At Penn State, students can combine legal study and graduate study in education. The Educational Leadership and Penn State Law Joint Degree is a great way to blend your interests in the law and the issues facing education. Penn State Law (PSL) and the Educational Leadership Program (EDLDR) offer a joint degree program leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Doctor of Education (D.Ed.), or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership.

Situated at the intersection of law and education, the joint degree program allows students to build a strong foundation in interdisciplinary research, policy, and practice. Because the law impacts many dimensions of education, such as employment law, students’ rights, and civil rights, the program prepares students to be competitive candidates on the job market. Post-graduate opportunities in the field of education law are diverse and abundant. Individuals with an interest in education law may serve as attorneys, administrators, government employees, non-profit organization employees, researchers or faculty members. An interdisciplinary background provides students with an advantage over other applicants. Recent graduates are employed in the General Counsel’s Office for the U.S. Department of Education, in university counsels’ offices, as faculty or researchers, and in leadership positions at state-level organizations.   

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The number of openings in the joint degree J.D./M.Ed., D.Ed. or Ph.D. program will be limited to students with outstanding academic records who have successfully completed the first-year curriculum at Penn State Law. Applicants may also apply for admission to an Educational Leadership degree program simultaneous with admission to Penn State Law. Students are eligible to start taking courses in the College of Education after successfully completing two semesters of law school work. 

Applicants to the joint degree program must apply and be admitted first to Penn State Law, and subsequently to the Educational Leadership graduate program. Admissions requirements and applications for admission for Penn State Law are listed in the J.D. Admissions section of the Penn State Law website. When applying to the Educational Leadership graduate program, applicants must include two letters of recommendation from Penn State Law faculty members and a career statement. Applicants to the joint degree program may submit LSAT scores instead of GRE scores. Students must be admitted to the program prior to taking the first course they intend to count towards the graduate degree.

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-211 Joint Degree Programs.

Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree in order to be awarded that degree, subject to the double-counting of credits as outlined below. Degree requirements for the J.D. program are listed on the Penn State Law website.

Penn State Law (PSL): A maximum of twelve credits for EDLDR course work may be double-counted for credit toward the J.D. degree at PSL. Students must obtain a grade satisfactory to PSL for the course work to be credited toward the J.D. degree. 

Educational Leadership (EDLDR): The courses that may be double-counted will be determined by the student’s degree program, and must fall within the limits set in GCAC-211 Joint Degree Programs. Normally a maximum of twelve credits of PSL course work will be counted for credit for the minimum requirements for a master’s degree, subject to approval by the student’s advisory committee.


  • The Politics of Local School Districts (EDLDR 533)

  • Personnel Management and Contract Administration (EDLDR 565)

  • The Principalship (EDLDR 868)

  • Decision Making in Educational Organizations (EDLDR 569)

  • Public School Finance (EDLDR 573)

  • The Law and Education (EDLDR 576)

  • Law and Ethics in Education (EDLDR 577)

Students will normally spend four semesters in residence at the Law School and as many additional semesters in residence as needed to complete the additional requirements for the pertinent EDLDR degree. Ph.D. students must arrange the sequence of semesters to ensure that they are in residence as full-time students in the EDLDR program for at least two consecutive semesters (Fall-Spring or Spring-Fall) excluding summer in a single twelve-month period.

Students will be charged the applicable PSL tuition to cover the J.D. program and the applicable graduate tuition to cover the EDLDR degree program. PSL tuition will be paid for the semesters in which the student is registered for PSL courses, and graduate tuition will be paid for the semesters in which the student is registered for graduate courses. A student may take up to one course (3 credit hours) per semester in the program where the student is not primarily registered without any change in tuition but must pay additional tuition to the program in which the student is not primarily registered if he or she wishes to take additional course work pursuant to that program during the semester.

Decisions on financial aid and assistantships will be made by each school according to that school’s procedures.

All courses in one program that will count toward meeting the requirements of the other program must be completed before the awarding of either degree. If students accepted into the joint degree program are unable to complete the J.D. degree, they are still eligible to receive the EDLDR degree if all EDLDR degree requirements have been satisfied.