What are all these law degrees other than a JD?

Is a Master of Jurisprudence the same as a Master of Law?
Tags: Masters, Doctorates, Academia
Apr 2, 2023

Table of Contents:

  1. Overview
  2. A deeper dive into the categories
  3. Academic masters degrees for non-lawyers
  4. Post-J.D. law degrees
  5. Research and academic-based doctorate level degrees

A lot of law schools offer programs that fall outside of the standard JD, and are usually called out with initialisms so it can get a bit confusing. There aren't many hard and fast rules when it comes to naming or categorizing these programs, so take this all with a grain of salt. This article is meant to provide a helping hand to understanding the options, but University websites and program alums are the best place to look for hard(er) facts.

There are 10 kinds of non-JD degrees separated into 3 categories:

Academic masters degrees for nonlawyers, such as:

  1. J.M. Juris Master
  2. M.J. Master of Jurisprudence
  3. M.S. Master of Science or Master of Studies
  4. M.P.S. Master of Professional Studies
  5. M.L.S. Master of Legal Studies

Post-J.D. law degrees for practicing lawyers and/or foreign lawyers seeking to practice in the U.S., such as:

  1. LL.M. Master of Laws
  2. M.C.L. Master of Comparative Law

Research and academic-based doctorate level degrees, such as:

  1. J.S.D. Doctor of Jurisprudence
  2. S.J.D. Doctor of Judicial Science
  3. D.C.L. Doctor of Comparative Law

A deeper dive into the categories:

Academic masters degrees for non-lawyers:

These degrees are designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. These programs are designed to help people whose day-to-day work life would be better served with a broader understanding of the laws surrounding it? These programs are marketed to any non-lawyer in highly regulated industries who have completed their undergraduate education and are looking for a 1 year advanced degree. Some examples of people who attend these programs include HR professionals, law enforcement officers, and health administration professionals, among others. 

Although these degrees (Juris Master, Master of Jurisprudence, Master of Science or Master of Studies, Master of Professional Studies, and Master of Legal Studies) all have different names, they are generally just different names for the same thing. 

If you are considering a masters degree for nonlawyers. These programs can be helpful to some, but take your time in making the decision. These programs can be expensive and don’t qualify you for a specific job. You should consider them, but make sure you do your research.

Post-J.D. law degrees for US lawyers and foreign lawyers seeking to practice in the US:

These degrees allow qualified attorneys to specialize in a specific area of the law. For international lawyers this means focusing on a specific aspect of US law, and gaining the ability to take the Bar for a US State and practice as an attorney in the United States. 

These programs are predominantly composed of international students, with ~75% of the total LLM population in the United States coming from outside of the US.

While programs vary in quality, LLM programs at prestigious US law schools tend to be prestigious and are competitive to get into. 

Research and academic-based doctorate level degrees:

As the highest level of law degree, these doctorate level degrees (akin to a PhD) are suitable for law professionals who have already earned other advanced law degrees, such as the JD and the LLM. Doctorate degrees provide candidates with the rigorous knowledge they need to go onto careers as professors and scholars of law. 

Doctorate programs typically take two years to complete with a full-time course load, but they are usually followed by additional time to complete a dissertation. Doctoral program candidates typically already have JDs and LLMs so these doctoral programs usually don’t follow an in class curriculum consisting of required courses. Instead, candidates conduct their own legal research by working closely with professors while attending seminars. 

Law specific doctoral programs like the SJD are similar to PhDs, but focused on getting a job in the academic legal field. SJD programs’ goal is to prepare their students for a job in academic study or teaching of law. 

Windsor MIT '22, Harvard College Advisor

I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.

Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.


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Seems like one person reported they did here on lsd last week
for gulc, it seems that most of the people admitted off the wl have either a high gpa or high lsat
i haven't seem them admit people w/ "normal" stats
Did you guys know what area of law you wanted to practice in when you are applying? I am looking to start Law school in 2025 but I am having trouble deciding what area to focus on.
adding to what @menherachan said it looks like most of the people actually reporting it are reverse splitters specifically but who knows if thats representative of the actual body of people let off the waitlist yesterday
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@Silver: good morning! Hope you watched the sun come up! Realistically the most important three things in admissions are our grades/test score/softs so I wouldn’t overthink the rest too much! I personally have a real calling to pursue law but don’t think the adcomms really need a tearjerking story to compel them to admit us! They want to see that we can handle law school imo.
@Silver: You don't have to completely decide what area of law you'd like to practice prior to attending. You can learn what areas you enjoy while attending. It would be a good idea to research certain areas and talk to attorneys that practice to get a rough idea on what it's like.
When law school folks and legal professionals, etc. refer to "public interest" jobs or sometimes to "public interest or service" jobs, I take it the job of being a judge is not included in this category, right? And this even though some government jobs would be included, for instance being a prosecutor or a public defender.
I find that a bit odd, so I feel like I may be misunderstanding.
Can someone help me figure out what soft tier I'd fall under? I am director level in my job, and come from disadvantaged status. does that make me tier 3 or 2?
disadvantaged might be tier 3 if you’re lucky. but that will be really solid in the work experience category. work experience is one of the strongest factors for law school acceptance
Are weekend admissions decision common or is that just when people choose to update their statuses loool?
@BankruptcyAndRestructuringLawIsCool: SIGH..
is anyone thinking of heavily utilizing an ipad during school? people keep bringing it up when i think about supplies and stuff but im curious about what y'all think too
i didnt like ipads in undergrad, but a lot of the really competent people would swear by them
i wish i were competent so bad
but that makes sense ty
lmao me2
let me know if you figure out how to be competent i would like tips
Hi! I’m a rising 3L at GULC who transferred and is in big law now. Does anyone have any questions lol
can you put a good word in for me with adcommns?
@georgiapeach88: Where did you transfer from? And why did you transfer?
Oh, I see from your profile: Maryland. Still, why did you transfer?
[] ararara
Caught the most epic sunset haha I was so high up my ears still haven’t popped
[] ararara
@georgiapeach88: I actually remember you from some of the first times I was on this site
Just out of curiosity: Do we think it's fair to say that the percentage of users of those site who continue to use it after their 1L starts, for those users who actually went or go to law school, is <1%?
@georgiapeach88: not sure if you're still there but im also curious bout why you transferred, especially since your application says you were eventually admitted to GULC off the waitlist?
do we think GULC is done
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