Law studies in USA is a professional graduate entry degree. This means that the law programs offered are usually equivalent to a graduate degree in other parts of the world. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are a total of 202 ABA-approved law colleges in USA.
With a number of universities ranking among best law colleges of the world, the table below shows the top law colleges according to QS Rankings 2020 for world-class higher education in America:
|QS Law Rankings 2020||University Name||Law School||Programs Offered|
|1||Harvard University||Harvard Law School||JD|
|4||Yale University||Yale Law School||JD|
|Master of Studies in Law (MSL)|
|Ph.D. in Law|
|5||Stanford University||Stanford Law School||JD|
|Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS)|
|Master of Legal Studies (MLS)|
|8||University of California, Berkeley||UC Berkeley School of Law||JD|
|Ph.D. (Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program)|
|Executive Education Program|
|9||Columbia University||Columbia Law School||JD|
|Executive LLM in Global Business Law|
|10||New York University (NYU)||NYU School of Law||JD|
|Executive LLM in Taxation|
|MSL in Taxation|
|Advanced Professional Certificate in Taxation|
|Advanced Professional Certificate in Law & Business|
Law colleges in USA generally offer three types of degree programs. However, there are other law degrees as well offered at various top colleges. US law college applications can be made for:
Apart from these above mentioned programs, various law colleges in USA such as NYU School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Colorado Boulder, etc. also offer executive programs in law for professionals.
Legal studies at top law colleges in USA follow the Socrates Method for teaching. Under this teaching method, the professor cold calls on a student to state a case and respond to case-based questions. This helps in the improvement of argumentative dialogue among students usually helpful during legal practice.
The academics for law programs are more than just coursework and include interdisciplinary intellectual dialogue, clinical experiences, first-hand lawyering, etc. There are various areas of study offering students with a wide choice of academic specializations.
The table below shows the various areas of specialization at top law colleges in USA:
|Law School||Areas of Study|
|Harvard Law School||Law & Business; Law, Science & Technology; Criminal Justice; International & Comparative Law; Law & Government; Law & History; Law & Social Change|
|Yale Law School||Administrative; Constitutional; Corporate & Commercial; Criminal Justice; Environmental; Human Rights; International; IT & Media; Law & Health; Public Interest|
|Stanford Law School||Environmental Law & Policy; International Economic Law, Business & Policy; Law, Science & Technology; Corporate Governance & Practice|
|UC Berkeley School of Law||Social Justice/ Public Interest; Business & Start-ups; Tech/IP/Privacy; Environment + Energy; Criminal Justice; Constitutional/ Regulatory; International + Comparative|
|Columbia Law School||Gender & Sexuality, Human Rights; Environment; Criminal Law; International & Comparative Law, etc.|
|NYU School of Law||Taxation; International Law; Human Rights; Immigration Law; Criminal Law & Administration; Environmental & Energy, etc.|
A Juris Doctor (J.D.) in USA is a three year program offering students with the intellectual foundation for legal studies. A J.D. degree enables a graduate to practice law in USA.
Around 202 American colleges offer Juris Doctor program. The table below shows the top US universities offering the degree:
|University Name||Annual Fee (in USD)|
|University of California, Berkeley||57516|
|New York University (NYU)||33018|
Admissions for the Juris Doctor (JD) degree is open for the fall semester. To be eligible for Juris Doctor degree, an applicant must meet the following admission requirements:
The LSAC application is available from September 1. Although international students are advised to submit their applications early to allow enough time to apply for a student visa to USA. The LSAC applications are available till February 15.
The tuition fees for Juris Doctor degree range from 30,000- 70,000 USD per year depending on the university. Regardless of the citizenship of the student, law colleges in USA offer various financial aid options to help students finance their studies. There are various international scholarships to study in USA that are awarded by the universities, private agencies or organizations, etc.
