The Earle Mack School of Law announced a new accelerated Juris Doctor program called Fast Forward April 1. The program will begin in May 2014, offering around 30 graduate students the opportunity to complete their degree in just two years at no additional cost from the existing three-year option.
With Fast Forward, Drexel joins a small but emerging group of universities that are integrating this two-year J.D. program into their law schools. Another of these schools is Northwestern University, alma mater of Earle Mack Dean Roger Dennis.
“The idea’s sort of been kicked around in legal education circles for several years,” Dennis said. “We have been looking to maintain our creative edge and compete strongly in somewhat challenging markets, so we were looking for another option that would interest students.”
Fast Forward provides applicants the chance to “save time plus the challenges of living without an income during a third year of school,” according to the law school’s website. The initiative is being marketed as a resource for students to begin practicing law sooner, albeit at a more intense pace.
Unlike the three-year J.D. offering, Fast Forward makes use of the summer term for class time, like many undergraduate schools at Drexel. In fact, the program starts with a summer term and ends in late spring two calendar years later, in advance of the bar examination in July.
During those two years, students will take up to 17 credits per semester for six semesters. Students will also have the option to go on co-op during their second summer term. This swift rate makes for a rigorous curriculum, Dennis said, and is suitable for a specific type of student.
“Somebody who’s been out of school for several years and really understands what he or she wants to do, understands the workload and wouldn’t be shocked,” he explained.
Beyond the intensity of nonstop classes, there’s no difference between Fast Forward and the three-year program, according to Dennis. Students will take the same courses; be held to the same graduation requirements; and have access to the same activities, resources and scholarship opportunities.
“If you’re entirely committed and interested in the intensity of going to school two years straight, it’s an option for you. If you’re a student who might think that level of intensity is not for him or her, the traditional three-year program’s available to you,” Dennis added.
Fast Forward is notably not an expansion for the law school. Instead, the program will offer acceptance to just about 30 applicants, a number deducted from the school’s total enrollment of 125 to 150 students.
“Ideally for 2014, we’ll go with 30 in the two-year program and 95 in the three year program,” Dennis said.
The school will begin accepting applications for Fast Forward in June 2013.