Mason is now offering a program that allows students to finish their undergraduate studies in three years and move directly to Mason’s law school.
The program, called the “3+3 Accelerated Program,” requires incoming freshman to finish their undergraduate major requirements by the end of their junior year, according to Associate Dean of Mason Law, Alison Price. Students must also maintain certain grades and an LSAT score that meets the average of the incoming class of the year before.
“We may be able to get more Mason undergraduate students in the law school by working with them from the get-go,” Price said. “…What we want to do is to try to encourage people to be as prepared as possible for law school and to meet the standards, which are kind of high for Mason law.”
According to Amy Takayama-Perez, Dean of Admissions at Mason, the program serves as a great recruitment tool for undergraduates, due to the law school’s national recognition.
“It’s overall going to be a great recruitment school. Because of the national reputation of our law school, families naturally ask us about the law school and getting into the law school,” Takayama-Perez said.
Once the student has successfully completed their undergraduate major credits, as well as been accepted to the law school in their junior year, they will be considered a first-year law student.
Following the completion of their first year of law school, the credits will be used to fulfill the student’s undergraduate electives, and students will be able to attend the ceremony of their graduating class.
“We’re not going to take people who don’t meet out regular qualifications” Price said. “The hope is that by choosing to participate in a program early, students will understand not only that they have to complete all of their major requirements by the end of their junior year, certain grades are expected, and you need to be working towards achieving an LSAT that has a certain number based on what the year before was. It’s like a pipeline project to guide people in the right course.”
Price also said that although the application process for 3+3 participants was almost identical to the regular law school admissions process, there was the added component of having an interview.
“We’re actually going to be interviewing the applicants, which most law applicants would appreciate the opportunity to do because they don’t really get the chance to market themselves outside of the papers that we receive and this is a kind of extra edge,” Price said.
Mason’s law school has consistently ranked in the top tier of law schools in the US News and World Report. Law school admissions are fairly competitive, with the median undergraduate GPA being 3.55 and the median LSAT score being 161. According to Price, one of the aims of the 3+3 program is to sustain quality.
“It’s not really about maintain[ing] numbers, we want to maintain and improve quality,” Price said. “We’re hoping that by working with people earlier we can make sure that they are of the quality that we have come to expect at Mason law.”
3+3 is not the first five-year combined bachelors to masters program at Mason, according to Takayama-Perez, with the Volgenau School of Engineering offering similar programs.
“For students who are coming in and looking at what they want their future plan to be, it gives us an opportunity when they come in as freshman to really work with them if this is something that they’re interested in,” Takayama-Perez said.
According to Price, programs such as 3+3 are increasingly being looked at by other law schools for the purpose of reducing the debt burden on students due to the recent increases in law school tuition rates.
“I think with law school applications being down overall, law schools are looking at different ways to recruit students, and there are a number of schools that participate in the 3+3 program,” Takayama-Perez said.