There are various masters in law programs offered. These include LLM (Master of Law), Master of Legal Studies, Master of Studies in Law, etc. The top law colleges in USA offering masters in law are tabulated below:
|University Name||Programs Offered||Duration||Annual Fee (in USD)|
|Harvard University||LLM||1 year||68150|
|Yale University||LLM||1 year||65792|
|Master of Studies in Law (MSL)|
|Stanford University||LLM||9 months||62175|
|Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS)|
|Master of Legal Studies (MLS)||1 year||62175|
|University of California, Berkeley||LLM||9 months||63362|
|Columbia University||LLM||2 years||69896|
|Executive LLM in Global Business Law||5 years||59558|
|New York University (NYU)||LLM||Up to 5 years||55040|
|Executive LLM in Taxation||Up to 5 years||59558|
|MSL in Taxation||5 years||66036|
To be eligible for LLM in USA, an applicant must meet the following admission requirements:
NOTE- For other master programs, students need not submit a law degree. A bachelor's degree from a recognized university is acceptable. For executive master programs, an applicant might be required to provide proof of professional work experience.
The tuition fees for masters in law range from 55,000- 70,000 USD annually based on the program and university. There are a number of scholarships to study masters degree in USA that can be undertaken by a student.
Ph.D. in Law in USA is available for students who want to have a career as legal scholars and teachers. According to QS Law Rankings 2020, there are only two US law colleges among top 10 in the world that offer a Ph.D. in Law.
|University Name||Programs Offered||Program Duration|
|Yale University||Ph.D. in Law||3 years|
|University of California, Berkeley||Ph.D. (Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program)||5 years|
To be eligible for admissions, an applicant is required to have a J.D. degree from a US law school. Practicing experience is not required but can be useful in qualifying the admission process.
To apply for the program, applicant must submit the following documents for admission:
UC Berkeley offers Jurisprudence & Social Policy- JSP Program, commonly referred to as Ph.D. in Law. To be eligible for the program, an applicant is required to have an academic degree acceptable at UC Berkeley (it need not be in law).
As part of the admission application, an applicant must submit-
The tuition fee for Ph.D. in Law ranges from 28,000- 40,000 USD per year. However, students are advised to check with the university regarding the exact tuition expenses. The candidates of Ph.D. programs at law colleges in USA usually receive a fellowship from the university to financially support their doctoral studies.
Studying abroad in USA can cost a fortune as America is much more costly compared to other overseas destinations. Therefore to help students, there are a number of financial options.
A few of the scholarships for international students in US are available at top law colleges are:
|Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship||Columbia Law School||Awarded to graduate students; Awarding partial or fill funding|
|Employment Law Scholarship||Harvard University||Amount of 1,000 USD awarded to students enrolled in J.D. program|
|Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program||Stanford University||Full funding to Stanford graduate students|
|Asia Pacific Scholarship||UC Berkeley||10,000 USD from Asian/Pacific countries (India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, etc.) enrolled in LLM program|
|Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholarships||New York University||Merit-based covering full-tuition fee for master’s degree program|
|Podell Global Graduate Legal Scholarship||NewYork University||Awarded to international LLM student covering full tuition, reasonable living expenses and airfare for one round-trip to and from New York|
After a law program, a graduate working in the legal sector in USA can earn around 96,200 USD per year. Salaries in the legal sector range from 52,800 USD- 149,000 USD per year. According to reports by salaryexplorer, a legal studies graduate in USA can earn 10% more than graduates working in other sectors.
The salary after graduating from top law colleges in USA differ based on the city and state of occupation. The chart below shows the average salary by American states after a law degree.
A law graduate can look for a number of jobs in USA. The table below shows a few of the jobs taken by law graduates in USA:
|Occupation||Average Annual Salary (in USD)|
|Associate Attorney||73,000- 94,000|
|General Counsel||90,000- 254,000|
|Tax Manager||71,000- 128,000|
|Tax Attorney||59,000- 195,000|
|Federal Judge||175,000- 203,000|
|Corporate Lawyer||60,000- 241,000|
|Associate Professor of Law||78,000- 128,000|
|Criminal Defense Lawyer||48,000- 173,000|
|Government Attorney||51,000- 151,000|
Legal professionals in USA are likely to observe a salary increment of 10% every 14 months. According to the recent reports, there is a slow yet continuous increase in the salary for legal professionals. The legal sector saw an increase of 1% salary in 2019 as compared to 2018.
This concludes that the law colleges in USA not only provide quality education but also train international students to earn attractive incomes during their careers.
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