U.S.-Canadian Dual J.D. Program with the University of Ottawa
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.
Administrative Policies for MSU Law Students
Following are the administrative policies for the MSU Law portion of the program. There are sections on:
- General Requirements
- GPA, Class Rank, and Class Honors
- Fulfilling MSU Law Requirements with Ottawa Classes
- Administrative Issues
Students should read these policies carefully and ask questions about anything that is unclear. Students are ultimately responsible for meeting the requirements for their degrees.
The primary administrative contacts for the program are Connell Alsup, Associate Dean for Student Engagement at MSU Law (517-432-6806 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and Amanda Turnbull, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at Ottawa (613-562-5800, ext. 2832, or Amanda.Turnbull@uottawa.ca). Students who have questions relating to MSU Law should first contact the appropriate office (e.g., Registrar, Financial Aid, Career Services, Admissions). (See “Administrative Issues.”)
Applications will be due in early March in the MSU Law Registrar Office in Room 309. Please submit the following:
- Application Form
- MSU Law Transcript (a copy will be provided by the Registrar Office.)
- Class Rank (STUINFO print-out)
- Letter of Interest (max 2 pages)
- Recommendation Letter (optional)
- LSDAS Report (a copy included in the packet from Registrar)
Part of the process will also include an audit by the Registrar's Office to assure that you have completed or will be able to complete all of the MSU College of Law requirements. We look forward to receiving your applications.
Only students who began their program at MSU Law may apply to the Dual J.D. Program in the spring of their first or second year. Students will be selected for the program based on their academic qualifications and their interest in the program. Students should be ranked in the top 50 percent of their class at the time of application. In addition, students are required to submit fully updated academic information, including transcripts for all classes taken at MSU Law, to the administrators of the program at Ottawa before commencing studies there.
In order to earn a J.D. degree at MSU College of Law students must have achieved each of the following standards:
- 88 semester hours of credit.
- Earn at least 65 credit hours in attendance in regularly scheduled class sessions.
- Cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or better.
- Compliance with mandatory course requirements.
- Compliance with the upper level writing requirement.
- Earn at least 59 of the 88 credits at MSU Law or another ABA-accredited law school. At least 45 of these 59 credits must be earned at MSU Law, and must satisfy certain other relevant ABA criteria for classes. (Note: Students who do not begin the J.D. program at MSU Law are ineligible to participate in the Dual J.D. Program.)
- Complete J.D. requirements within 84 months from the initial day of enrollment.
- Pay all mandatory charges and fees.
- Satisfy graduation requirements of MSU Law and the U of Ottawa.
Refer to the Student Handbook for more detailed information regarding graduation requirements.
Students should plan their 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. 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 requirements of an MSU 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 Law study abroad program in Japan. 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 Ottawa by Dual J.D. students, ABA summer programs sponsored by other law schools, etc.
Not every course taken at Ottawa will transfer and count toward an MSU Law degree. Specifically, courses taken at Ottawa do not transfer where (1) a grade below "C" was earned; (2) it would be redundant with an MSU Law course already taken; or (3) the 88-credit requirement is exceeded. Requirements for (2) and (3) are explained in more detail below. (See “Redundancy” and “Administrative Issues.”)
Transfer credits (including those earned at Ottawa) will be ungraded and will not be factored into an MSU Law GPA, class rank, or graduation honors. Only MSU Law credits will be factored in for these purposes.
To receive a final class rank upon graduation, a student must have earned 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. As a result, students in the Dual J.D. Program ordinarily will 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. Dual degree students who start at MSU Law will receive interim class ranks each semester they earn graded credits at MSU Law (this does not include pass/fail or credit/no credit grades).
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 determine the decile in which their MSU Law GPA 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. In other words, 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 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.
- Students whose first year in the Dual J.D. Program is at MSU Law must take all first-year required courses.
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.
All students are required to take Research, Writing & Analysis and Advocacy at MSU Law.
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.
Students in the Dual J.D. Program may 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.
There are, however, issues of timing. Some students – particularly those who start with two years at MSU Law – may wish to finish their 88 credits and earn their J.D. as soon as possible. As a result, students must carefully consider which classes at Ottawa will count toward MSU Law credits.
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, will transfer credit for the Ottawa classes will count 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. To avoid redundancy, students who take Property at both schools, may only transfer two credits from the Ottawa course to MSU Law.
Understanding some general principles of administration and communication will help 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. During all four years of the program, financial aid is administered through the school where the student is first admitted. Even though students who begin at MSU Law pay MSU Law tuition to MSU Law throughout their law school career (even while at Ottawa), they pay a reduced rate of 50% after paying for 88 credits. (Because tuition is generally paid at the beginning of a semester, students who begin a semester short of their 88 credits – perhaps because their last semester's grades are not in yet – will have to pay full tuition, and will then be entitled to a refund of the excess once the completion of 88 credits has been verified.) MSU Law scholarships only cover up to 88 credits.
Students who begin at Ottawa continue paying Ottawa tuition to Ottawa while they attend classes at MSU Law. 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, because MSU Law is financially separate from the rest of the university. All MSU Law students who enroll in courses at other MSU colleges pay the tuition rate charged by the MSU college.
Students in the Dual J.D. 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 administrators at the school best placed to help them. For instance, while students have access to career services at both schools, students who are looking for jobs in the United States should contact the MSU Law Career Services office, even if they are currently at Ottawa. Issues concerning visas should be directed to the appropriate international law school advisor: MSU Law for visas to get into the U.S. and Ottawa for visas to get into Canada. However, students originally enrolled in Ottawa are also required to communicate with the MSU Law Office of Graduate and International Programs, prior to attending classes at MSU Law.
To keep each school up to date on the progress of its students studying at the other, the 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 information in their student file to the other school.
Until a J.D. degree is issued, students remain subject to the MSU Law Code of Student Discipline. Students also remain accountable to MSU Law while they are in Ottawa. Students are responsible for complying with MSU Law standards for academic integrity with respect to all 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, 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 Office of Graduate and International Programs 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 MSU Law Professor Brian Kalt.
It is important for all students in the Dual J.D. 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.
MSU Law Contact Information:
Associate Dean Connell Alsup
Office of Graduate and International Programs
Assistant Dean Amanda Turnbull
613-562-5800 ext. 2832
Updated June 17, 2016