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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I felt like it was fun and fine, I'm not necessarily proud of every answer in terms of depth and thoughtfulness but I figured they were being real when they said to relax and be yourself. Felt okay on that front
@KnowledgeableRitzyWasp: Well, I just checked, and I submitted on 11/11 and went complete on 11/27. I got the II on 1/22. Looks like almost everyone who submitted by those dates has heard. As I said, preparing for a humiliating March.
Right. Well, good luck, robot.
You too 8
Enjoy the weekend
Haha. I'll try. You too.
That is miserable, I am sorry for that outcome
At this point, what I want is an OSU A with a full ride. Judging from lsd data, that seems realistic. If that happens, it'll come down, most likely, to OSU and a small handful of (slightly) better schools that haven't given me a full ride.
honestly, i think they overlooked a lot of 1/22 II's @8888887777776t6t
only 1 1/22 has heard back, and i haven't, neither has my roommate who has the exact sam stats + when to cornell UG
Oh, I see you're a 1/22. Phew! Gives me hope. :)
I hope you're right.
their app closes today, so they need to fill out a class w/ their current pool.
I don't really understand how they could overlook IIs though. Like, do you mean they made a mistake in overlooking them or that they deliberately set them temporarily aside for some reason?
the latter
additionally, idt they go by sent date, most of the A's seem to be mixed dates
Done with my hail mary cornell app
No more living in regret abt skipping them the one year they decide to like splitters
Bro, it's not a hail mary. You have a 180.
@sufferchildrensmiths: Also, you're making me more hopeful (though I still want to keep my expectations low at this point). For we do have a fair amount in common besides the 1/22 II date. We both submitted on the same date, we have the same GPA, and we both have a grad degree.
I'm at 15/15, so I'm going to stop talking now. :)
Good luck, I am glad hope has returned
sup everybody
hello lsd.law user hotwhale
good to meet you
Silly question: Is the standard procedure for withdrawing an acceptance/waitlist to simply email the admissions department/primary contact?
@FranticSpiffySwallow: You'll get into a top school
some reverse-splitter will counteract your GPA
if your school does not do out of 4.3, then you have nothing to worry about. :)
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