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Earn Canadian and U.S. Juris Doctor Degrees in Four Years
The Canadian and American Dual J.D. Program offers an opportunity for students to earn Canadian and American Juris Doctor degrees in a total of four years. The program prepares students for the economic and social consequences of international integration and globalization, while making them marketable on both sides of the border. To enroll in the Dual J.D. Program, students must be ranked in the top half of their class after the 1L or 2L year. Students complete two full academic years in residence at each institution.
The following document presents the administrative policies for the Michigan State University College of Law portion of the Dual J.D. Program with the University of Ottawa. Students should contact the University of Ottawa regarding administrative policies and procedure for their portion of the program. The sections included in the documents are:
You should read these policies carefully and ask questions whenever you are uncertain about anything. Students are ultimately responsible for meeting the requirements for their degrees.
Questions should be directed to the entities best placed to answer them, as a primary matter (see “Administrative Issues”). More advanced concerns should be directed to Associate Dean Connell Alsup on the MSU Law side of the program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org at 517/432-6806.
In order to earn a J.D. degree at MSU College of Law you must do all of the following:
You should plan your program carefully and should be aware that the requirements to earn a J.D. from MSU Law are governed by rules enacted by the Faculty of the Law College and by the standards of the American Bar Association. Dual J.D. Program students should, for instance, scrutinize with care the rules listed below under the heading Fulfilling MSU Law Requirements With Ottawa Classes, to ascertain which courses must be taken at MSU Law to fulfill MSU Law curriculum requirements. Advance planning is critical. Students should not expect to graduate within their anticipated timetable if, at the projected date of graduation, they have failed to fulfill the core expectations requirements of an MSU Law J.D. degree. Students should not assume that waivers of core requirements can be obtained as a result of failure to take a course that is required to be taken at MSU Law.
There are two kinds of credits: MSU Law credits and transfer credits. MSU Law credits are those earned in classes taken at MSU Law or in an MSU Law study abroad program, such as the MSU summer placement program in Ottawa. Transfer credits are those earned in classes taken from other law schools, such as those taken at another school by students who transfer to MSU in their second year, those taken at U. Ottawa by Dual J.D. Program students, ABA summer programs sponsored by other law schools, etc.
Not every course that you take at Ottawa will transfer and count toward your MSU Law degree. Specifically, course taken at Ottawa do not transfer where:
Transfer credits (including those earned at U. Ottawa) will appear on your MSU Law transcript as ungraded. Whatever grade you received in classes taken at another law school is a matter between that school and you, and will not be factored into your MSU Law GPA, class rank, or graduation honors. Only MSU Law credits will be factored in for those purposes.
To receive a final class rank upon graduation, a student must have received at least 70 graded credits at MSU Law. This excludes credits awarded as pass/fail or credit/no-credit, and also excludes credits awarded at other schools (such as those earned at the U. of Ottawa). As a result, students in the Dual J.D. Program will ordinarily not receive a final class rank. To receive an interim class rank (i.e., a cumulative rank reported after each semester), a student’s first year must have been completed at MSU Law.
Students who do not receive class ranks can nevertheless get MSU Law grade comparisons with their MSU Law classmates for the same time period. The Registrar will generate semester reports of the GPAs of those students included in class-rank calculations, indicating decile cutoffs. In lieu of a class rank, those students excluded from class rank calculations can see in what decile their GPA from their time at MSU Law falls.
To be eligible for Class Honors (cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude) upon graduation, a student must have earned at least 53 graded credits at MSU Law. As with class rank, this excludes credits awarded as pass/fail or credit/no-credit, and also excludes credits awarded at other schools (such as Ottawa).
Some of the courses taken at Ottawa can fulfill MSU Law requirements:
Students whose first year in the Dual J.D. Program is at Ottawa will take the regular first-year curriculum there, including Torts, Contracts, and Property. Doing so will fulfill the MSU Law requirement of Torts, Contracts, and Property.
All students are required to take Research, Writing & Analysis, and Advocacy at MSU Law. All students must satisfy the Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR) of MSU Law by writing a paper at MSU Law and fully complying with the rules for receiving ULWR credit.
Extracurricular Activities at MSU Law: Students in the Dual J.D. Program may not participate in some extracurricular activities, including certain certificate programs and Law College journals. For example, students in the program are not eligible for the Michigan State Law Review, the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute, or Moot Court. For information on restrictions affecting other extracurricular activities, students should contact the director of the pertinent program or journal.
Every year the question arises about how to expedite grading exams of graduating students in the Dual J.D. Program, because the University of Ottawa needs to at least know whether a student is passing before MSU Law grades are due. In order to accommodate Dual J.D. students who are completing their final semester at MSU Law and will also be graduating in Ottawa the same semester, the following process is being implemented:
To protect the integrity of the grading system, professors with graduating Dual J.D. students will receive three exams for each one Dual J.D. student in the class. Thus, if there are two graduating Dual J.D. students in the class, the professor will receive six exams. The graduating Dual J.D. student(s) will be hidden within the group. Professors will be asked to review these exams and notify the Registrar's Office that the students will at least pass the course. The professor will then notify the registrar's office before the end of May as to whether the students for the sample of reviewed exams all passed the course. The Registrar's Office will track the submission of grades and notify the University of Ottawa as to whether the graduating Dual J.D. student(s) passed all courses. Final letter grades will be assigned to the reviewed exams when final grades for all students are submitted.
