What are the different types of law degrees?
If you are a professional looking for a legal career or employment related to law, it is important to remember that a medical juristitioner (JD) is not the only type of law degree available to you. When pursuing your law degree options, you should first consider the specific legal skills that you will need to advance in your career.
Some types of law degree, such as JD, will prepare you to pass the state exam and practice law as a lawyer in the classroom or in a more traditional legal setting. Other non-JD law degrees, such as the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) or Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR), will provide you with legal skills that are useful in almost all fields.
Exploring the different admission requirements, curriculum options, and outcomes of these grades will help you determine which type of law degree is best suited to your career goals.
Master in Law Studies (MLS)
A Master of Legal Studies degree is designed for non-lawyers who might benefit from a deeper understanding of the law but do not want to follow the path of becoming a practicing lawyer. A Bachelor of Science degree in law is generally a good fit for professionals who deal with legal procedures or concepts in their daily role and are looking to advance their careers.
MLS programs require candidates to have earned their Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and may sometimes require standardized test scores. In addition, a curriculum vitae, a personal statement, letters of recommendation and personal interviews may be required.
MLS curricula typically cover a variety of legal topics to give students a solid foundation in all aspects of the law. Courses can cover legal topics such as contracts, regulatory compliance, negotiation theory and administrative law. In addition, students are sometimes required to participate in person learning experiences that give them the opportunity to put into practice their newly acquired legal skills. MLS programs typically take 16 to 28 months to complete depending on the full-time or part-time options.
Results of the program:
Graduates of legal studies degree programs typically pursue a career in fields adjacent to law such as business, human resources, regulatory agencies, law enforcement and social work. Skills such as working with contracts, understanding the legal procedures involved in transactions, and ensuring compliance with the law can help students progress in these fields.
Pepperdine Law’s online Master of Legal Studies program enables understudies to comprehend complex lawful ideas to settle on more educated choices in their job. Students also have the opportunity to choose a concentration in dispute resolution, with courses at Pepperdine Law’s Straus Institute, the number one dispute resolution program organized by U.S. News & World Report in 2018.1 Learn more about the online program of Pepperdine Law’s Master of Legal Studies.
Doctor of Law (JD)
A law degree is the legal grade required for professionals who are pursuing a career as a practicing lawyer. JD degree programs at the American Bar Association accredited law schools typically focus on all aspects of U.S. law and legal procedure to prepare students to research cases, prosecute or defend lawsuits, and discuss on behalf of a wide range of individual clients and businesses. A JD degree includes preparation for passing a bar state exam, which allows lawyers to practice in their chosen state.
Students pursuing a JD degree are required to have achieved their Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must submit LSAT or GRE test scores. In addition, letters of recommendation, personal interviews and personal statements may be required.
LLM curricula offer students the opportunity to further refine their legal skills by choosing from a range of options covering advanced legal subjects. Specialised areas of study include international law, human rights law, tax law, commercial law, copyright and environmental law. Students typically graduate in one year if they take on a full-time course or two years if they take on a part-time course.
Results of the program:
After graduating this degree and developing skills in the area of their choice, LLM graduates typically continue their careers as lawyers, but serve a more specialized client base. These highly competitive areas may include international law, human rights law, intellectual property law and health law.
Doctor of Law (SJD)
A Bachelor of Law degree is considered the highest level of a Bachelor of Law degree and is designed for professionals who are looking to get an advanced legal education after earning their JD and LLM. Since these legal professionals have already earned other Bachelor degrees in advanced law, an SJD provides them with the additional legal expertise necessary to become professors and law scholars.
Students who obtain an SJD diploma must have obtained their JD and LLM from an accredited college or university. In addition, a curriculum vitae, personal statement, research proposal, letters of recommendation and personal interviews may be required.
Academic Experience: Instead of a traditional curriculum with a range of courses required, SJD programs typically require students to conduct legal research in individual sessions with professors and attend seminars. SJD programs usually take two years to complete full time.
Results of the program:
SJD graduates usually pursue a career as a law professor or law scholar.