William and Mary

Letter Regarding the J.D/M.A in American Studies Program

Dear Applicant,

The American Studies Program and the Marshall-Wythe School of Law have inaugurated a joint program in Law and American Culture, leading to the J.D. and the M.A. in American Studies. I am pleased to provide you with details about the program and the application procedure.

The joint program is designed to encourage the interdisciplinary study of law and other aspects of American society and culture. For some students, the program may foster investigation of American legal history within the broader framework of U.S. cultural and intellectual history. Others may pursue inquiries on broad historical or contemporary themes, exploring the interplay between law and culture in forming institutions, policies, and thought within the United States.

The central premise of the program is that law, like every other element of culture, is at once a shaping force in American life and a product of history and society. The program will thereby promote twin goals of major importance to the faculties of law and American Studies at William and Mary: (1) the education of lawyers, who see their field in its broad connections to the larger culture; and (2) the development of scholarship within American Studies that is attentive to the impact of law on cultural forms and social practices.

To achieve these ends, the joint program enables candidates to pursue both degrees simultaneously. In the first year, students take courses exclusively in the law school, fulfilling the beginning curriculum and the Legal Skills Program in sequence. Thereafter, they take courses in the American Studies Program while continuing on the program of study for the J.D. Certain courses in the law school will count for credit towards the M.A. They include: Constitutional Law, American Legal History, Mass Media Law, Women and the Law, American Legal History Seminar, Individual Rights, and the Supreme Court in the 20th Century, Law and American Literature and Supreme Court Seminar. In addition, law students are entitled to take two courses in the School of Arts and Sciences; under the joint program, these will be an Introduction to American Studies, required of all M.A. candidates, and one elective. By combining law courses and electives, students will finish the J.D. in the requisite three years and then devote a final semester to completing courses and writing the M.A. thesis in American Studies.

The joint degree thus allows for an efficient completion of the J.D. and M.A., taking less time than would be required through separate matriculation. More substantively, it encourages intellectual engagement between legal study and inquiry into American history and culture. Pursuing the two degrees simultaneously, students will invariably perceive connections between law and American culture that may enhance professional practice and scholarship in both fields.

The attached sheet lays out the specific steps to apply for the two degrees. Please let me know if you wish further information.

  1. Application to the Law School is to be made to the Associate Dean for Admissions. Deadline for submission is March 1. For information regarding admission to the Law School , please write to: Associate Dean for Admissions, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary, P.O. Box 8795 , Williamsburg , VA 23187-8795 .
  2. Application to the American Studies program is to be made to the Director of American Studies. Deadline for submission is January 1. Please mark on the front of your application that you wish to apply for the J.D./M.A. program.
  3. The joint program is to be initiated in the Law School . The first year of law school must be taken as a whole and the Legal Skills Program at the Law School must be completed in sequence. The student will then follow a program of study defined by the American Studies Program.
  4. Students who successfully complete 90 law hours and meet all degree requirements with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 will be eligible for the J.D. degree upon certification from the American Studies Program that the M.A. requirements have also been satisfied.
  5. Students may apply only six credit hours outside of the Law School to their degree. Those hours will be earned in their second year of study be enrolling in AMST 661 and one elective course in an American topic.
  6. Students may apply only four hours of law pass/fail elective course work towards the J.D.
  7. Joint program students will pay the Law School tuition while completing law hours and will pay Master of Arts tuition thereafter.
  8. Students will pay fees charged to law students for three years and will have all the rights and duties of law students for the duration of their studies in the joint program. Similarly, students will pay fees charged M.A. students for the duration of their program studies.
  9. Financial aid and loans will be awarded on an individual basis for those students in the joint program.