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5 Best Grad Schools with Online Juris Doctorate

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 13 minutes

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The Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, also called the Doctor of Jurisprudence, is a professional law degree that can be obtained after law school graduation. It serves as the primary professional training for lawyers and a requirement for taking the bar test and being admitted to practice law.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the median annual salary for lawyers is $127,990, with a predicted growth rate of 10% between 2021 and 2031. While earning a Juris Doctorate leads to fulfilling positions as attorneys and lawyers, a JD will also help you advance to several high-paying careers in consulting, legal editing, becoming a judge, and mediation.

Overview

As a professional law degree, an online law degree allows law students to study in-depth legal research, constitutional law, criminal law, contracts, torts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. Several law schools allow students to select elective courses based on their interests and professional objectives. To get real-world experience, they could participate in clinical programs, write for legal publications, or participate in moot court competitions.

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Methodology

While there are several ABA-accredited programs available, we’ve only selected five that offer the following:

Please read our Methodology for more information on our ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 5 Online J.D. Degree Programs

University of Dayton

University of Dayton - School of Law

Juris Doctor

The University of Dayton’s School of Law offers a Doctor of Juris Doctor program that can be completed in a hybrid learning format, combining the online courses and “Get Relevant Experience and Applied Learning” (Get REAL) on-campus intensives. As one of the best online law degree programs, UDayton’s JD doctorate provides students with advanced knowledge about the legal profession through rigorous 90-credit-hour coursework. Students can earn the degree in four years or less, depending on how many courses they enroll in each semester.

Online courses are conducted in two learning formats:4-8 hours/week synchronous and 4-10 hours/week asynchronous coursework. Additionally, students will spend 7-12 hours a week reading and outlining. The curriculum includes classes like Criminal Law, Professional Responsibility, Transactional Drafting, and Trial Practice to prepare students to become practicing attorneys.

This degree is vastly known for allowing students to earn an LLM degree at no additional cost. The LLM degree serves as the students’ way to pursue a focused practice or investigate additional legal disciplines that align with their goals.

University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire - Franklin Pierce School of Law

Juris Doctor

The University of New Hampshire’s well-known Franklin Pierce School of Law offers the hybrid Doctorate in Juris Doctor, which has an exclusive partnership with the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI). Its partnership with ASIPI earned the school recognition as a top online law school for international students and Latin Americans. This JD degree program focuses on intellectual property and technology law. 

The curriculum prioritizes opportunities for experiential learning, allowing students to participate in various intensives, such as clinicals, externships, and internships, for real-world experience. UNH can offer specific courses and tools to enhance your study if you are interested in intellectual property law. 

In addition to its academic rigor, this online JD program allows students to get a master’s degree in intellectual property, business and technology, or international criminal law and justice. Students are given access to networking opportunities, job placement assistance, and other career services and support by the law school. The university has a large network of alumni practicing in various legal specialties.

Concord Law School

Purdue University Global - Concord Law School

Juris Doctor

Purdue University Global, one of the top schools to pursue online education, offers an accessible online Juris Doctor Program. It’s a fully online JD program that requires students to complete 92 credit hours, which can take up to four years when enrolled full-time. The required courses include core classes in legal research and writing, professional accountability, and all topics tested on the California Bar Exam. Additional courses may explore health law, international law, education law, and intellectual property and patent law, among others.

While the JD program can be completed entirely online, students can participate in Concord’s externships, moot court, and legal incubator programs to help them practice before they become full-fledged law professionals.

Concord’s JD program was built with the same challenging and engaging core competencies and knowledge that top-tier law schools use. Students can take advantage of the program’s technologically advanced tools, which are capable of providing students with more immediate feedback than the standard law school curriculum does.

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University

Juris Doctor

Students looking to complete didactic coursework online and intensives on-campus should consider Cleveland State University’s intensive hybrid Juris Doctorate program. This JD program prepares students for legal practice through online courses and six in-person weekend residencies, which can be completed in three years and three months. Out-of-states will also find the program’s cost more affordable than the others, thanks to the university’s flat-rate tuition.

CLU’s College of Law offers first-year doctorate students a personal alum mentor that will help them familiarize themselves with legal practice. This close, one-on-one interaction heightens students’ problem-solving and professional skills to practice law and perform legal research. Furthermore, students will learn advanced topics like Torts, Constitutional Law, Legislation and Regulatory State, and Evidence.

Students who wish to customize their degree further can pursue certificate programs in Health Law or Cybersecurity. JD students will receive student services and opportunities like their on-campus peers, including academic counseling and simulated client conversations. Students can also start giving back to their communities as they earn the online JD degree.

Hamline University

Hamline University

Dual Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration

Aspiring law professionals seeking to jumpstart their careers can pursue Hamline University’s online/hybrid Dual Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degree program. This online JD degree, offered by the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and Hamline School of Business, is designed for students who want to focus their law studies on business law.

Along with MBA training in accounting, finance, marketing, and strategic management, it offers basic legal topics, including constitutional law, contracts, torts, and legal writing. This JD/MBA program prepares students for employment where they can use their combined knowledge and skills by integrating legal and business perspectives.

Students must apply to and complete the degree requirements for both programs as part of the dual degree program. The dual degree requires 110 credit hours to earn the JD and MBA degree.

