3 + 3 program puts students on a fast track to a law degree


Since high school, Treasur Luikart knew that she wanted to be a lawyer. While researching colleges, she came across the Akron Law 3 + 3 program, which gives students the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree and a law degree in just six years instead of the usual seven. Luikart knew this was the right program for her.

“The 3 + 3 program is what made me choose to attend college at The University of Akron (UA) and major in political science,” said Luikart, now a third-year (3L) student at the law school. “Because of the program and doing College Credit Plus in high school, I’m going to have my law degree at age 22. Most students don’t graduate law school until they’re 26 or 27.”

Portraits of three University of Akron law students

3 + 3 students (from left) Jared Cline, Savannah Daniels and Treasur Luikart.

In the 3 + 3 program, students complete enough credits in three years of college to start law school in their fourth year. They fulfill their bachelor’s degree requirements through the successful completion of their first-year law school courses, saving them a full year of undergraduate study, tuition and living expenses.

“Our 3 + 3 students have the advantage of getting out into the workforce a year earlier than their peers who go the traditional route of four years of college and three years of law school,” said Akron Law’s Barbara Weinzierl, associate dean for administration and enrollment management.

Political science or philosophy majors at UA are eligible to apply to the program, as well as undergraduates at four other partner institutions: Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, the University of Mount Union, Walsh University, and Youngstown State University. Each institution determines which majors are eligible, Weinzierl noted.

“Applicants who have completed at least 91 credits towards a bachelor’s degree may be automatically admitted to Akron Law if they meet certain GPA and standardized test requirements as well as certain character and fitness standards required of all students admitted to the law school,” she explained.

“I thought it was nice knowing where I'd be going to law school, so I didn't have to apply to a bunch of places and spend hundreds of dollars,” said Jared Cline, a 1L Akron Law student who earned his undergraduate degree at Walsh.

Cline started out as an exercise science pre-physical therapy major at Walsh but quickly realized it wasn’t the right track for him. In the process of changing to a double major in legal studies and political science after his first semester, he learned about the 3 + 3 program.

“One of the main reasons I applied for the program was the cost savings,” he said. “Walsh is a bit expensive, and I was already going to be behind after switching majors. So, I looked at it as an opportunity to cut off time from undergrad and be in school a total of six years instead of seven.”

Proper advising is important

“Students interested in pursuing the 3 + 3 program should speak to an academic advisor at their college early in their undergraduate career,” Weinzierl said. “They need to ensure that they have time to successfully complete the requirements of their major and the necessary undergraduate credit hours.

“A 3 + 3 student will apply to Akron Law during their third year of college,” she continued. “They also must take either the LSAT or the GRE by the winter of their third year to be on track to apply before our application deadline.”

Amy Wolfe, a UA Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences academic advisor for undergraduate students in the 3 + 3 program, said that she is happy with the success that the program has achieved since it was introduced in fall 2016: “Students are responding to the marketing they are seeing and the program is gaining in popularity.”

The law school class of 2020 includes nine 3 + 3 students out of 144.

“I was already pretty far along in my degree when I heard about the program, which had just been introduced,” said 3L Savannah Daniels, who attended UA as an undergraduate. “But I was a political science major, so I was in a good position. I just needed to take a couple more upper-level classes. The law school recommended I take the courses in constitutional law and the Supreme Court and civil liberties.”

Looking ahead

One might expect that most students committing to pursue a legal career so early would have some family connections to the law. Research shows a high correlation between considering going to law school and having a parent or family member with a law degree or other advanced degree. But that wasn’t a factor for Luikart, Cline or Daniels.

Not only is Luikart going to be the first law school graduate in her family, she is also the first in her family to earn a college degree. After law school, she intends to practice family law and start her own private practice.

“During law school, I've worked for a few family lawyers, and I definitely love it,” she said. “Even though it's divorces, custody battles, and nasty emotional stuff, I have a great passion for the family law field.”

Cline, who is thinking of specializing in corporate litigation or a career in government, noted that his natural interests and abilities, rather than familial connections or pressure, led him to law school.

“I’m not related to anyone in the legal field or anything like that,” Cline said. “There was no one pushing me to it, which might have been a good thing. When I got into college and realized that I wasn't really liking science, I thought, ‘I'm good at English and I enjoy writing and reading, and I have an interest in the law and aspects of it,’ so I went with what I enjoy doing.”

Daniels was commissioned as a U.S. Army officer through the UA ROTC after completing her undergraduate degree and first year of law school. She intends to practice law in the areas of data privacy, cybersecurity, and technology law, which fit well with her military specialization in telecommunications.

“Law school is challenging, but it’s something I wanted to do for a very long time,” Daniels said. “When my soldiers ask me questions about it, I tell them that a 3 + 3 program like Akron’s can be very helpful — you can graduate more quickly. You just have to be the kind of person that takes initiative, to make sure you take the classes you need and apply to law school in time. I hope that the program continues to create access to the legal profession for students from diverse backgrounds. I'm glad I could participate.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Akron Law 3 + 3 program, please contact your undergraduate pre-law or academic advisor and the Akron Law Admissions Office at lawadmissions@uakron.edu.