FAQs

General

What is this FAQs section about?

Over the past years, prospective and current DDP students have frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the academic workload, career prospects and student life of a DDP student. Some of our DDP students (past and present) have provided their own perspectives to these FAQs, to share a more personal response to these commonly-raised questions about the DDP. Therefore, this FAQs section aims to represent a diverse range of perspectives that are unique to each individual student’s experience.

See Yale-NUS Admissions FAQs for more information regarding the DDP admissions process.

Academics

How heavy is the DDP workload? Is it very stressful?

Louis Ngia, Class of 2020.

I personally do not find the DDP workload to be much heavier than the average NUS Law workload. Studying law is serious stuff, of course, and it takes commitment to know the law well. However, compared to NUS law students, we may have more breathing room because our compulsory law modules are more spread out. This affords us the time and space to pursue our other interests in Yale-NUS – be it intellectual interests, or other forms of personal development. The opportunity to vary our intellectual exposure also allows us to decompress: variety is the spice of life, and working different parts of the brain is infinitely more inspiring!

That said, it is hard to characterise the average DDP student’s workload because of how much autonomy we have over our own curriculum. In Yale-NUS, and certainly in the DDP, every student’s curriculum is unique. Each of us determine how heavy our workload is for a particular semester. Whereas students in NUS law only start taking electives in their third year of university life, students in Yale-NUS (including DDP students) choose our electives from the very first academic year. In Yale-NUS, students also have more flexibility in taking more modular credits than is required of us. Thus, the weight of the DDP workload is highly dependent on each student’s interests, and intentions.

How do the Yale-NUS and NUS Law classes complement each other?

Daniel Wong, Class of 2021.

Though it may seem like studying Yale-NUS modules and NUS Law modules would be worlds apart, I have found that the two different lines of education do actually intersect with each other in surprising and interesting ways.

For example, understanding the shift from feudal to capitalist economic systems in Modern Social Thought (Yale-NUS Common Curriculum class) illumines the deeper reasons for why some somewhat archaic rules that appear in Principles of Property Law (NUS Law Compulsory Subject) exist. Another example would be how feminist theory taught in the module Oppression and Injustice (Yale-NUS Elective) finds application in critiquing contemporary local jurisprudence in Introduction to Legal Theory (NUS Law Core Curriculum). Such overlaps do not just occur in the modules offered during the academic year, but also in some of Yale-NUS’s summer school opportunities. I have found the Yale Summer Session programme, Private Law, and Contract Enforcement in the United States and France provide a nice blend between contract law theory and macroeconomics.

On deeper reflection, the complementarity of liberal arts and law should not be surprising. Though there may be other ways of seeing the relationship between the two disciplines, in my personal view the former can be seen as a quest for how to live the good life, and how to achieve an ideal society; the latter can be seen as the study of how such a society may be achieved through the implementation of rules. In other words, while law teaches us how to govern society to attain certain goals (e.g. safety, economic progress, racial and religious harmony), liberal arts sheds a light on what those goals should be in the first place. Seen in this manner, the DDP not only provides a deeper and more holistic understanding of both disciplines; more importantly, it has given me ways to reflect upon both societal ideals and realities.

Should I declare a Yale-NUS major?

Bozy Lu, Class of 2019, Psychology Major.

Great question, but let’s backtrack a little bit. Why exactly do you want to declare a Yale-NUS major? Heads up, if you’re thinking of doing it because your batch-mates are and you’re feeling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), or want to be “competitive” upon graduating, think again. What is it about the intended major that draws you to it and makes you so passionate about it? Does it gel well with your legal studies? Do you have a practical need for it – for instance, graduate school or employment applications that might require you to be from a particular major; or would a minor suffice? And for the purposes of the immediate future, would you be able to identify and complete a capstone research project that complements both your intended major and law?

After you’ve thought long and hard about your intrinsic motivations, understand this: declaring a Yale-NUS major is firstly, not a norm, and secondly, in every sense of the phrase, an uphill battle. Not to scare you off, but I reckon it is key to recognise that en route to declaring a major, one may have to do some, if not all, of the following: overload despite taking intense law courses, spend summers doing extra courses instead of internships or chilling, choose only intended major courses for all Yale-NUS electives (i.e. say “thank you, next” to a wonderful platter of liberal arts electives), satisfy capstone requirements of both intended major and law (which could include doing extra assignments depending on the major). Now, if your undying love for intended major is strong enough to withstand all that, great – you can now buckle up and start planning ahead!

In my experience, how successful you are at eventually declaring a Yale-NUS major is correlated to how much control and initiative you take in this process. It is certainly not impossible, so if you’re ready for this fruitful (but potentially challenging) adventure, go for it!

