Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

September 25, 1997

Law-CAS program allows students to skip senior year for law school

Hoping to tap into a new vein of students, Pitt's School of Law has entered into an agreement with the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) that allows qualified CAS students to skip their senior year and enter law school.

Known as the "3/3 Program," the plan cuts the time it takes to obtain an undergraduate degree and a law degree from seven years to six years. For students, that means a savings of a full year's tuition plus related expenses.

The "3/3 Program" is one of three new programs recently developed by the law school to maintain enrollment in the face of a five-year, nationwide decline in law school students.

"Guaranteed Admission for Entering Freshmen" and "Early Decision" are the other two new enrollment plans. Through those programs, students who meet certain criteria either are admitted automatically or are guaranteed admission into law school.

Under the "3/3 Program," which is new to Pitt but has been used by various other law schools around the country since the early 1950s, according to law school Dean Peter Shane, CAS students will apply to law school during their junior year. "The College of Arts and Sciences will count their law school credits as the non-Arts and Sciences credits that they are allowed to have for the completion of their B.A.," Shane explained. "So, at the end of the first year of law school, they will get their Bachelor of Arts. Then they just have two more years of law school." To gain admittance under the "3/3 Program," a student must complete 102 Arts and Sciences' credits, including a major and three writing courses beyond the freshman writing requirement by the end of his or her junior year plus one summer. CAS students not enrolled in the "3/3 Program" are required to complete only two writing courses beyond freshman composition to obtain a degree. The third writing course was added to the "3/3 Program" because of the heavy writing and analytical reading required of law students, according to Shane.

Students who apply to law school under the program also have to take, and score at a certain level, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) by the fall of their junior year.

In addition, students in the program will be required to meet during the first semester of their sophomore year with both a CAS and a law school adviser. The meetings are designed to insure that students are fulfilling all of the program's necessary curricular and administrative requirements so that they will be ready to apply to law school during their junior year.

"The idea is to make sure that students are planning their career through their sophomore and junior year in a way that will allow them to complete their major in three years," Shane said.

CAS currently is seeking sophomores who may be interested in the "3/3 Program." The first class in the program will start law school September 1999, according to Shane. Nobody knows how many students will apply, but Shane expects only about a half dozen the first year.

Students who are not admitted under the "3/3 Program," or the other new programs, still will be able to apply to law school after they complete their senior year. They will not prejudice their chances if they are not accepted into the programs, according to the dean.

Although only Pitt CAS students may now take advantage of the "3/3 Program," Shane expects it to be expanded soon to include Carnegie Mellon University students. He said the law school also has been talking to other schools on the Pittsburgh campus and to Pitt's regional campuses.

Among the schools that seem especially well suited to the program is the School of Nursing. According to Shane, nurses have become very interested in law because of regulatory changes and mergers that have occurred in the health care industry recently, and the various legal and ethical questions that have arisen from advances in medical technology.

Shane noted that a group of nurses with law degrees recently organized the Western Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Attorneys. "The demand for lawyers in the health care field is now so great that it is actually not a bad combination of skills," he said.

Under the "Early Decision Program," according to the law school's Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Pitt students who attain a specified grade point average (GPA) and a specified LSAT score automatically will be accepted into the School of Law subject to a standard character review. The required GPA and LSAT scores will be determined each year by a Faculty Admissions Committee.

To qualify for the "Guaranteed Admission for Entering Freshmen Program," a student must be admitted to the University as a full-time CAS student with a Scholastic Aptitude Test score of 1300 or an American College Testing program score of 29. Candidates also must rank in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.

In addition, according to the Office of Admissions, the guarantee is available only if the student maintains a 3.5 GPA while a full-time undergraduate, satisfies a standard character review and attains a LSAT score of 160 (or such LSAT score as would warrant an acceptance for that year).

Of the three new enrollment programs, Shane said: "In a way, we're trying to take advantage of what we think is the University's pretty dramatic success in attracting increasingly large numbers of very, very highly qualified undergraduates."

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 30 Issue 3

Leave a Reply