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How Long Does it Take to Get a Law Degree?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Law Degree?

Requirements differ from law school to law school, but students can expect to work at attaining their juris doctor degree over the course of three years -- or even longer, depending on the program. This, of course, follows completing a typical four-year bachelor's degree program. Following the JD, a student has a choice of advancing their law education even further. Ultimately, from the time a student begins their higher education, the process of obtaining a law degree will take seven years, at minimum.

What to Expect from Law School

The experience of law school is like no other. In recent article in U.S. News & World Report one student recalled that "[l]aw school professors use the Socratic method, which means that at any minute in class, any student can be called on and asked to stand up and have a discussion with the professor about the reading for the day . . . You are expected to be able to have an intelligent, poised (discussion) in front of your class." A Harvard Law School alumnus vaguely remembers the course experiences but cherishes the relationships built in law school.

While building relationships is important through any graduate program, selecting the best concentration for a career in law is equally important. Another U.S. News & World Report article states "constitutional law has a vast array of applications in the legal profession, and mastering constitutional law through required and elective courses will help prospective attorneys learn skills that they will use throughout their careers." That said, opportunities to practice idealistic law forms such as constitutional law are not as common as Hollywood might have you believe. Today Pepperdine Law offers specialized concentrations and learning opportunities supporting both civil rights and entertainment and sports law, among others.

Earning A Law Degree at Pepperdine School of Law

The Pepperdine Law juris doctor program is completed with 88 course units and the traditional JD is completed over 3 years (6 terms). Pepperdine Law also offers two other options to students for completion of the program, an accelerated program that is completed in 24 months and an extended option that may be completed over 7 years of study. Expectations and characteristics of students who successfully complete the Law School's JD program will include:

  • The ability to think like a lawyer
  • A basic proficiency in professional lawyering skills
  • An appreciation, understanding, and inculcation of the moral, ethical, and professional values and responsibilities of law-trained individuals

As students work through their tenure of the JD program, they should expect to complete three core apprenticeship programs that will focus on cognitive skills, professional skills, and the moral, ethical, and professional identity. Successful students will expect the following outcomes:

Cognitive Apprenticeship (CA):

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of substantive law.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in legal analysis and critical reasoning.

Professional Lawyering Skills Apprenticeship (LS):

  • Demonstrate proficiency in legal research and in written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrate professional lawyering skills.

The Moral, Ethical, and Professional Identity Apprenticeship (ME):

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a lawyer's moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities.
  • Demonstrate awareness of their responsibility to society, including providing pro bono services.

At Pepperdine, individuals in pursuit of a JD have the choice to elect a focused area of study, with the opportunity to earn a certificate in one of the following areas:

Having clear goals for one's desired career path will aid in selecting the most suitable concentration, identifying internship opportunities, and gaining employment upon graduation.