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JD and Master of Public Administration

Examine the integral relationship of law to public administration and management.

A Broader Perspective on Public Administration Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) Dual Degree

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) and AU's Washington College of Law (WCL) jointly offer a JD/MPA dual degree program designed for students interested in examining the integral relationship of law to public administration and management. This unique combination of degrees is especially attractive for students intending to use their law degrees in the political, government, or nonprofit realms. The program provides a broad theoretical grounding in public administration and management, while also offering a practical education in the analysis and implementation of policy and law at all levels of government.

The program is designed so that you can complete both degrees in as few as eight semesters, much more quickly than if you pursued them separately.

Access Top AU & DC Resources

Students in the JD/MPA dual degree gain access to the broad variety of academic, advising, and career counseling resources available through the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law. Faculty in both schools are leaders in their fields and are noted for their accessibility to students. WCL's Office of Career and Professional Development provides connections to various law firms, corporations, public interest groups, and governmental agencies; and can advise you on resume preparation and other employment related topics. The SPA also provides you with a wide variety of internship possibilities. Both schools have well-established networks of alumni who are eager to help you with career opportunities.

Degree Requirements
Financial Info

To receive the dual degree, you must satisfy all requirements for the JD in the Washington College of Law and the MPA in our School of Public Affairs.

The dual degree requires 104 credit hours of approved graduate work. If the degrees were to be earned separately, you would need to complete 39 hours for the MPA and 86 credit hours for the JD; however, dual degree students may apply up to 15 credits of law courses to the MPA and up to 6 credits of SPA courses to the JD. Each school must approve the other school's courses in advance in order for you to be able to apply them to both degrees.

The MPA program offers eight concentrations [link to Concentrations collapsible section on MPA page] that allow you to construct the program around your own area of interest and to focus your studies toward your individual career goals. Students may also design their own concentrations or fulfill course requirements through law school classes. You should consult with your advisor.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all coursework is required to remain in good standing and to earn the degree. Full-time status is considered to be nine credit hours per semester. Students are expected to complete the dual degree within approximately four years (eight semesters).

More information about curriculum requirements can be found here.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

For the dual degree, students must apply to and be accepted by both the Washington College of Law and the School of Public Affairs.

You may choose to apply to both programs at the same time or to begin one program, then apply to the other program. However, admission to either the JD or the MPA program does not imply that admission to both programs will be granted.

If you apply to the Washington College of Law first, SPA will accept Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores in lieu of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude scores. You should submit your application to the Washington College of Law and indicate in the "degree objective" portion that you are applying for the JD/MPA program. Your application will be considered under the same criteria as non-dual-degree candidates. If you are accepted by the law school, your application will then be forwarded to the School of Public Affairs for review.

If you apply through the School of Public Affairs first, you will still need to satisfy the admission requirements of the law school. For instance, while the School of Public Affairs operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs, the Washington College of Law has firm application deadlines. You will also need to take the LSAT. And each school requires different supplemental materials.

If you are already enrolled at the law school, you may apply to the dual degree program by requesting in writing that the law school registrar's office forward your application and transcripts to the School of Public Affairs. If you choose to begin the law program first, you may take SPA courses after you have completed one full year of full-time law study, or the equivalent.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

Financial Aid at the School of Public Affairs

The Master of Public Administration is a 39-credit-hour program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Public Affairs offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards and named scholarships are administered by the SPA Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience, specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Financial Aid at the Washington College of Law

The Washington College of Law financial aid program is designed to assist you in filling the gap between your resources and educational costs. The law school, the university, and a variety of federal and private lenders all offer resources which can be utilized to meet expenses. The Washington College of Law offers a limited number of scholarships established through the generosity of friends and alumni. Selection criteria for these scholarships may vary, but generally awards are based on need and academic achievement. More information on the types of aid available through the Washington College of Law can be found here.

We Know Success Facts

97 percent

of MPA graduates are employed or in graduate school, or both, within six months of graduation.

WCL Facts

  • #2 in Clinical Training—WCL’s clinical programs continue to cultivate creative, client-centered lawyering skills and an ethic of service among students while providing high quality representation to a variety of indigent and undeserved clients.

  • #4 in Trial Advocacy—The Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program offers a variety of courses, special programs, and advocacy competitions. Courses emphasize implementing a winning case theory and narrative, developing core pretrial and trial skills, demonstrating professionalism and persuasive communication techniques, and mastering cutting-edge technology.

  • #8 in International Law—Through an interdisciplinary approach to international law, WCL’s faculty, students, and staff respond to today's global challenges by engaging the world through advocacy, outreach, and scholarship.