Dual Degree Programs

In addition to the JD/MBA Joint Degree Program,  law students may earn dual degrees -- a law degree and another graduate degree. 

Applicants interested in earning another graduate degree should check with the respective graduate program and the Law School to discuss degree requirements, tuition assessment, and potential financial aid issues. 

See the Alphabetical Listing of Graduate Programs at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

  • Depending on the program, up to 9 credits of law may be counted toward the graduate degree and up to 10 credits of graduate work taken after matriculation into the Law School may be counted toward the JD. Only electives may be double counted. The main advantage of the dual degree program is that it allows a student to “double count” a certain amount of credits in both the law and the graduate program, which significantly shortens the amount of time otherwise required to complete both programs.
  • There is no special application process to enter the dual degree program. It is necessary, however, to make a separate application to each graduate program, which means you have to meet the admission requirements of each program. Admission into one program does not guarantee admission into the second program. You should also know that at least for the Law School, transfer credit cannot be granted for any courses taken prior to matriculation into law school.
  • A current law student must complete the first year of law school before starting a graduate program. The first year of law school is prescribed curriculum; you are not allowed to take any courses outside of the Law School. For this reason, it is not necessary to apply to the second graduate program until after you have matriculated into law school. In fact, if you are admitted to the second program for the same year you are to matriculate into law school, you would have to seek permission to defer admission to one program or the other.
  • Simultaneous admission to a graduate program and the law school is not permitted because the first year of law school is a prescribed curriculum. A current UHM graduate student must complete at least one semester of graduate course work before starting law school.

Typical Timeline

Typically, law students apply to the second graduate program.  If admitted and depending upon course availability, students begin course work in the second graduate program in the summer after the first year of law school or during the second year of law school. If you have specific questions about a second graduate program, you should contact that program directly for more information. You may want to do this now just to be sure that the graduate program you are interested in will meet your needs and expectations.

The most common approach to the dual degree program is for a student to concentrate first on course work for the JD degree; i.e. the primary goal is to finish the JD degree within the normal three-year time period. During the course of the JD program, the student will have completed a number of credits in the other graduate program. Once the JD degree is completed, the student then finishes up the remaining course work in the other graduate program.

There are a few students who have been able to complete both graduate programs within three years, but this is not generally recommended for two reasons. First, the heavy academic load required could result in lower grades. Second, early completion of both degrees would require taking full course loads each summer after the first and second years of law school. These summers are perhaps better used gaining work experience and lining up job offers for after graduation. The ABA requires that the law degree be completed within seven years of admission to the law school.

There are more detailed policies governing some of the more technical aspects of the dual degree program, but this introductory material should give you a good idea as to its basic workings. For more information, see the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa catalog’s chapter on Graduate Education.

Commonly Pursued Dual Degrees

  • The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work: "Our School is one of the premier social work programs in the Pacific and Asian Region and in the top tier nationally. We are renowned for our deep understanding of multiculturalism that is derived from living in one of the most culturally diverse places in the world."
  • Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS): "OPHS offers master's degree programs in three areas of specialization: epidemiology, health policy and management, and social and behavioral health sciences and the DrPH program specializing in community-based and translational research."
  • Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge: "Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge is the newest school at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. We recognize the unique status of the Native Hawaiian people and recognize their unique connection to these forms of knowledge by encouraging, supporting, facilitating, and ensuring the incorporation of Native Hawaiians at all levels of the university."
  • School of Pacific and Asian Studies:  "SPAS coordinates and promotes resources in Pacific and Asian Studies throughout UHM, supports faculty and student development, instruction, research and publication in these areas, and serves the educational and cultural interests of the people of the State of Hawai‘i by promoting a deeper understanding of our Pacific and Asian heritage"

Graduate Certificate Programs

You may also earn a law degree and a graduate certificate at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.


Denise E. Antolini

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
(808) 956-6238