Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.)

The College of Law and the Department of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University offer a unique opportunity for qualified students to complete a Juris Doctor and a Master of Public Administration in under four years. 

You will gain an advanced capacity to assume a leadership role and use management skills to enhance the mission of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations as it relates to public law and management.

How Do These Degrees Align With My Career Goals?

Our M.P.A. is designed to help you obtain a career working in the public service field and a J.D. will provide you with training in the nuances of law and how to practice.

Law school grads with a public service interest tend to be adept at empathizing with others and solving problems. Work in the public service field requires specific knowledge of how government works and how policies are created and administered. 

With a J.D. you will typically advise on the legalities of proposed policies to ensure they are legally sound and constitutionally appropriate. Obtaining both an M.P.A. and a J.D. can offer more opportunities and make you more appealing to potential employers.

Deciding to do the joint J.D./M.P.A. program at NIU was one of the five most important decisions I made in my entire life. The law school gave me the ability to analyze complex and abstract concepts at a high level. The M.P.A. program gave me practical tools and experience to be successful. In addition, I know that the combination of the two degrees has set me apart in the job market. Many people have master’s degrees or law degrees. Few have both. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea why more people don’t take advantage of this unique and powerful opportunity!

–Ryan J. Dowd, J.D., M.P.A. ’03


You will apply to the law school and to the M.P.A. program with a specialization in Public Service Law and Management. Upon completion you will demonstrate an advanced ability to:

  • Lead and manage in public governance with legal insights
  • Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions related to the legal issues of a public organization
  • Articulate and apply a public service perspective while serving in a public organization or a law firm that serves nonprofit, local, state and federal government agencies
  • Communicate, interact and provide a legal perspective within a diverse and changing citizenry

The Simultaneous Enrollment Plan

You are required to take at least 106 total semester hours; 78 from the College of Law and 28 from the Department of Public Administration.

Up to 12 semester hours of J.D. program coursework may be applied to the 40 semester hours required for the M.P.A. degree, and up to 12 semester hours of M.P.A. coursework with a grade of B or better may be applied toward the 90 semester hours required for the J.D. degree.

If you do not have two years of professional public management experience, you are required to work in an internship and take our internship course (PSPA 695).

You must enroll and meet all of the graduation requirements for both degree programs. You may obtain either degree prior to completing all requirements for the other degree.

Contact Us

Swen Parson Hall 151
Dean's Office
Swen Parson Hall 270

Ask the Dean