Nov. 16, 2002
Yes, some colleges and universities offer an option similar to what you describe. Typically, these are called 3+3 programs because you work towards your bachelorâ€™s degree for three years and then begin law school. Often (depending on the institution you attend) you do not officially earn your bachelorâ€™s degree until you have completed your first year of law school in good standing. Most typically, too, you do not apply directly to the 3+3 program while you are still in high school but can do so once youâ€™ve completed a couple years of college with a strong record.
One highly respected option is The Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education (AILE) Program, an early admission program existing between Columbia University and 28 undergraduate institutions. The deans at each of these colleges annually nominate one or two outstanding members of their junior classes for admission to Columbia Law School. While matriculating at the law school, these students elect the equivalent of one term of interdisciplinary study in other divisions of Columbia University. The majority of undergrad institutions that take part in AILE are well known liberal arts colleges or private universities, and they are located throughout the country (for example, Reed, Barnard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Grinnell). For more information, visit the Columbia Law Web site.
There are other colleges and universities that have their own accelerated law programs. If you search the Internet for â€œ3+3 law programsâ€ you will see what many of these are. Names you may recognize include Dickinson College in Pennsylvania (in conjunction with Penn State's law school), Fordham University in New York, and George Mason University, just outside of Washington, D.C., in Virginia.
If you already have a particular college or university in mind, you should certainly contact admission officials and ask what your options are. Itâ€™s possible that even when a formal dual-enrollment program does not exist, top students may be able to accelerate and enter law school at the end of three years.