How Long Does IT Take To Get a PhD in Law?

It's important for students looking to earn their Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in law to be aware that law school in itself is a doctorate. After three years of law school, the student has earned a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree which allows them to practice law. A Ph.D. in Law is an optional next step, ideal for students wishing to participate in similar academic careers as those who earn a Ph.D. in other subjects.

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Time Required to Complete a Doctorate in Law

A doctorate degree in law may take six years of full-time coursework. Admission to this degree program assumes the student has already earned a law degree and has been practicing law. Students must understand both basic and advanced laws and concepts of the law. Those enrolled in a dual degree program may be able to complete the three years of law school and doctoral work in eight years.

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Doctorate of Philosophy in Law Overview

A doctorate degree in law may be earned individually or as a dual degree, alongside a J.D. degree. If the student is not taking the degree program as a dual degree, he or she may be required to have earned a J.D. in the past and have worked as a lawyer. Students take a mix of competencies and foundational courses involving basic knowledge about the law. The curriculum may include courses in economics, statistics, law, policy and research methods. Other classes may involve seminars, assessments and a doctoral thesis.

In this program, students may have to set up a thesis schedule with their advisor. These meetings ensure that the student is working toward his or her completed thesis and is able to complete the work on time for graduation. While many doctoral law students are working professionals, meetings may be scheduled on nights or weekends, around the times the student is taking his or her classes.

Outcomes of the Ph.D. in Law

Students earning their Ph.D. in Law are prepared to work at the university level as professors and scholars. This occupation often pays less than working in the private or government sectors of the law. However, earning a Ph.D. in Law does offer professionals an opportunity to publish their work and conduct research for a living.

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