Program helps students earn undergraduate, law degrees in just six years

Tippany Patrick wasn’t sure what she wanted to study when she arrived at the University of Tennessee. As a sophomore, she learned about a College of Law degree program that would allow her to complete her undergraduate study in just three years before becoming a law student.

Now that she’s finished her first year of legal study through that program – the College of Law’s 3+3 –  she couldn’t be happier about the path she’s chosen.

“I didn’t realize how much I loved this type of schoolwork until I got here,” she said. “I’ve always loved school. But this really fits with the sort of study that appeals to me.”

The UT College of Law’s accelerated BS/JD program, or 3+3, allows students of the UT College of Arts and Sciences to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree at UT in six years—one year less than what is normally required.

Interested students pursue an approved minor offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and complete 13 hours of professional electives then apply for admission to the College of Law during their junior year. If admitted, students become a full-time, first-year law student following their junior year of undergraduate study.

Credits students earn during their first year of law school are counted toward their law degree and as electives toward the completion of their bachelor’s degree.

College of Law Associate Dean Alex Long, who helped launch the program for the college, said he hopes to see more students take advantage of 3+3 study.

“For students who know that they want to go to law school, it’s a great opportunity to get a head start on their careers, save some money, and receive a great education all at the same time,” Long said.

Patrick, who was one of the first students to enroll in the 3+3, appreciates being able to move more quickly toward her career goals.

Through a summer internship opportunity with International Justice Mission, Patrick will work as a legal aid in a Latin American field office to collect evidence from victims of human trafficking. It’s an opportunity she couldn’t have imagined for herself three years ago.

“Don’t look at this as a backup plan, or a money saver,” she said. “Those are appealing aspects, but you really need to be dedicated to becoming a lawyer.

“This is spring-boarding me into the career I’ve always wanted.”