HELENA — Carroll College and the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law are launching two partnerships to help students earn graduate degrees faster and at a lower cost.
Carroll President John Cech and law school dean Paul Kirgis met in Helena Tuesday and signed agreements to start the new programs.
The first program, “3+3,” will let students attend Carroll for three years and the law school for three years. They will earn a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years, instead of the usual seven.
The second program, “4+1,” will let students complete a bachelor’s in political science from Carroll and a master’s of public administration from the Blewett School in five years, rather than six or more.
Leaders say helping students get their degrees faster will help reduce the barriers to entry.
“It saves students one full year of education,” said Cech. “That’s saving them a year of not paying tuition or fees or residence halls fees, and they can go to work right away and start earning a living wage as an attorney. All of those together may mean that the students are saving $100,000.”
The programs could also help get people into the workforce more quickly.
“Montana has an ‘access to justice’ problem,” Kirgis said. “We do not have enough lawyers in this state to serve the needs of all of our people, and because of that, we need to be producing lawyers who will serve their communities here in Montana.”
Cech said the partnership came out of discussions between faculty at the two schools, about how they could create an efficient pathway for Carroll undergraduates to come to UM for advanced degrees. He said it will help strengthen Carroll’s pre-law program.
“We already are viewed as a primary institution for pre-law,” he said. “Students come here because they want to pursue law school. This just takes that to a whole new level.”
Kirgis said he’s excited to bring more Carroll students to the UM law school.
Cech said he hopes these types of public-private partnerships can be an example going forward.
“We are very interested in growing and developing them,” he said.
The new opportunities will be available to Carroll students starting this year.