Medicine and Law

Combined Degrees

Some students want to explore areas beyond the law, whether it be to maximize their skillsets for future careers, gain in-depth knowledge in a second subject matter, or simply to broaden their minds. 

Combined degree programs allow students to pursue two degrees simultaneously, taking advantage of synergies between degree requirements while gaining significant exposure to a second area of study. 

At Iowa, JD students are able to pursue combined degree programs with most graduate and professional programs at the University. Double-crediting policies allow students to receive the JD and another graduate or professional degree in a shorter time than would be necessary if the two degrees were pursued independently.

Dexter Golinghorst '20

Meet Alum Dexter Golinghorst

JD | MHA

Dexter started his undergraduate career as a pre-pharmacy student but quickly became interested in the laws, regulations, and policies that govern healthcare and the Affordable Care Act’s effect on the industry as he continued his studies.

Combined Degree Options

Formal combined degree options include:

  • JD/MHA (Master of Health Administration)
  • JD/MPH (Master of Public Health)
  • JD/MBA (Master of Business Administration)
  • JD/MSBA (Master of Science in Business Analytics)
  • JD/M Fin (Master of Science in Finance)
  • JD/Master of Arts in Philosophy
  • MD/JD

In addition, JD students are free to pursue a combined degree with almost every graduate or professional program at the University of Iowa.  Graduate programs in which law students have enrolled over the years include:

  • Accounting
  • Art History
  • Communication Studies
  • Economics
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Higher Education
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Library and Information Science
  • Political Science
  • Social Work
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Please contact us if you are interested in additional information about pursuing a combined degree.

Applying for a Combined Degree

To pursue a combined degree, a student must apply to and be accepted into both the JD program at the College of Law and another graduate or professional program at the University of Iowa. Students typically seek admission to the second degree-granting program after matriculation at the College of Law by applying to the graduate program of interest during the first year of law school. In some cases it is possible to apply to both programs simultaneously. Similarly, students who have already begun graduate work at the University of Iowa may apply to the College of Law.  Note that students may not count credits toward the J.D. degree that were earned before matriculation into a J.D. program.

Prospective combined degree students must submit separate applications to the College of Law and the graduate program of interest.  Applicants should indicate to the Admissions Office of both programs that they are applying as a combined degree student. In addition, some programs will allow the LSAT to be considered as a replacement for the relevant program admissions test (such as the GRE or GMAT). 

Admission to the College of Law does not guarantee admission to the other graduate program, and vice versa. A student who seeks a combined degree and obtains admission into one degree program but not the other may enter the program to which the student is admitted. However, the student will not be granted combined degree status. Likewise, a combined degree candidate who terminates work toward either degree may typically continue to work toward the other degree.

Once a student has been accepted to the JD program and another graduate or professional program at the University of Iowa, students must obtain the permission of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs or Dean of the College of Law to be classified as a Combined Degree candidate. 

Students who are admitted to both colleges will receive separate letters of admission from those colleges as well as an official notification of being admitted to the combined degree program from the UI Office of Admissions at Calvin Hall. Students who are admitted to both colleges but do not receive official notification of being admitted to the combined degree program should contact the main UI Office of Admissions at 107 Calvin Hall, 800-553-IOWA.

The College of Law recommends that any prospective student interested in pursuing a combined degree at the College of Law begin by contacting Amy Best, Director of Admissions and Enrollment at the College of Law, at amy-best@uiowa.edu.  Current JD students should contact Jason Rantanen, the Combined Degree Faculty Advisor, at jason-rantanen@uiowa.edu

Admissions information for the JD program is available on the admissions page.  For information about other graduate programs of interest, please visit the Academic Units Admissions Departments.

Students enrolled in combined degrees must satisfy the usual hours and course requirements that all other students must satisfy for each degree separately.  However, as an integrated program of study, combined degree candidates have the option of crediting some courses towards both degrees.  These courses are typically electives in each discipline that satisfy the requirements for each degree separately.  As an example, a student enrolled as a JD/MPH candidate may be able to count both the Family Law and Introduction to the US Healthcare System courses toward the graduation requirements of both the JD and MPH degrees.  

In general, a combined degree student may apply up to 12 non-law credits earned in the student’s second program of study at the University of Iowa toward the JD provided that the courses satisfy the College of Law policy on non-law courses.  Students considering a combined degree should keep in mind that the first-year program in the College of Law consists of required courses and students will take only law classes that year.

The amount of cross-crediting for the student’s second degree varies by program.  Formal, established programs specify the number of credits that a student may cross-count.  For example, the JD/MPH degree permits up to 12 credit hours of specific College of Law courses to count toward the MPH graduation requirements.  See the specific program requirements (linked above) for additional details.  Outside of formal programs, all other degrees offered through the Graduate College, which includes most MA or MS degrees, allow students to count up to 6 credit hours of College of Law courses toward the non-law degree.  Details on the Graduate College policy may be found in the Graduate College Manual of Rules and Regulations.  In general, prospective students should check with the graduate or professional program of interest to determine the number of law hours it accepts for cross-crediting purposes and other rules or restrictions concerning cross-crediting with the College of Law.

Additional details about College of Law graduation requirements and other policies may be found in the Student Handbook.

The majority of students enrolled in a combined-degree program with a JD degree and any other graduate or professional program will be assessed at least six semesters of JD tuition. Additional semesters enrolled in the combined degree program will be assessed at the rate for the other graduate program.

For some of the formal, established combined degree programs where students spend a full upper-level year in the other program, students will be assessed the non-law tuition for that full second or third year of the combined degree, and pay the College of Law tuition in subsequent semesters.  Students enrolled in a combined degree program in which the tuition for the other program is higher than the JD program (such as the MD/JD) will be required to pay the tuition of the higher program for a certain number of minimum semesters.  Consult the formal program descriptions linked above and contact Amy Best (for prospective JD students) or Jason Rantanen (for current JD students) with any questions.

Timeline: With the double-crediting policies, students typically complete combined degree programs in approximately 6-8 semesters, depending on the program. Students spend their first year entirely at the law school, taking the 1L JD required curriculum. Some of the formal programs require students to spend a full upper-level year taking classes towards that program, and students are not enrolled in law classes during that time. More information can be found through the formal program descriptions above. For programs without this requirement, students typically take classes towards both degree programs after their 1L year.

Resources: Students work with combined degree advisors at the College of Law and advisors in their other program to help maximize their experience in both programs. The advisors help students decide which courses to take after their 1L year, discuss how to ideally structure their time in the combined-degree program, and increase their exposure in both programs.

Students can get involved in various activities and opportunities in both programs. Students partake in student organizations and extracurricular activities in both programs. Students can serve as a Research Assistant for a College of Law professor, or as a Teaching Assistant or Graduate Assistant for a professor in their other degree program. Students work with career advisors and student services staff in both programs to pursue job opportunities during the summers and post-graduation. Students utilize the resources and experiences in both the JD and other program to maximize their skillset in both the law and their other area of study.

Career Paths: Most combined degree students begin their careers in law practice. There is often a synergy between their combined area of study and the type of law they pursue. For example, students pursuing a JD in combination with a degree program at the Tippie College of Business typically work in corporate law and related areas, such as tax or intellectual property.

Some students choose to go directly into their combined degree field, and use their JD to help them land positions where the legal skillset is an advantage, such as in regulatory, policy, compliance, and management work. For many students, combined degree programs have the most impact later in their career, when their education both in the law and another field are advantageous in higher level administrative and management positions.