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Scholar's Career GuidesHow Long does it take to Obtain a Degree in Law?

How Long does it take to Obtain a Degree in Law?


Law schools, unlike other faculties within a university requires lots of skills and patience, both during studies and after beginning a professional practice. Having a professional career as a lawyer can be very fulfilling, but how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law?

This question is probably the most asked question by intending law students. 

The possibilities within a legal career is endless, there is a lot one can achieve with a law degree. In this article we will be exploring how long it takes to study and obtain a degree in Law in different countries across the globe. 

We shall be exploring the law schools in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Germany and South Africa and we will answer the question for each of these countries specifically. 

How Long will it take to obtain a degree in Law in the US? 

In the US, a full-time J.D. program takes at most three years to complete, for part-time students, it take four years and for accelerated programs it can be run within two years. 

Generally, the first year in the study of law for a J.D. degree is the must stressful year out of all to be spent for the degree. First year is demanding, physically, mentally, academically and emotionally. Therefore the student has to get prepared for a good sprint at the beginning. 

In the first year curriculum, core courses are taught. And these courses need to be understood in-depth. This is the reason American universities which offer law have a difficult first year. 

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in the UK?

In the UK there are different jurisdictions, and consequently each jurisdiction has its own unique legal system, so the question, how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in the UK? might not have a single answer to it and may prove difficult. 

But you do not have to worry, we will explain the much we can which most likely covers the entire jurisdiction. 

Most of the time, law schools in the UK require that students spend 3 years studying for a professional career, well we have some exceptions such as the law school at the University of Buckingham which has its program structured to fit into 2 years. Also students who study to become a lawyer through CILExCPQ will most likely complete the program between 18 months and 24 months which is within 2 years, although this depends on the determination of the student, the program could also take as much as 6 years if the student is progressing at a slow pace. 

For the normal law school program which takes 3 years, it is possible to get a reduction of one year from your period for study if you already have a Bachelors degree in another program (this depends on the rules of the university to which you have applied to study law). However, if you are applying to study law with a degree from a non-law program then you will have to take an SQE preparation course before sitting for the exams. This however, could increase the period of your pursuit. 

After your academic program, before you can become a solicitor, you must complete a 2 year practice of Law from a legal chamber. This makes the number of years which prepares you for a professional career in the UK a total sum of 5 years for a normal course in the program. That is the fastest a student can complete his training to become a professional lawyer in the UK. 

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in the Netherlands? 

Now, it is the Netherlands, and how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in the Netherlands? 

Just like the UK, studying law in Netherlands requires patience as it takes a number of years to complete education before beginning a professional career. 

To obtain a first degree in Law (LL.B) in the Netherlands you will be required to pass through a thorough legal education for three years. After obtaining a first degree you may seek to further your academics by signing up for a Masters degree (LL.M) program which involves one more year of study and research. 

As the legal center of Europe, obtaining a law degree in the Netherlands is worth the wait and will propel you into a more vivid knowledge of the practicalities of regional and global law.

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in Canada? 

In Canada, the legal system is structured as a lookalike of the British common law system. Therefore, in most law school, the program takes a four year study plan. 

The first common law degree in Canada is the JD, which takes three years of study to complete. 

For the first degree, students are given specialized training in legal research and writing. They are also exposed to extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences—students are encouraged to participate in trial advocacy and client counselling competitions, to volunteer at legal clinics or non-profit organizations, and to participate in student-led clubs and social events at the law school.  Through these exposure, law students test the practicality of theories and get to meet people who have similar interests and goals. 

After studies to become a licensed lawyer in the legal practice the student could decide to apply articling or an alternative, the law practice program to gain exposure to different areas of law before practicing. This takes at most ten months. 

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in France? 

Many international students choose France as a location to study law because the low cost of tuition fees and the availability of student restaurants and subsidized residence halls. Studying law in France is rigorous and requires a lot of patience, learning, unlearning and research but the end result is worth the stress. 

Sometimes though applicants hesitate because they are not certain how long it takes to study a law degree. 

So how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in France? 

In France, just like everywhere else, a law degree is earned by attending law school. At law school in France, the student has the choice of passing through three programs to obtain three different degrees in Law; the first degree is the Bachelor of Law (called “Licence de Droit”) which takes three years of intensive study, then a two-year Master of Law program (LLM), and then a final run of a three-year or more for a Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) in Law. 

It is entirely up to the student to choose if to continue with a new degree program after clinching the certification of a preceding degree. However, to have a professional career, the student has to at least be in the first year of Master of Law to apply for bar school. 

Studying in a French Law School vests you with authority to practice law throughout Europe.

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in Germany? 

Obtaining a German Law degree at a public university comes at a low cost tuition, compared to its US counterpart. This is because the education costs/tuition is largely subsidized by the government of the German state. However, seeking a law degree at a private university comes at an exorbitant cost. 

Now how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in Germany? 

To obtain a German degree in law students are required to go through a 6 year long curriculum. This includes 4 years of undergraduate education after which the student is required to write and pass First State Examination. After passing the state examination, students will be required to take a two-year internship (Referendarzeit) in order to obtain experience in all facets of the law. 

After the two years of intensive training, the student will be required to take a second State Examination to complete the two years of legal internships in criminal and civil court. During the internship the student is entitled to wages provided by the German government. Law students have only two chances to pass the State Examinations and after passing both examinations, the student becomes qualified to seek employment as a judge or a lawyer.

How Long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in South Africa 

Studying law in South Africa involves a lot of dedication, commitment and hard work. To study law in SA proficiency in the English language is required as the program is taught in English. 

However, how long does it take to obtain a degree in Law in South Africa? 

The standard number of years spent studying law in SA is 4 years, this is the number of years for a first degree (Bachelor of Law LL.B). 

As an alternative path, a student may choose to first spend 3 years studying to obtain a BCom or BA degree before going for a 2 year program to obtain an LL.B. This makes it a total of 5 years of study, a longer period but with the benefit of two degrees.


Now you know how long it takes to obtain a degree in law in these top nations across the world, which of these do you fancy an application to? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Good luck as you apply to your dream international university.


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