Dual Degree Programs in Law and Mass Communication

The UNC School of Law and School of Media and Journalism offer two dual degree programs that provide courses of study for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in law and mass communication.  One dual degree program offers the opportunity to earn a law degree (J.D.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Mass Communication (J.D./M.A.).  The other dual degree program offers the opportunity to earn a J.D. and a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in Mass Communication (J.D./Ph.D.).

Overview of the J.D./M.A. Dual Degree Program in Law and Mass Communication

The J.D. and M.A. in Mass Communication degrees may be earned at the UNC School of Law and the School of Media and Journalism in a dual degree program specializing in law and mass communication. Admission to the law school and the M.A. program in the School of Media and Journalism must be gained independently in order to be admitted to the J.D./M.A. dual degree program. Admitted students typically complete the required first-year law school curriculum during the first year of the dual degree program. Dual degree students must complete the required 86 credit hours for the J.D. degree, of which up to 12 hours may be drawn from approved courses in the M.A. in Mass Communication curriculum in the School of Media and Journalism. Dual degree students also must complete the required 39 credit hours for the M.A. in Mass Communication degree, of which up to 12 credit hours may be drawn from approved courses in the J.D. curriculum. This allows J.D./M.A. students to complete the dual degree program with 101 credit hours over approximately four years depending on the individual student’s progress and program of study. All degree requirements from both schools must be completed before the degrees are awarded, and dual degree students must apply for concurrent graduation for both degrees the same semester. Students who do not maintain dual degree status may need to take additional coursework if they pursue either degree separately after being admitted to the dual degree program.

The J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication is intended for students with a variety of professional goals, including those who plan to practice law in a media related field; work in a law-related capacity for an organization including in-house legal counsel for a media company or legal analyst for a policy organization, for example; pursue academic careers in fields related to media law and policy; pursue a Ph.D. degree in a related field; or perhaps pursue a career in a media related profession such as journalism or strategic communication with a law-related emphasis (however, the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication does not focus on developing professional media skills – so this latter option would be better suited for students who already have a prior degree or professional experience in a media related field).  Students in the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication follow the J.D./M.A. Track in the M.A. in Mass Communication program (see below).

Overview of the J.D./Ph.D. Dual Degree Program in Law and Mass Communication

The J.D. and Ph.D. in Mass Communication degrees may be earned at the UNC School of Law and the School of Media and Journalism in a dual degree program specializing in law and mass communication (J.D./Ph.D.). Admission to the law school and the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism must be gained independently in order to be admitted to the J.D./Ph.D. dual degree program in law and mass communication. Admitted students typically complete the required first-year law school curriculum during the first year of the dual degree program. Dual degree students must complete the required 86 credit hours for the J.D. degree, of which up to 12 hours may be drawn from approved courses in the Ph.D. in Mass Communication curriculum in the School of Media and Journalism. Dual degree students also must complete the required 54 credit hours for the Ph.D. in Mass Communication, of which up to 12 credit hours may be drawn from approved courses in the J.D. curriculum. This allows J.D./Ph.D. students to complete the dual degree program with 116 credit hours over approximately five years depending on the individual student’s progress and program of study. All degree requirements from both schools must be completed before the degrees are awarded, and dual degree students must apply for concurrent graduation for both degrees the same semester. Students who do not maintain dual degree status may need to take additional coursework if they pursue either degree separately after being admitted to the dual degree program.

The J.D./Ph.D. in Mass Communication dual degree program is primarily intended for students seeking academic careers in media law and policy.  In addition, the program is well suited for students seeking employment in academic research centers, policy research centers, or, perhaps, in the practice of the law.    These are but a few examples of the potential opportunities for graduates from the J.D./Ph.D. in Mass Communication dual degree program.  

General Information

Dual degree students in law and mass communication (J.D./M.A. and J.D./Ph.D.) work with advisers in the School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law to help them create a unique program of required and elective courses that satisfies the degree requirements for both schools and that best fits each student’s particular interests. Both schools have a large number of faculty members with expertise and interests in the fields of journalism, strategic communication and commercial speech, political communication, health communication, intellectual property, and media law and policy, and the schools have collaborated to establish the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.

