Why This Matters


    Two types of law that are growing much faster than average are healthcare and eldercare law and law related to privacy and cybersecurity concerns.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 32,300 MORE LAWYERS BY 2029

    Employment of lawyers is expected to increase by 4% over the next decade. As more corporations hire in-house legal counsel, business law should increase at a higher rate.


    The median annual salary for a lawyer was $122K a year in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lawyers who work in government earn even more: an average of $144,300.

Our Research

This list includes programs that lead to a Juris Doctor or Doctor of Juridical Science degree, either via an on-campus program or through online learning. The programs feature roughly 80-140 credit hours worth of coursework and may have internship or externship opportunities.

All programs are accredited by the American Bar Association or another accrediting agency, such as the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Accreditation is a rigorous periodic review, and it ensures students that the curriculum is up-to-date and relevant and that the professors have the terminal degree in their field as well as extensive real-world experience.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 61 hours to write this article
  • 71 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 117 education programs we compared

The Top 42 Law Degree Programs

Best Law Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

A law degree equips you to practice law in a corporate setting, private practice, government, or in the nonprofit world. Lawyers affiliated with corporations or government tend to earn the highest salaries.

The practice of law is a rigorous profession, and as most lawyers will attest, practitioners tend to work more than 40 hours a week. Research and the review of documentation takes up a considerable amount of their time.

Although the law field is projected to grow about as fast as average over the next decade, some areas of law are increasing more rapidly. As our population ages, eldercare law is becoming more needed by this group. Environmental lawyers are also in high demand.

To practice law legally, you must pass your state’s bar exam, which may take up to 18 hours and include a character and fitness review. Passing this exam will allow you to receive your law license to practice in your state. Some lawyers take the bar exam in several states to allow for a greater range of practice.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Law degree programs:

  • How long does it take to complete this degree? Your Juris Doctor degree can be completed with full-time study in three years. A Doctor of Juridical Science degree, a more specialized degree designed primarily for those who will teach in law schools, takes longer — up to five years with full-time attendance.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? To find out what is required in your state, check the website of your state Bar Association. A lengthy exam is required in every state in order to practice law. Further certifications in specialized areas of law may also be available through your Bar or via other professional organizations.

As you are considering programs, take advantage of the resources that each institution makes available to prospective students. A robust website will answer many questions, but even better is a phone, email, or live chat conversation with a knowledgeable admissions counselor, who can answer questions and guide you through the application process.

Law school can be expensive, but most schools offer financial aid packages to prospective students. You may also find scholarships, loans, or grants through your employer or your professional organizations.