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Law and Public Policy

A dual-degree program from the Law School that may be completed while working on a La Follette School Master of Public Affairs (MPA) or Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA) degree. Most La Follette School students finish the dual degree requirements in 4 years.


An education in the intricacies of common law, policy analysis and management provides skills to both make and enforce public policies.

Applying

Separate applications to both the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Law School are required.

To maximize time spent in both programs, it is recommended that matriculated students be admitted to both programs in their first year on campus.

Requirements

Enrolled students must meet the degree requirements and progression expectations of both programs and are encouraged to seek academic advising from each program every semester.

They will receive 19 credits from 6 core courses worth 3 credits each, in addition to a 1 credit professional development seminar for public affairs; 15 credits from La Follette core courses at an average of B or better will apply to the 90-credit JD degree once the MPA/MIPA has been awarded.

The remaining credit requirements for the La Follette degree are met with elective courses.

The La Follette School curriculum requires 36 credits. A total of 75 credits is required for the Law curriculum.

Students in the program are expected to complete the majority of core requirements by the end of their second year of studies, so they can focus primarily on their remaining core capstone and electives in their third and fourth years.

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MPA Core Courses (19 cr.)

  • Professional Development Workshop focuses on essential skills students must have to be successful in graduate school and in their careers
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis develops competence with analytical tools for studying public affairs.
  • Microeconomic Policy Analysis explores how to evaluate the implications of policies for efficiency and equity, and to employ statistical methods for interpreting and presenting quantitative data.
  • Introduction to Policy Analysis focuses on defining policy problems, determining goals, designing policy alternatives, and assessing trade-offs to make recommendations.
  • Policymaking Process examines the political processes that shape U.S. public policy.
  • Introduction to Public Management introduces key theories of how public organizations work, the relationship between democracy and management, and critical public management issues such as accountability and policy implementation.
  • Workshop in Public Affairs, the capstone course taken in the final semester, gives students experience working in teams with a faculty supervisor on a real-world policy project. They apply conceptual and analytical tools to issues their clients face in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

MPA Elective Courses (17 cr.)

Recommended Public Affairs courses:

Note: Electives taken at the Law School to count toward the 17 credits cannot be counting for the required 75 Law School credits.

MIPA Core Courses (19 cr.)

* Students choose one of these

MIPA Elective Courses (17 cr.)

Recommended International Public Affairs courses:

Note: Electives taken at the Law School to count toward the 17 credits cannot be counted for the required 75 Law School credits.

Student experiences

  • La Follette School student Migena Vula stands in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

    Migena Vula, JD-MIPA

    "I am very much fascinated with both law and public policy — especially the interplay of the two. As such, pursuing the dual degree was an easy choice."

  • Photo of Matthew Hansen

    Matthew Hansen, MPA, JD

    "Many lawyers look at only the black letter of the law and ignore what implications it has on people’s lives; that wasn’t the type of law I wanted to practice."

  • Jamey Anderson, MIPA, JD, EAP

    "In the La Follette School, I found a program committed in word and deed to supporting students who want to make a career of public service. That made all the difference for me."

Careers

Increasingly, careers in the federal, state, and local governments as well as nonprofit organizations and private sector businesses require an understanding of public administration, policy analysis, and public affairs, as well as law. Many students choose to pursue the dual law and public affairs degree because of their interest in employment in government agencies, government relations law practice, or in other policy-oriented firms and organizations.

Cost

Students in the Law and Public Policy dual degree program pay a blended tution rate. See the Combined Law and Graduate tuition rate under the “Student Career” dropdown menu.

Contact

Law School advising


Jane Heymann

jane.heymann@wisc.edu

La Follette School graduate advising


Mo O’Connor

mcoconnor@lafollette.wisc.edu

Requirements


Students must meet the degree requirements of both programs:

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Requirement details

  • A total of 75 credits at the Law School plus 36 credits at the La Follette School of Public Affairs are required.
  • 15 credits from La Follette core courses at an average of B or better will apply to the 90-credit J.D. degree once the MPA/MIPA has been awarded.
  •  Students complete core courses for the MPA or the MIPA which total 18 credits.
  • Policy electives can be chosen from public affairs elective courses or policy-related law courses offered at the Law School. Any electives chosen from Law School that apply to the public affairs 36 credits cannot be part of the required 75 Law School credits.
  • Students applying 15 La Follette credits to the law degree may not apply other credits from outside Law School to the law degree. The total number of law credits required for students in the dual degree program is 75.
  • 36 credits will be required for La Follette students who have completed at least 30 credits in the Law School with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 on all law courses. The 36 La Follette credits will include 18 credits in core courses and 18 in an area of concentration.
  • Students must receive their law degrees and master’s degrees simultaneously to receive the full benefits of the dual-degree arrangement.

Degree plans


A recommended schedule of courses in order to complete the degree.

Masters of Public Affairs – Law (JD)
degree plan

Masters of International Public Affairs –
Law (JD) degree plan