Loyola Chicago to offer weekend part-time program

Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law has redesigned its part-time J.D. program to provide a more flexible weekend format, consisting of classes over 14 weekends a year that mix campus-based and online learning.

"We wanted to reconcenptualize part-time legal education to make it available to a broader range of people," said David Yellen, dean at Loyola Chicago. We have five plus years of distance leanring experience and we put that experience to use to come up with this model."

Loyola offers seven online degree programs for graduate law students, making it one of the largest online providers in the U.S. For this program, students will meet on campus on seven weekends each semester, rather than in the evenings. Up to one-third of the instruction in each course will be taught through distance learning, which will allow the reduced in-class time to be used more creatively. 

"It will be a truly blended learning program," Yellen said. "On a regular basis, students will be doing assignmemts through distance learning and then coming to class to build on what they learned. It will include videotaped lectures, problem sets they have to do, other kinds of exercises, and chat rooms and other ways to communicate with professors." 

Yellin said part-time programs have seen an even greater drop in applications than full-time programs. 

"The modern world of job and family demands has made it that much harder to put in the kind of day required and then go to school," he said. 

The new program is the school's way to make legal education available to students who otherwise could not make it work. The weekend J.D. program will feature the same curriculum and faculty as the full-time program. Students will gain hands-on training by completing the school’s experiential learning requirement, and will have opportunities to participate in student-run journals and organizations, and special weekend programming. In addition, students will receive individual academic support and career counseling from the law school administration.

Yellen is hopeful the program will appeal to working professionals across the nation. He said the school has already received applications from prospective students who otherwise could not have applied to law school. While the format is unique in legal education, he said it is being used by some business schools.