Career

Does taking the DDP decrease my chances at securing a training contract?

Jessica Teng, Class of 2019.

As a prospective DDP student, I was initially quite concerned that I would be disadvantaged by the fewer number of law electives available.

However, after graduating from the DDP programme, I have come to realise that the number of law electives generally has no impact on securing a training contract. This is because the training contract recruitment cycle generally takes place in Year 3 Semester 1 for NUS Law students and Year 4 Semester 1 for DDP students. As NUS Law students only begin to take electives in Years 3 and 4, they are solely relying on their grades for core modules (taken in Years 1 and 2) for their training contract applications. DDP students who apply for training contracts are therefore on an equal footing with the NUS Law cohort they graduate with. Due to the early recruitment cycle, law firms do not expect students to have taken any law electives at the point of application.

In fact, I feel that my status as a DDP student has made me a more competitive candidate for training contracts. The selective nature of the programme and the opportunities offered in Yale-NUS are unique selling points. Another important point is that we are actually able to take more law electives if we want to! DDP students may take extra electives by auditing classes, or as enrichment modules. Taking an enrichment module means that you can opt to sit for the exams and have a letter grade reflected on your transcript in order to demonstrate your competency in a particular subject. The caveat is that these electives do not formally count towards our course credit or class of honours.

What career options are available to a DDP graduate?

Amelia Chew, Class of 2018.

To be honest, the answer to this would be a combination of the answers to “what career options are available to a Yale-NUS graduate?” and “what career options are available to a law graduate?” Back in one of the summers Dr Sheila Hayre (former DDP academic advisor) organised a panel on “alternative careers” and we heard from a bunch of people who had graduated with law degrees and gone on to pursue careers outside of law firms in policy, international law, non-profit work and legal tech. As it is, we see law graduates pursue non-law careers, so the options for someone equipped with both law and liberal arts degrees are wide open.

I would encourage DDP students to pursue a range of different internships and opportunities throughout your time in school – this is the best way to find out what career paths you’re keen on and what steps you need to take to make yourself a good candidate for that career track (e.g. take classes from a certain major, go to grad school, do an internship). Through exposure, experience and introspection, you’ll be able to both narrow down the options as well as discover new paths you had never previously considered.

What’s more important is to know why you want to do what you think you want to do. You will encounter training contract interviews where lawyers ask you why you want to pursue a legal career since you’d done all these other non-law internships, and you’ll also go to non-law firm interviews where you’ll be asked why you’re not pursuing a legal career since you have a law degree. So be intentional about figuring out the why during your time in school.

Wan Ting Chan, Class of 2019.

I think a DDP graduate fresh out of the programme can go into pretty much any career that does not require other professional qualifications such as medicine, dentistry, architecture, and engineering. Although majors and minors are still key indicators of interest and skillset, I think employers are increasingly willing to incorporate other indicators such as extra-curriculars, work experience, and personal projects into their overall assessment of candidates, as long as the candidates have performed well in their chosen pursuits. In my case, I have been accepted for roles in equity research, private equity, and investment banking despite not declaring a major or minor for the Yale-NUS liberal arts degree, though some employers did question my decision to do so. Most of the time, they are happy with my specialisation in law and gave more attention to the reasons behind my academic and personal decisions.

Although deciding early on your career pathway may give you a head start and help you prepare a little more strategically (for instance, some careers may require you to excel academically while others require more networking and internships), I highly encourage all DDP students to consider and try out other career options in the first one or two years of your degree. It is possible to delay the final decision-making up to the early part of your third year by developing transferable skills and experiences that you can incorporate into your personal narrative, no matter which trajectory you ultimately choose.

Finally, don’t be afraid to talk to other people (your seniors, industry practitioners, professors)! Most people are nice and very helpful.

 

Should I still take the DDP if I’m sure I want to practise law?

Jessica Teng, Class of 2019.

Although I knew that I wanted to practise law, I chose the DDP because it gave me the space to explore some of my other academic interests. I was in the arts stream in junior college and I really enjoyed literature and history, which I took at a H3 level. I wrote my H3 research papers on the Bronte sisters and the Boxer rebellion. One of the highlights of my DDP experience was taking classes at Yale-NUS that allowed me to study English women novelists and Chinese history in greater depth.

Another reason I took the DDP was the non-academic experience of a Yale-NUS education. The four-year residential programme gave me access to the vibrant Yale-NUS community. As a DDP student, I had the privilege of choosing between extracurricular activities at the law faculty and Yale-NUS College, and could enjoy the international opportunities offered by both institutions. For example, DDP students can apply for a semester-long exchange programme at either Yale-NUS or NUS Law’s partner institutions.

