Dual Degree Programs in Law and Health Administration


The Health care industry is becoming increasingly more complex in both the delivery of services and in organizational structure. Along with this has come competition among providers to a degree heretofore unheard of in health care. As the nation's third largest business, the health care industry accounts for about 15 percent of our Gross National Product. As leaders of one of the most regulated industries in the United States, health care executives require extensive knowledge of state and federal regulations, reimbursement, insurance, medical ethics, contract law, mergers and acquisitions, tax laws, and antitrust laws, to name but a few areas. This has created a vigorous demand for legal experts who understand the intricacies of the health care industry as well as health law. To meet the demand for health law experts, the Virginia Commonwealth University has a dual degree program in law and health administration. The law school partner is the University of Richmond School of Law, a program established in 1986. Created as a cooperative venture between the universities, the program addresses legal issues that affect organizations, financing, and delivery of health services.

Program Curriculum

The major advantage of the MHA/JD dual degree program is the time required to complete it. A three-year curriculum in health administration and a three-year curriculum in law have been combined to create an intensive, four to four and a half year program. Students may begin their studies either in law or health administration and upon completion of all requirements will receive both degrees concurrently. Students enrolled in the dual degree program must complete approximately 120 semester hours of study, 49 in health administration and 70 to 75 in law. The 49 semester hours to be completed in health administration include 46 hours in core curriculum, and at least three credits to be earned during a ten week summer administrative internship. Dual degree students complete this internship in lieu of the 12 month residency. The 70 to 75 semester hours to be completed in law include approximately 40 hours in required core courses. In addition, students must take additional courses as required by each school. The remaining hours are obtained from a wide variety of electives offered at the University of Richmond School of Law.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Graduates of the program may choose either to work in health administration or to practice law. Choices include positions in corporate offices of multi-institutional health care systems or careers in the public sector, working with various government departments that deal with health care. Many health attorneys are pursuing careers as general in-house counsel or specialty areas such as risk management or hospital personnel. For those who choose to practice health law, opportunities abound: antitrust, employment and labor law, tax law, corporate law, reimbursement consultation, fraud & abuse, administrative law, and litigation in medical malpractice are a few examples. Given the fast paced growth of the health care industry and the increasingly complex legal issues that have evolved, students will be assigned a faculty advisor from each school to help them plan a specialized program to meet their individual interests and needs. Each school has developed specialty "tracks" to help students choose elective courses that will enable the students to achieve a high degree of specialization in health administration law. In health administration these tracks include:

  • management of hospitals and hospital systems
  • long-term care administration
  • health planning and policy
  • health care finance.

In law the tracks include:

  • labor and employment law
  • hospital corporate counsel
  • litigation and medical malpractice
  • general health law.

The Department of Health Administration

The Department of Health Administration is a division of the College of Health Professions, a school located on the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Campus. Established in 1949, the Department offers three major programs: M.H.A. in health services administration, Professional M.S.H.A. On-line Program in health administration, and Ph.D. in health administrative sciences.

The University of Richmond School of Law

Founded in 1870, the University of Richmond School of Law combines a rigorous academic program with an extensive selection of clinical placements and experiential learning opportunities to create an extraordinary legal education. The Law School’s highly regarded faculty of teacher-scholars includes nationally and internationally recognized experts, and its low student-faculty ratio reinforces a culture of professional mentoring and mutual support. Through individualized attention aimed at maximizing the personal potential of each and every student, we equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need, preparing them to make valuable contributions to the legal system. The school is located on the beautiful 350-acre campus of the University, just seven miles west of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Campus.

Program Accreditation

Each program in the cooperative arrangement is fully accredited. The graduate program in health administration is one of only several in the nation to have been granted the maximum seven year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The University of Richmond Law School partner is fully accredited by the recognized standardizing agencies in the United States. U of R is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and on the approved lists of the American State Board of Bar Examiners and the Virginia State Board of Bar Examiners. A law degree from U off R qualifies the holder to seek admission to the bar of any state in the nation.

General Application Process

Students applying for admission to the Dual Degree Program must meet the standards and be accepted by both the Department of Health Administration and the University of Richmond School of Law. Students may either 1) apply to both schools in the dual degree program simultaneously, and upon acceptance into both programs, select, with the assistance and approval of both schools, which school to start in, or 2) enroll in one of the two programs first, and then apply for the other program during that first year of study. However, applying under this latter scenario does not guarantee acceptance into the other school. To be considered for a position in the M.H.A. program, applicants must meet the following minimum qualifications:

  1. Demonstrated evidence of personal and scholarly achievement and professional promise,

  2. A baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college or university accredited by the Association of American Universities or recognized regional accrediting agency,

  3. An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or evidence of high scholastic achievement with a substantial amount of graduate work,

  4. A satisfactory score (50th percentile or above) on either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT),

  5. Prerequisite courses in accounting, statistics, and economics (three semester credit hours each) that must be completed before entering the program.

The program uses a rolling admissions process. Applications which are complete will be reviewed for admission to the program on an ongoing basis. We encourage early applications because space is limited. The application deadline is February 28.

The two most important considerations in making the evaluating a candidate for admission to the University of Richmond School of Law are the candidate's score Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the candidate's undergraduate performance. The admissions committee at UR also take into consideration an applicant's leadership potential, extra curricular activities, recommendations, employment experience, maturity, motivation, and character. Interested students may familiarize themselves with the admissions standards applied by UR by reviewing the statistical information about median grade point average and median LSAT score in the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, published annually by the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council (link opens in a new window).

For Additional Information

For additional information on admissions procedures, please contact the individual programs:

Director, Graduate Program in Health Administration
Department of Health Administration
Virginia Commonwealth University
P.O. Box 980203
Richmond, Virginia 23298-0203
(804) 828-0719 or (804) 828-5216

Director of Admissions
The University of Richmond School of Law
University of Richmond
Richmond, Virginia 23173
(804) 289-8189