Beginning in the fall semester of 2023, Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law will offer its part-time JD program in a hybrid format with both in-person instruction and an online component.
The Indianapolis institution is the first Indiana law school to offer the JD degree in a hybrid format.
“For many of our students, going to law school is only possible if they can pursue that dream while working and supporting families,” said Karen Bravo, dean of IU McKinney, in a press release. “…The new hybrid program builds on this long tradition of meeting students where they are while providing a world-class legal education that allows graduates to thrive in new careers and make important contributions to their communities and the state of Indiana Afford.”
The hybrid program was designed so that two-thirds each of the first and second year courses are taught in person, while the remaining third is taught online. Instead of coming to campus five nights a week, part-time students enrolling in fall 2023 will only be required to attend classes on Monday and Thursday evenings for the first two years of the J.D. program.
After completing the first two years part-time, students have the option to complete up to 30 credit hours of their electives online.
IU McKinney Vice Dean Max Huffman said the online components were being developed by education experts to be more than a video of a professor lecturing. The virtual modules create an interactive experience for students by incorporating videos, discussion forums and quizzes.
According to Huffman, the law school had considered offering a full online JD program, but speaking to students, IU McKinney learned they value flexibility.
“Perhaps what we found shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Huffman said. “Students want live experiences, and they want online experiences too, which means, ‘I want more flexibility without giving up the ability to go into the building and be with my classmates and people face to face meet.'”
Other law schools across the country that offer hybrid programs have had to seek a divergence from the American Bar Association’s Legal Education and Bar Association Division of Legal Education and Bar Licensing. The ABA only allows a maximum of 30 credit hours to be offered online.
However, IU McKinney did not have to seek approval from the ABA. Huffman explained that first- and second-year courses don’t count toward the 30-hour cap because, although a third are taught online, the courses still count as in-person classes.
“The ABA doesn’t really define a hybrid course at all,” Huffman said. “It will be considered an in-person course as long as no more than a third of it is moved online.”
People considering the part-time program were notified Monday of the move to a hybrid format. The price of the part-time program will not be affected.
Echoing Bravo, Huffman said the new format will accommodate part-time students who often have careers and families and sometimes drive long distances each night to get to class.
“Basically, evening programming has always been about flexibility,” Huffman said. “And that’s an attempt to achieve more flexibility.”