Earning a bachelor's diploma followed by a law degree can take at least seven years to complete. However, thanks to a new and exciting partnership between Saint Leo University and the respected law schools at Florida State University and Barry University, students interested in pursuing a law career can reduce the amount of time it takes to add "J.D." after their names.

We recently caught up with Dr. Heather Parker, the associate dean of Saint Leo's College of Arts and Sciences, to learn more about what's involved in the 3+3 Accelerated Law Program and how the curriculum can enhance graduates' professional opportunities in the future.

Q: What exactly is the 3+3 Accelerated Law Program at Saint Leo?

A: The 3+3 Accelerated Law Program offers the opportunity to attain a bachelor's degree and a law degree within just six years. Students start out by completing three years of their bachelor's degree program at Saint Leo. During their third year, they then have the choice to apply to law school at either Florida State University or Barry University to earn their law degree.

Q: When and why did Saint Leo University decide to start the 3+3 Accelerated Law Program?

A: The first academic year for this program began in the fall of 2017. Saint Leo created this program in order to attract high-performing students who are certain they want to pursue a law degree and who want to benefit from the personal attention and targeted advising they will receive at Saint Leo.

Q: Who is eligible to participate in this program?

A: If you have a serious interest in becoming a lawyer or working in a law-related profession that requires a law degree, such as a role within the justice system in a higher-level capacity, this program might be a good choice for you to consider.

If you're eligible for the Saint Leo Honors Program, or you are already in the program, you would qualify for admission into the 3+3 Accelerated Law Program. Honors Program eligibility requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 and either an SAT score of at least 1200 or ACT score of at least 25 for first-year students.

Individuals looking to pursue the 3+3 program should have maintained exceptional grades in high school, should possess excellent reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and should have participated in law-related courses or activities in high school. To be successful in this program, students must remain highly motivated, self-directed, and ready to engage in a rigorous course of study.

For the application process, candidates will also be asked to provide a written statement explaining why they wish to participate in the program.

If your academic credentials fall slightly short of the requirements for admission, you should contact Dr. Heather Parker to determine if you still may be considered for the program. See below for her contact information.

Q: What is the curriculum like in this program?

A: The program begins with University Explorations, which is the general education curriculum consisting of 42 credits (12 credits of English, math, and computer skills and 30 credits of liberal arts courses and the sciences). Students will then select a Saint Leo major of their choice and will be required to earn a minor in legal studies.

Because this is an accelerated curriculum, all degree program requirements must be completed in three years. Students in this program are not required to complete their elective credits during this three-year period.

Most college-level credits earned by high school students can also be applied. The remaining credits required to graduate will be completed during the student's first year of study at FSU or Barry Law School and transferred back to Saint Leo as elective credits. In this way, students will

acquire the credits they need to attain a bachelor's degree.

Q: What kinds of career opportunities can graduates of this program expect to be considered for?

A: If you earn a law degree, you may be considered for positions that include:

- Lawyer

- Mediator

- Politician

- Campaign manager

- - Lobbyist

- - Legal advocate

- Policy analyst

- Legal or political consultant list end

While in the program, 3+3 students may pursue law-related internship opportunities to attain real-world experience and bolster their law school applications.

Q: How can students learn more about the 3+3 Accelerated Law Program at Saint Leo?

A: You may contact myself, Dr. Parker, at (352) 588-7894 or at heather.parker02@saintleo.edu.

You can also visit the program page for further details.