Dual Program

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The Political Science Department and Law School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison invite students to enroll in a Dual-Degree Program (“the Program”) whereby students can earn both a PhD and a JD with a course of study and writing requiring approximately seven years to complete.

The Program involves meeting the individual requirements for each of the two degrees, but also allows work taken in Political Science to count toward the JD program and the JD program to fulfill some requirements of the PhD program.

I. Admission

Students in the Program must be admitted independently by the Political Science Department and the Law School, each of which will use their normal admissions criteria and procedures. Students need not be admitted to the Law School and Political Science Department simultaneously, although concurrent admission will be the normal procedure. Students interested in joining the Program are strongly encouraged to discuss their individual plans and goals with a member of the Advisory Committee before applying and to maintain contact during the application process.

II. Course of Study

This course of study is flexible, permitting a student, in consultation with their faculty advisors, to develop a personalized program meeting the student’s individual educational needs. Under this course, a student is encouraged or expected to undertake specified actions but may decline to do so if the student’s advisors approve of the decision. Program rules are stated in the absolute. Students may seek waiver of these rules as well as the general rules of the Law School or Political Science Department by following the normal procedures for those entities. All law students may petition the faculty Petitions Committee from relief from law school rules. When students plan their 75 law credits, they must keep in mind that the course requirements for students seeking only the J.D. degree are different from the course requirements for those seeking the J.D. degree with “diploma privilege” (admission to the State Bar of Wisconsin without taking the state bar examination).

A. General Rules

All students in the Program must participate in activities of the Institute of Legal Studies at the Law School, including scheduled lectures, seminars, and fellows’ workshops throughout their residency in Madison.

During the first three years, students must complete one full academic year of study in the Law School and two full academic years of study in the Political Science Department. The normal sequence is described below.

1. First Year in Political Science Department (Year 1)

A student’s first-year program must be approved by their advisors. During the first year in the Political Science Department, a student is expected to take courses only in the Political Science Department, including Political Science 800. During the second semester of the first year in the Political Science Department, a student may take law-related course outside the Law School (including courses cross-listed with the Law School).

2. First Year in Law School (Year 2)

The first year of the Law School’s curriculum has little flexibility. During the second semester, students may choose from a designated set of electives, and students in the dual-degree program should, if possible, choose an elective that maximizes the students’ educational progress in both programs. For example, a dual degree student might take a Political Science course during the second semester in place of one of the designated set of electives. Students who opt to substitute a Political Science course for a second-semester elective may need to take the missed elective in their third year to conform with the Law School’s requirement that the first year curriculum be completed within two years from matriculation in law school.

3. Second Year in Political Science Department (Year 3)

Year 3 will focus on the course work necessary to complete preparation for the preliminary examinations in Political Science. Students in the Program will normally complete these examinations during the winter break of the fourth year.

In January of Year 4, students must complete the standard Political Science Department preliminary examinations in a first and second field (drawn from among American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and methodology). Students must meet the requirements of any of these fields they choose, including methods requirements. Dual degree students will normally have American politics as one of their fields, and include within that area one subfield that is law-related (most often, law and judicial process, but also possibly subfields such as policy or national institutions). Students who have another field as their primary field should have one subfield within that field be law-related. This deadline may be extended according to standard Political Science Department policies for students who undertake extensive foreign language or political methodology study (when methods is not one of the student’s fields).

4. Year 4 and thereafter

After the successful completion of the preliminary examinations, the student will complete additional coursework in political science in preparation for the dissertation research, and complete the law school curriculum for the JD. The student’s advisors will work with the student and the Law School administration to ensure as much of the Political Science course work as possible counts toward the Law degree; final determination of what does count will be decided by the Law School. The coursework in the Law School will fulfill the Graduate School’s PhD minor requirement.

A graduate student may receive up to 15, but not more than 15, advanced standing credits for courses in the Political Science Department and other University of Wisconsin departments to apply toward the JD degree under Law School Rule 3.16 or its successor. These credits will not be credited toward the JD until the student has successfully completed the preliminary examinations. As provided by this Rule, a student may receive advanced standing credits for courses taken before or after the student completed the master’s degree. Courses offered for advanced standing must be relevant to interdisciplinary legal studies but need not specifically have a law or Political Science content. Reading, research, or dissertation credits are eligible for advanced standing credits.

Note: Rule 3.16 permits a student in a dual program in law and other graduate fields to receive up to 15 advanced standing credits under certain conditions. These conditions include that the courses be of substantial relevance to the legal aspects of the student’s dual program and taken under a plan approved by the student’s law school faculty advisor. The credits will not be accepted by the Law School until the students has been formally admitted to the PhD program. See also section C.3 of this program statement.

A student may participate in all activities available to law students following the normal rules. These activities include, but are not limited to, participation in a law journal, moot court, clinical programs, study abroad, and directed reading, or research. However, because students in the Program already have 15 credits of electives waived under paragraph (5), if they wish to take advantage of the “diploma privilege,” their ability to pursue the electives just mentioned will be limited.

Political Science requires that students complete a research paper by the end of the second year and give an oral presentation of a research paper during the first semester of year 3; students in the dual degree program will normally complete these requirements at the end of the third year and during the first semester of year 4, respectively.

