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New part-time J.D. programs expand distance learning, flexible scheduling options

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Several innovative new part-time J.D. programs have expanded distance-learning options for working professionals and parents.

In addition to the new weekend-based programs at at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law that are discussed in another blog post here, several law schools now offer more online classes and flexible scheduling.

Like the Weekend J.D. programs, each of these programs offers flexibility to students as they pursue their degrees over four years. The new programs include Syracuse University College of Law’s innovative JDinteractive, Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law’s Flex J.D., the University of Dayton School of Law’s Online Hybrid J.D. and Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Blended Learning option. Other schools, like Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, offer alternative programs of study that differ in scheduling and instructional approach from traditional part-time evening programs.

Syracuse University College of Law’s JDinteractive Program

Syracuse University College of Law’s innovative JDinteractive, an online J.D. program, is the first synchronous, interactive, ABA-approved online law degree program in the U.S.

JDinteractive is a flexible degree option designed for working students who can’t relocate.

“In our first two cohorts, we had students from 32 states and two foreign countries,” Kathleen O’Connor, associate dean for online education at Syracuse, said. “Currently we have students taking classes from as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand and as close as New York.”

The ABA-approved JDinteractive combines synchronous online classes with self-paced instruction, on-campus courses and experiential learning opportunities. And like the Weekend JD programs at Loyola-Chicago, Seton Hall and the Denver Sturm, the fact that students are working professionals leads to informed class discussions.

In fact, 39% of the Fall 2019 entering class had a separate graduate degree before entering JDinteractive, according to Robert Conrad, director of communications and media relations at Syracuse Law. Syracuse also has the nation’s first online joint J.D./M.B.A. degree program

Syracuse Law’s 2019 first-year class had 50th percentile LSAT scores of 154 and UGPAs of 3.33.

Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law’s Flex J.D. Program

Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law expanded its part-time J.D. program with evening and weekend course offerings for working professionals. Haub’s new Flex J.D. program, which launched in the fall of 2019, gives students the option to take classes during the day, evenings, weekends or a combination best suited to their own needs.

The classes are held on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“It gives students much greater flexibility in planning when they can take courses: during the day, evenings, weekends and combinations of those,” Rex Bossert, assistant dean for external affairs at Haub Law, said. You can also read about Flex J.D. student Andrea Grant’s experience here.

Law’s 2019 first-year class of 36 part-time students had 50th percentile LSAT scores of 149 and UGPAs of 3.22.

The University of Dayton School of Law’s Online Hybrid J.D. Program

The University of Dayton School of Law’s Online Hybrid J.D. program, which was launched in the fall of 2019, combines online learning with in-person experiences. Dayton has also offered a two-year J.D. program since 2006.

Dayton’s online hybrid program takes four years to complete and is delivered in an innovative format offering more flexibility for students with professional and personal commitments. Students attend 10 live, in-person learning sessions in addition to interactive classes by video.

Dayton’s online hybrid J.D. program drew students from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming in its Fall 2019 1L class, Schrader said.

Dayton’s 2019 first-year class of 20 part-time students had 50th percentile LSAT scores of 153 and UGPAs of 3.39, both of which were slightly higher than Dayton’s full-time class.

Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Blended Learning Option

Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s new Blended Learning option just launched this semester. Blended Learning is a four-year program developed from the Hybrid, Executive and Weekend options Mitchell Hamline previously offered. In fact, Mitchell Hamline was at the forefront of blended learning when it became the first ABA-approved law school to offer J.D. degrees  through a blend of online and on-campus instruction in Jan. 2015 in what was then called the Hybrid J.D. program.

The Blended Learning program has an on-campus component that includes a case-study workshop. The program’s flexible design also allows students to customize their course schedules, which may include asynchronous classes that allow students to attend online on their own schedule.

A majority of students in Mitchell Hamline’s Blended Learning program are out-of-state residents.

Mitchell Hamline’s 2019 first-year class of 218 part-time students had 50th percentile LSAT scores of 152 and UGPAs of 3.14. In fact, the law school’s entering part-time class of 218 students was larger than its full-time class of 143 students.

One final note: Students intending to practice law should consult the state bar admission agencies where they plan to seek admission to the bar before enrolling.

Travis Thickstun Travis Thickstun is a first-year student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He has master’s degrees in jurisprudence from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and in theological studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a husband, father and police lieutenant.