Because the University of Ottawa requires notification by the end of May whether graduating Dual J.D. students will pass all courses, affected professors must conduct an expedited, anonymous review of exams to determine whether graduating Dual J.D. Program students will pass. Because a student who elects the credit/no credit option receives no credit for a grade of C- or below, Dual J.D. students may not elect this option for courses taken in their final semester.
Ordinarily, students in the dual degree program will be able to transfer up to 29 credits from Ottawa in order to satisfy MSU Law's 88-credit graduation requirement. Because students will be spending two years at Ottawa and taking the equivalent of 60 credits there, this should not be difficult.
MSU Law will scrutinize any course with the same or similar name as an MSU course, and may disallow the transfer of some credits from Ottawa. Some commonly recurring courses will be excepted. For instance, students must take civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, and basic research courses at both schools, because the material in the Ottawa classes is sufficiently distinct from the material in the MSU Law classes, transfer credit for the Ottawa classes will count them toward the 88-credit requirement. There are no doubt numerous examples among upper-level electives of courses that sound the same but whose content is different. But other courses, such as international law, jurisprudence, etc., are redundant and will not transfer. Relatedly, if a student took a course in Ottawa and subsequently attempts to take a similar course at MSU Law, the student will be precluded from applying the second course for credit towards the J.D. degree at MSU Law. In no event will the student receive credit toward the MSU Law degree for having taken such a duplicative course. Students should be prepared to respond to a request to distinguish two similar-sounding courses if they want credit for the second one. To receive credit, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain permission from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before enrolling in any course similar to that previously taken at the University of Ottawa.
Ottawa requires students to take Property even if they took it at MSU Law, because the Canadian property course deals with First Nations issues not covered in the MSU Law course. Students taking Property at both schools will only be able to transfer two credits from the Ottawa course to their MSU Law record.
Understanding some general principles of administration and communication will help when and if questions or concerns arise.
Tuition is paid to the school where a student starts and the financial relationship is with this school until both programs have been completed. However, if Ottawa students take a course at an MSU college other than the Law College they will pay MSU tuition at the rate charged by that other college.
If a student needs to transfer only some of the credits in a semester (e.g., a student has 76 MSU Law credits and is taking 15 at Ottawa that semester), approved credits will be transferred in the order that they appear on the Ottawa transcript until the 88-credit requirement is met.
Students in the dual degree program have the advantage of drawing on two sets of administrators and staff to meet their needs. For the sake of efficiency and effectiveness, students should contact the people at the school best placed to help them. For instance, students have access to career services at both schools; if you are a student who is working on getting a job in the United States, you should contact the MSU Law Career Services office, even if you are currently at Ottawa. Issues concerning visas should be directed to the appropriate law school: MSU Law for visas to get into the U.S. and Ottawa for visas to get into Canada.
To keep each school up to date on the progress of its students both schools will regularly exchange transcripts and other relevant information concerning academic performance. Students can elect to sign a form to authorize the automatic release of all of the information in their student file to the other school.
Until your J.D. degree is issued, you remain a student subject to the MSU Law Code of Student Discipline. You remain accountable to MSU Law while you are in Ottawa. You are responsible for complying with MSU Law standards for academic integrity with respect to all of your course work in Ottawa and for other conduct subject to the MSU Law Code of Student Discipline. Specifically, the Code of Student Discipline provides: “The provisions of this Code also extend to conduct which occurs while an MSU Law student is enrolled at another institution of higher learning, whether as a visitor at another law school, as a candidate for a dual degree or pursuant to permission to take elective credits in a graduate department at MSU.”
The primary administrative contact at MSU Law is Connell Alsup, associate dean for student engagement and registrar, particularly for students in Ottawa who need a local voice at MSU Law. However, students who have a question, concern, or problem relating to MSU Law should first contact the appropriate office (e.g., Registrar, Financial Aid, Career Services, Admissions, etc.). Dean Alsup can offer assistance for those situations when this initial contact is insufficient to resolve an issue. In addition, students must remain in contact with the Admissions Office International Law Student Advisor to ensure timely processing of their visas and student status. The primary administrative contact at the U of Ottawa is Amanda Turnbull, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. For more advanced concerns, students should contact Michael A. Lawrence, Associate Dean for Graduate, International and Interdisciplinary Programs and Professor of Law.
It is important for all students in the dual degree program to maintain links to MSU Law while in Ottawa. This can be difficult to do at a distance, making it crucial that students maintain regular access to their MSU email addresses. Below is a list of contacts to assist students in locating information or services.
Associate Dean Connell Alsup
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