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Joint Program Brings Law Focus to SHSU:

Program is 'One-of-a-Kind' in Texas

Sam Houston State University's architectural campus landmark, Austin Hall, was the site of the first law school in Texas. Now, after a 145-year absence, upper level pursuit of a law degree is returning to Huntsville.

Law degrees were conferred by Austin College beginning in 1854, but the program was discontinued in 1857, and Austin College moved to Sherman in 1876. However, it was only a matter of time before Austin Hall would experience a scholastic revival. In 1879 it became the home of Sam Houston Normal Institute.

Now Sam Houston State University and the University of Houston have agreed to accept upper level course work from Sam Houston State for the UH Law School's Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

In return, upper level course work from the law school will be accepted by Sam Houston State toward a Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice.

"Most likely approval from UH will be forthcoming shortly," said Randy Garner, professor of criminal justice and coordinator of the program.

Once established, this will be the only program of its kind in Texas. "This is essentially an articulation agreement in which UH Law School will count up to 15 criminal justice graduate credits from SHSU towards a J.D. and SHSU will count up to 15 law graduate credits from UH towards a Ph.D," said Garner.

Because of the program's uniqueness, the possibilities for employment after obtaining the degree are "limitless," according to Garner.

From a business or institution perspective, Garner contends, "Having a prospective applicant who has both a Ph.D in criminal justice, as well as one who is versed in the law, would be very attractive."

Though formal approval for the program has not yet been announced, students may begin the application process immediately.

Those interested in the joint program must apply independently and meet admission requirements and application deadlines for both institutions. Students are responsible for taking both the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Sam Houston State currently offers an independent Ph.D. in criminal justice, but the only law curriculum for students is a pre-law emphasis at the undergraduate level.

Garner feels the new agreement speaks volumes on behalf of the university.

"I think the university is attempting to offer programs and degree options that are being sought by individuals in the field. This suggests that the university is sensitive to the career needs of potential students," he said.

For more information regarding the application process, contact Doris Powell, admissions coordinator, at 936.294.3170.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak and Audrey Wick
March 25, 2002
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