The usual way ISU students obtain a law degree consists of studying for four years at Iowa State and going to law school for additional three years after that. A new accelerated 3+3 program, however, might save students time and money in the future.
In cooperation with Drake University and the University of Iowa, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State offers the possibility of earning a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in just six years.
“We’re allowing students to do three years at ISU, and then let them transfer to law school,” said Beate Schmittmann, dean of LAS. “If all goes well, they’ll have the first year of law school counted as sufficient credit to be awarded with an Iowa State degree.”
The advantage of this program is obvious, Schmittmann said. Students who participate will save one full year of tuition.
“Determined law students will finish and reach their career goals much sooner," Schmittmann said.
This requires careful planning though.
“It’s not like you study here for three years and get your degree just like that,” Schmittmann said. “We have to carefully look at the students’ courses and make sure we plan appropriately, so that they will satisfy all the requirements they need to master their degree at ISU.”
The program is voluntary. Students who still want to do the regular four years are more than welcome to do so, Schmittmann said.
“I’d only advise the accelerated program to first year students who are determined to follow a career in law and who don’t want to wait," Schmittmann said. "A lot of students find other career opportunities or other fields they’re interested in over the years, so this is only for those who really want to do this.”
One less year of studying at a university also means that students will have to cut back on seminars and information that you can learn in one year.
“The secret is to focus on and map out the most important aspects of your law education,” Schmittmann said. “The first year of law school has to teach you the basic aspects of what you’d learn at ISU such as critical thinking or writing at a sophisticated level.”
Bruce Allen, academic adviser for LAS, said there are already some students who have indicated interest in the 3+3 program.
“We receive a fair amount of attention, and we expect some more," Allen said.
Since this is the first time Iowa State is doing this, there are still some general issues regarding the individual planning, Allen said.
“We’re working on it to make it more of a seamless transition for students who participate in the program," Allen said. "I will provide students with general guidance, resources, services and advice.”
The cooperation with Drake and Iowa has been very positive so far, Allen said.
“I’d call Drake our backyard law school," Allen said. "We have a fair number of students who attend Drake, because they want to practice law in Iowa.”
Schmittmann said she recommends accelerated programs like this to all departments at Iowa State, especially concerning the debate of cost for high education.
“Programs like these are a very cost-effective way for students to reach their goal,” Schmittmann said. “It shows that ISU is very flexible in how it allows students to move towards their degree.”