Program Details

For some time now there has been a trend toward substantial use of philosophical materials in many areas of the law. The study of jurisprudence characteristically involves philosophical issues—such as the concept of law itself, questions of causality in tort law, appraisals of mental state in the criminal law, and the relationship of law to morality. Questions of political philosophy also arise in the study of law: the nature of justice and of political obligation; both lawyers and philosophers should be encouraged to examine in a philosophical light important legal ideas such as judicial review and the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The application of ethics to law is extremely important since many judicial decisions (not to mention legislative decisions) implicitly or explicitly involve appeals to ethical norms and the use of ethical arguments; ethics is also important in a professional sense since lawyers are constantly challenged by difficult ethical choices. The purpose of the joint degree program which leads to the J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy degrees is to develop a student's understanding and appreciation of the converging disciplines of law and philosophy.

The joint degree program leading to the J.D. and the M.A. in philosophy develops a student’s understanding and appreciation of the converging disciplines of law and philosophy. The program combines into 3 years and 1 summer session the normal 3-year J.D. program offered by the School of Law and the 2-year M.A. in philosophy program offered by the Department of Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students complete 81 credit hours in law and 21 credit hours in philosophy. Generally, students apply to the School of Law first, and then, if admitted, apply to the M.A. in Philosophy during the fall of their first year in the Law School. The J.D. and M.A. diplomas are then awarded concurrently after completion of joint degree program requirements.

Admission to the Joint Program

This program is open to students who have earned baccalaureate degrees from accredited colleges or universities and whose undergraduate academic records indicate that they have the capacity to complete the program. Applicants must meet the admission requirements and prerequisites of the School of Law and the Department of Philosophy.  The only exception to this is that the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the only required entrance examination for such applicants (GRE is not required for either program). Students must apply and be admitted to each school separately.  Generally, students apply to the School of Law first, and if admitted, apply later to the M.A. in Philosophy for a start date of the following Fall semester.  A student who desires to enter the program while enrolled in the first year of the J.D. or M.A. in philosophy must consult and obtain approval from the School of Law. No student may enter the combined program after completing more than 30 credit hours in the School of Law or 12 hours in the Department of Philosophy.

For information about applying to the Law School, see the school website. For information about applying to the M.A. program in Philosophy, please visit the Master of Arts page of the Philosophy department website, or contact the Graduate Academic Advisor, Aley Pennington, aleypennington@ku.edu.

Typical Enrollment Pattern for J.D./M.A. Program
First Year29029
Second Year181230
Third Year18927
Total Credits Earned8121102
Law Credit Allowed 99
Philosophy Credit Allowed9 9
Total Credit Required9030120
Joint J.D./M.A. Degree Requirements
RequirementCredit Hours
Law courses required of all J.D. candidates44
Law courses required for joint degree candidates9
Philosophy courses required for joint degree candidates9
Additional law courses28
Additional philosophy courses12
Total minimum credit hours required (102)102

It is essential for the student to consult the director of graduate studies in philosophy and a representative of the School of Law about specific courses required or recommended for this program.

For additional information, see the School of Law and the Guidelines and Information for Graduate Students available from the Department of Philosophy.

The Graduate Handbook describes the most essential aspects of graduate study in philosophy at the University of Kansas, as determined by departmental policy and university regulations. In addition to this handbook, every graduate student should read the pertinent sections of the latest edition of the Academic Catalog.

The version below is current.

Department of Philosophy Graduate Handbook (pdf)