Constitutional law programs may last from two to five years and focus on foundational legal topics, like torts and contracts. Aspiring lawyers applying to J.D. programs must submit LSAT scores, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from their bachelor's degree program.
LL.M. programs are usually intended for licensed lawyers who hold a J.D., and they're considerably more specialized. Often, current employment or experience in the desired area of specialization is helpful for admission. Some LL.M. programs are available online.
J.S.D. program admission requirements may include both a J.D. and an LL.M., along with relevant work experience. Some programs may not require applicants to have earned an LL.M, however.
Juris Doctor with a Concentration in Constitutional Law
The Juris Doctor degree prepares graduates to practice law in the United States. Students generally select an area of specialization, such as constitutional law, in the latter two years of the 3-year program. The field is somewhat unique because cases with constitutional law issues are often argued within the federal court system rather than the state court system.
First-year students are assigned a traditional course schedule that provides an overview of contemporary international, financial, criminal, environmental, and constitutional law practices. During the final year, students specializing in constitutional law take advanced classes on constitutional law and theory. In addition to interviewing, required courses include the following:
- Law and society
- Legal research
- Dispute resolution
Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Constitutional Law
The Master of Laws degree program offers advanced training in a specific area of the law. Numerous programs are available, and many are offered through distance-learning programs in order to serve busy professionals. Most graduates obtain further education in order to practice in a specific area of the law, in either private practice or for an agency.
Students are expected to create most of their own study plan, which may be interdisciplinary. They explore the economical and sociological implications of Supreme Court rulings. An emphasis in constitutional law might include classes such as:
- Federal and states' rights
- Constitutional amendments
- Bill of Rights
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Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.)
A research-focused doctoral degree, the Doctor of Juridical Science, is the terminal program for law students. Students may select constitutional law as their focus. The program generally takes two to five years to complete and requires a dissertation. Constitutional law students are expected to contribute significant new research to their field.
As with many research-based doctoral programs, there are not usually required courses. The curriculum consists of research methodology courses and significant independent research. Students are guided by a doctoral committee.
Popular Career Options
In addition to working as lawyers, graduates of LL.M. and J.D. programs can work as professors, judges, and consultants. Graduates with a J.S.D. are equipped to work in academic and research fields; career options include:
- Public policy development
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Constitutional law students work for lawyers or in judicial offices while in school. This experience can help them find jobs after graduation. The mean annual salary for lawyers was $136,260 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job opportunities for lawyers are expected to increase at an average rate of 6% between the years of 2014-2024, according to BLS projections.
All practicing lawyers must fulfill a certain number of continuing education credits each year. The number of credits required to maintain licensure varies by state. Those with higher degrees who focus on research may or may not need to maintain state licensure.
Aspiring or practicing lawyers looking to specialize in constitutional law can pursue Juris Doctor, Master of Laws, and Doctor of Juridical Science degree programs. Other career paths in the field include working as a researcher, professor, or judge.