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Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

J.D. with education policy minor begins this fall at Indiana University

June 5, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has approved a new program of study that enables law students to build a foundation in education policy.

Beginning in the fall 2012 semester, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law will offer an education policy minor as part of its regular J.D. program. Coursework in education policy will come from the IU School of Education. To earn a J.D. with an education policy minor, law students will complete 12 credits at the IU School of Education.

The education policy minor idea grew from a steady stream of law students seeking education policy credits and some pursuing education policy doctorate degrees after finishing law school.

"There are a healthy number of students in the law school who have been former teachers, or if they haven't are just interested in education policy," said Suzanne Eckes, associate professor in educational leadership and policy studies at the IU School of Education. Eckes is also an attorney and former classroom teacher. She teaches several education-law-related courses and is a co-author of "Principals Teaching the Law: 10 Legal Lessons Your Teachers Must Know."

"We are pleased to collaborate with the School of Education in making this minor available to Maurer School of Law students," said Hannah L. Buxbaum, interim dean and John E. Schiller Chair in Legal Ethics. "The minor will be useful for law students who hope to practice school law, or to conduct other work in the education policy arena. And it will also prepare students who may choose to pursue further graduate work in this field."

Eckes noted that since arriving at the IU School of Education in 2003, about a dozen law school graduates have applied to the Ph.D. program in education policy studies. She said the students generally had heard about courses taught by her or by Chancellor's Professor Emerita Martha McCarthy, a renowned school law expert. Several past law graduates have earned School of Education doctorates and hold positions as university faculty members, university legal counsel, associates at private law firms and staff attorneys for the Indiana Department of Education.

"It's been a great experience for both the law students and the education students to combine the study of law and education," Eckes said. "As graduate programs are becoming more interdisciplinary, this new minor is a move in the right direction." Eckes noted that the program is one of only a few like it in the country.

Founded in 1842, the Maurer School of Law ranks among the top 10 public law schools in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. In addition to the J.D. degree, the school offers several joint degrees with other Indiana University schools and disciplines, along with internationally focused graduate degrees.

The IU School of Education ranks as one of the top schools of education nationwide. In the most recent U.S. News rankings, the school ranked 21st overall and 11th among public university graduate schools. Several individual degree programs ranked highly in specialty categories.