ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers accelerated degree program for pre-law students

LAS accelerated degree for pre-law students

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is partnering with Drake University and the University of Iowa to offer an accelerated law degree program for students. Photo courtesy Steve Jones

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University students can now earn a bachelor’s degree and law degree in just six years through a new partnership the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has with Drake University and the University of Iowa. Students seeking dual degrees will save time and money through the accelerated 3+3 Program.

“It’s very cost effective for the students,” said Beate Schmittmann, Liberal Arts and Sciences dean. “It’s a good collaboration with the only two law schools in Iowa. It clearly serves Iowa State students and it establishes a strong pipeline of well-prepared students for our law schools partners.”

LAS will manage the program, which is open to students in all colleges at Iowa State. The university already offers a law school preparation seminar that attracts students from political science, economics, microbiology, supply chain management, agriculture business and several other majors. Last year, 82 Iowa State students applied to law school.

Schmittmann says the 3+3 Program is good for Iowa. She points to Drake University’s track record of placing graduates in law firms in rural Iowa communities. The hope is that Iowa State students – more than 65 percent of whom are Iowans – will stay and work in the state after earning their law degrees.  

President Steven Leath says the partnership is an example of Iowa State’s commitment to its land-grant mission of serving the state and educating citizens.

“Land-grant universities were created to be accessible and affordable, and this partnership extends that effort beyond the Iowa State campus. This is not only an accelerated, but a lower-cost path for students to earn a law degree and hopefully use their education to serve Iowa communities,” Leath said.  

How the program works

Students interested in the 3+3 Program can apply to law school during their junior year at Iowa State. If accepted at Drake or Iowa, students will start law school during their senior year, explained Amy Slagell, LAS associate dean. Completion of the first year of law school – a total of 32 semester hour credits – will meet the requirements for students to complete their bachelor’s degree at Iowa State.  

Participation in the 3+3 Program at Iowa State does not guarantee acceptance at either law school. Students must meet the same admission standards, which includes requirements for GPA and the Law School Admissions Test score, as other students applying to Drake or Iowa. ISU students accepted at Drake will automatically qualify for a $5,000 scholarship for each of their three years of law school.  

“We know that many of our law graduates find it difficult to practice in rural communities or in public service because of the amount of student debt they incur,” said Allan Vestal, Drake Law School dean. “If we can help lighten that debt through this partnership, graduates will have more opportunities and we’ll help grow a new generation of lawyers for Iowa’s rural communities and public service positions.”   

Students interested in the 3+3 Program are encouraged to start working with LAS staff to map out the coursework they need to transition to law school and fulfill the credits required for graduation. Slagell says they will work on individualized programs of study based on the first-year curriculum of the two law schools. Having a partnership with both schools gives students the flexibility to select a program that fits their interests.    

“Students who might be a good fit for the program include those who are highly motivated and certain that law is the path for them,” says Gail Agrawal, College of Law dean at Iowa. “For instance, non-traditional students who might have begun undergraduate studies after the military, or those who have worked for a while and are certain that a legal education is consistent with their long term career goals would be good candidates for the 3+3 program.”

For more information about the 3+3 Program, contact Bruce Allen, LAS academic adviser, at 515-294-4833 or