Florida A&M University (FAMU) has created a 3+3 Program, wherein undergraduates can complete three years (90 credits) of education at FAMU and then complete their fourth year as a first year law student at the FAMU College of Law in Orlando, Fla.
This program, funded by Title III, Part B grant from the U.S. Department of Education allows students to complete an undergraduate degree and attain their juris doctor (JD) degree in six years (3+3) instead of the customary seven years. This saves on tuition and allows focused and motivated students to start their legal careers a year earlier than normal. While the College of Law already offers the most reasonable tuition in the state of Florida, subtracting one year of undergraduate costs certainly enhances the College of Law’s value.
“A major benefit for both FAMU, as a whole and the College of Law in particular, is that this program reinforces the attractiveness of the College of Law to our students, while also consolidating the pool of the most qualified and talented FAMU students,” said Jon P. Perdue, Esq., interim director of the FAMU Legal Scholars Preparatory Program. “According to the American Bar Association (ABA), FAMU is currently, and has historically been, the second best feeder school of applicants to the ABA approved law schools. The 3+3 program, which is unique to FAMU among HBCUs with law schools, will hopefully increase FAMU’s attractiveness as a destination for prospective law students. ”
Currently, the 3+3 program has partnered with the departments of history and political science, criminal justice, sociology, and African American studies departments. Perdue says there appears to be enough demand among students in other majors to discuss expansion so that Journalism and Environmental Science majors are also eligible.
For initial selection into the program, a student must have a minimum SAT score of 1000 or a comparable ACT score; minimum of 15 credit hours of completed FAMU course work, with a 3.2 FAMU grade point average; completion of a minimum of one semester in residence at FAMU, and an application during the second semester of the freshman year or during the sophomore year.
To be admitted to the College of Law, the 3+3 applicant must still take and attain a qualifying LSAT score and be otherwise approved for admission by the College of Law.
Christopher Johnson, a sophomore political science student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says being a part of the 3+3 program has been very beneficial for him academically.
“The standard that I feel I need to be at to remain a 3+3 student encourages me to work hard and to stay focused on my schoolwork,” Johnson said. “I have always been greatly interested in attending law school; so when I came to college, the obvious choice to me was to strive towards that goal.”
The deadline to apply to the 3+3 program is by the first semester of a student’s sophomore year. This program has been in the works for several years; however, it did not become operational until 2012. The first applications for the students currently admitted were received in June 2012.
“I have attempted to target the best and brightest freshmen and sophomores for this program,” Perdue said. “I emphasize that a minimum GPA and LSAT score should not become ‘goals.’ Rather, students should seek to maintain the highest possible GPA and to achieve the highest possible LSAT score. I’ve targeted students who recognize the value in pushing themselves. The goal is to offer them every resource available so that they do not ‘take their feet off the gas’ while also giving the College of Law a direct pipeline to these students.”
Photo cutline: Attorney Jon Purdue chats with 3+3 participant Christopher Johnson.