MPA/JD Program

About the Program

The College of Law and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies offer a joint Master of Public Administration/Juris Doctor degree. This joint program provides an opportunity to pursue studies in law and public affairs and public management concurrently. Students in the joint program use credit hours earned in one program to satisfy some or all of the elective course requirements for the other program, thus earning both degrees one to two terms earlier than would be required to earn each separately.

A joint MPA/J.D. enhances the employment opportunities for graduates of both programs by preparing students to meet the growing demands for lawyers with expertise in public management and for public administrators with legal expertise. Many recent law graduates are employed directly by government agencies, and others are employed by private and nonprofit sector organizations concerned with issues of public policy and public administration. Training in public administration is valuable to law graduates who seek this kind of employment. The field of public administration is also changing, with greater emphasis now on administrative law in M.P.A. curricula and greater attention to legal requirements in the training of public managers.

This joint degree is especially valuable to Georgia State University graduates, given the university’s location in downtown Atlanta and proximity to numerous federal, state, and local government agencies and to other private and nonprofit organizations with broad public affairs interests. The credibility of the joint degree nationally is evident through the many elite institutions which currently offer comparable programs.

Applicants must be separately admitted to both the J.D. and MPA programs and must request admission to the joint program. To apply to the College of Law, visit their website here: http://law.gsu.edu/admissions/3186.html.

Degree Requirements

The MPA/J.D. curriculum consists of 21 hours of required courses, a minimum of 15 hours of electives, and a three-hour internship. Courses are three credit hours unless otherwise indicated.

1. Required Core Courses:

PMAP 8111 Public Service and Democracy
PMAP 8121 Applied Research Methods and Statistics I
PMAP 8131 Applied Research Methods and Statistics II
PMAP 8141 Microeconomics for Public Policy
PMAP 8161 Public Budgeting and Finance
PMAP 8171 Management Systems and Strategies
PMAP 8431 Leadership and Organizational Behavior

2. Electives:

Students in the joint program use credit hours earned in one program to satisfy elective course requirements for the other program. The College of Law accepts up to 15 semester hours of approved 8000-level MPA coursework with grades of “B” or better, and the MPA program accepts up to 15 semester hours of approved law coursework. Typically, the student completes the first year of law courses prior to taking any public administration coursework. This is consistent with the College of Law requirement that students complete their first year without outside electives. Public administration courses are taken as electives during the second year and/or during summer sessions.

3. Internship:

An internship is required of MPA/J.D. students who do not have significant prior administrative experience in a public or nonprofit agency or related organization. The internship is expected to provide the student with an opportunity to apply concepts and skills associated with their MPA curriculum. This opportunity for professional growth and development requires enrollment in three hours of PMAP 8941. Students in the joint MPA/J.D. program can fulfill this requirement through internships in legal affairs and administrative law offices and law firms. Students who are taking an externship through the College of Law may be able to use that work experience to fulfill the requirements of the MPA internship. That option should be discussed with the MPA/J.D. faculty Advisor and the MPA internship coordinators prior to beginning the externship. Students with substantial prior administrative experience may petition to waive the internship requirement. Petition forms are available from the Office of Academic Assistance. MPA/J.D. students may choose to conduct a practicum — an applied research project, in lieu of the internship. The practicum represents an excellent option for working students who are interested in additional research experience. It also represents an excellent option for working students who do not qualify for an internship waiver, but who could pursue a practicum research project in their employing agency.

Frequently Asked Questions About the MPA/JD

Many. Students who complete the joint degree are often public-service minded, so many of them choose to enter government or non-profit organizations as attorneys. Others may wish to use their legal background differently and take positions as management analysts, policy analysts, budgeting specialists, or other policy and management-oriented positions in government or non-profits. Some students choose to take a bar exam and enter a private-sector law firm, focusing on policy issues or public-sector law. Often students with the joint degree will choose to enter consulting or academia after a few years of practice.
Yes. The joint degree program permits full-time students taking approximately 15 credit hours per semester to finish the program in less than four years, compared to five years if completely separately. Students can substitute up to 14 hours of MPA coursework toward the JD degree and up to 14 hours of JD coursework toward the MPA, which saves a total of 28 credit hours. Students who take courses in the summer may be able to graduate even faster.
Joint degree students can apply for assistantships through the Andrew Young School. Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) typically work around 8 hours per week for a faculty member or research center in the school and must be enrolled at least nine hours per semester. These assistantships are competitive and awarded to a small percentage of the applicant pool. The priority application deadline for assistantships that begin in the fall semester is February 15th. GRAs receive a stipend up to $2,000 per semester and their tuition is waived. GRAs are responsible for paying for books and mandatory student fees.

