Accelerated J.D./MBA joint degree programs are catching on.

Columbia Law School is the latest to announce the addition of such a program, which allows students to obtain both a J.D. and MBA within three years, joining schools including Yale Law School and Northwestern University School of Law.

The benefit of the program, according to the law schools, is that “highly motivated” students may complete their dual degrees and enter the job market more quickly.

Columbia already has a four-year joint J.D./MBA program will remain. Under the three-year program, students will spend their first and third years at the law school and their second year at the Columbia Business School.

Students will also benefit from access to networking opportunities in both the law and business schools, according to administrators.

The program is more intense than the typical law school course load, which is 13 credits. Students in the three-year dual degree program need to take at least 15 credits per semester. They may opt to take an intensive 2 1/2-week course in the summer between their second and third years, but the program leaves summers open so that students may work or intern.

Prospective students must apply separately to the law school and the business school and meet admissions criteria for both. Applications for the first cycle of the program, which will launch fall 2011, are due by Feb. 15.

The cost of the three-year program is comparable to the cost of the four-year joint J.D./MBA program. Student will pay the standard law school tuition during their first year and 150% of the business school tuition in the second year. They will pay 150% of the law school tuition in the third year.

Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.