Akron Law introduces innovative Blended Online J.D. Program10/29/2019
Full-time jobs, family obligations and other responsibilities can make it difficult for part-time law school students to attend classes three or four nights every week. That’s why The University of Akron School of Law is introducing an innovative program — unique among Ohio law schools — designed to make law school more accessible to part-time students.
Beginning fall 2020, the new Blended Online Juris Doctor (J.D.) program will allow part-time students, in the first two years of their four-year program, to attend classes in person just two nights per week and complete the rest of their coursework online.
“During these first two years, students can take the remaining courses on their computer each week at a time that fits their schedule — in the morning before work, in the evening after work, or over the weekend,” said Christopher J. (C.J.) Peters, dean of Akron Law.
The online courses will be delivered in weekly “modules,” or units, consisting of the professor’s prerecorded, interactive lectures and related readings, discussion boards and assessments, explained Emily Janoski-Haehlen, associate professor, director of the Law Library and associate dean for academic affairs and institutional excellence at Akron Law.
“This program is the right approach for us, as 20-25% of our J.D. students are typically enrolled in the part-time program,” she added.
While the law school has been offering online courses since 2002, the American Bar Association restricted the number of credit hours that could be earned online. That restriction was lifted in 2018, Janoski-Haehlen said, and the law school began experimenting with the “blended online” structure in its part-time program. This fall semester, some students were able to schedule their classes in accordance with the two-nights-per-week structure.
“We’ve gotten positive feedback from the students who’ve been participating in the program, as well as from their professors,” Peters said, adding that the school plans to create online versions of some upper-level courses for students in the third and fourth years of the part-time program.
He said the law school has also expanded its weekend, summer and intersession course offerings in recent years, providing students more flexibility compared with traditional night-school programs.
Peters noted that U.S. News & World Report 2020 ranks Akron Law’s part-time J.D. program among the top 40 in the country and highest among Ohio law schools.
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