The Catholic University of America

Dual Degree Program (J.C.L./J.D.)


The faculties of the Columbus School of Law and the School of Canon Law have agreed to establish a dual degree program for students seeking both the Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL) and the Doctor of Law (JD) degrees. Students successfully completing the program will receive two separate degrees, rather than a single joint degree, and the degrees need not be awarded simultaneously. This differs from a traditional joint-degree program, where the degree will not issue until the requirements of both schools have been met.  The following provisions represent the understanding of the two faculties concerning the dual degree program:



Admission is conditioned on the independent acceptance by the Columbus School of Law and the School of Canon Law although both Schools will take into consideration previous acceptance by the other School. The Law School requires applicants to have received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited College or University and to have demonstrated satisfactory performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Students seeking admission to the JCL program must have a masters degree in theology or its equivalent and have demonstrated satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  A student simultaneously accepted in both schools will have admission in one of the schools deferred pending successful completion of the first year in the other school. Students may also apply for admission to the dual degree program during their first year of studies in either the Law School or the School of Canon Law.


Required Courses/ Credit Hours: To be eligible for the J.D. degree a student must earn at least 84 semester hours of credit. Students in the Law School are required to take the entire first year curriculum (29 semester hours). Following the first year, the three credit course in Professional Responsibility and one “skills” course are required. There are also upper level writing requirements, which, as noted below may be partially satisfied by the licentiate thesis required for the JCL degree. Most students, however, elect to take a number of core or “staple” courses during their second and third years in Law school. To earn the JCL degree, students must take 21 required courses, Latin, and 2 electives. [Note that the School of Canon Law requirements are identified by courses and the Law School’s by credit hours.] JCL candidates must also prepare a licentiate thesis and pass a comprehensive examination. During the first two years of the program, students must spend one year as a full-time law student and one as a full-time student in the JCL program.
B. Combined Credits: For the dual degree program, the School of Canon Law would recognize two courses taken in the Law School as fulfilling the requirement of two electives. The total number of required JCL courses could be further reduced by taking specific courses in the Law School rather than the School of Canon Law [provided that the Law School chooses to offer one of or more of these in a given semester]:

[1] Comparative European Legal History: Roman Law and the Ius commune could fulfill CL 701 History of Canon Law,

[2a] First Amendment Seminar: Religious Liberty or [2b] The Law of Church / State Relations could fulfill CL 716 Religious Liberty,

[3a] Sources of Christian Jurisprudence or [3b] Jurisprudence: A History of the Idea of Law could fulfill CL 727 Philosophy and Theology of Law;
With approval both of the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs of the Law School and the Dean of the School of Canon Law, and provided its subject matter concerns Church – State relationships, the licentiate dissertation required for the J.C.L. degree could also partially fulfill the upper-class writing required by the Law School for graduation. Students seeking the JCL degree must also pass an oral examination on the ius vigens and fulfill language requirements, including Latin and one modern language other than English.
The Law School will accept 12 credits for work completed in the School of Canon Law. Thus Dual Degree students can complete their JD degree with one semester’s worth of credit earned in the School of Canon Law. Under the requirements of the Law School’s accrediting body, the American Bar Association, such acceptance requires that the student have matriculated into the Law School before the courses were taken. Given the complexity of completing courses required by both Schools, priority in registration may be given as appropriate to dual degree students.
During semesters when students are taking courses in both the Law School and the School of Canon Law, tuition will be determined in the usual University manner for joint or dual degree candidates. It is possible for full-time students to complete the necessary course work for both degrees in five years. A typical schedule for a student enrolled in the dual-degree program is attached.

C. Other Requirements: Dual degree students must satisfy all general requirements of both schools to remain in good standing. Degree requirements are subject to change. In addition, law students must meet the relevant residency requirements. Since this is not a joint degree program, the degrees may be earned sequentially; students need not complete the work for each degree before either is awarded.


The dual degree program is administered jointly by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Law School and the Dean of the School of Canon Law. Course schedules for the third, fourth and fifth years of the program must be approved by both schools prior to registration; in the Law School, the Associate or Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs would advise the student on particular courses; in the School of Canon Law, the Dean or designated faculty member.

Note: This is a proposed schedule; changes may arise from taking courses in the School of Canon Law during the summer or enrolling for more courses in Columbus School of Law during a specific semester. After the first years’ course work has been completed in both schools, the number of courses/credits to be taken from the Law School in any particular semester may be adjusted from the proposed schedule to fit a student’s needs or interests.
The School of Canon Law
Columbus School of Law
1st Year
8 courses + Latin
2nd Year
30 credits
3rd Year
4 courses
12 credits
4th Year
4 courses
12 credits
5th Year
18 credits
Note: the first 30 credits of law school work must be completed during one academic year. The law school requires completion of the Professional Responsibility course (3 credits) plus two courses meeting the Upper Division Writing requirement and one course meeting the Professional Skills requirement. Students may elect the remaining credits from a wide range of courses including core (recommended) courses plus electives matching areas of particular interest. As an example, a student might take the following upper division courses to construct a basic curriculum that meets the requirements:

Corporations 4 credits (cr)
Criminal Procedure 3 cr
Evidence 4 cr
Tax 4 cr
Trusts & Estates 4 cr
Sales 3 cr
Commercial Trans 4 cr
Remedies 3 cr
Professional Responsibility 3 cr
Writing 1 2-3 cr
Writing 2 2-3 cr
Professional Skills 3 cr
Family Law or Unincorp Business or Elective 3 cr
Other elective(s)