, MPA Program, Fels Institute of Government,
    2. Each year, this document will be reviewed and re-approved by representatives of both departments. Currently, that review will be handled by:


  1. Issues Particular to the Program
    1. Students in the joint degree program may have particular career interests and goals. They are encouraged to meet individually with a counselor in the Career Planning & Placement Office at the Law School and with their advisor at Fels.


Last Update
Administrative Changes, Law School
August 2006
Oct. 2007
DRAFT Feb 2009
October 2009
April 2011Change of Degree Name, MPA curriculum and Contact Information


[1] A note on classes and credits: the Law School operates, in order to comply with accreditation standards, on a credit hour basis while courses in the MGA program are typically worth 1.0 credit units (some ½ semester courses may be worth 0.5 credit units). In converting between the two programs, a Law course will count as 1.0 credit units (or cu) in the MGA program, and a course in MGA will be worth three credit hours at the Law School.

[2] Law School accreditation requirements require that JD recipients are “in residence” at the Law School for six semesters. JD recipients are “in residence” at the Law School for six semesters.