Law School Basics

What’s a JD degree?

The Juris Doctor (JD) degree is the graduate degree required to practice law in the United States. The JD degree is offered by American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools, by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian law schools.

  • A bachelor’s degree is required for admission into a JD program.
  • The LSAT is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada, and a growing number of other countries.
  • The JD program is generally a three-year, full-time academic program.
  • All US states accept graduation from an ABA-approved law school as meeting that state’s education requirement for eligibility to sit for the bar examination.

How long does it take to get a law degree?

To find alternatives to the usual three-year program, talk to the individual law school.

Earning your law degree is worth the time and effort. Check the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools for more information about specific programs at individual schools.

What is law school like?

The best way to find out what law school is like is to speak with people who are in law school, who have recently graduated, or who are practicing law. Many law school websites have multimedia tours and presentations that are the next best thing to visiting the campus. You can also find real stories from law school students on this website.

Do students choose majors in law school?

Though all law schools share a core curriculum, some law schools may offer specialized courses.

While there are some specialty focus areas such as patent law and taxation that students can choose, most law students choose to take a wide variety of courses to maximize their career options after law school. (However, if you know that you want to specialize in a specific area of law after graduation, you should choose a law school that offers electives in that specialty.) A number of law schools have dual-degree programs that can enhance your career opportunities even more.

Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Programs

First- and second-year college students: Get the skills you need to succeed in law school by attending a four-week summer prelaw program. There’s no cost to attend, and participants receive a small stipend.

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Shades of Purple 2018 (Seattle, WA)


William Smith High School at Denver Law (Denver, CO)


Justice for All: Diversity and Inclusion in Law School Admissions (San Francisco, CA)


KIPP Denver Collegiate High School Visit to Denver Law (Denver, CO)


Clark 150 Celebration (Des Moines, IA)


Diversity & Inclusion Law Day (Williamsburg, VA)


Q&A: Queers and Allies Discover the Law (Topeka, KS)