UA adds undergraduate law degree
George Gehrels, Undergraduate Council chair, and Robert Mitchel, vice chair of the faculty, moderate a discussion regarding the new undergraduate law degree during Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting. Faculty Senate approved the new major, making the UA the only university in the nation to offer a BA in law.
The UA will now offer a Bachelor of Arts in Law program, the only undergraduate law degree offered in the country, as it was approved by Faculty Senate on Monday.
A bachelor’s degree in law has not been offered by an American college since Yale University eliminated the degree in 1971. The UA, which will begin offering the degree in the fall of 2014, is the first major research university to offer this degree.
The James E. Rogers College of Law and the School of Government and Public Policy collaborated on the creation of the degree program. Marc Miller, dean of the College of Law, said that Brent White, associate dean for Programs and Global Initiatives, and Chad Westerland, associate director of School of Government and Public Policy, were the main collaborators on the B.A. program, but added that many people from different colleges had a hand in its creation.
Miller said the concept of a B.A. in law at the UA stemmed from discussions regarding what is happening today in legal education.
“Most countries in the world provide legal training as an undergraduate,” Miller said. “We realized there was a huge opportunity to respond to the changing way that legal services are delivered … by stepping in and creating an undergraduate degree in law.”
Miller said the degree program will draw students who are interested in law, but are not sure if they want to attend law school. It will also appeal to students who plan on entering other related fields, such as business and nonprofits.
John Paul Jones, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said in a statement that the new B.A. program will offer both law and non-law students unprecedented options to double major and increase the value of their degree.
“A degree in law can be combined with degrees in fields focusing on the environment, health, technology, social justice, business, science, culture and economic development, to name just a few,” Jones said.
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Students of the interdisciplinary program will complete core classes in the School of Government and Public Policy and take core law courses for the degree at the College of Law. A 3 3 program will be offered to students with at least a 3.8 grade point average, which will allow students to complete their B.A. of law and their Juris Doctor in six years.
Andrew Comrie, UA provost, said he believes the law option will be popular among students. During recruitment of potential UA students, many showed great interest when he brought up the possibility of an undergraduate law program, he said.
“We’re looking forward to a pretty popular major that frankly no one else thought to offer,” Comrie said.