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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law


Educational Opportunities for JD Students

What are the differences between the Certificate and Master of Dispute Resolution program (MDR)?

The Certificate is a 14 unit program that provides foundational knowledge in the various dispute resolution processes through required courses like Mediation Theory and Practice; Negotiation Theory and Practice; Arbitration Practice and Advocacy; and four elective courses.

The MDR is a 32 unit program that builds from the foundations of the Certificate program and delves into many of the practical components through the Mediation Clinic class and the Externship requirement. The MDR program also requires some of the broader courses like Cross-Cultural Conflict and Dispute Resolution, Psychology of Conflict Communication and more.

I am a current Pepperdine JD student, can I take Straus Institute classes?

Yes, all Pepperdine JD students have access to participate in the Straus Institute's courses since all of the courses offered are upper division JD elective units. Priority is given to students currently pursuing a Certificate or Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR). The Straus Institute programs are in high demand and it is not uncommon for students who are not part of the Certificate or MDR program to have difficulty getting into dispute resolution classes.

What programs are available for Pepperdine JD students?

The Certificate and Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) can be combined with Pepperdine's JD program. The Certificate program allows Pepperdine JD students to use their JD electives to take Certificate coursework.  Pepperdine JD students need to complete 12 of the 14 units required. Since these courses are counting towards JD elective units, tuition for these dispute resolution courses are absorbed into the JD flat-rate tuition. Thus, students earning the Certificate in Dispute Resolution can complete the entire program as part of their JD degree and do not incur any additional tuition charges. All JD students must submit the Certificate Application for Current Pepperdine Students with the required materials to be considered for the program. Applications for the Certificate program are accepted during the Spring semester of the first year.

The MDR program requires the completion of an additional 18 units over what is required for the JD. Just like the Certificate program, 14 units can double count as JD electives. To apply, Pepperdine students must complete the traditional application for admission. The admissions committee for the Straus Institute will have access to the JD file of current Pepperdine students; application components that will not need to be resubmitted included transcripts, LSAT score and 2 letters of recommendation. Applicants must still submit a personal statement addressing their interest in the dispute resolution program, an application and one additional letter of recommendation. Applicants must also indicate "Please see JD file" on the checklist of requirements on the back of the application.

I am a JD student at another ABA-accredited law program, how can I participate in Straus' Dispute Resolution classes?

Students at other ABA-accredited law schools can take Straus' dispute resolution classes as a visiting student, or through the Certificate or Master's in Dispute Resolution program. Law students applying to participate in the Winter Intensive or Summer program will need to complete the visiting student application associated with that program and submit it with a letter of interest and a letter from their university stating 1) they are in good standing, and 2) giving them permission to participate in the program. All applications are limited to the applied program; returning visiting students will need to complete a visiting summer or winter application for each participating program.

Students at other ABA-accredited law programs can also choose to earn a Certificate or Master's in Dispute Resolution in conjunction with their other law school program. With careful planning students can still graduate in the same 3 years with their JD and Certificate or Master's in Dispute Resolution. Contact an admissions representative to talk about how you can coordinate Straus' programs with your other JD program.

How long will it take me to earn the Certificate or Master's in Dispute Resolution (MDR)?

With careful planning, and with coordination with your program advisor, most JD students can earn a Certificate or MDR in the same 3 years it takes to complete their JD degree, at Pepperdine or another ABA-accredited law school.

Certificate program courses can be taken as electives during the 2nd and 3rd year for Pepperdine JD Students. Students from other law schools can spend one summer at Pepperdine to complete 10-12 units of coursework, and transfer up to 4 units of comparable dispute resolution coursework from their JD program. All transferable courses must be pre-approved by the Straus Institute, and comparable to courses required for the Certificate program.

Pepperdine JD Student   Non-Pepperdine JD Program  
Pepperdine JD Electives 12 units Transferable Courses 4 units
    Summer/Winter Intensive Program 10 units
  12 units   14 units

For Pepperdine and non-Pepperdine JD students the MDR can be completed through summer, winter intensive courses and by transferring courses into the MDR program. Pepperdine JD students can double count 14 units from their JD, leaving 18 units of the 32 unit MDR program. These 18 units can be completed by taking 12 units during our summer program, two 2 unit Winter Intensive courses and completing the final 2 units during the fall or spring semester.

Students at other ABA-accredited law programs can transfer in up to 10 units of approved courses from their JD program, leaving 22 units of the 32 unit MDR program. These 22 units can be completed by taking 12 units during our summer program, participating in 2 Winter Intensives at 2 units each, and completing 6 units of their externship or thesis at a location of their choosing.

Pepperdine JD Student   Non-Pepperdine JD Program  
Pepperdine JD Electives 14 units Transfer in up to 10 units
Summer Program 12 units Summer Program 12 units
Winter Intensive 1 2 units Winter Intensive 1 2 units
Winter Intensive 2 2 units Winter Intensive 2 2 units
During 2nd or 3rd Year 2 units Externship Requirement 6 units
  32 units   32 units

I want to get an externship or work this summer, will I still be able to participate in Summer Courses?

The Straus Institute summer courses start with our international study tour, one week intensive then continue in block courses for two weekends. The two weekend format courses will meet Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday.

Although the schedule will leave your days free for most of the summer, you will be the best judge of how you manage your workload. All of the intensive courses will provide you with advanced reading materials 3-4 weeks prior to the start of class. There will be required readings or short assignments due for each of your class meetings, as well as your final research paper.

Some students have been able to balance work or externships during the summer, but make your decision wisely. Our summer courses are time consuming, and you may not take as much away from the program if you overextend yourself.

When can I start taking classes towards a MDR?

Students who are admitted to Pepperdine's JD program are given the opportunity to start courses towards their MDR prior to starting their JD in the Fall. The MDR program requires 18 units be completed outside of the JD program, and students can take up to 12 units their first summer. Candidates who choose this option can only count these courses towards their MDR; these Pre-JD summer courses will not count towards a JD program since they are not officially a JD student until the Fall semester.

Students that do not take advantage of the Pre-JD option will be able to start taking courses after their first year. Students can start the summer between their 1st and 2nd years and still complete the program in the same time frame as their JD.