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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Accelerated JD Program

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Accelerated JD Certificate

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law offers an accelerated, two-year Juris Doctor (JD) degree that is paired with the opportunity to simultaneously earn a certificate from the 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 is a great 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 enroll in the regular first-year JD classes and continue to matriculate in the regular JD program. In total, students take classes in four semesters and two summer sessions. Students in the Accelerated Option have a more fixed schedule, but 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 while reducing living expenses. Tuition costs under the Accelerated Option are not less than the regular JD, as the overall unit requirements are the same.

Earn a Certificate from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution has been ranked among the top three programs in the country for nearly two decades. In the first summer, accelerated students attend classes offered by the highly regarded Straus Institute. As accelerated students have such intensive involvement in the Institute, they are able to earn a Certificate in Dispute Resolution by graduation.

The Curriculum


The accelerated JD option allows students to graduate in 24 months, which is within the ABA's rules for the minimum time allowed to complete law school and earn a certificate in alternative dispute resolution within that time. Students seeking an accelerated JD must attend classes during the summer school session which takes place prior to the usual first semester of law classes. This summer session, called The Pre-Summer, will begin in May and will last approximately 12 weeks. During this Pre-Summer session, the students must take 12 units beginning in May. 


Accelerated students take the same first-year courses with all other law students and are integrated into the first-year class. First-year 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 the first full year, accelerated students take a full load of summer classes. Most students take approximately 12 units. Accelerated students must take 6 units of externship, which provides a real-world, hands-on experience. Students are encouraged to complete the requirements for the Certificate in Dispute Resolution at this time.


Accelerated students complete core upper-division courses, and have the opportunity to select from a broad range of elective courses, clinics, externships, and student-edited journals.

Important Dates
AO Application deadline: February 1
Financial aid deadline: April 1
$800 Non-refundable Seat Deposit Deadline: April 15
Required first summer session Mid-May 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 in time to start 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 is the same for all students.

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

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 but AO students must pay close attention to scheduling classes. There are courses in the Straus Institute that are easily available for AO students who wish to travel. The official names of these courses are Current Issues in European Dispute Resolution (The London/Geneva study tour) and Current Issues in Asian Dispute Resolution (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 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. AO students who transition to the Traditional Three Year Program have the opportunity to graduate 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 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 attend for the full 3 years, student loans would still be available for your last semester.

By transitioning to the traditional JD program, you are subject to the same rules as the traditional JD students. For example, AO students can take a maximum 12 units during the summer term, whereas the traditional JD students can only 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.