What Is the Course Curriculum for a Juris Doctorate (Law Degree)?

The Juris Doctorate (J.D.) is the first professional degree for lawyers. The course curriculum for a law degree usually includes torts, contracts, legal research and writing, criminal law and civil procedure. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Juris Doctorate Overview

The curriculum for a J.D. degree introduces ethics, legal principles and practices for aspiring lawyers. Here are examples of some of the courses in J.D. curricula at some noted universities.

Important Facts About J.D. Programs

Possible Careers Judge, lawyer, mediator, post-secondary teacher, legal assistant
Licensing Most states require prospective lawyers to graduate from an American Bar Association-accredited J.D. Program and pass their state bar examination
Continuing Education In nearly every state, lawyers must participate in continuing education programs every one to three years.
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for lawyers)
Median Salary (2018) $120,910 (for lawyers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Types of Law

Lawyers can specialize in a particular legal area, and a good lawyer must be familiar with all the laws that may apply to a client's circumstances. The curriculum of a J.D. Program introduces all these types of law to give students a broad knowledge base.

  • Contracts: As an introductory course in the theory of law and legal methods of agreements, students can learn about consideration, conditions for relief from or discharge of obligations, effects of non-performance, remedies and elements of contract formation.
  • Criminal Law: Students learn about laws of crimes and principles such as defenses, punishment, complicity and responsibility.
  • Torts: Tort courses focus on legal protections of personality, property and relational interests against wrongful acts that violate the law, such as physical, economic and emotional harms.
  • Constitutional Law: This is an introductory course to U.S. Constitutional law, which covers judicial review, judicial enforcement to preserve individual liberties, structure and powers of the federal government, federalism and separation of powers.
  • Property: Students in a law degree program learn about purchase and possession of real and personal property, estates in land, landlord and tenant, easements, licenses, covenants and future interests.
  • Corporations: A course in corporate law provides J.D. students with information on corporate problems, control and management. The course also discusses federal regulations controlling insider proxy solicitations, short-swing profits and trading.

Legal Practice

Knowing the law is only part of being a good lawyer. A law degree prepares students to practice law, draw up legal documents and argue cases at trial. Courses in a J.D. program introduce students to the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a lawyer.

  • Trial Practice: Law school students learn about the trial process with examples from trial tactics and techniques. Class work involves students simulating mock trials and giving critical evaluation to others.
  • Civil Procedure: Students in a law degree program analyze the stages of a civil lawsuit from beginning to end. They also learn about techniques of alternative dispute resolution.
  • Legal Research and Writing: In this two-part course, students learn about legal research and writing formats.
  • Legal Drafting: Students gain practice in drafting legal paper work, such as contracts, complaints and legislative documents.


J.D. programs teach law students the professional ethics and responsibilities of being a lawyer. Students explore the roles of lawyers in society. Class topics include the responsibility of a lawyer as a counselor, advocate and community leader. Students also discuss Code of Professional Responsibility, ethical obligations for lawyers and their clients, and representing criminal, corporate and indigent clients.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • William Mitchell College of Law

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Saint Paul
  • Willamette University

    Campus Locations:

    • Oregon: Salem
  • Whittier College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Whittier
  • Western State College of Law at Argosy University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Fullerton
  • Yeshiva University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Western New England University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Springfield