Vanderbilt Law School Background Image

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics is unique. While one can separately earn a J.D. and a Ph.D. in economics at many other universities, our program is unique in that training in economics is fully integrated with training in law. Students learn economic theory and econometrics in the context of the law and legal issues. Our principal fields of concentration are risk and environmental regulation, labor and human resources, and behavioral law and economics.

At the completion of the program, you will receive a Ph.D. in Law and Economics and a J.D. While we anticipate that most of our graduates will pursue academic careers, other career paths are possible.

The dual-degree program is designed to be completed in 6 years. Those who enter the program with a J.D. are expected to complete the Ph.D. in 4 years.  

In the first year of study, all students take core Ph.D. courses. In the second year, dual-degree students take the standard 1L curriculum. In subsequent years, students concurrently take law courses and Ph.D. courses. For more detail see the Law and Economics Curriculum page.

No. The Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics is designed for the full-time student.

The Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics follows Vanderbilt University's public health guidelines, but generally, students must live within driving or walking distance of Vanderbilt University during the academic year. There are no opportunities to take courses online or to study remotely in the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics.

All students admitted to the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics receive 100% tuition support and a stipend for living expenses for study within the program.

Continuation of the award beyond the first year is contingent on satisfactory performance in the program.

Fellowship recipients will have research assistant responsibilities after completion of the first year of Ph.D. study and the first year of law study.

Graduate study in economics requires substantial mathematics preparation. Highly recommended undergraduate courses are: (1) two or three terms of calculus, (2) linear algebra, (3) real analysis, and (4) mathematical statistics. 

The American Economic Association provides valuable information on recommended math preparation for graduate study in economics. 

No. The Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics does not require a specific major as a condition of admission, and students from a variety of backgrounds have been admitted to our program. However, admitted students will usually have prior coursework in economics or related fields, as this background knowledge helps the admissions committee assess whether our program is a good fit for an applicant's interests.

The American Economic Association provides valuable information on preparation for graduate study in economics. 

Applicants who have not taken the LSAT in the last five years and will not take the LSAT in the current admission cycle may apply through the GRE-Only Pathway and need not take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Please refer to the "GRE-Only" section on our How to Apply page

There is no minimum LSAT score; however, applicants with lower LSAT scores are admitted at lower rates than applicants with higher scores. The median score of J.D. students at Vanderbilt Law School is 167. Each applicant's LSAT scores are considered in the context of all the information in the full application. This means that applicants with lower scores are more likely to be admitted if they are strong in other respects. 

Yes. GRE scores are required for admission to the Graduate School. The GRE Subject Test in Economics is not required. Other exam scores (GMAT, for example) may not be used in lieu of the GRE scores. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program have GRE scores commensurate with leading Ph.D. programs in economics. 

International students: Please note that applicants to the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics holding foreign law degrees must take the LSAT and must satisfy J.D. program requirements during their course of study at Vanderbilt, receiving Ph.D. and J.D. degrees upon completion of the program. In some cases, applicants admitted to the Ph.D. program with foreign law degrees may qualify for up to one year advanced standing in J.D. program requirements. Decisions on advanced standing are made after admission to the Ph.D. program, and these applicants are not exempt from the LSAT application requirement.

Applicants whose native language is not English must present the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with the application unless they have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at an English-speaking institution.

 

Yes. Transcripts must be submitted with each application to the Law School (directly) and to the Graduate School (via the Center for Data Management). See the Law and Economics Admissions page for details.

Yes. Students who have completed graduate work in economics at other schools may request transfer credit for certain graduate courses completed elsewhere. In order for a course to qualify for transfer credit, it must meet certain conditions: (1) the course was taken at an accredited graduate school for graduate credit; (2) the student received at least a B in the course; and (3) the DGS must be satisfied that the course is of sufficient intellectual quality to count towards program requirements. Transfer hours do not count towards the student’s GPA unless they are to be considered as transferred didactic hours. Few courses are transferred as didactic hours. Credits earned for internships or research cannot be transferred. Pass/Fail courses may not be considered for transfer credit unless there is some basis for the grade, e.g., Pass represents a B grade or better.

Transfer credit will not be considered for the following courses: Law and Economics Theory I and II, Behavioral Law and Economics I and II, Econometrics for Legal Research.

Students transferring into the program from another law school are generally treated as though they had started law school at Vanderbilt. Credits for equivalent courses from another law school accredited by the American Bar Association may be considered towards upper-level electives, as applicable, though not in place of core courses.

If you are applying through the Standard J.D. Application Pathway, then yes. However, the same recommenders may write for each program. It is helpful if your recommenders highlight your law and economics interests and research potential. The Graduate School requires three letters of recommendation to complete your application, but up to five will be accepted. The Law School requires two letters of recommendation, but up to three will be accepted.

If you are applying through the GRE-Only Application Pathway, you need not submit letters of recommendation with your law school application. The Graduate School requires three letters of recommendation to complete your application.

The Graduate School application fee is $95.00. For fee waiver information for the Ph.D. application, please refer to Graduate School admissions. In addition to fee waivers granted by the Graduate School, a small number of waivers may be granted at the discretion of the Ph.D. program admissions committee. We are happy to consider your request, but can only do so after you have submitted your Graduate School application and confirmed that a fee is due. At that time, please contact phd.lawecon@vanderbilt.edu.  

For your Law School application, you must register with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and pay the requisite fees. After registering with LSAC and obtaining your “L number” from CAS, complete the online application for Vanderbilt Law School. Applicants to the dual-degree program may contact the Law School Admissions Office for an application fee waiver by emailing admissions@law.vanderbilt.edu. You will need to provide your “L number.”

Yes. Students who are admitted, enrolled, or graduates of Vanderbilt Law School are welcome to apply to the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics.

Prospective students can email their questions to phd.lawecon@vanderbilt.edu. Many answers to possible inquiries can be found detailed on our website, so please read carefully. Additionally, please be sure to speak with your own faculty and advisors to best assist you before you apply to the program. 

Admitted students will have the opportunity to speak directly with faculty in the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics before making their final enrollment decisions. 

Only students with a J.D. at the time of matriculation may pursue the Ph.D.-only track. Please see How to Apply for more details. 


Thank you for your interest in Vanderbilt. We look forward to working with you in the application process.