Accelerated Option | Degrees & Programs | School of Law | Pepperdine University

Accelerated Option

Pepperdine University School of Law now offers an accelerated, two-year Juris Doctor (JD) degree option that is paired with the opportunity to simultaneously earn a certificate from the number one ranked Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. This distinctive and innovative approach blends rigorous legal education at a leading institution with significant skills and training geared toward practicing law in the 21st century. The Accelerated Option may be a good choice for motivated students willing to work at a faster pace to finish law school sooner.

Jump Start Your Legal Career

The Accelerated Option provides graduates with the opportunity to enter the workforce a year before the traditional three-year degree program, gaining an early advantage on the path to professional success. After an initial summer session beginning in May, the Accelerated Option students will enroll in the regular first year JD classes and continue to matriculate in the regular JD program. In total, the accelerated students will take classes in four semesters and two summer sessions. Students in the Accelerated Option will have a more fixed schedule, but they will also have the opportunity to select from a broad range of elective courses, clinics, externships, all student-edited journals (including the Pepperdine Law Review), and inter-school moot court and trial competitions.

Benefit from an Economical Approach

The Accelerated Option is a unique offering and is among only a few of its kind in the country. With the rising cost of legal education in mind, the two-year approach enables students to earn income from their careers sooner and may enable students to limit some living expenses. Tuition costs under the Accelerated Option are not necessarily less than under the regular JD, as the overall unit requirements are the same.

Earn a Certificate from the #1 Dispute Resolution Program in the Nation

In the initial summer, the accelerated students will attend classes offered by Pepperdine University School of Law's highly regarded Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. These classes will meet during the evening and on Saturday. Because accelerated students will have such intensive involvement in the Institute, they will also be able to earn a Certificate in Dispute Resolution.

The Curriculum


Students enrolled in the Accelerated Option complete courses in Legal History, Negotiation Theory and Practice, Mediation Theory and Practice, Cross Cultural Conflict and Dispute Resolution, and Arbitration Practice. In addition, they may enroll in one of the elective courses offered through the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution that summer. Additional details will be provided in spring 2016. These courses all meet on evenings and on Saturday for two weeks each.


Accelerated students take the same first-year courses as all other law students and are integrated into the first-year class. First-year law students follow a rigorous course of study that covers the following subjects: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Introduction to Ethical Lawyering, Legal Research and Writing, Property, and Torts.


During the summer after their first full year, accelerated students take a full load of summer classes. The exact number will vary, but most students will take approximately 12 units. The only specific course requirement for the second summer is that accelerated students must take 6 units of externship, which will provide a real-world, hands-on experience. Students will also be encouraged during this semester to complete the requirements for the Certificate in Dispute Resolution.


After the first year, accelerated students complete core upper-division courses, and they also have the opportunity to select from a broad range of elective courses, clinics, externships, and student-edited journals.

Important Dates
Application deadline: April 1
Financial aid deadline: April 1
$800 Non-refundable seat deposit due: April 18

The first summer session, which is required, will begin in May and will continue through July.


Do I need to have completed my bachelor's degree by the time the Accelerated Option (AO) begins?

No, but you must have a completed bachelor's degree by the time the fall semester begins in August. The Accelerated Option's summer courses take place in the evenings and on weekends, allowing students the time needed to complete their bachelor's degrees before the start of the fall term.

If I am not admitted to the Accelerated Option, can I still be considered for admission to the traditional three-year JD program?

Yes, the consideration will be automatic, immediately following the initial decision.

Will the Accelerated Option cost me less in tuition than the traditional JD program?

Not necessarily, as the overall unit requirements are the same, and you will still be completing six terms of law school. The major financial benefits of the AO include earning income sooner and the possibility of limiting living expenses. If students plan carefully, they can arrange a schedule that will allow them to have a small tuition savings. This savings can be achieved by maximizing the number of units taken under the flat rate during the second year.

If I received a Dean's scholarship, how will this be applied, and what is the rule for renewal during the second year?

