NPL/Juris Doctor (JD)

The Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) is a joint program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law) and the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) at the University of Pennsylvania. The JD/NPL prepares students who aspire to assume positions of leadership in law and nonprofits. Students leave the program with the skills needed to transform nonprofits, social enterprises, and international NGOs. Additionally, the program’s graduates learn how to use new thinking and innovative approaches to address long-term challenges across the social impact sector enabling them to be change-makers in their organizations and ultimately to lead social change. Students build a foundation in leadership, philanthropy/fundraising, and social innovation which complements their legal work.

Application Process

Students apply separately to each program. Applicants can either make contemporaneous applications to both programs prior to being accepted by either or apply to the NPL program during or immediately following the first year at Penn Law.

The LSAT is sufficient for both departments; no additional testing is required.

Degree Completion Requirements

In order for a student to receive both degrees, he or she must complete the independent degree requirements of each program.

For Law:

  1. Law students must complete a minimum of 86 credits, 54 hours of which must be advanced credit completed in the second and third years of law study. Students in the joint program may apply twelve credits (four courses) from the NPL Program toward that requirement, reducing their credit requirement to 42 credits.  These four courses are the total number of non-law courses that a JD student can take for law credit in other departments of the University without exceptional permissions and tuition assessment.  Law students enrolled in the joint program are not eligible to participate in Study Abroad Programs.
  2. Joint degree students must also satisfy the Penn Law requirements of its Public Interest Center’s Pro Bono Program and fulfill their senior writing and professional responsibility requirements.

For the NPL:

  1. NPL students are required to complete a minimum of ten (10) credits, including four (4) NPL core courses, four (4) NPL electives, two (2) Penn electives, and a Leadership Practicum. Joint Degree students may apply up to four courses from the Law Program towards NPL (two will be considered as Penn Electives for the NPL program; two should be nonprofit or social impact focused and will require approval from the Administrative Director of the NPL Program).
  2. Joint Degree students will be required to take four (4) NPL core courses of the 7 to 9 offered.
  3. Joint Degree students will be required to take two (2) NPL electives from the lists of NPL core courses or NPL electives.
  4. Joint Degree students’ pro bono, clinic, or externship work will count as the NPL Practicum as long as it has a social impact focus.

Program Sequencing

The joint degree is best earned when Year 1 is spent at the Law School, completing the standard and required 1L curriculum. Years 2 and 3 are spent in residence at the Law School but taking courses in both SP2 and Law.

There may be an opportunity for students to complete NPL course work in the Spring Semester of the 1L year (in lieu of the Law School’s 1L “general elective”) and during the summer between Years 1 and 2.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Students pay tuition to Penn Law. However, students will be responsible for tuition for courses taken in Social Policy & Practice over and above the four courses that are countable toward the JD degree. If summer courses are arranged, students will pay tuition directly to SP2 for those courses.

Financial aid decisions are made independently by each school, but with consultation as necessary to fairly steward University resources.

Scheduling Courses

Students register for courses in each program in that program’s registration period and according to that program’s registration rules and procedures.

Students must be aware of the differences in these procedures and it is recommended that they meet with the Registrar in both schools:

  • The registration periods for the Law School and SP2 may differ.
  • Students register for Law courses through the Law School’s standard registration system.
  • Students register for NPL courses through the SP2 registration system.

Each student is expected to coordinate registration in both schools and it is highly recommended that students reach out to their Advisor at NPL and the Associate Director of Cross-Disciplinary Programs at the Law School for guidance.

The timing and location of course scheduling must also be considered so that students are best able to attend all classes.

Contact Information

Questions about the NPL program: Adam Roth-Saks, Administrative Director of the NPL Program,

Prospective students with questions about the JD program: Renee Post, Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid,

Currently enrolled JD/NPL students with questions about course selection, scheduling, tuition concerns, etc.: Amanda S. Aronoff, Associate Director of Cross-Disciplinary Programs at Penn Law,

Currently enrolled JD/NPL students with questions about law school financial aid: Anthony Henry, Director of Financial Aid,

Students in the joint degree program may have particular career interests and goals.  They are encouraged to meet individually with Kathryn Deans-Schaub, Associate Director for Cross-Disciplinary Careers and Employer Outreach at the Law School.

SP2 News

SaraKay Smullens

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alumna Receives Society for Social Work Leadership’s 2021 Kermit B. Nash Award

SaraKay Smullens, a 1965 alumna of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Penn’s School of Social Policy &...

Loran Grishow-Schade

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alum Honored for Ongoing Gender Identity Research, Work

For years, Loran Grishow-Schade, MSW ’20, MSSP ’21, has proven to be a prolific leader and fully-immersed pioneer in work...

MSW Student Alisa Branch

Student Life

“Always Something New to Know”: MSW Student Alisa Branch on Being a Non-Traditional Learner

Even after a three-decade career in the human services field, Alisa Branch still felt that she had more to learn,...

New SP2 faculty, clockwise from left: Tamara Cadet, PhD; Yoosun Park, PhD; Meredith Doherty, PhD; and Milan AbiNader, PhD

Faculty & Research

SP2 Welcomes Four New Faculty Members

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has announced the hiring of four new faculty members, who will begin...

Discover More