Students at Birmingham-Southern College will be able to complete an undergraduate degree from BSC and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in six years under a new program the two schools are creating.
BSC and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law have signed a memorandum of understanding to build an accelerated degree program, in which students will earn a bachelor’s from BSC and a juris doctorate from Cumberland. Participating BSC students will effectively start law school in their senior year of college—saving them time and tuition.
“We are so thrilled that Cumberland School of Law is committed to partnering with BSC in this way. Cumberland is a great institution, and this will give our students an opportunity to get a head start on their legal careers in a respected law school,” said BSC President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith. “Birmingham-Southern has had a long history of preparing students for the law through the liberal arts, and this gives highly motivated students an opportunity to get the full BSC educational experience plus a law degree in just six years.”
According to the memorandum, BSC juniors will be able to apply for admission to Cumberland’s law program once they complete three-quarters of their undergraduate coursework. They will receive their bachelor’s degree (BSC offers a BA, BFA, BMA, and BS) after completing their first year of Cumberland’s J.D. program. They’ll receive their J.D. after completing their coursework at Cumberland. Typically, law school requires three years of study atop a four-year undergraduate degree.
In recent years, such “accelerated” programs, as they’re often called, have become more popular, but they are rarely offered by small, nationally-ranked residential liberal arts colleges like BSC.
“This is a wonderful way for students who are passionate about the law to receive a broad-based education and dig down into a major they’re interested in while still following a direct pathway to the law,” said BSC Interim Provost Dr. Susan K. Hagen. “We’ve heard over the years that our faculty and our academic program’s focus on critical thinking and writing do a wonderful job of preparing graduates for law school, and this agreement offers our students a great opportunity.”