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The types of law degrees include Juris Doctor (JD) and M.A. in Law.

J.D. vs. M.A. in Law: The Nitty Gritty

“Law.” Does the word conjure images of courtrooms and crime shows? (Queue the “Da Dum” of NBC’s Law and Order.)

If you’re thinking about going into the field of law, you’ll be happy to know there’s a lot you can do with a law degree. That isn’t to say, however, that all law degrees are the same. Among them stand two of particular prominence — the Master of Arts in Law and the Juris Doctor. Each is popular for its useful application in a variety of settings and professions.

What’s the Difference Between These Law Degrees?

The M.A. in Law and J.D. degree contain distinct elements. While both provide a basis for studying the law, the M.A. in Law packages legal studies in a simpler, shorter degree.

Let’s unpack that.


An M.A. in Law is a more general-use degree. Many universities offer numerous concentrations within their master’s in law with both online and on-campus options. This master’s also stands out for a plethora of applications for professionals in careers ranging from technology to communication, from banking to manufacturing. Essentially, the M.A. in Law could offer a smart career boost to anyone whose career could benefit from additional legal knowledge.

The course work touches on a broad survey of legal matters, including topics like litigation support and legal advocacy.

It also provides professionals a foundation from which they can benefit their employer with a cache of relevant information and expertise, ascend rank in their respective organizations, and provide their resume with a show of distinctive expertise.

The typical master’s in law program takes roughly a year of full-time study or around two years if the student is taking classes part time — the common practice among busy professionals.

The M.A. in Law also serves students interested in law a taste of the field. More on that next.

In short, this degree offers sound, well-rounded preparation for individuals specifically looking to work in the field of law or center their career around it without taking the bar exam and becoming a credentialed lawyer.

The J.D. degree provides a more robust covering of all things law, such as legal theories as well as practices (i.e. appellate advocacy, legal analysis, litigation). And unlike the M.A. in Law, the J.D. degree typically takes a full-time student three years of rigorous, on-campus study to complete. Many institutions offering the degree highly encourage, if not mandate, that first-year law students do not work full-time jobs so they can fully focus on their course work.

Additionally, good institutions help students cut their teeth in lawyering and litigation by providing them access to clinics and internships.

In the end, a J.D. degree paves the way for sitting for the bar exam in one of the 50 states on the way to becoming a credentialed lawyer.

Next Steps

Regent University School of Law offers both an M.A. in Law with multiple concentrations, as well as a Juris Doctor program. You may also choose to explore Regent’s M.A. in Financial Planning & Law, as well as the LL.M. If you want a law school program that provides a rigorous and Christ-centered education, practical skills training, and faculty mentorship to assist you in fulfilling God’s calling and making a difference, consider Regent University School of Law.

Feel free to reach out to our admissions team at 877.267.5072 or request more information online.