GULFPORT – The sky is the limit in terms of how many Chatham University undergraduates can take advantage of a new 3+3 accelerated program, a faster way to earn a law degree, a Stetson University College of Law spokeswoman said recently.
"As with our 3+3 programs with the University of South Florida Honors College, University of West Florida and Stetson University, we will consider all qualified students," Stetson University College of Law Manager of Media Relations Brandi Palmer said during a Florida Record interview. "There is no set limit."
In a program announced in March, Florida's Stetson University and Pennsylvania's Chatham University have partnered in the accelerated law degree program. Starting this fall, eligible Chatham University undergraduates in their junior year can apply to Stetson University's law school. Under the 3+3 program, students can fulfill their senior year of undergraduate credits and their first year of law school courses.
High-performing Chatham students in the program can earn their bachelor’s and Juris Doctor degrees in six years, instead of the traditional seven years. The program gets its name, 3+3, because students spend three years at Chatham and three years at Stetson.
“This partnership builds on Chatham’s pre-law foundation by helping Chatham students save time and money with the accelerated 3+3 path to their undergraduate and graduate degree,” Chatham University President Esther L. Barazzone was quoted in the March announcement. “And, as a recognized leader in sustainability, Chatham is also thrilled by the opportunity this presents for our students wishing to pursue environmental law and policy.”
The idea came to Barazzone and Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby during a chat last fall, Libby was quoted in the same announcement.
“President Barazzone and I started talking about this in October of last year, and I am so pleased that our institutions have been able to work through the details in such a timely fashion," Libby said. "Creating the next generation of leaders in the legal profession is our mission and our privilege.”
Stetson also offers an accelerated 3+3 program with the University of South Florida, as well as a 3+3 and a Direct Admissions program with the University of West Florida, according to the March announcement. Other partner arrangements are planned for the future, according to the announcement.
The accelerated program is more than just getting a law degree faster, Palmer said.
"Students and families today are very cost conscious and rightly so," she said. "This accelerated enrollment eliminates one year of college costs, allowing the student to enter the workforce earlier and with less debt. The 3+3 is a program we developed with our own undergraduate campus back in the 1990s. More recently, we entered into agreements with the USF Honors College and UWF and have been pleased with the caliber of students who have matriculated into the program."
Stetson also offers Direct Admission, or 4+3 program, in partnership with the University of Western Florida and with Eckerd College, Palmer said.
Stetson, which offers certificates for law students to study advocacy, elder law, environmental law, international law and social justice advocacy, was Florida’s first law school and has prepared attorneys since 1900.
"Stetson is a nationally recognized leader in legal education and has carefully and strategically developed partnerships with select academic institutions," Palmer said. "With the 3+3 program comes generous scholarship funding and the opportunity to participate in Stetson’s extensive experiential education opportunities.
Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has more than 2,100 students and consistently ranks as a best college by U.S. News & World Report, including the highest ranking among western Pennsylvania institutions in the Regional Universities – North category for 2015.