Arizona BA in Law, a First of its Kind in the U.S., Available 100% Online
Way back in 2013, law faculty at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law struck up a conversation with Chad Westerland, associate director of University of Arizona's School of Government and Public Policy, about a different type of law degree – one that could serve a wide range of professions but didn’t require the traditional academic path of a Juris Doctor. Their dialogue centered around a question other academics weren’t asking: Why is the JD degree the only legal education path out there?
“It’s just part of our culture to have these conversations,” Westerland said. “We asked the question: Why aren’t we delivering legal education to undergraduates? Eighteen months later we had a (bachelor’s) program in place. There really is no other program like this in the U.S.”
The University of Arizona Bachelor of Arts in Law, launched in 2014 is the nation's first BA in law. Today, the degree can be achieved 100% online.
“This is certainly filling a need in legal education that is not accounted for,” said Keith Swisher, law professor and director of the program. “We’re working to train a new category of legal professionals.”
Westerland added that offering the degree 100% online was a natural and necessary next step in accommodating those who need a more flexible schedule. “The online program reaches a different population of students,” Westerland added. “(Online students) tend to be older; they are those with professional experience.”
Driving the conversation
"The program serves a wide range of students who would benefit from legal education in their careers but may not need a graduate law degree," Swisher explained. "Examples can include employees working in compliance, procurement, contracts, human resources, health care, insurance, law enforcement, government and administration, to name just a few."
“What some architects of this program recognized is that so many careers and professionals use law and regulation as part of their work duties on a daily basis, yet they don’t need to be a licensed lawyer,” Swisher added. “That was a huge impetus for the program."
For those students interested in a JD, the program serves as excellent preparation, and we already have had students go on to excel at our law school and other great law schools across the country.
The traditional law path – obtaining a bachelor’s degree and then attending a three-year graduate program for a JD degree – is still available to BA in Law students at Arizona. For those who know they want a traditional law degree or a master’s in law degree, the program can save them time and money, too.
The University of Arizona offers a 3+3 BA and JD program, which allows students to start taking first-year graduate school classes in their senior year of the BA in Law, effectively eliminating one year from the standard seven-year track from bachelor’s degree to JD. The University of Arizona also offers an accelerated Master of Legal Studies program, which enables a student to complete a BA in Law and a master’s degree within 4.5 to 5 years.
he BA in Law stands out in several other key ways. First, undergraduates both on campus and online, are taught by full-time College of Law faculty, the same professors who teach these subjects in Arizona’s JD program. Students also study the same subjects seen in the first year of any JD program around the country, Swisher said. In addition, the core curriculum and elective credits include courses from the School of Government and Public Policy.
“This is a well-rounded social sciences curriculum,” Westerland added. “It covers both political science and criminal justice. It helps students see the world through a social scientist’s eyes and a lawyer’s eyes. It’s a broader, more unique view.”
Learn more about the online BA in Law.