The Juris Doctor degree, commonly referred to as a JD degree for short, is a graduate law degree given to law school students in the United States. A Juris Doctor technically means that they are a Doctor of Jurisprudence. This is similar to how an MD is a Doctor of Medicine or a person with a Ph.D. is a Doctor in Philosophy.
In most states, an individual is required to get their JD degree before they can become a licensed attorney. While students are typically expected to get their professional degree from an accredited program, there are non-accredited law schools that can still offer a JD degree.
Earning a JD degree takes a great deal of time and effort. The American Bar Association, which accredits most law schools in Canada and the United States, requires students to complete a minimum of 83 hours within their program to earn their JD degree.
This means it usually takes a full-time student about three years, or six semesters, to earn a Juris Doctor degree. However, it should be noted that some institutions may require even more hours before a student can graduate from the program.
Today, there are hundreds of universities and colleges in the United States that offer a JD degree program. There are also schools outside of the country, such as in Canada, that offer similar programs.
Best JD Degree Schools in 2020
There are several institutions that offer JD degrees to students. Below is a list of some of the best Juris Doctor degree programs for students seeking to work in law.
As one of the most well-known universities in the United States, Harvard University has a prestigious JD degree program that is highly regarded by both professionals and peers. With a 16-percent acceptance rate, it is difficult for students to get into the program. However, the benefits of graduating from the university are significant. The institution has a 91.6 percent employment rate at graduation, which jumps to 93.6 percent 10 months after graduation.
Yale University rivals Harvard University in terms of prestige. In fact, the university has a much stricter acceptance rate with only eight percent of applicants being admitted to the university. The school has an impressive rating with a bar passage rate in its jurisdiction at 99 percent, which demonstrates how successful law students are upon graduating from its program.
The university also has a small student-to-faculty ratio, which ensures students receive the one-on-one attention they need to be successful.
The University of Pennsylvania has one of the highest employment-at-graduation rates of any school on this list. Nearly 95 percent of students are employed at graduation. For students 10 months after graduation, the employment rate is nearly 96 percent.
In addition to this, the bar passage rate for the school in the jurisdiction is 97.6 percent, which is a strong indicator of how well the program is structured. While the school has an impressive program, getting in is not easy. The university has an 18-percent acceptance rate for applicants.
The University of Chicago has a world-class JD program that rivals some of the greatest degree offerings in the United States. Students receive a wealth of knowledge and information from a faculty of prolific individuals in the field.
In order to broaden students’ horizons, the University of Chicago offers a joint JD/MBA program for students. This program helps students who want legal careers where business and law intersect, and can greatly increase their potential career opportunities.
Columbia University has a three-year JD program that affords you all the benefits that come with a world-class university. During their time with the university, students will receive a legal education through emerging and traditional courses.
In order to gain real-life experience, students will participate in clinics, externships, policy labs and even simulations to help broaden their horizons and give them practical skills for their future careers. The small faculty-to-student ratio means students have faculty experts and mentors they can work with who will help them realize their education and career goals.
The California Western School of Law offers an innovative JD program that places strong emphasis on skills-based training to prepare students for a successful career in law.
Throughout the three-year program, students focus on the foundation needed to practice law successfully while receiving real legal training by working in a law firm, public office or other legal placement. Upon graduation, students participate in a Bar Review Program to prepare them for the bar exam.
The Massachusetts School of Law has a high-quality JD degree program that is not only practical, but affordable compared to many others. In fact, the Massachusetts School of Law has the lowest tuition compared to any other law school in the New England Area.
The Massachusetts School of Law allows students to specialize in various aspects of the law, such as civil rights, criminal, international or business, while earning their JD degree. These specialties open more opportunities for graduates who want to pursue a career as a lawyer in a certain field.
It’s vital to earn a JD degree in order to practice law in most states. While the above institutions are some of the most prestigious schools you can go to for your education, there are more than 230 universities and colleges that offer JD degrees. It’s important to find an institution that is not only affordable, but will properly prepare you for your future career.
If you want to practice law, a Juris Doctor degree is the first step toward reaching your goal. With the proper research, dedication and time, you can earn your JD degree within a matter of years.Keep in mind that a JD degree is just the start and it is important you pass your bar exam to become a licensed attorney. However, the right school will make sure you are on the path to success.