Some of the courses offered include:

  • LAW 475 – Media and Internet Law Practicum
  • LAW 234F – First Amendment Law
  • JOMC 705 – Theories of Mass Communication
  • LAW 374 – National Security Law
  • JOMC 847 – Seminar in Communication for Social Change
  • LAW 357C – Cyberspace Law
  • JOMC 810 – Seminar in the Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction
  • LAW 334 – Privacy Law
  • JOMC 846 – Seminar in International Communication
  • LAW 418 – International Intellectual Property Law

The UNC School of Law and School of Media and Journalism offer an array of complimentary courses for students interested in studying media law and policy in one of the two dual degree programs offered by the schools, including the courses listed directly above. A full listing of courses is included separately along with links to complete course descriptions on the Approved Courses for Law and Mass Communication Dual Degree Students page.  In addition, there are other courses related to media law and policy offered on the UNC campus (although these are not specifically approved or all possible for approval for credit toward the J.D., or the M.A. or Ph.D. degrees in Mass Communication).  A list of these courses is included separately along with links to course descriptions on the Other Media Law Related Courses at UNC page.

Professional Responsibility and Ethics:  All students must take a course in professional responsibility as a requirement of earning the J.D.  Thus all dual degree students in law and mass communication must complete this course as part of their program of study (although this is not one of the law courses that may be counted toward the M.A. or Ph.D. degree in Mass Communication).  In addition, Ph.D. students may have opportunities to teach courses in the School of Media and Journalism including undergraduate courses in media law and also professional ethics.  In addition, research related courses in the School of Media and Journalism typically include instruction on ethical research methods including, as appropriate, completing research projects that require approval by the appropriate university Institutional Review Board.

Advising

As indicated above, J.D./M.A. and J.D./Ph.D. dual degree students in law and mass communication work with advisers in the School of Media and Journalism, and the School of Law, to help them create a unique program of required and elective courses that satisfies the requirements for the M.A. in Mass Communication and the J.D., or the Ph.D. in Mass Communication and J.D., that best fits each student’s particular interests and career goals. Degree plans for dual degree students in law and mass communication must be approved by their advisers in the School of Media and Journalism, and the School of Law, in advance.  Dual degree students are required to meet with their advisers at last once per semester per academic school year and will be evaluated once per academic year to assess progress in their respective dual degree program in law and mass communication.

Admissions

J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication:  Students seeking admission to the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication must be admitted by The UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School to the master’s program (M.A. in Mass Communication) in the School of Media and Journalism, and also must be admitted to the School of Law. This typically requires a separate application package seeking admission for the same Fall semester to each program with a written statement in each application indicating that the student is seeking admission to the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication. Among other requirements, students seeking admission to the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication will be required to submit current GRE scores for consideration for admission to the M.A. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism, and a current LSAT score for consideration for admission to the School of Law.  Other application requirements apply for consideration for admission to each degree program in each school and should be consulted.  Students in the J.D./M.A. dual degree program in law and mass communication follow the J.D./M.A. Track in the M.A. in Mass Communication program.  Admitted first-year students in the UNC School of Law may apply to the dual degree program in law and mass communication by submitting a complete application package for consideration for admission by The UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School to the M.A. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism on or before the application deadline for admission to the M.A. program for the academic year that immediately follows the admitted law student’s first year of law school.

Link to admission information for The UNC-CH Graduate School
Link to admission information for M.A. (Mass Communication) for UNC-CH SM&J 
         (and scroll down to “J.D./M.A. Track” for correct information)
Link to admissions information for UNC-CH School of Law

J.D./Ph.D. dual degree program in law and mass communication:  Students seeking admission to the J.D./Ph.D. dual degree program in law and mass communication must be admitted to the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism by The UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School, and also be admitted to the School of Law.  This typically requires a separate application package to each program seeking admission for the same Fall semester with a written statement in each application indicating that the student is seeking admission to the J.D./Ph.D. dual degree program in law and mass communication.  Among other requirements, students seeking admission to the J.D./Ph.D. program in law and mass communication will be required to submit current GRE scores for consideration for admission to the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism, and a current LSAT score for consideration for admission to the School of Law.  An approved earned master’s degree is required for admission to the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism. Other application requirements apply for consideration for admission to each degree program in each school and should be consulted.  Admitted first-year students in the UNC School of Law may apply to the J.D./Ph.D. dual degree program in law and mass communication by submitting a complete application package for consideration for admission by The UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School to the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program in the School of Media and Journalism on or before the deadline for admission to the Ph.D. program for the academic year that immediately follows the admitted law student’s first year of law school.  In these instances, all admission requirements for the Ph.D. in Mass Communication program apply.

Link to admission information for The UNC-CH Graduate School
Link to admission information for Ph.D. (Mass Communication) for UNC-CH SM&J
Link to admission information for UNC-CH School of Law

Contact information

For more information, please contact either (or both):

  • Dr. Michael Hoefges, associate professor, UNC School of Media and Journalism: mhoefges (at) email.unc.edu or 919.843.0971; and
  • Prof. David Ardia, assistant professor, UNC School of Law: ardia (at) email.unc.edu or 919.962.8955.

Last revised 11/1/15 (subject to change).