I do not want to practise law! Should I still take the DDP?

Joanne Ho & Khym Fong, both from the Class of 2022.

If you’re sure you would rather do something else and you have something specific in mind, the DDP may not be your best option.

If you’re unsure of what you want to do and at least a little bit curious about the law, then the DDP could be a really good path for you. A key selling point of the DDP is that it does let you experience two very different things: an education in the law, and an education in the liberal arts. However, the DDP is structured such that you will likely end up spending more time on law modules and studying the law than other Yale-NUS electives you may choose to take. Therefore, if what draws you to the DDP is primarily the liberal arts education and the opportunity to explore different subjects, it’s good to keep in mind that a significant amount of your time in university will revolve around the law.

On a more personal note, both of us weren’t a thousand-percent sure about going into practice before joining the DDP and we honestly aren’t very set on it now either. We are, however, going with the flow and seeing where life (and the DDP) takes us! Currently, we feel pretty settled in the programme but if we did have the opportunity to wind back the clock, we think we’d maybe tell our younger selves to really think about what we really wanted out of our university experience.

Student Life

How integrated are DDP students in both the Yale-NUS and NUS Law communities?

Teoh Qi En, Class of 2020.

Given that we live on campus, I feel a lot more integrated into the Yale-NUS community. Even so, I do feel the distinct gaps between my college life and those of my Yale-NUS friends, since our curriculum involves a whole different array of subjects and literally takes us off campus for hours on end.

Ultimately, I just figured that I have to strike a balance that I’m happy with. While my closest friends are certainly from the Yale-NUS side, I’ve made good friends in NUS Law too. It just took a lot more effort and initiative to reach out and stay involved. You get a lot more cards to play with, so it’s up to you to figure out how you want to play them.

Shirin Chew, Class of 2021.

This really depends on the kind of person you are, what you want from your college life and how intentional you are in participating in both faculties. Some DDP students find a greater sense of community in Yale-NUS, some feel more bonded with their law school friends, and some feel connected to both. Your first year in Yale-NUS and the residential college system will give you time to live, work and play amongst your Yale-NUS friends. In NUS Law, there are also a lot interesting law clubs and activities for you to immerse yourself in. I really enjoy participating in extra-curricular activities and I’ve found my life-long friends in both schools. It can be very refreshing to meet such a diverse group of people! If you do join the programme, my advice would be to not sweat things and to view your identity as more than just the faculty you are from. Regardless of where you are, forming genuine and healthy relationships will take effort and communication, but they will happen organically with the people you are compatible with. So have fun, keep an open mind, and enjoy your journey of self-discovery.

What are some extracurricular activities that DDP students participate in?

Joel Tan Wei En, Class of 2021.

DDP students participate in a really diverse range of extracurricular activities, whether these are student clubs and sporting teams offered in school, or interests that they pursue outside of school – I can only attempt to provide a snapshot of the diversity of interests represented by the DDP community!

The sports and fitness enthusiasts in the DDP community have participated actively in the sporting teams in Yale-NUS, NUS Law, and even the NUS varsity teams. Our DDP students regularly represent Yale-NUS and/or NUS Law in the Inter-Faculty and Inter-College Games in sporting events, including volleyball, touch rugby, floorball and netball. One of our DDP students also founded the mixed martial arts club in Yale-NUS!

Separately, many of our DDP students have demonstrated deep interest in the performing & literary arts. DDP students are active members of the various dance groups in Yale-NUS and NUS (for example, the Yale-NUS Hip-Hop and K-Pop dance groups, and NUS Dance Blast!), or get involved in student theatre productions in Yale-NUS. Others take their artistic endeavours outside of school, performing for orchestras, theatre and dance companies, and even math rock bands! In 2019, one of our DDP students, See Wern Hao, was selected for the fifth edition of Sing Lit Station’s Manuscript Bootcamp, where he’d be working on publishing his debut collection of poetry.

Our DDP students also participate actively in student activities offered in NUS Law. Many of our students have participated in (and won) prestigious local and international moots, while others have used their legal education to serve the community in pro bono projects or the Military Justice Project. A number of our alumni were also actors, actresses, performers and composers for their graduating class’s Law IV musical productions organised annually in NUS Law.

The list is endless – our DDP students have spearheaded and/or participated actively in Yale-NUS student organisations like the Global China Connection, the G Spot, the Literary Collective, and the Yale-NUS Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter;, while others have also served as orientation group leaders, Residential College Advisors and buttery managers. Check out the student and alumni profiles on this website to find out more about the various types of activities our DDP students have participated in!