The College of Law awards scholarships to select entering students, and JD/MPA students may be eligible for those. For more information, contact the College of Law or visit their financial assistance webpage at http://law.gsu.edu/admissions/scholarships.php.

No. Students must apply to both programs and be accepted by each in order to enroll in the JD/MPA program. The College of Law admits students only for the fall term, with a deadline each year of March 15th. The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies will admit MPA students for the fall term (deadline: April 1st) or spring term (deadline: October 1st).
If an applicant has completed the LSAT and is accepted into the College of Law, the Andrew Young School does not require that applicant to take the GRE for the MPA/JD program.  However, it is recommended that students go ahead and take the GRE as well as the LSAT if applying into both the MPA and JD programs at the same time .
In some cases, yes. The Andrew Young School will permit a law student to begin the joint degree program only if he or she has completed 40 or fewer hours of coursework. The College of Law will allow MPA students to begin the joint program only if they have completely 20 or fewer hours of coursework. In either case, you must be admitted by both schools separately.
Yes. However, the College of Law will count 14 hours of MPA credit toward the JD degree only if a student earns the MPA degree. Choosing not to finish the MPA degree will result in a loss of 14 hours of credit. The MPA program may permit students who drop the JD component to count 14 hours of JD course credit, but it is not automatic and is at the discretion of the Andrew Young School faculty. Students considering dropping out of one or both programs should see the MPA/JD advisor immediately in order to ensure that appropriate steps are taken.
It depends. The College of Law requires that students finish all MPA degree requirements simultaneous to, or earlier than, finishing JD coursework, so graduating with a JD first is not an option. However, the Andrew Young School permits students who finish the MPA component ahead of the JD component to graduate with the MPA first. It is probably best to shoot for finishing both at the same time. In order to make sure that relevant courses are taken in a timely manner, students should work with the MPA/JD advisor to take required courses early on and electives later.
This is up to the individual student, with some exceptions. Students should plan to spend two consecutive semesters exclusively in the College of Law in order to complete the first-year law curriculum. Most students spend their first year of the program in the College of Law. Aside from that, students will likely find that it is advantageous to take both MPA and JD courses each semester to ensure that required courses are being completed in a timely manner. It is frequently possible to take MPA courses during the summer session.
Any 8000-level MPA course in the core curriculum will count toward the 14 hours accepted by the College of Law. Most electives also qualify, with the exception of PMAP 8451 – Public Law and Public Administration, and any course with a legal focus offered by PMAP faculty. The Andrew Young School will accept almost all courses in the College of Law, but students should consult with the MPA/JD advisor to ensure that appropriate courses are taken.
A concentration is not required for joint students. The MPA component of the joint program is comprised exclusively of required courses, so it is not possible for students to declare a concentration. However, students who wish to take more credit hours than are required for graduation may find it helpful to complete a different concentration in something like management and finance, public policy, or non-profit studies.
Yes. Students must arrange to work for an organization for a minimum of 300 hours in order to receive internship credit. Students must enroll for three hours of PMAP 8941 in order to satisfy this requirement. Internships can be either paid or unpaid. Students should work with the MPA/JD advisor to choose an internship that is appropriate for their goals.

Students with prior administrative experience may petition to have the internship requirement waived – forms are available through the Office of Academic Assistance, and a committee of PMAP faculty will determine whether a waiver is justified. Students may also choose to conduct a practicum in lieu of an internship. A practicum is an applied research project that is supervised by a faculty member and is ideally-suited for those who have academic or research interests.

The grading system in the College of Law is based on a competitive curve, with the average being much lower than is generally the case in the Andrew Young School. Students may not count law courses with grades lower than “C” toward the 14 hours accepted by the Andrew Young School, and the College of Law will not accept MPA courses with grades lower than “B.” When seeking employment, students are encouraged to report grade averages for the two degrees separately, since employers will expect higher grades for MPA students than law students. Departmental honors for MPA students, such as membership in the Pi Alpha Alpha honorary, are determined by grades earned only in MPA courses.
No. The number of credit hours required for the joint program cannot be reduced. For example, even if a student has a strong background in economics, he or she cannot waive the core MPA course in microeconomics (PMAP 8141). However, students may petition to substitute another course in such a situation, which will keep the number of credit hours the same but result in a different set of core courses. Students should consult with the MPA/JD advisor if they believe substitutions would be beneficial.
Jim Martin is the faculty advisor for joint students in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. The Office of Academic Assistance in the Andrew Young School can also answer questions about joint program requirements. Students with questions for the College of Law should contact Ms. Shantay Bennett at sbennett7@gsu.edu.