WILKES-BARRE — The seven-year journey to a Villanova University law degree has just been made a year shorter, and students can spend half the journey in Wilkes-Barre, thanks to an affiliation agreement between King’s College and the venerable institution ensconced in suburban Philadelphia.
Dubbed a “3+3 pathway,” the program lets eligible students study three years at King’s, then transfer for three years to Villanova. If they meet all requirements, they finish with a bachelor’s degree from King’s and a juris doctor degree from Villanova.
“We’ve had a deep relationship with Villanova in that many graduates have gone there, and a lot of our students are from that area,” said Corry Unis, vice president of enrollment management.
Partnering with Villanova made sense on those grounds, but also made sense because, like King’s, it is a Catholic institution. King’s was founded by the Holy Cross Congregation, the same religious order that established Notre Dame. Villanova was founded by the Order of St. Augustine.
“Our missions are very similar,” Unis said.
On its surface, the Villanova deal sounds like one struck with Notre Dame in 2013, in which eligible students spend three years at King’s before going to Notre Dame for two more years to earn an engineering degree.
In both cases, successful students get two degrees: one from King’s and one from the partner school. But Unis said the similarities end there. For instance, students must get into the Notre Dame engineering program from the start. Classes at King’s are tailored for the switch to Notre Dame, with many “core” classes put off for later years to make room for classes focused on the major.
The Villanova deal allows students to enter King’s declaring the major of their choice and to decide later if they want to try to get into the law degree program, Unis said. But he noted students would benefit from deciding early, allowing advisers to suggest the best courses for success in the program.
A big lure: Villanova provides a $20,000 scholarship for each of the three years a student is there. The application fee is also waived, and the student is given preferred admission at Villanova.
Students must earn a grade point average of 3.6 at King’s and at Villanova, and score at or above 158 on the Law School Admission Test.
The program is a natural fit for King’s students in several majors, including political science or liberal arts, Unis said, and the school is working to make it a good fit for other majors such as the business school or philosophy.
The agreement includes a “4+3 pathway” that would be more traditional, with students attending King’s for four years to earn their bachelor’s degree before going to Villanova. The scholarship drops dramatically in that case, to $8,000 annually.