Requirements for the MA/JD Dual-Degree Program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Law at the University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati (UC) MA/JD dual-degree program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and Law, the first such program in the nation, enables students to complete both degrees in four years. It is jointly administered by the Department of WGSS and the College of Law through its Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice.
Special features of the dual-degree program:
- College of Law Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice Sponsors the following opportunities:
- MA/JD Law Externship: Students may apply to the College of Law to spend the fall of their fourth year in the dual-degree program (final year of law school) on an externship at a feminist workplace, such as The National Women's Law Center.
- Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic: Students may apply to the College of Law to do law classroom and field placement work for credit.
- Freedom Center Journal: Students may serve as editors and contributors to this interdisciplinary journal devoted to race, gender, and social justice studies.
- Taft Research Center Graduate Travel and Enrichment Grants and Interdisciplinary Programming: MA/JD students while in the WGSS MA program may apply for graduate conference travel grants and graduate enrichment grants that can support research travel, study abroad, and conference organizing. They also benefit from public lectures, interdisciplinary graduate seminars, and academic conferences that are sponsored by Taft and Taft member departments.
- WGSS MA/JD Graduate Assistantships/Fellowships: Two endowed funds (donated by the Runyan and Warner families) are designated for full or partial graduate assistantship or fellowship support for 1-2 MA/JD students per year during the first year of the MA.
- WGSS strengths in Sexuality Studies and Transnational Feminism: These add significant dimensions to feminist- and human rights-oriented law school courses.
Like other students in the 2-year MA program, MA/JD dual-degree students must complete required core and elective courses offered by the WGSS Department, and a culminating MA Project and MA Oral Examination, but in a different time frame (a sample course of study is included below to help students visualize the joint-degree process). The MA in WGSS requires a minimum of 30 graduate semester credits. Students are expected to complete the required curriculum for the first year of the WGSS MA, thereby accumulating at least 22 graduate semester credits as full-time students in the MA that year. The remaining 8 graduate semester credits for the MA are completed by taking the required MA Project and Oral Exam sequence (4 classroom and a minimum of 4 non-classroom hours) in the third year of their 4-year dual degree program along with JD electives.
How many law degree credits are required for MA/JD joint-degree students?
90 semester credits (minimum required for all law students), 77 of which must be classroom hours
- 8 graduate semester credits (earned after the IL year in WGSS courses)
= 82 semester credits
Thus, by completing Feminist Research and Methods (4 credits towards JD classroom credits) and up to 4 hours taken by optionally enrolling in a WGS elective (carrying 3-4 classroom credits) or applying up to 4 (non-classroom) hours taken for WGSS Individual Directed Research I and II (1-3 credits each for completing the MA Project) and Comprehensive Analysis (1-4 credits for Oral Exam preparation and completion), only 83 semester credits must be taken in the College of Law by dual-degree students. To assure this option, however, MA/JD students should successfully complete their MA Projects (typically a 25-40 page interdisciplinary research paper on a law- or non-law-related topic which must engage feminist, gender, and/or queer scholarship) and successfully complete their 1.5 hour MA Oral Exam preferably by the end of their third year. Students who do not complete the MA before the JD may lose the option of applying MA credits to the JD.
What is the best sequencing for the joint-degree program?
Students may spend the first year in the MA program, the second year in the joint-degree program as first-year law students (1Ls), then complete the required MA Research Project and Oral Exam sequence along with any required or elective JD courses in the third year, and finish the JD in their fourth year. Or students may spend the first year as 1Ls, the second year in the MA program as first-year graduate students, completing the MA Project and Oral Exam requirements with additional JD courses in the third year, and completing the JD in the fourth year. Either way, students may also opt for an externship during their fourth year in the dual-degree program (after completing the MA). Law school requirements are not detailed here, but are easily completed during the three years of study based in the College of Law.
Sample course of study for joint-degree students:
- First year: Dual-degree students enroll full-time in either WGSS or the College of Law, and spend the year fulfilling the first year requirements for that degree program.
- Second year: Dual-degree students enroll full-time in the other discipline, completing the appropriate requirements.
- Third year: Dual-degree students enroll in the College of Law, complete the required WGSS MA Project and Oral Exam sequence (an additional WGS elective is optional), and take additional law courses (including feminist theoretical ones; two of the following three are required: Critical Race Theory, Feminist Jurisprudence, Gender and the Law) sequence, and take additional law courses.
- Fourth year: Dual-degree students enroll full time in the College of Law. An ideal time to engage in a joint-degree externship, join the DV/CPO Clinic, or work on the Freedom Center Journal.
What are some law school courses with feminist and/or sexuality studies content that joint-degree students should take as part of their Law curriculum?
Dual-degree take 2 of the following 3:
- Critical Race Theory
- Feminist Jurisprudence
- Gender and the Law
Other germane electives:
- Education Law
- Employment Discrimination
- Family Law
- International Human Rights: Women's Human Rights
- Law, Literature & Feminism
- Sexual Orientation and the Law
These courses can be taken by MA/JD and MA students, although some courses are not offered every year, and other courses might be added in the future. Students must contact the Registrar's Office at the College of Law to enroll in any law courses.
Once enrolled in the College of Law, MA/JD students must register for JD courses through the Registrar's Office for the College of Law and for MA courses through the University Registrar. Visit here to find course offerings and course registration deadlines for the College of Law, where some courses are offered with very limited enrollment. The ABA limits the number of credit hours that a law student may take in a semester (as does the UC Graduate School), so MA/JD students must plan their schedules accordingly. Visit UC's One Stop for WGSS graduate course offerings each semester and other registration information. The College of Law semester system is somewhat different from the University semester system that the WGSS Department follows, so dual-degree students must become acutely and proactively aware of differing semester calendars, course registration deadlines, and class schedules as they pursue the MA/JD.
Contact the WGSS Graduate Director with any questions about the WGSS graduate curriculum and/or MA degree requirements. Contact the College of Law and its Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice with any questions about their curriculum and/or JD degree requirements.