Other Degrees & Certificates


The close connections between contemporary legal theory and areas of philosophy such as moral, social and political philosophy indicate a real need for joint study in these two disciplines.To provide opportunities for such scholarship, the Law School and the Department of Philosophy at Duke University offer joint degree programs that combine a J.D. and an M.A. or a Ph.D. in philosophy. There is a terminal J.D./M.A. program, and a program that combines the J.D./M.A. with a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Duke University has a distinguished Law School, with a faculty that has special interest in international law and intellectual property law as well as constitutional interpretation. The Duke Department of Philosophy has a faculty with expertise in the philosophy of law, political philosophy, science policy studies, bioethics, normative ethics and metaethics, and moral psychology. In addition, students in the joint degree programs at Duke have the opportunity to take courses in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Application and Admission

Students apply for the J.D./M.A. philosophy joint degree through the Duke Law School. Students applying to the J.D./Ph.D. philosophy joint degree at Duke must file separate applications with the Law School and the Graduate School. These two schools will admit applicants independently, on the basis of their usual standards. In addition, all applicants to the J.D./Ph.D. philosophy program must submit a short (no more than 15-page) philosophical writing sample to the Department of Philosophy.

Requirements and Course of Study

A student admitted to the J.D./Ph.D. program is automatically a candidate for the J.D./M.A., and can earn the J.D./M.A. by satisfying its requirements whether or not the student goes on to complete the Ph.D. The standard time for the J.D./M.A. is three years, and in fact Duke Law is the only top-ranked law school in the country where students regularly receive this joint degree in so short a time. It should be possible to earn the J.D./Ph.D. in six or seven years.Six graded graduate philosophy courses are required for the J.D./M.A in philosophy. Both J.D./M.A. and J.D./Ph.D. students begin their first-year law curriculum in June, rather than in August as with J.D. students, and complete a reduced number of law credits while earning their joint degree. Instead of the customary 84 law credits for a J.D., joint degree students are required to complete 72 law credits and receive 12 credits toward their J.D. from their work in the Department of Philosophy during their three-year course of study.

For the J.D./M.A., there is also a research paper requirement, which typically involves an oral examination on an expanded version of a seminar research paper. The J.D. and the philosophy M.A. are awarded simultaneously.

In contrast to those in the terminal J.D./M.A. program, students in the J.D./Ph.D. program will be subject to departmental requirements for the Ph.D. (viz., course distribution, logic and language requirements). Five courses in the Law School will count toward the 15-course requirement for the Ph.D. in philosophy (though these courses will not appear on their Graduate School transcripts). Students in the J.D./Ph.D. philosophy program also will be required to take 4 philosophy courses in addition to the 6 graded graduate courses in philosophy required for the J.D./M.A. These courses can be taken either before or after receipt of the J.D./M.A.

The research paper requirement for the J.D./M.A. will take the place of the Future Research Statement and oral examination on that statement required of students in the Ph.D. program in philosophy.

After receipt of the J.D./M.A., qualified students in the J.D./Ph.D. program can apply for funding from the Graduate School to cover their post-J.D. work toward the philosophy Ph.D (funding for the J.D./M.A. is provided through the Law School). This work includes the completion of any course, language and logic requirements not satisfied prior to receipt of the J.D./M.A., as well as the preliminary examination on the dissertation proposal and the completion and defense of the dissertation.


Training Program in Cognitive Neuroscience
administered by the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies
administered by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Certificate in the Philosophy of Biology
administered by the Biology and Philosophy Departments.

Certificate in the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine
administered by the History and Philosophy Departments.

Certificate in Women’s Studies
administered by the Program in Women’s Studies

If you have any questions concerning any of these programs, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Wayne Norman().


The Graduate School

Students seeking to do graduate work at Duke University for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the dean.  The Graduate School welcomes applications from students holding a U.S. bachelor's degree (or the international equivalent) from an accredited institution. For more information, please see The Graduate School's admissions site.

Financial aid available

Duke is committed to financially supporting the students it selects for graduate study. The Duke University Graduate School and its graduate programs offer a wide array of financial support.  For more information, please visit gradschool.duke.edu/financial_support.