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J.D./Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Theory and Policy

J.D./Doctor of Educational Theory and Policy (Ph.D.)

with the Penn State College of Education

Penn State Law and the Educational Theory and Policy Program (EDTHP) offer a joint degree leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.); and a Master of Arts (M.A.), or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Theory and Policy.

Admissions Requirements

The number of openings in the joint degree J.D./M.A., or Ph.D. program will be limited to students with an outstanding academic record who have successfully completed the first-year curriculum with the law school. Applicants to the joint degree program:

  1. must have been admitted to Penn State Law;
  2. should have successfully completed the first-year curriculum at Penn State Law with a grade point average of 3.0; 
  3. must submit two letters of recommendations from Penn State Law faculty; and 
  4. must submit a career statement.

College-specific Admissions Requirements

Penn State Law

EDTHP: The following are required of all applicants: a completed Graduate School application; a completed application form to EDTHP; submission of the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or LSAT; an official undergraduate transcript or transcripts; a personal statement; employment records since high school; and three letters of recommendation.

The best qualified students will be accepted for admission into the doctoral program up to the number of spaces available. Students with a 2.75 grade-point-average (GPA) will be considered to the master's program, and with a 3.0 GPA at the master's level for the Ph.D. program. Exceptions to the minimum GPA may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Application Process

Students must complete the following Penn State applications, along with any other requirements in the College-specific Admissions Requirements section above. These applications may be completed simultaneously.

Penn State Law Application for Admission

Graduate School Application 

International Applicants

All international applicants whose first language is not English or who have not received baccalaureate or master's degrees from an institution in which the language of instruction is English must take the Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) and submit the results of that test with the application for admission. A TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test or a score of 213 on the computer-based test, or 80 points on the new Internet-based test with a minimum of 23 points on the new speaking portion; or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum composite score of 6.5 is required for admission.


Students will normally spend six semesters in residence at Penn State Law and as many additional semesters in residence as needed to complete the additional requirements for the pertinent EDTHP degree. Ph.D. candidates must arrange the sequence of semesters to ensure that they are in residence as full-time students in the EDTHP program for at least two consecutive semesters (Fall-Spring or Spring-Fall) excluding summer in a single twelve-month period.

College Liaisons

The department and faculty liaisons for Penn State Law shall be the Director of Joint Degree Programs and the student advisor shall be the Director of Joint Degree Programs or such other faculty member(s) as may be designated by the Dean. The liaison for EDTHP shall be the Professor-in-Charge (PIC) or such faculty member(s) as may be designated by the PIC.

Inter-program Transfer of Credits

Penn State Law:  A maximum of twelve (12) credits for EDTHP course work may be transferred for credit toward the J.D. degree at Penn State Law. Students must obtain a grade satisfactory to Penn State Law for the course work to be credited toward the J.D. degree.

The following EDTHP courses may qualify for credit in Penn State Law: EDTHP 518 (3), EDTHP 520 (3), EDTHP 533 (3), EDTHP 541 (3), EDTHP 587 (3), EDLDR 576 (3) 

EDTHP: What courses may be credited will be determined by the student's degree program. Normally a maximum of twelve (12) credits of Penn State Law course work will be counted for credit for the minimum requirements for a master's degree, subject to approval by the student's advisory committee.

Sequence of Study

The sequence of courses will be determined by the student and their advisor(s). However, students must successfully complete the first-year curriculum with the law school before the inter-program transfer of credits for graduate coursework can begin. In compliance with ABA Standards and Rules law students may not enroll for more than 17 credits per semester at Penn State.

Important Note:  If the joint degree student is using law (900-level) credits toward the graduate degree during their last semester of enrollment, they should be prepared to extend their graduate degree graduation to a subsequent semester (the following semester at a minimum).  This is due to the graduate degree approval deadline falling before the law (900-level) course grading processes are complete. 

Recommended Program of Study and Advising

All students in the program will have two advisors, one from Penn State Law and one from EDTHP. Periodic interaction between the two advisors will be encouraged. A program of study will be developed for each student, taking into account the fact that some courses are offered on a rotating or intermittent basis. Many courses are offered every year but some are offered every two or three years. The standard committee structure will apply to the EDTHP programs.


Students will be charged the applicable Penn State Law tuition to cover the J.D. program and the applicable graduate tuition to cover the EDTHP degree program. Penn State Law tuition will be paid for the semesters in which the student is registered for Penn State Law courses, and graduate tuition will be paid for the semesters in which the student is registered for graduate courses in the EDTHP program. A student may take up to one course (3 credit hours) per semester in the program where the student is not primarily registered without any change in tuition, but must pay additional tuition to the program that the student is not primarily registered if he or she wishes to take additional course work pursuant to that program during the semester.

Financial Aid and Assistantships

Decisions on financial aid and assistantships will be made by each school according to that school's procedures.

Educational Theory and Policy (EDTHP) Degree Programs

Penn State Law J.D. Degree Requirements