Students at Bemidji State University interested in a legal career can now earn an undergraduate degree and a law degree in as little as six years, something that normally takes seven.
Under a new transfer agreement signed Nov. 4 by leaders from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and Bemidji State University, BSU students can participate in the program if they’re admitted into Mitchell Hamline under the school’s normal process.
The agreement was signed by Mark Gordon, president and dean of Mitchell Hamline, and Dr. Faith C. Hensrud, BSU president.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students who are interested in going into the field of law to be able to start here in Bemidji and then transfer to get a degree at each institution,” Hensrud said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get their educational footing started and then go on to get a law degree.”
Gordon said the agreement is part of Mitchell Hamline’s goal to deepen its relationships with public institutions across the state of Minnesota.
“We are delighted to enter into this agreement to enable qualified Bemidji students to study law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law on an accelerated basis,” he said. “At Mitchell Hamline, we are committed to serving students from every part of the state, and we are very pleased that we are becoming the law school of choice for students throughout the Minnesota State system.” Mitchell Hamline has similar agreements with Hamline University and St. Cloud State University.
The “3+3” transfer program requires BSU students to complete a minimum of 92 undergraduate credits before transferring to Mitchell Hamline. At Mitchell Hamline, students will complete both their final year of undergraduate coursework and their first year of law school, transferring between 12 and 28 upper-level credits back to BSU to complete their bachelor’s degree. After this crossover year, students will then spend two additional years at Mitchell Hamline, allowing them to complete both their undergraduate and law degrees in just six years.
Each academic department at BSU wishing to participate in the program will identify Mitchell Hamline courses that may fill requirements in that department’s major or minor programs. Mitchell Hamline courses may also be considered elective credits for some students.
For BSU freshman Alejandro Ketchel, a political science major from Otsego, Minn., the agreement between Bemidji State and Mitchell Hamline offers the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream.
“Mitchell Hamline has been a dream for me,” Ketchel said. “I’ve been driven ever since I can remember to go to law school. The prestige of the school is so amazing, and what they offer for lawyers just seems almost incredible. For those who want to get into law school, it’s a great opportunity – one of the best you’re ever going to get.”
After the signing ceremony, admissions representatives from Mitchell Hamline visited with Ketchel and other BSU students in the Hobson Memorial Union. Students toured Mitchell Hamline’s Mobile Law Network RV, nicknamed “The Wheels of Justice,” which takes law students around the state to support a variety of legal services, focusing primarily in the areas of family law, criminal expungements, and advance health care planning.