PhD in Law Studies: Degree Program Overviews

Many university law schools offer Doctor of Juridical Science degrees, aimed at students interested in performing legal research and teaching law. Students wishing to practice law are required by the American Bar Association to have Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees.

Essential Information

A doctorate in juridical science is the terminal degree for a career in legal research, teaching and writing. Students in a doctorate in juridical science program will study many aspects of law, including constitutional law, family law, evidence and criminal defense. Students may be able to choose an area for specialized study.

Individuals who intend to become lawyers must earn J.D. degrees. Students pursuing such law degrees are usually interested in careers as lawyers but may work in a number of fields, including government and business. Students get an overview of all types of legal practice and get experience in courtroom procedures. Graduates will be prepared to take their state's bar examination which they must pass in order to practice law. Applicants for a Doctor of Juridical Science degree must have a Bachelor's degree and GRE scores; some schools require a Master of Law degree or a Juris Doctor degree. Juris Doctor degrees require a Bachelor's degree, LSAT scores and sometimes a face-to-face interview. Doctor of Judicial Science degrees will require the completion of a dissertation. Programs generally last three years.

Doctor of Juridical Science Degree

Degree programs are often focused on students' individual academic interests. Students learn about legal terminology, trial procedures and constitutional law. In this graduate-level program, students will study a variety of advanced topics in law, including:

  • Administrative law
  • Evidence
  • Environmental law
  • Family law
  • Foreign affairs
  • Criminal defense

Juris Doctor Degree

A Juris Doctor degree is a professional degree in law. Courses teach courtroom procedures, contract negotiation and rules evidence. Students working towards their Juris Doctor degree will learn the skills needed to become a successful practicing attorney. Course topics will include:

  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Professional ethics
  • Advanced legal research and writing
  • Appellate advocacy
  • Copyright law

Popular Career Options

Depending upon their other qualifications, a graduate of a Doctor of Juridical Science degree program may find challenging and rewarding careers as a:

  • Professor
  • Legal researcher
  • Law librarian
  • Lawyer
  • Law clerk

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, job openings for lawyers are expected to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024. However, large numbers of law school graduates should make competition for openings intense. According to the BLS in 2015, lawyers earned a median salary of $115,820 annually.

Students interested in pursuing law or law education as a career have two options to choose from. Those who desire a career as a practicing lawyer will require a Juris Doctor degree, while those interested in teaching law--or performing legal research--can look into a Doctor of Judicial Science degree.

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