Tech, Emory Partner on Law Master's Degree Program

Students could enroll in new joint program as early as Fall 2015

As early as next fall, Tech students could enroll in a new joint program with Emory University that lets them earn both a bachelor’s and juris master’s degree in as little as five years. 

The new program allows students to pursue any bachelor’s degree at Tech, followed by one year of coursework at Emory School of Law. Once students complete coursework at both institutions, they will receive both degrees. The program was approved at the meeting of the Faculty Senate on Nov. 18.

“This is ideal for students who decide early on that they want a career path which will require expertise in law,” said Steven Girardot, associate vice provost for Undergraduate Education. 

Tech has already seen demand for legal education among undergraduates on campus. Current offerings include a pre-law certificate and a minor in law, science, and technology offered by the School of Public Policy; a law and ethics program in the Scheller College of Business; and, for the first time this year, a pre-law section of the GT1000 first-year seminar course. 

Students will be able to apply for the law master’s program during their junior year and will be required to take either the Law School Admission Test or an internal exam from Emory for admission. Applicants also will be interviewed by Emory faculty and asked to sit in on an Emory law class session, at which point they may be offered a provisional acceptance. Students will then continue into their senior year to complete their undergraduate degree requirements at Tech, along with five to seven credit hours of law classes at Emory. Performance in these classes will be evaluated prior to an official acceptance from Emory, where students will spend two semesters to complete the master’s degree.  

Participants in the program will receive a discounted tuition rate from Emory, which will charge the equivalent of Tech’s out-of-state rate rather than its own rates, equating to a scholarship of around $10,500 per year. In addition, six credits of law courses will be counted as free electives toward the bachelor’s degree. 

Students will be able to specialize in areas such as intellectual property, environmental law, real estate, architecture/construction, and mergers and acquisitions. The master’s degree does not qualify students to practice law, nor is it a pathway to a juris doctor degree, but is meant to supplement their professional pursuits with legal studies.

“We expect this to give students a leg up on certain career paths, particularly those where legal expertise will enhance their skills,” said Girardot. “It will give them a technical understanding and the ability to develop professional knowledge of legal principles and issues.” 

The program is designed to support Tech’s strategic plan as well as build on its existing partnership with Emory, which includes the joint Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and the cross-registration program that lets students enroll in Emory classes while at Tech.

“We’re both elite universities, right next door to each other — it’s a great opportunity to strengthen our collaboration to the benefit of our students,” Girardot said. 

While the program has been approved by Georgia Tech and Emory Law faculties, the final step in the approval process will be review by the Board of Regents and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 


Other Senate Notes

The Student Regulations Committee (SRC) approved changing the deadline for withdrawal from a course from the 50 percent point of completion in the semester to the 60 percent point. This allows students two additional weeks to determine whether or not to withdraw from a course and aligns the single-course withdrawal deadline with the deadline to withdraw from all courses for the semester, which was already set at 60 percent. 

Changes were also approved to wording in the policy regarding student email accounts. The policy now states that students must have a Georgia Tech email address and check it once a day, but not that they must have a Georgia Tech email account.

The last SRC item approved was a change in academic renewal for readmitted students, who now can receive renewal after three years of absence from Tech, rather than five. The Board of Regents recently changed its policy to allow flexibility in this area, so Tech chose to respond in kind. Academic renewal signals the initiation of a new grade-point average and allows students who earlier experienced academic difficulty to make a fresh start on their academic record.