Joint JD/PhD Law-Psychology Program

Juris Doctor (JD) = 85.0 semester credits
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) = 91.0 quarter credits

About the Program

The Earle Mack School of Law and the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences offer a joint and integrated JD/PhD Program in Law and Psychology. The program melds two already ongoing successful endeavors, the JD degree in the School of Law and the PhD in clinical psychology in the Department of Psychology.  See the JD-PhD Program webpage for more information.

Students in the program complete all 85.0 semester credits required for graduation from the law school and all 91.0 quarter credits required to complete the doctorate. The program allows those students who wish to pursue professional degrees in both law and psychology a more efficient plan of study. The program is designed to be completed in seven (7) years, including required psychology practica, a year’s internship in an American Psychological Association accredited predoctoral mental health/forensic setting, a master's thesis, a doctoral dissertation, and 20 hours per week of cooperative training and 50 hours of pro bono service in law.

Students who are accepted into the JD/PhD program will receive full tuition remission for all psychology coursework, plus a guaranteed annual stipend that is currently at least $9,000 per year for all six years they are at the university prior to completing the clinical internship. Students with outstanding LSAT scores may be eligible for full tuition remission from the Earle Mack School of Law.

For information on the Admissions process, visit the JD/PhD Application Instructions page.

Philosophy

The program bridges the gap between legal and psychological training. By and large, lawyers and social scientists come from different cultures, with different interests, different cognitive approaches to solving problems, different research methodologies, and different attitudes toward confrontation and argument. Each profession arrives at the “truth” in different ways, and its members are exposed to different styles of education during their post-baccalaureate training. Legal education develops an understanding of case analysis, statutory interpretation, the evolution of legal traditions, and methods for resolving disputes. Education in psychology develops research and clinical skills and understanding of behavioral theories, techniques, and statistical methods. Law, which has special rules concerning evidence and proof, relies heavily on precedent and the application of legal principles to specific facts toward the goal of settling conflicts that need immediate resolution. By contrast, psychology looks at problems through an empirical lens, using psychometrically-based tools and techniques to systematically evaluate questions, but rarely ending in a “final verdict.” Because the limits of evidence and the meaning of “proof” in psychological research may differ sharply from the limits of evidence and proof in law, conflict may result when the two disciplines interact.

Goals

Within the broad framework of the program’s philosophy, the JD/PhD Program in Law & Psychology has three specific goals:

  • Develop scientist-practitioners who will produce legally sophisticated social science research to aid the legal system to make better empirically-based decisions;
  • Produce lawyer-psychologists who will participate in the development of more empirically and theoretically sophisticated mental health policy by legislatures, administrative tribunals, and the courts; and
  • Educate highly trained clinicians who can contribute to the advancement of forensic psychology in such areas as criminal law, domestic relations, and civil commitment.

In fulfilling these goals, the program trains students in an integrated and conceptually unified curriculum so they acquire a mature understanding of the interaction between the two disciplines.

Curriculum

Students attend the School of Law and the Department of Psychology simultaneously for six years, integrating course work in both disciplines each year. Students maintain continuous contact with the faculties of both schools and the developments in both disciplines over the course of each year.

In the seventh year, after obtaining the JD, students undertake a year-long supervised internship in clinical and forensic psychology and complete their doctoral dissertation. They are awarded the PhD at the end of their seventh year.

Training consists of seven elements:

  • The required existing core program in law and psychology at both schools;
  • Interdisciplinary courses; e.g., Law and Mental Health, Behavioral Science and the Law, Seminar in Advanced Problems in Mental Health Law, Law and the Mind Sciences, and Research in Law & Psychology;
  • Supervised psycholegal research experience on teams of students’ faculty mentors;
  • Legal clinics and psychology practica and internships that combine knowledge from both fields in a practical setting;
  • Electives in both fields, e.g., bioethics, education law, health law, health psychology, employment discrimination, neuropsychology;
  • Cooperative experience and pro bono service in legal settings; and
  • Employment for at least one summer in a legal setting, e.g., public interest law firm, governmental agency, private law firm, nonprofit association.
  • Schedule of Classes
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