Future JD Students

 Applying to Law School

Understanding the Difference Between JD and LLM Degrees

This is a brief comparison of the primary differences between JD and LLM degrees. Comprehensive details about each degree can be found in the JD or LLM areas of this site.

The JD Degree

The Juris Doctor (JD) degree is required to practice law in the United States. It is considered the first degree in law. The JD degree is offered by American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools, by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian law schools.

  • A bachelor's degree is required for admission into a JD program.
  • The LSAT is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada, and a growing number of other countries.
  • The JD program is generally a three-year, full-time academic program.
  • All US states accept graduation from an ABA-approved law school as meeting that state's education requirement for eligibility to sit for the bar examination.

The LLM Degree

The Master of Laws (LLM) degree is considered an advanced law certification that has global credibility. LLM programs offered by US and Canadian law schools are desirable for international students who wish to gain global credentials and for JD graduates who desire advanced legal study.

  • A first degree in law is required for admission into an LLM program.
  • It is not necessary to take the LSAT to apply for an LLM program.
  • Most LLM programs do require an English proficiency test score for international applicants whose native language is not English.
  • The LLM program is generally a one-year, full-time academic program.
  • Earning an LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to sit for the bar exam of every US state or Canadian province.

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