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J.D./M.S. Joint Program

J.D./ M.S. in Human Resources and Employment Relations Joint Degree

For law students with strong interests in human resources and employment relations, Penn State Law and the School of Labor Employment Relations (in the College of Liberal Arts) combine to offer law students an opportunity to earn both a J.D. and an M.S. in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) on an expedited basis.

The joint degree program prepares students for careers in labor and employment law, human resource management, and labor relations. 

Normally, it would take a student five years to earn both degrees, but the joint program authorizes “double-counting” of credits that reduces that to four years.  By earning both degrees according to an integrated course schedule, students can enrich their education and enhance their career prospects.  Holders of the joint degrees give a strong demonstrating to prospective employers of their commitment to the employment and labor fields.

Admission Requirements:


Applicants to the joint J.D./M.S. in HRER degree program must have an outstanding academic record and in addition:

  • Must have been admitted to the Penn State School of Law.
  • Must have successfully completed at least one semester at the Penn State School of Law.
  • Must submit two letters of recommendation from Penn State Law faculty.
  • Must submit a statement of career goals, and
  • Must submit a plan of study developed in consultation with the student’s law school advisor and the Director of the HRER graduate program.


Interested applicants complete a normal graduate school application for admission to the joint program.  However, because applicants must have been admitted to the Law School, there is no need for them complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).


Course of Study:

  • First two semesters - Students take the normal first-year sequence of law courses.
  • Subsequent semesters - Students take a combination of upper-year law courses and HRER graduate courses. This includes completing the normal requirements for the J.D. degree as well as the normal 37 credits required in the M.S. in HRER graduate program. Masters students must also complete either a thesis, which counts for six credits toward the graduate degree, or a research paper.
  • Law students may apply twelve law school credits in courses related to employment and labor law towards the M.S. degree credit requirements.  (Similarly, as students will see from the Penn State Law School website, the Law School allows twelve credits in HRER M.S. courses to apply toward the J.D. degree credit requirements.)

The Dickinson School of Law