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GSU partners with Southern Illinois University to Offer JD Degrees to Students

The six-year program will save students time and money

GSU President Cheryl Green signs the SIU agreement
GSU President Cheryl Green signs the SIU agreement. (GSU)

University Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- In a historic move to create pathways to degree and advanced degree completion and to diversify the pipeline to the legal community, Governors State University (GSU) this week entered an agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) that will allow students to earn both bachelor’s and juris doctor (JD) degrees in six years.

Under the unique 3 + 3 partnership, a mapped curriculum will be provided for students in Anthropology & Sociology, English, and Political Science majors. According to the partnership, students will fulfill their senior year of undergraduate school at GSU, while enrolled in their first year of law school and living at SIU Carbondale.

The partnership will shave up to a year off the traditional seven-year juris doctor timeline and also allow both schools to explore other concurrent degrees such as JD/MBA, JD/MSW or JD/MPA.

GSU President Cheryl Green first set the BA/JD program as a goal early in her presidential tenure, which began in 2020. “Governors State University is honored to work with the Southern Illinois University School of Law to advance the ideals of equity and inclusion in the field of law. We know that the number one barrier to degree completion is financial, and this partnership was created with that in mind. By offering students an opportunity to complete two degrees in six years, we are improving their chances of success while saving them thousands of dollars.”

I am excited about the opportunity for us to remove barriers and to expand diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the field of law. I am also excited about creating opportunities for GSU students that don’t currently exist on our campus. This is an innovative partnership that we can all be proud of and that I look forward to advancing on our campus,” Dr. Green said.

Green, who earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees at SIU Carbondale, said the partnership represents a full-circle moment for her.

“Southern Illinois University is a top-rated research institution that allowed me to achieve a high-quality education without student debt. I’m proud to offer Governors State’s Jaguars the same opportunities that served as the foundation of my career,” she said.

Camille M. Davidson, SIU School of Law Dean, said she is thrilled to collaborate with an SIU Carbondale alumna to remove barriers to law degree completion. “President Green is a Saluki, and it’s exciting to work with her and her team,’’ she said.

“There are so many professional opportunities for people who have a juris doctor. These collaborations give us an opportunity to share information with undergraduate students and help prepare them to succeed in law school.”

Dean Davidson noted the lack of diversity in the legal profession, citing statistics show that the field has approximately 4.5%  African Americans and 4% Latinx. In seeking a partner that offered academic excellence and diversity, GSU was a perfect fit. Governors State is both an MSI, minority-serving institution, and emerging HSI, Hispanic serving institution.

SIU’s efforts to diversify the legal profession also include a summer program to provide rising college juniors and seniors preparation for law school, insights into opportunities after graduation and interaction with attorneys, law students and law school faculty. 

“One of GSU’s students was selected to participate in our inaugural Diversity Prelaw Summer Institute,” Davidson said. “We hope to have more participants next year.”

This is news from Governors State University.