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The University of Pennsylvania launches joint Medical and Law School degree program

June 06, 2016

Novel Program Will Prepare Students for Hybrid Careers

The University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania are now offering a joint JD/MD degree program for students pursuing careers at the intersection of law and medicine.

This new joint-degree program, which will begin accepting applications for the 2017-18 academic year, allows students to receive a JD at Penn Law and an MD at Penn Medicine. Both schools are ranked among the top schools in their field by U.S. News and World Report.

“Through this new program, students will have the opportunity to attend two world-renowned schools at the forefront of research, teaching, and practice in their respective fields,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the Law School and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law. “The law touches every aspect of society, and for students, having degrees in both law and medicine is both highly beneficial to one’s career as well as to society, and a wholly unique advantage.”

“Having a knowledge of the law is, increasingly, an integral part of being both a physician and a biomedical research scientist, and these fields will benefit from professionals with in-depth, hybrid expertise,” said J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and Robert G. Dunlop Professor of Medicine. “The JD/MD program will empower health professionals to effectively address the emerging legal issues that accompany topics ranging from patient confidentiality in the era of big data and electronic medical records to patenting and commercialization processes for new discoveries.”

Unlike many other university campuses in major U.S. cities, Penn Law and the Perelman School of Medicine are just a few blocks from each other in west Philadelphia, allowing students from both schools to easily take classes within a short walking distance from their home institution.

The new JD/MD degree joins a roster of joint-degree and certificate programs focusing on law and health. The JD/MBE program allows students to earn a law degree from Penn Law and a Masters of Bioethics from the Medical School, and many medical students also pursue master’s degrees in Bioethics, as well. The Master in Law (ML) program provides professionals with a fundamental legal skillset and features a specific health law track for medical professionals.

Cross-disciplinary study is a longstanding hallmark of the curriculum in both schools’ curriculums. Seventy-five percent of law students and 65 percent of medical students at Penn already graduate with a joint degree or certificate. This exciting new partnership solidifies a program successfully completed on an ad hoc basis by several talented students in the past.

“Every year, more and more Perelman students are inspired to expand their skillset and experiences to make the most of their careers with joint degrees — from bioethics to business, or earning a certificate in women’s health research or clinical neuroscience,” said Gail Morrison, MD, Senior Vice Dean of Education. “Adding this new, joint medicine/law degree continues that longstanding tradition of offering relevant, cross-disciplinary collaboration for its students.”

Established in 1765, the Perelman School of Medicine is now over 250 years old, and at the forefront of medical education with an innovative curriculum and integrated learning approach to train the next generation of physician-scientists and future leaders of academic medicine.Last year, the school opened its new home for medical education, the Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center, a 55,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility just steps away from the Smilow Center for Translational Research and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. It is among the first in the nation to fully integrate medical education facilities with active clinical care and research lab space, placing students in the midst of the dynamic practice of medicine.

Penn Law traces its history to 1790 when James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, framer of the Constitution, and member of the first U.S. Supreme Court, delivered the University of Pennsylvania’s first lectures in law to President George Washington and members of his Cabinet. Today the hallmarks of the Penn Law experience are a cross-disciplinary, globally-focused legal education, and vibrant and collegial community. Penn Law prepares graduates to navigate an increasingly complex world as leaders and influential decision-makers in the law and related fields.