Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M) are the two most popular programs for international students who want to pursue law in the U.S. The major differences between J.D. and LL.M. are the length of time they take to complete, the qualifications needed to apply to each program and the required exam you need to take beforehand.
Length of time: In terms of the length of time, completing a J.D. program typically requires three years of study. An LL.M. degree is, on average, just a year in duration.
Undergraduate degree: Any undergraduate major can apply to a J.D. program, so it isn’t necessary to already have a law background or degree. Actually, you will see a lot of students from various undergraduate backgrounds. You do need to have a bachelor’s degree in order to enroll in a J.D. program, but for an LL.M. program, your undergraduate degree must be in law.
Standardized tests: Additionally, for a J.D., you must take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. In contrast, for the LL.M. you don’t need to take this standardized test. (For non-English native speakers, you will still need to take an English proficiency test – either TOEFL or IELTS.)
Curriculum: Another difference is the typical curricula of J.D. vs. LL.M. programs. J.D. programs have very standard first-year curricula, especially when it comes to preparing for the American Bar Exam. For LL.M. programs, there are various curricula from which to choose.
For more information about applying to law schools in the U.S., please make sure to register for our webinar! We look forward to seeing you see on August 6 at 10 a.m. EST.