In helping students cope with tight economic times, NC State leaders have formed a new dual-degree program with nearby Campbell Law School that will allow students to earn their Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degrees in just four years – saving them serious tuition dollars while getting them into the workplace a year earlier than many of their colleagues across the country.
It’s North Carolina’s first JD/MPA from two separate institutions of higher learning.
“Different universities bring different strengths,” said Dr. Jeff Braden, dean of NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “If there are relationships that capitalize on the strengths of each university, universities can offer things to our students that neither can offer alone.
“Case in point, NC State does not have a law school and Campbell University does not have a public-administration program,” he said. “In these tight economic times, it makes pretty good sense to look for partners rather than build new programs or new degrees. You can do more without needing more resources.”
Program planning began well before Campbell Law School’s 2009 relocation from Buies Creek, N.C., to a new, state-of-the-art building in downtown Raleigh, just minutes from NC State’s campus.
“At that time,” Braden said, “Raleigh was the largest state capital without a law school, so they looked at it and said, ‘Somebody’s going to get there sooner or later, why shouldn’t it be us?'”
When Campbell made the decision to move its law school to Raleigh, discussions began almost instantly between their interested faculty members and those at NC State, including Dr. Richard Kearney, director of NC State’s School of Public and International Affairs and Dr. Jerrell Coggburn, chair of the Department Of Public Administration.
“By the time Campbell actually moved,” Braden said, “most of the groundwork was already done and the degree program had been developed and was working its way through the approval process on our campus and, eventually, at UNC System General Administration.
The partnership between NC State’s MPA program and Campbell Law School fits hand and glove, Kearney added.
“There are many shared values between our respective programs, including a special emphasis on community service, leadership, and professionalism,” he said.
More than 1,000 N.C. State alumni who hold professional positions in federal, state, and local governments, as well as the non-profit and private sectors, have earned the MPA degree. Many of them played a key role in the new program’s development as well.
“We’ve already had a number of CHASS graduates go and get law degrees at Campbell,” Braden said. “So, we have joint alumni, many of whom are very successful lawyers and judges right here in Raleigh. They were instrumental in helping bring everything together.”
Recipients of the JD/MPA will possess professional credentials for a range of careers in law, government, nonprofit management, teaching, and research. This program, Braden said, will only make its graduates more attractive to prospective employers while boosting their personal skill sets to previously unattainable levels on NC State’s campus.
“There is a real advantage to having a person who not only understands for example, city planning, but also has a background in the law regarding city planning, zoning ordinances, and those kinds of issues,” Braden said. “That person can be much more effective in leading a community to develop in ways they want and avoid running afoul of state and federal regulations and laws.
“If you divide those two functions up and you hire an MPA and a lawyer, simply put, it costs communities more money. Having both of those sets of skill resident in a single person is going to be cheaper for the government organizations that hire them and, usually, much more effective.”
If pursued separately, it would take students five years to complete the two programs. The dual degree option enables students to earn both degrees in four years of full-time study – potentially saving thousands of dollars. However, the benefit to students, Braden said, reaches well beyond savings solely based in dollars and cents.
“One of the thing people often do is look at the cost of graduate education primarily from a tuition and fees perspective, but the much bigger cost of graduate education is the lost opportunity cost,” he said. “These students will not only move into the job market a year earlier than anticipated – and begin to earn an income more quickly –they’ll have a one-year head start on their fellow students as they progress up the proverbial salary ladder.”
NC State University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is located within the School of Public and International Affairs’ Department of Public Administration.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to give our students exposure and experience to legal issues and to provide expertise that we have in public administration to Campbell Law graduates,” Braden said. “By partnering with them, we can help build up the state of North Carolina as well as our own reputation and support within the state.
“It’s a way to do more without needing more resources.”
Exploring The Future
All NC State students, alumni, and even prospective high-school students interested in a future in law can also take advantage of resources available to them through University Pre-Law Services, coordinator Mary Tetro said.
“Pre-Law Services provides opportunities to better understand, on an individual basis, what will make each of our students a unique and talented candidate,” Tetro said. “Our programming is designed to help candidates research interests, learn about the practice and different fields of law and the experience of law school before deciding if law school is the right choice for them.”
Over the last decade, NC State law school applicants have come from every college, with the exception of the university’s Colleges of Design and Education, and have been accepted at more than 150 U.S. law schools.