5. “Normal Progress” Requirements in Political Science

Only students making “normal progress” are considered for financial aid or are nominated for fellowships and awards. Students not making normal progress may be dropped from the program. In general, to make normal progress through the dual degree program you need to:

i) meet with your advisor to discuss your First-Year Assessment and submit the First-Year Assessment form

ii) take an appropriate course load and achieve satisfactory average grades (B or better). If you are not a TA or PA you should be taking a minimum of three courses (9 credits) a semester; most students in this situation take four courses. If you are a TA or PA you may take a minimum of two courses (six credits); most students in this situation take three courses. You should take as many as courses as possible at the graduate level (courses numbered 700 and above).

iii) take and pass the two general prelims before the end of the eighth semester. Students requiring extensive language or methodological training may be granted an extension, as determined by the associate chair. Three or more courses in foreign language or statistics (not including the required research design course or the required additional three methods credits) constitute extensive training and qualify a student for this extension of normal progress. If a student takes the Methods prelim, methods courses are considered part of general prelim preparation and do not qualify him/her for an extra semester.

iv) submit and defend an acceptable dissertation proposal by the beginning of the ninth semester. Before the proposal may be defended, the student must have satisfied the Graduate School’s requirement for the minor, cleared all incompletes, fulfilled the Department’s methods requirements, and fulfilled any field-specific requirements.

v) complete the dissertation in a reasonable time after prelims and the proposal.

B. Financial Support

Students admitted to the program will be guaranteed five years of financial support from the Political Science department; however, Political Science Department funding may not be used during the first year of law school study. Outstanding students admitted to the dual degree program will be eligible for possible scholarship funding for one year from the Law School, as part of the Law School’s normal merit-based financial aid program, to assist during year 2 of the overall program. While neither Law nor Political Science is able to guarantee funding beyond year 6, the high demand for teaching assistantships and empirical research skills related to law make it highly likely that funding will be possible for these years.

C. Students Entering the Law School and Political Science Department at Different Times

1. A student entering the Law School and Political Science Department at different times must comply with and may take advantage of the general rules described above except as otherwise provided in this section.

2. The Advisory Committee may approve waivers of the rules regarding the first two years of the program.

3. Law School Rule 3.16(7)(a)(2) authorizes advance standing credits for graduate work done prior to students becoming dual degree candidates. Under Rule 3.16(7)(a), a student may receive advanced standing credit when they have successfully completed the first year of Law School, has been formally admitted to the Ph.D. portion of a graduate program, has a Law School faculty advisor, and if the course work was of substantial relevance to the legal aspects of the student’s dual program and has been approved as such by the student’s law school faculty advisor. As noted in A.4 above, a maximum of 15 advanced standing credits will be granted for graduate work taken at the University of Wisconsin. The student may not receive advanced standing credits for course work taken at institutions other than the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Credits are granted upon approval of a petition to the Law School’s Petition Committee with the written support of the Dean or the Dean’s designee and the student’s law school faculty advisor.


Note: While students in dual JD-Masters programs may not use masters credits for advanced standing if the masters has been completed before entering law school, that rule does not apply to JD-PhD students.

III. Administrative Provisions

A. Each student must have a faculty advisor in the Law School and the Political Science Department. A single member of the faculty who has a dual tenure or tenure-track appointment in the Law School and Political Science Department may serve both functions. If the student has separate advisors, the advisors shall coordinate their advice.

B. Although a student may take courses exclusively in the Law School or the Political Science Department in any given semester, the student shall be considered a “continuing student” in both programs. Hence, it is not necessary for the student to take a leave of absence or make a request for re-entry, as long as they are enrolled in courses in one of the two departments.

C. The Law School and the Political Science Department will work together to develop a method of identifying dual-degree candidates, coordinating information about admission to the programs, etc. When it is determined that a student is admitted to both programs and that matriculation in one will be deferred, the Admissions Committee of the deferred program will be notified. However, the affected student is strongly encouraged to check with a member of the Advisory Committee to confirm that all necessary procedures have been completed.

D. The Advisory Committee shall take responsibility for seeing that the student’s program is well integrated and pedagogically sound.

E. A student shall be graded under the respective grading systems and criteria for permitting students to continue in the degree programs that the Law School and Political Science Department normally use.

F. Tuition and fees for most semesters will be billed according to a combined fee schedule set by the UW Registrar’s Office.

IV. Advisory Committee

The Program shall have a Law and Political Science Dual Degree Advisory Committee composed of two faculty members and one student in the Program (when there are advanced students in the Program). The Dean of the Law School and the Chair of the Political Science Department shall each appoint at least one member of the Advisory Committee, and the faculty members will jointly select one student to serve on the Committee. In addition, the Law School’s faculty coordinator of dual-degree programs shall be an ex officio member of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee shall develop policies governing the Program. If experience with the Program reveals any problems requiring rule changes, the Committee shall make appropriate proposals. These proposals require the approval of the Law School and the Associate Chair of Political Science; major changes require the approval of the Political Science Graduate Program Committee and the department faculty.

Students can contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for a list of the current members of the Advisory Committee.