The relationship between Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University grew as Gonzaga School of Law announced a 3+3 program that partners with EWU.

The 3+3 program puts students on a fast track to law school. The agreement allows for EWU pre-law students to apply to GU School of Law during their junior year of their undergraduate studies. If they are accepted into the program, EWU students will have their first year of law school also count as their senior year of undergrad.

Three years of undergrad combined with three years of law school give students the opportunity to graduate in six years with a law degree, instead of seven.

“The 3+3 program is all about creating opportunities for motivated and qualified pre-law students to attend Gonzaga School of Law while saving a bit of time and money and getting the students into their legal careers a year earlier than usual,” said James Headley, chair of EWU’s political science and international studies department, in an email.

Students must meet the requirements set forth by both universities to continue on with the program and have the first year of law school count for senior year as well.

“In essence the successful completion of the first year law curriculum at Gonzaga School of Law transfers back to EWU and counts as the senior year of classes at EWU and completes the undergraduate degree,” Headley said. “All university requirements of the course have to be met at both schools, and when met or successfully completed the EWU student would have their undergraduate degree complete as they enter their second year at Gonzaga School of Law.”

The partnership comes after many years of planning between the two schools with good relationships Headley said.

“It really developed within the last year or so at the initiative of Dean Jacob Rooksby,” Headley said.

As a Gonzaga School of Law alumni, Headley is happy to foster the relationship in the future.

Headley said that many EWU students are drawn to GU Law because of the promotion of GU’s mission statement.

“EWU has always sent a good number of great students onto Gonzaga School of Law in part because they are both local Spokane area universities, and because many of our students are drawn to Gonzaga's mission to promote social justice,” Headley said.

It is important to both schools to keep students in Eastern Washington.

Jacob Rooksby, the dean of the GU School of Law and professor, sees the 3+3 program as an opportunity to keep future lawyers in Eastern Washington.

“This partnership reflects our mutual interest in keeping talented students in Eastern Washington for their education,” Rooksby said in an email. “We see it as an important way to make law school more accessible and affordable for motivated students.”

In order for students to be eligible to apply to the program they must have a suggested GPA of 3.30 along with a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score around the 25th percentile. Other requirements are a letter of recommendation, personal statement, resume and a letter of eligibility from the faculty advisor at the 3+3 program.

Headley said there is no set cap on students and interested students can email him (jheadley@ewu.edu) or contact Susan Lee, the director of admissions at the GU School of Law.

The 3+3 program is not new to the GU School of Law. It has an ongoing partnership with another local college, Whitworth University. The situation is similar to that with EWU. Students apply and are able to graduate law school a year earlier than normal, if accepted.

Rooksby said they are working on creating more partnerships with these colleges for GU students.

“The institutions are discussing possible 3+2 agreements wherein a GU undergrad could obtain an undergraduate degree from GU and a master’s degree from EWU in five years instead of six,” Rooksby said. “The Provost’s Office, via Associate Provost Weber, is leading those discussions.”

For GU students who are looking to go to law school, GU School of Law is offering a special program for them as well.

“Gonzaga undergrads who major in religious studies can also earn a bachelors and law degree at Gonzaga in six years instead of seven, although the information is not yet on our website it will be soon,” Rooksby said.

Financing law school can be a challenge for students, but the 3+3 program is a way to help relieve the financial stress of graduate school. Along with saving a year of tuition, GU School of Law has scholarships set up for hopeful law students.

The 3+3 program hopes to attract the students who are motivated to help those in need while trying to save money.

“Many students know that they want to go to law school early on, and this path is perfect for those highly motivated students that are set on becoming an attorney,” Headley said. “This program will likely help save students time and money and help get qualified attorneys into careers in the local community that much sooner- a classic "win-win"!”

With local schools like EWU and Whitworth partnering with GU School of Law, the college is cultivating a strong educational system in Eastern Washington.

“Pursuing a professional degree is always an attractive option for students looking for career fulfillment and advancement,” Rooksby said. “That may be more true than ever as our economy faces difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Lawyers will continue to be in demand to help society and individuals navigate our way through the new range of privacy, health, and employment-related issues we will confront in the years ahead.”

For more information on the program and how to apply click here

Hannah Hislop is a staff writer.

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