Dear members of the GGU community,
After months of discussions with numerous stakeholders and a thorough review of data, the Golden Gate University Board of Trustees voted to discontinue the University’s American Bar Association-accredited Juris Doctor degree and offer a teach-out option to current JD students. We will not admit additional students to the JD program.
To be clear, this decision applies to one program in the Law School. While the JD program will sunset, the Law School will continue serving students with standout legal education, as it has since its founding in 1901. GGU Law will continue to offer degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
The University is committed to ensuring that our current GGU Law students in the JD program will be able to complete their ABA-accredited degrees through arrangements with partnering institutions. Current JD students who choose to continue their education with these partnering institutions will earn an ABA-accredited degree from GGU and will pay the same tuition rate they currently pay.
We recognize that the timing of this announcement will be challenging for some, yet we wanted to let our community know as soon as the decision about the JD program was finalized. Forthcoming communications to students in the JD program and other members of the Law School community will include additional specifics about next steps.
Our decision on the JD program comes amid an especially challenging period for legal education. Unfortunately, many law schools across the country have faced a persistent, decade-long decline in JD applications — and enrollment — as the job market for JD graduates in the field shifts. In addition, for several years GGU Law has failed to meet the ABA’s current bar pass compliance standard (the ABA requires that 75% of students must pass the bar within 2 years of degree completion). Financial exigency in the Law School was officially declared on May 31, 2023, and we subsequently gave notice to Law School faculty regarding their future employment at GGU.
The ABA referenced GGU Law’s circumstances in an August 28, 2023, letter. While the Law School has made strides to improve its standing with this accrediting body, the ABA’s Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar expressed concern about the School’s ability to maintain that momentum.
We know — and regret — the pain and disruption that will come from ending the ABA-accredited JD program. Given the realities of the marketplace, our Law School’s place in it and a host of related trends and data, we determined it is no longer viable to offer this degree program. To reiterate, reaching this point took months of due diligence and analysis. We have heard from and considered carefully input from stakeholders across the community as well as outside experts on legal education.
While we are discontinuing the JD program, we are doing so with an orientation to the future of legal education. We plan to build on areas of greatest potential in the legal profession, including interdisciplinary, cross-University offerings. This work will complement what is happening in our Business School, where we are developing high-demand programs for local, national, and international professionals seeking to advance their careers. All of this positions us to do what Golden Gate University does best: anticipate changing market needs, innovate with quality programs, and create opportunities for our students to advance their careers.
For more than a century, that’s been our hallmark — serving people who want a practical education, giving them the tools for successful careers and better lives. The University has never been more committed to that core principle or to the students who trust us to deliver on it. Our ongoing growth and impact in local and global program areas continue GGU’s long history of evolving with our times.
Finally, we want to thank Law Dean Mark Yates, Law School faculty and staff, as well as all the staff, administrators and other members of the GGU community who participated in the process as we reached this decision. You — and the generations of students, teachers, scholars, and practitioners who preceded you — embody the spirit of GGU. We thank you for your dedication, grace, and understanding.
Chair, Board of Trustees
David J. Fike