Tuesday, January 25, 2022
EducationDestination USA: Law schools offer different degrees

Destination USA: Law schools offer different degrees

Published: 18th Jan 2021 12:04 am | Updated: 17th Jan 2021 10:31 pm

In the series on popular fields of study in the United States, we have so far discussed the fields of engineering, business, aeronautics & aviation, nursing, education, journalism & communication, and most recently public health. This week we continue the conversation and talk about the field of Law.

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While pursuing a law degree in the United States, international students can observe the legal system of the country, including courts and government agencies. There are different types of degrees offered by law schools in the United States that international students may pursue.

The first professional law degree in the US is the juris doctor (JD). JD programmes are pursued after four years of undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) study in any major. JD programmes generally do not offer a specialisation, but students may choose coursework that emphasises a subject area. Once a student has completed the JD degree, they are eligible to take the bar exam in any State.

The other option for international students is to pursue the Master of Law (LLM) programme. This is an advanced law degree that requires students to have completed a primary law degree such as Bachelor of Law or JD degree at the time of admission. The LLM is a more advanced degree than JD. Students may opt for a specialisation during the LLM programme such as international law, taxation, intellectual property rights, etc. In some States, the LLM degree qualifies successful degree holders for bar eligibility along with some additional criteria.

For students who do not intend to practice law but are interested in working on legal issues, other master’s degrees are available. These include the Master of Science in Law (MSL), Master of Jurisprudence (MJ), Master of Comparative Law (MCL), or Master of Comparative Jurisprudence (MCJ). These degrees are not eligible for bar exams and do not require students to have a law degree at the time of admission.

Almost all LLM programs in law are one year long and may start in spring (around January) or fall (around August) depending on the offer of the program by the institution. The JD programmes are usually three years duration (with some accelerated two year options available) and generally admit students only for the fall semester. This programme is the most comprehensive of all law programs. The other master’s degrees are slightly longer than a year and may also start in spring or fall.

Next week we will discuss the application process for law programmes in the United States.

— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the US – India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q – I want to pursue my bachelor’s degree in the United States after my 12th. Please share the eligibility criteria and application components for these applications.
– Victor Reddy

Ans – To be eligible for admission to bachelor’s degree programmes in a US college or university, students must meet certain minimum entry requirements. These include a secondary school diploma or examination results, English language ability, and, in many cases, a score from one of the academic standardised tests, either the SAT or ACT.  It is also important that student’s secondary school study has included a variety of subjects such as English, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities or social sciences, and foreign language. Each university will have their own requirements for admission, so it is important to research what the universities may require.

A US institution considers student’s complete profile for assessment of admission, so a competitive package for bachelor’s degree application includes:
• Demonstrated strength in academics and interest in learning reflected through a student’s academic records, generally referred to as transcripts.
• Strong scores on standardised tests (SAT/ACT). Please take note that due to the current pandemic, some US universities have made test optional.
• English proficiency tests scores (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE)
• Effective letters of recommendation(s) and personal statement/essays.
• Leadership qualities and commitment to extra-curricular activities and/or engagement with community exhibited in a resume/list of activities as part of application
• Ability to pay for tuition and living expenses as shown through the financial documents – the Declaration and Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support

All of the above components of the application package are accompanied by an online application form and an application fee.

Q – How are college and university different in the US? How to check if an institution is accredited?
– Radha

Ans – The terms college and university are often used interchangeably and generally mean the same thing in the United States. Colleges tend to be smaller and usually offer only undergraduate (bachelor’s) degrees, while a university also offers graduate (master’s and above) degrees. Within each college or university, you will find schools, such as school of arts and sciences or the school of business.

Accreditation is a process that validates the integrity of an educational institution. For the student, it is an indication that the institution or programme meets certain standards of excellence. If the institute you attend is not accredited, your degree may not be recognised by employers, other universities, governments of other countries, or your home country’s department of education.

You may find out if a course or university is accredited by visiting the database of accredited programmes and institutions published by the US Department of Education at https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home or Department of Homeland Security at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search. However, you should evaluate all aspects of a school’s offerings before making a decision to enroll.

Also read: 

Destination USA: Study Journalism and Mass Communication

Journalism and Mass Communication in the US

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