Top 5 Online Juris Doctorates for 2020

Earning one of the Top 5 Online Juris Doctorate degrees is an important step towards several exciting careers in today's law-oriented, and socially-driven nation. With so many to choose from, it's essential to find a J.D. program that best fits your ambitions in the field of law. 

Earning a Juris Doctorate is an exciting step towards a variety of exciting and vital careers in today's law-oriented and socially-driven nation. It's an undertaking reserved for those dedicated to catalyzing change and ensuring justice in the areas that need it most. J.D. programs across the United States provide faculty with diverse backgrounds, while universities offer several opportunities for hands-on training and cohort scholarships. With so many to choose from, it's crucial to find a J.D. program that best fits your ambitions in the field and is accommodating to your responsibilities and schedule outside of school. 

FINDING AN ONLINE JURIS DOCTORATE DEGREE

Students need to pursue a Juris Doctor program that has been accredited by the American Bar Association. This accreditation means students can sit for the bar exam in any state upon graduation. With the ABA-accreditation as a top priority for most students, it's necessary to understand that the ABA does not grant accreditation to any fully online law programs; it most recently just granted accreditation to only its third hybrid program. So, while there are very few, if any, purely online J.D. programs to choose from, there are many traditional degrees that offer online courses, and therefore may not be explicitly hybrid programs but count as such. 

The benefits of the on-campus aspects of a law degree are also not to be dismissed. Because the field of Law is such a diverse and ever-changing field, students need to study alongside a cohort. Attending law school in-person is a commitment, but all worth the while. Students typically study full-time and are dedicated to foundational courses that train them in the breadth of the field, but also to a concentration in Law that allows them for specialized practice upon graduation. 

J.D. programs often give students the opportunity for externships, internships, and legal clinical experience both on-campus and in nearby practices, so location is usually a significant factor when students look into programs best-suited for their goals. While the lack of online programs can be disappointing, students shouldn't be discouraged. Earning one's J.D. is a bold and exciting goal, and the necessity of studying on-campus most of the time will benefit students in the long run. This commitment undoubtedly pays off. 

RANKING THE TOP 5 ONLINE JURIS DOCTORATE DEGREES

While you're on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia. 

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page. 

 

#1. FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

Florida State University's online Juris Doctor program is designed to be completed within three years, beginning with traditional legal courses before teaching students in the latest theoretical and interdisciplinary analyses. The first year sets the stage with foundational classes in history, doctrine, process, and analysis. The second and third years are almost entirely elective, offering a wide range of courses and modes-of-analysis in the field. Courses may be purely theoretical and doctrinal, while others are focused on particular specialties within the field, including health, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, and sports law. The university offers strong formatted programs in business, environmental law, and international law, as well as one of the best criminal law programs in the region. 

Students in the program benefit from opportunities in live-client clinics in family law, children's advocacy, and law and business. There are also extensive externship offerings the university endorses throughout the state of Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. Applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree, but there is no minimum GPA. Those who have previously attended law school must apply as a transfer student. The program can be completed either in hybrid-format or on-campus; while some courses are online, the on-campus coursework and interaction with the cohort are necessary for a well-rounded success. 

Format: Hybrid

#2. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

Pursuing a Juris Doctorate at New York University opens up many doors for legal students. NYU offers the benefits of one of the world's greatest cities, as well as their various opportunities for international campuses in Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai. The cutting-edge curriculum takes up all matters of both law and business, offering corporate know-how and a cohort that includes business students in joint classes. The law school is made up of advanced intellectuals in all aspects of the field, offering 32 centers and institutes dedicated to research in the most vital contemporary issues, such as the Civil Rights Clinics: Challenging Mass Incarceration.

Electives are offered in specific topics such as Constitutional Law, Corporations, Income Taxation, Intellectual Property, International Law, and Property. Student's chosen curriculum can also be paved around three different overarching themes in legal practice: Interdisciplinary, Experiential and Clinical, and Global. The average applicant in 2017 had an LSAT of at least 167, and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.6. Most applicants had also been out of college for at least one year. While many courses are available online, the program requires on-campus engagement and coursework. Students need to immerse themselves in their intellectual cohort and have access to all of the on-campus benefits. 

Format: Hybrid

#3. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

The Juris Doctorate program from Nova Southeastern University provides students with a solid foundation in the field and the necessary knowledge, skills, and values to succeed in the field. The curriculum is designed comprehensively to address all aspects of law, including traditional doctrinal courses with those that offer more specialized study in several subfields. 

First-year students are guaranteed small class-sizes for an intimate and encouraging entrance into the program. They benefit from open-door, open-internet policies from engaging faculty members, and comradeship with their peers and cohort. While on-campus courses are necessary to ensure student's full immersion into the legal environment and community on campus, online courses are available. The program can also be completed in a full or part-time schedule: part-time will consist of evening courses three nights per week. 

Concentrations are offered in Health Law, International Law, and IP Technology Cybersecurity Law. There are also opportunities for clinical semesters, where students receive hands-on and high-quality training from professors or practitioners during internships and externships. Students may also participate in litigation-focused courses that allow them to represent a mock client throughout the entire legal process, from interview to appeal. Available courses cover both these technical fundamentals in the field as well as the theoretical backgrounds and modes of analysis. 

Format: Hybrid

#4. EMORY UNIVERSITY

Emory University's Juris Doctor program gives students the benefit of learning from experts in the field, countless opportunities for hands-on learning, and a dedicated cohort and environment of support and cooperation. The three-year program begins with the theme Immersion in the Language of the Law, where students are given the foundational courses covering legislation, regulation, constitutional law, administrative law, and more. The second-year is dedicated to students Finding Their Legal Voice, as they'll begin selecting their courses best-fit for their individual goals the field. The second-year is completed with a one-week immersion in advocacy, and a summer internship or clerkship. The third-year consists of practice-oriented and hands-on courses that finalize the student's culmination of knowledge before entering the professional workplace. 

The program must be completed through resident study all three years, although there are online courses available. Upper-division courses include topics like Bankruptcy, Comparative Law, Cross Exam Techniques, Internet Law, and Law and Religion. Nearly all courses are elective after the first year, with only a few other requirements after the completion of solid foundation courses. As of 2019, the median undergraduate GPA of applicants was 3.78, and the median LSAT score is 165. Admissions are competitive, but the program consistently accepts students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. 

Format: Hybrid

#5. DAYTON UNIVERSITY

Dayton University's ABA-approved online and hybrid J.D. program consists of live, online, face-to-face sessions and in-person learning sessions at the campus in Dayton, OH. It's only the third ABA-approved online hybrid in the nation. The curriculum is made up of foundational courses, those centered on more specialized topics, and a culminating, real-world legal setting semester-long externship. The degree takes less than four years to complete and is taught by faculty who are driving forces in the field. 

The 90-credit program covers Criminal Law, Torts Doctrine & Skills, Civil Procedure Doctrine & Skills, Transactional Drafting, and all types of law, including Intellectual Property Law and Business Law. The course of study is highly structured. The externship component of the program allows students to explore legal passions through hands-on experience in Dayton, OH. They'll have the early opportunity to create a network of accomplished professionals and cultivate relationships with potential mentors and employers. Applicants are considered holistically, with attention given to life experiences and the ability to overcome hardships and demonstrate leadership. Applicants must submit LSAT or GRE scores, which sets it apart from other admissions requirements. There's no minimum undergraduate GPA requirement. 

Format: Hybrid