The first-year curriculum provides a firm grounding in the core subjects of the study of law and rigorous training in legal analysis, reasoning, and writing. Students take six semester-long courses: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts, as well as a year-long Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing course. In the second and third years, students focus in a specialized area of study and practice and conduct their own independent study projects.
Dual Degree Programs
Duke is the only elite law school in the country that allows students to earn both a law degree and a master's degree in three years. Professional dual degree programs are four years long. Students enroll in courses at the Law School and in the graduate school of their choice. The Law School and the joint department or school each reduce the number of required credits in recognition of the students' coursework completed in the joint discipline. Dual degree candidates generally save a full year of study that would otherwise be required if they earned their two degrees consecutively. The program allows for maximum flexibility by encouraging students to chart a course of specialized study.
Dual Degree students who matriculate after summer 2013 are required to complete 75 credits in the Law School, rather than the 87 law credits required for JD-only candidates, and the following degree requirements:
- Taking all required 1L courses (view 1st Year Curriculum)
- Two credits of ethics courses (view JD Ethic Requirements)
- Professional Skills Requirement
- JD upper-level writing requirement (See Law School Rule 3-31)
- Requirements specific to degree program and department
For details regarding the non-law credit requirements for a specific dual degree program, visit the website of the particular University department or school involved.
JD/MA & JD/MS
Contact the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Tia Barnes, for information about the JD/MA & JD/MS degree requirements.
JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law
JD/LLM in International and Comparative Law students complete requirements for both degrees over six semesters of law study and a four-week period at one of Duke's summer institutes, which includes twenty credit hours of approved classes specifically for the LLM degree. These courses must include International Law, Comparative Law, Research Methodology in International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, and course work or an independent study for which a significant piece of writing is required.
JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship
JD/LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship students complete requirements for both degrees over six semesters of law study and a startup immersion experience during the summer following their first year. Required courses include Advising the Entrepreneurial Client, Law & Entrepreneurship, Analytical Methods, and Business Strategy. JD/LLM LE students also participate in a non-law firm externship at a local startup company and the Start-up Ventures Clinic.
LLM for International Law Graduates
The LLM program at Duke Law School is designed to introduce foreign-trained law graduates to the legal system of the United States and to provide them the opportunity to take advanced courses in specialized areas of the law. With the exception of two courses, LLM students join American students in all classes. The program of study is normally completed in one academic year, which begins for all new students in late August.
LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship
The LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship is a two-semester, 23-credit program that builds on Duke Law’s existing strengths in the fields of business law, intellectual property law, and innovation policy. It also takes advantage of Duke's strategic ties to entrepreneurial companies located in Durham and the surrounding Research Triangle Park region. The program provides a rigorous academic and experiential foundation for lawyers who plan to be involved with innovative business, either as advisers, or as is increasingly common, as CEOs or other executives. Admission is limited to applicants who hold a JD or an LLM from an American law school.
The SJD is a doctorate program for students with outstanding academic credentials who intend to pursue an academic career in law. The completion of the degree requires a minimum of two-to-three years and normally will involve at least one semester of courses in addition to those taken for the LLM degree.