From government regulations to estate planning, contract disputes to criminal justice, those who have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree have a hold on several levers of our society. An online law degree prepares you to enter the wide-ranging legal field, while online studies allow for a flexible schedule. Learn more about what it takes to get an online J.D. degree, what your coursework might include and career prospects for J.D. holders below.
Sponsored Online J.D. Program
The online hybrid J.D. program offered by the University of Dayton is sponsored by 2U.
The online hybrid J.D. program offered by the University of Dayton (Law@Dayton) is sponsored by 2U.
Can You Become a Lawyer Online?
The answer to that question is yes. A growing number of law schools are expanding their curriculum to include online J.D. degree programs which prepare students to take the bar exam and obtain their license to practice as a lawyer in the U.S. These programs typically take four or more years to complete.
Why Obtain Your J.D. Online?
Earning your law degree online offers several advantages. The convenience and flexibility of distance learning may enable you to get a law degree while you work full time or part time.
You want to be a lawyer, but you don’t want – or are unable – to pursue the traditional three-year, full-time, in-class route to graduating from law school. If so, you may have a good case for obtaining a J.D. online. The benefits of earning an online J.D. include being able to juggle class schedules with your family life or professional demands. Also, online learning makes physical distance less of a barrier. That opens up a bigger pool of law schools for you.
Online Hybrid J.D. Programs
Law schools are increasingly expanding their programs to blend live online classes and on-campus learning. As more and more hybrid programs are introduced, faculty with experience in online instruction are noticing its benefits. In an Inside Higher Ed article published last year, University of Dayton professor and dean of the online J.D. program, Victoria VanZandt, said her digital course enables her “students to feel a sense of community”.
Part Time Law School Options
An alternative to online J.D. programs is to study law part time. Becoming a part-time J.D. degree student allows for further scheduling flexibility. Some schools offer evening and part-time weekend classes for working students.
Online Master of Legal Studies vs Online J.D.
A Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) is a graduate degree that’s akin to an MBA for business students. Dean of Monterey College of Law, Mitchell Winick, breaks down the differences between common law degrees in his 2014 article published on the school’s website. The key difference is that while an M.LS. program teaches students legal skills, it does not qualify students to sit for the bar exam and become a licensed lawyer as the J.D. does.
Online J.D. Degree Admissions Requirements
So, what does it take to get accepted into an online J.D. program? The law school prerequisites can vary greatly among online J.D. programs. Some J.D. programs have the same admissions requirements for J.D. applicants as they do for residential law students. That generally means you need to have a bachelor’s degree and to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Some schools may allow you to apply for admission with just a two-year associate degree. Generally, online J.D. programs require an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Most also require letters of recommendation, as well as a personal statement.
It is important to note that some online J.D. programs may waive the LSAT requirement if you’ve taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). But If you have taken both tests, some schools will consider your scores for each test.
Online J.D. Curriculum
You can generally expect to take the same courses through online or online-hybrid J.D. programs as you would if you were studying on campus. A typical curriculum might cover the following topics:
Intellectual property law
Legal analysis and professional skills
Some J.D. programs that blend online and in-person courses use the traditional Socratic teaching method, which allows for debates and arguments through active classroom dialogue through webinars.
Most online J.D. programs also offer externships to gain hands-on legal knowledge. Some blended J.D. programs require that you spend several weeks on campus each year to supplement your online learning. You would be responsible for your travel and lodging costs.