Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy

JD/MA Program

Many of the most important challenges confronting the legal profession lie at the intersection of science, technology, law, and policy. Emerging science and technologies, such as AI, big data, social media, genomics, and neuroscience, demand an interdisciplinary approach and visionary leadership.

Students in the JD/MA in Bioethics and Science Policy program spend their three years at Duke focusing on these intersectional problems and preparing themselves for a seat at the table in these discussions for decades to come and earn an additional degree while doing so.

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About the Duke JD/MA program.

The JD/MA program enables students to obtain both a JD through Duke Law School and an MA in Bioethics & Science Policy in three years and one summer.

Duke JD/MA Program - In the Classroom

Students typically apply to the joint degree program during the first semester of their 1L year. Current application deadline is October 16. (Applications may no longer be submitted along with the Law School application. Summer start is no longer available.) The curriculum requirements for the MA are undertaken along with the JD requirements and students will most commonly graduate with both degrees in the spring of their third year.

During the summer after their 1L year, students undertake their capstone projects. Past students have done their capstones in general counsels’ offices, law firms, university legal offices, research institutes, corporations, and non-profits.

Curriculum Requirements

A JD/MA student in Bioethics & Science Policy must complete 75 JD credits and 30 MA credits to receive both degrees.

5 Core Courses Totaling 15 Credits Toward the MA Degree:

  • BIOETHC 601: Foundations of Bioethics – 3 credits (graded); an
    introduction to issues of bioethics and science policy designed for the 1L students entering the joint degree program; to be taken in the Spring of the 1L year.
  • BIOETHC 602: Law Research & Bioethics – 3 credits (graded)
  • BIOETHC 603: Clinical Bioethics & Policy – 3 credits (graded)
  • BIOETHC 605: Contemporary Issues (spring), Science Communication – 1.5 credits (graded)
  • BIOETHIC #TBD: Scholarly Writing on Science Policy (Fall 3L year) – 1.5 credits
  • –>

  • BIOETHC 704: Science Law & Policy – 3 credits (graded)


Practicum/Capstone Totaling 9 Credits Toward the MA Degree:

* to be taken during the two Summer Terms (4.5 credits each) following the 1L year

Elective Credits With At Least 6 Credits Towards the MA Degree:

  • A minimum of 12 credits selected from a designated list of Law School courses, selected by Science & Society in coordination with the Law School.
  • With the approval of the Duke Graduate School 3 elective credits may be taken in another school within the university.
  • These elective credits may count either toward the MA or JD credit requirements (but not both) and at least 6 credits MUST be counted toward the MA degree. Students must designate the courses, which will count toward the MA at the time of registration, in accordance with Law School procedures.


Other requirements

  • MA Final Exam (Pass/Fail) – most commonly will be taken during the second semester of the 3L year (no credit)
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (no credit – training)
  • Research Credits – 6 credits (not graded)

All JD/MA students should consult with their academic advisors at the Law School to assure that their coursework complies with all of the Law School requirements to obtain a JD, as part of a joint degree.

Duke JD/MA Program - students

How to apply to the JD/MA program:

  • Apply by 10/16/2020
  • Contact Duke Law School Admissions and request that your law school application be forwarded to us.
  • Complete the application for the MA in Bioethics & Science Policy through the graduate school, including the application form, the essays, and supplemental questions.
  • You will need to obtain three references (the law school does not retain copies of reference letters and the ones you submitted for the law school application will not be included in the materials forwarded to us).
  • Transcripts will be included in the law school dossier.
  • The Graduate School will waive the GRE requirement and accept LSAT scores.