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December 22, 2015

Rowan, Widener announce track to finish undergrad and law school in 6 years

Program will also include at least $10,000 in merit scholarships

Rowan and Widener University have launched a partnership that will allow Rowan students to earn a bachelor's degree and law degree within six years, with a bonus of at least $10,000 in merit scholarships.

Widener, based in Chester, Pennsylvania, runs the Delaware Law School in Wilmington, the only law school in the state. Rowan, based in South Jersey, has been trying to attract more students by rolling out fast-track, money-saving options like a three-year undergraduate program.

Under the 3+3 program announced on Monday, Rowan students who complete certain requirements can finish their undergraduate program early and go to Delaware Law School. They'll also receive at least $10,000 in scholarships, which is almost one-fourth of tuition. The scholarship is renewable while the student maintains good academic standing.

The qualifications include having a 3.0 GPA, completing all major and core curriculum requirements, finishing 75 percent of bachelor's degree requirements and meeting the law school's LSAT requirements and its "standards for character and fitness."

There's also an "express admission" path where Rowan students go to Delaware Law School after four years of undergraduate study. Those students will also qualify for the merit scholarships.

Delaware Law has similar agreements with Cabrini College, Neumann University and, of course, Widener's own undergraduate program, noted the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Enrollment in law schools around the nation has declined precipitously since 2010, as students have become increasingly wary of college debt and an uncertain job market. In 2013, around 15 percent of graduates didn't have a job after graduation, and of those who did, only half were actually employed in private practice, reported Forbes. Those numbers are worrisome in light of the fact that average law school debt is $84,000 for public schools and $122,158 for private schools.

It's no wonder, then, that law school applications have fallen every year for the past half-decade, dropping from 87,900 applicants to ABA-accredited law schools in 2010 to just 54,130 in 2015.