Overview of Other than J.D. Programs
Standard 313 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools states that an ABA-approved law school may not establish a degree program other than its J.D. degree program unless the school is fully approved, and the additional degree program will not detract from a law school's ability to maintain a sound J.D. degree program. The school must obtain acquiescence prior to commencing such a program. The ABA does not formally approve any program other than the first degree in law (J.D.).
To request acquiescence, please complete the questionnaire on Degree Programs in Other Than the J.D. under Major Change on the Questionnaire page.
ABA accreditation does not extend to any program supporting any other degree granted by the law school. Rather the content and requirements of those degrees, such as an LL.M., are created by the law school itself and do not reflect any judgment by the ABA accrediting bodies regarding the quality of the program. Moreover, admission requirements for such programs, particularly with regard to foreign students, vary from school to school, and are not evaluated through the ABA accreditation process. The ABA reviews these degree programs only to determine whether their offering would have an adverse impact on the law school's ability to maintain its accreditation for the JD program. If no adverse impact is indicated, the ABA "acquiesces" in the law school's decision to offer the non-JD program and degree.
The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has adopted a statement that no post-J.D. or other degree program is a substitute for the J.D. and should not be considered the equivalent of the J.D. for bar admission purposes. (Council Statement 1 of the Standards and Rules for Approval of Law Schools)
Those interested in other than J.D. programs of a law school should contact the school(s) directly. Persons who have not obtained a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school may wish to contact the bar admission authorities in the state(s) in which persons intend to practice for more information on whether graduation from a post-J.D. program will qualify a person to take the bar examination in that state.
Other Than the J.D. Degrees Defined
While an individual law school's degree may differ slightly by name to similar programs elsewhere, most degrees offered through law schools fall into three general categories:
1) Academic masters degrees for nonlawyers, such as:
- J.M. Juris Master
- M.J. Master of Jurisprudence
- M.S. Master of Science or Master of Studies
- M.P.S. Master of Professional Studies
- M.L.S. Master of Legal Studies
2) Post-J.D. law degrees for practicing lawyers and/or foreign lawyers seeking to practice in the U.S., such as:
- LL.M. Master of Laws
- M.C.L. Master of Comparative Law
3) Research and academic-based doctorate level degrees, such as:
- J.S.D. Doctor of Jurisprudence
- S.J.D. Doctor of Judicial Science
- D.C.L. Doctor of Comparative Law
For questions regarding specific degree descriptions, contact the school directly.