What to Expect in a Juris Doctor Degree Program

What to Expect in a Juris Doctor Degree Program

The Curriculum of Juris Doctorates

The curriculum and courses in a Juris Doctor (JD) program can vary slightly between different law schools, but they generally cover foundational legal subjects and provide a well-rounded legal education. Here is an overview of the typical JD curriculum and common courses you might encounter:

First Year (1L):

Second Year (2L):

Third Year (3L):

Law schools may provide courses on legal ethics, professional responsibility, legal writing and advocacy, administrative law, international law, tax law, and other topics besides these core classes. Some universities also provide JD programs with concentrations or specialty tracks that let students concentrate on a particular field of law.

Admission Requirements 

Admission requirements for online law schools vary on several factors. There are some typical requirements and standards, nonetheless, that you may anticipate. 

Bachelor’s Degree

Accredited online programs at the doctorate level will require students to apply with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, most preferably from a regionally accredited one. Several online JD programs are not strict on your bachelor’s degree major as long as it’s earned from a reputable college or university.  

Transcripts

All law schools, online and on-campus, will require students to submit official copies of their transcripts as proof of their performance in school and degree completion. These materials, however, are not often handed by students alone. You usually need to request your previous institution to email or fax your official transcripts to the law school you’re applying to for a JD degree. 

LSAT or GRE Scores

LSAT and GRE are standardized tests that several law schools often require. While both tests are accepted into some online JD programs, the majority commonly prefer the LSAT. Moreover, some law schools have a score cut-off. 

Personal Statement

A personal statement is a written essay that enables you to highlight your reasons for wanting to pursue a JD, as well as your experiences and objectives. It allows you to show off your writing abilities and discuss your passion for law.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are proof of your academic ability, moral character, and work ethic. These letters are typically prepared by well-respected academics, employers, or mentors in your field.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

ABA-accredited law schools often have stringent admissions processes. You should showcase your educational history, professional experience, internships, involvement in the community, leadership positions, and any other pertinent accomplishments or activities in your CV. 

Application Form and Fee

You must submit an application form and an application fee to each law school separately. The application fee pays for the office expenses incurred in processing your application.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Law schools, even online, can be costly. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of law school is $220,335. This is a hefty sum for several students. 

Consider looking into financial aid opportunities offered by the university and law school. The first step is to fill out the FAFSA form to view the available federal and state financial assistance. The most common financial aid for JD students is loans. Grants are sometimes available, but they’re difficult to come by.

If you have a high LSAT score or are an overachiever in your undergraduate studies, you’ll have higher chances of obtaining scholarships. Other organizations, such as organizations or professional associations, may also offer scholarship programs. Another financial option available to some students is employer support.

Career Opportunities for Juris Doctorates

A Juris Doctorate opens doors to various professions. Here are some of the most common career paths one with a JD degree can pursue:

Legal Practice

The most common goal of why individuals pursue JDs is to become attorneys. Legal practical professionals serve as client advocates in intellectual property law, criminal law, corporate law, civil litigation, family law, and real estate law.

Public Interest Law

Social justice advocates with JDs can work for nonprofits and public interest organizations. They work on matters with a shared interest focus, support policy reforms, and offer legal aid to underserved people.

Corporate Counsel

Corporate counsel positions are available for JD holders with in-house legal departments in corporations. They represent the business in court proceedings, prepare contracts, handle compliance issues, and offer legal counsel.

Judiciary

A career as a judge is an option for JD graduates with the right experience and credentials. They preside over proceedings, interpret the law, and guarantee the just treatment of all parties.

Government Positions

JD holders can work in various government positions, including those of public defenders, legislative assistants, policy consultants, and prosecutors. Additionally, they can work for the government in departments like administrative law or regulatory compliance.

Academia and Research

JD holders can work as law professors or legal scholars in academia. They can conduct research, write scholarly articles, produce books, teach classes, and advance legal theory.

Alternative Legal Careers

An individual with a JD degree is equipped with valuable skills outside traditional legal practice. The alternative jobs that some JD graduates choose to pursue include legal consulting, compliance positions, legal writing, legal technology, mediation, arbitration, or legal entrepreneurship.

Business and Entrepreneurship

A JD degree and business expertise can pave the way for opportunities in business. JD holders have various career options, including consulting, risk management, corporate management, and company development. They can even launch their own legal or commercial companies.

Why Pursue a Juris Doctorate?

Although the majority of JD graduates go on to practice law, there are other professions you could pursue after earning your degree. The Juris Doctor program aims to teach students how to look for logical and legal solutions to complex challenges. The legal background and skills gained can benefit businesses, politics, journalism, entrepreneurship, academia, and more. The versatility of a JD degree allows individuals to explore diverse career paths.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you complete an online Law degree part-time?

It’s often common for law students to complete their degrees as part-time students. Since online law programs are directed at working adults, most offer part-time course loads. 

How many years does it take to earn a Law degree online?

Whether taken online or on-campus, full-time legal education typically lasts three years. However, intensive JD programs allow students to complete coursework in as short as two years.

What can you do with a Law degree?

You can practice law with a law degree and have passed the bar exam. Lawyers come in various specialties, including those specializing in criminal defense, state prosecution, business law, and civil litigation. A lawyer could also concentrate on commercial, contract, or property law.

Key Takeaways

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