ABA Clears the Way for Syracuse University College of Law’s Expansion of its Online JDinteractive Program

The American Bar Association has granted Syracuse University College of Law permission to expand its innovative online law degree program. JDinteractive (JDi) is a fully interactive program that combines live online class sessions with self-paced class sessions, residential courses, and applied learning experiences.

“The College requested expansion of the JDi program in order to meet increasing demand from strong law degree candidates for a high quality, flexible online law degree program that meets their family, work, and other needs,” says Dean Craig M. Boise. “The ABA’s approval is a testament to the successful design of our program, which includes a carefully calibrated mix of live online classes taught by College faculty, self-paced classes, applied learning opportunities, and short residencies.”

In February 2018, the ABA granted a variance to the College of Law to allow JDi enrollment of up to 65 students per academic year. Since its launch in January 2019, the College has seen a robust increase in interest and applications for the degree program. Under the terms of the expanded variance, the College of Law will be permitted to enroll up to 100 students annually in the JDi program.

The College anticipates substantial demand for the JDi program in the coming year, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for prospective law students as to whether they will be able to attend a residential law program in fall 2020 and beyond.

“Given the uncertain trajectory of the public health crisis, prospective law students—especially those with preexisting conditions or those caring for others—may understandably be more risk-adverse going forward and make the choice to limit in-person contact,” explains Faculty Director of Online Education Nina A. Kohn. “Furthermore, mounting job losses and disruption to families across the country may mean that law students cannot relocate or need to care for family members. With this expansion, we’ll be able to allow more students access to our rigorous program of online legal education so that they don’t have to place their future careers on hold.”

JDi is designed to meet the needs and demands of well-qualified law students for whom a residential program is not feasible. More than half of current JDi students are caregivers for young children or aging relatives; the majority have existing careers; and many are military-connected and thus unable to commit to being in one geographic location for the duration of their law school education. By design, JDi is also uniquely positioned to accommodate students with disabilities, which reflects the College’s long history as a leader in disability law and policy.

“The decision of the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recognizes that JDi has the capacity and infrastructure to expand without risk to the quality of either our online or residential J.D. education,” adds Kohn. “Since its launch, our program has seen remarkable success in terms of the academic credentials of the students enrolled, the quality of instruction and support for students, and their academic performance.”

The College will begin to receive Fall 2021 applications in September 2020.