The Dean's scholarship is awarded for the fall and spring semesters. The scholarship for the first summer will be equal to an additional one-half of the total award. This prorated scholarship amount for the first summer will take the form of a forgivable loan. The summer loan will be forgiven as long as you remain enrolled through the fall semester of the first year. The award for fall and future semesters will be applied as scholarship. The renewal stipulations are the same for both the AO and the traditional student.

Will I be able to earn any of the other certificates offered through the School of Law?

It certainly will be easy for a student in the AO to take the courses needed to earn the Certificate in Dispute Resolution. All of the certificate programs are available to the AO students, but the ability to earn the certificate will depend upon the student's ability to schedule the appropriate classes. The law school will work with students to explore the possibilities regarding such a schedule but cannot guarantee that such a schedule will always be possible.

Will I be able to participate in any of the National and International opportunities?

All of the National and International opportunities are available to AO students. Once again, it is worth noting that AO students must pay close attention to scheduling classes. There are courses in the Straus Institute that will easily be available for AO students who wish to travel. The official names of these courses are Current Issues in European Dispute Resolution (commonly known as the London/Geneva study tour) and Current Issues in Asian Dispute Resolution (referred to as the Hong Kong/Beijing study tour), and they can be taken like any other two-week course offered by the Straus Institute.

Will I be able to participate in the Global Justice Program initiatives?

Yes, you will be able to participate in many of the initiatives but perhaps not all, due to the need to enroll full-time during the second summer.

In addition to the required 6-unit externship during the second summer, will I have the opportunity to extern during the fall and spring terms?

Yes, in addition to the required 6-unit externship during the second summer, additional externship opportunities may be available during the fall or spring in the second year with careful course planning.

Will I be able to participate in On-Campus Interview programs?

Yes, AO students may participate in On-Campus Interviews during the spring semester of their first year and during the fall semester of their second year.

Will I be able to participate in journals and advocacy competitions as an AO student?

Yes, AO students are eligible to participate in the four School of Law journals: Pepperdine Law Review, Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary (NAALJ), and Pepperdine Journal of Business, Entrepreneurship, and the Law (JBEL). AO students also may participate in the advocacy competitions, including moot court competitions and trial teams.

How are AO students ranked?

A first-year rank will be calculated alongside the traditional students at the end of the first spring semester. The first summer's grades will not be factored in when calculating the first-year rank. After the fall semester of the second year, you will receive a rank alongside the third-year students, at which point your first summer grades will be included. A final rank will be calculated after the final spring semester.

If I no longer wish to pursue the Accelerated Option, is it possible to transition to the traditional JD program, and will I be penalized for doing so?

It is possible to transition, and this option provides an important safety net for the AO student.The Accelerated Option is an intensive program requiring a full load of classes both in the summer and during the regular year. It is possible that students may find the pace too strenuous, or they may decide to slow down their degree pace for other reasons. If that turns out to be the case for you, then you may switch to the traditional JD program. You would have the opportunity to finish law school in 2.5 years or 3 years. To transfer to the traditional program, you will be required to notify the Office of Admissions, Student Information and Services of your decision by filling out an official request to transfer programs. There are a few other considerations:

If you received a scholarship as an AO student, it would still only cover a total of six terms. For example, if you participate in the Accelerated Option the first summer, fall, and spring terms and then transition to the traditional JD program, your scholarship would not cover the final semester of your third year, which would be your seventh term. However, it may be possible to complete enough units to graduate in 2.5 years, and in that case, your scholarship would not be affected. If you chose to attend for the full 3 years, student loans would still be available for your last semester.

By transitioning to the traditional JD program, you would be subject to the same rules as the traditional JD students. For example, AO students are able to take a maximum amount of 12 units during the summer term, whereas the traditional JD students are only allowed to take a maximum of 9 units. If you are participating in a journal, AO students are required to complete two semester's worth of journal work, whereas the traditional JD students must complete four semester's worth of journal work. Your class ranking will be with the class with which you graduate.