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JD and MS Justice, Law & Criminology

Cross-disciplinary study of how law intersects with theories of justice and justice systems. Earn both degrees in only four years.

Law Through a Broader Lens Juris Doctor (JD) & Master of Science in Justice, Law & Criminology Dual Degree

AU's JD/MS dual degree-rated among the nation's top three justice-related programs in the area of scholarly faculty publications-combines the study of law with scholarly analysis of justice issues. Our students enhance their legal education through the examination of the philosophical and moral foundations of the legal system, public policy, and systems that address crime, conflict, and justice in society.

Not only does the joint program provide you with a unique perspective, it also allows you to complete both degrees in approximately four years of full-time study, in less time than if you pursued them separately. You will find it especially valuable if you are seeking a career in law, criminal justice, court management and administration, or university-level teaching.

Access Top AU & DC Resources

Students in the JD/MS dual degree gain access to academic, advising, and career counseling resources through both the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law. Faculty in both schools are leaders in their fields. WCL's Office of Career and Professional Development provides connections to law firms, corporations, public interest groups, and governmental agencies. SPA also provides a variety of justice-related internship possibilities. Both schools have well-established networks of alumni who are eager to help you with career opportunities.

To receive the dual degree, you must satisfy all requirements for the JD in the Washington College of Law and the MS in our School of Public Affairs.

The dual degree requires 107 credit hours of approved graduate work. If the degrees were to be earned separately, you would need to complete 33 credit hours for the MS and 86 credit hours for the JD; however, dual degree students may apply up to 6 credits of law courses to the MS and up to 6 credits of SPA courses to the JD. Each school must approve the other school's courses in advance in order for you to be able to apply them to both degrees.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all coursework is required to remain in good standing and to earn the degree. Full-time status is considered to be nine credit hours per semester. Students are expected to complete the dual degree within approximately four years (eight semesters).

More information about curriculum requirements can be found here.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

For the dual degree, students must apply to and be accepted by both the Washington College of Law and the School of Public Affairs.

You may choose to apply to both programs at the same time or to begin one program, then apply to the other program. However, admission to either the JD or the MS program does not imply that admission to both programs will be granted.

If you apply to the Washington College of Law first, SPA will accept Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores in lieu of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude scores. You should submit your application to the Washington College of Law and indicate in the "degree objective" portion that you are applying for the JD/MS program. Your application will be considered under the same criteria as non-dual-degree candidates. If you are accepted by the law school, your application will then be forwarded to the School of Public Affairs for review.

If you apply through the School of Public Affairs first, you will still need to satisfy the admission requirements of the law school. For instance, while the School of Public Affairs operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs, the Washington College of Law has firm application deadlines. You will also need to take the LSAT. And each school requires different supplemental materials.

If you are already enrolled at the law school, you may apply to the dual degree program by requesting in writing that the law school registrar's office forward your application and transcripts to the School of Public Affairs. If you choose to begin the law program first, you may take SPA courses after you have completed one full year of full-time law study, or the equivalent.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

Financial Aid at the School of Public Affairs

The MS in Justice, Law & Criminology is a 33-credit-hour program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Public Affairs offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards and named scholarships are administered by the SPA Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience, specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Financial Aid at the Washington College of Law

The Washington College of Law financial aid program is designed to assist you in filling the gap between your resources and educational costs. The law school, the university, and a variety of federal and private lenders all offer resources which can be utilized to meet expenses. The Washington College of Law offers a limited number of scholarships established through the generosity of friends and alumni. Selection criteria for these scholarships may vary, but generally awards are based on need and academic achievement. More information on the types of aid available through the Washington College of Law can be found here.

We Know Success Facts

92 percent

of SPA graduates are employed or in graduate school, or both within six months of graduation

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