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Articles / Graduate School / Accelerated Law School Programs

Nov. 16, 2002

Accelerated Law School Programs

Question: Are there any colleges that will allow me to dual enroll in their law school program while being either a senior or junior working on my bachelor's degree?

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 bachelor’s degree for three years and then begin law school. Often (depending on the institution you attend) you do not officially earn your bachelor’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 you’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 “3+3 law programs” 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. It’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.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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