The Top 10 Accelerated JD Programs

Discover the fastest way to earn a law degree with our comprehensive guide to the top 10 accelerated JD programs, which includes both 3+3 BA/JD programs and 2-year JD programs.

Posted March 13, 2024

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Are you considering pursuing a career in law but want to fast-track the process? Then you may want to consider an accelerated JD program. These allow you to obtain your law degree in a shorter amount of time, usually 2-3 years instead of the traditional 3-4 years. In this article, we will examine the top ten accelerated JD programs in the United States, covering everything from what these programs are to the career opportunities they offer.

What are Accelerated JD Programs?

Accelerated JD programs are designed to expedite the legal education process, allowing students to enter the legal profession more quickly than through traditional pathways. These programs come in various formats, including two-year JD programs and 3+3 JD programs, each catering to different student needs and goals.

Two-year JD Programs are intensive, full-time programs that compress the standard three years of law school curriculum into two years. This is achieved by offering courses during the summer terms and sometimes through a heavier course load during the regular academic year. These programs are ideal for highly motivated students, including those with previous legal experience or a clear career path in law, who wish to minimize time out of the workforce. Two-year JD programs typically require students to start their studies in the summer before the traditional fall semester begins, maximizing the time available for coursework and allowing graduates to sit for the bar exam sooner.

3+3 JD Programs are innovative, accelerated pathways that combine the last year of undergraduate study with the first year of law school. Students in these programs spend three years completing their undergraduate degrees before transitioning directly into their law school's JD program for another three years. This effectively reduces the total time spent on both degrees from seven years to six, offering a more streamlined path to a legal career. These programs are particularly suited for ambitious undergraduates who are certain about pursuing a career in law and wish to start their legal education earlier.

Pros and Cons of Accelerated JD Programs

There are many advantages and drawbacks of an accelerated JD program and which ones are important will depend on your personal circumstances and goals. However, in general, here are some of the pros and cons.


  • Faster Graduation: You'll complete your law degree quicker, usually in 2-3 years, letting you start your legal career sooner.
  • Cost Savings: Spending less time in school means you'll likely save on tuition and other education-related expenses.
  • Intense Learning: With a compact schedule, you'll immerse yourself in legal studies, which can enhance your focus and deepen your understanding of the law.


  • Heavy Workload: Expect a more demanding schedule with more courses per semester, which can be stressful and challenging to manage.
  • Less Time for Extracurriculars: The fast-paced nature of the program might limit your time for internships, clerkships, or participating in law school activities like moot court or law review.
  • Pressure: The quicker pace means you'll need to absorb a lot of information in a shorter timeframe, which can be intense and might not suit everyone's learning style.

The Top 3+3 JD Programs (BA to JD)

Carey Law School – University of Pennsylvania

  • Eligible: Highly qualified and motivated Penn students
  • Requirements:
    • Completed most, if not all, undergraduate degree requirements by junior year, as well as an advanced-level seminar or independent study
    • ≥ 3.4 GPA
    • LSAT, GMAT, or GRE score
  • Deadline: Fall semester of junior year

The BA/JD application at UPenn involves meeting with a graduate chair, essays, and a proposed plan of study developed with the College advisor. The student’s application must be approved by the law school as well as their College’s committee.

Read: University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School: Program and Application Overview

Cornell University Law School

  • Eligible: Undergraduate students at Cornell University, Hobart Williams Smith Colleges, and St. Lawrence University
  • Requirements:
    • 108 credits completed
    • All major and school requirements complete
    • LSAT required for Hobart Williams and St. Lawrence students (Cornell students can submit their ACT/SAT instead)
    • Ranked in the top 10% of their class or cumulative GPA of ≥ 3.5 through 6 semesters
  • Deadline: August 1; students should apply in their junior year of undergraduate study

The 3+3 program at Cornell is a great option for high-performing students who know they want to go to law school. Candidates will save a year of study, have the application fee waived, and the LSAT requirement waived (for Cornell undergraduates). Those interested in this program should make sure they have good grades early on and are prepared for the academic rigor of graduate classes while still in undergrad.

Gould School of Law – University of Southern California

  • Eligible: USC undergraduates in all majors
  • Requirements:
    • All undergraduate degree requirements completed by end of junior year
    • ≥ 3.8 cumulative GPA
    • SAT/ACT score within the 85th percentile (focus on critical reading section)
  • Deadline: January of the third year in college

USC students interested in the 3+3 program should first meet with their academic advisor to discuss the remaining degree requirements, then meet with the USC Gould Office of Undergraduate Law for an additional discussion on the likelihood of completing your degree in three years. Once eligibility is determined, you will be contacted by the 3+3 coordinator in the JD office of admissions.

Read: University of Southern California Gould School of Law: Program and Application Overview

James E. Rogers College of Law – The University of Arizona

  • Eligible: University of Arizona students majoring in law
  • Requirements:
    • Complete all graduation requirements (except the 27 undergrad law units) by the end of junior year
    • ≥ 3.3 cumulative GPA
    • GRE or LSAT score
  • Deadline: July 15

The 3+3 program at UA is only available to those pursuing an undergraduate degree in law (BA). Meeting the requirements does not necessarily guarantee admission; unsuccessful applicants will need to finish their undergrad degree and then apply the following year in the usual timeline.

Read: University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law: Program and Application Overview

College of Law – Syracuse University

  • Eligible: Students at the following universities…
    • Alfred University
    • LeMoyne College
    • Nazareth College
    • Rochester Institute of Technology
    • St. John Fisher College
    • Syracuse Whitman School of Management
    • Clark Atlanta University
    • Morehouse College
    • Spelman College
  • Requirements: Dependent on the school, see here for more info; for Whitman…
    • Declare interest in this program in their first year
    • LSAT (recommended to take in the summer after sophomore year) score that must meet the median score or higher of incoming traditional students
    • Interview
    • Two faculty letters of recommendation
    • “Appropriate character and fitness for the study of law”
  • Deadline: Differs; for Whitman, students should apply between Oct. 1 and Dec. 20 of their junior year

Depending on the undergraduate institution attended, the path to the 3+3 program will look different. Syracuse’s Whitman students will need to plan on pursuing the program from very early on as they are required to declare it in their first year at the school. Like many of the other programs outlined here, the application fee is waived, though many of the other requirements remain.

Antonin Scalia Law School – George Mason University

  • Eligible: Undergraduates at…
    • George Mason University
    • University of Mary Washington
    • Christopher Newport University
    • Radford University
  • Requirements:
    • Be majoring in something that you can complete in three years
    • ≥ 3.25 GPA maintained during studies
    • LSAT taken by November of your junior year and a score achieved that equals or exceeds that of the median LSAT of the previous year’s entering class
    • Interview
  • Deadline: January 1 of the year in which you want to matriculate into the law school

Like the other programs on this list, students entering the 3+3 program at George Mason will enter their senior year as full-time, first-year law students. They must make sure that they feel confident in their skill sets and demonstrate a high level of maturity, as the average age of the other law students is between 24-26.

Cal Poly & UC Hastings Law

  • Eligible: Political science students at Cal Poly, who entered Cal Poly as freshmen
  • Requirements:
    • ≥ 3.3 GPA
    • Pre-law concentration
  • Deadline: Fall of junior year

Cal Poly students interested in the 3+3 program in conjunction with UC Hastings Law in San Francisco will need to have completed all their GE requirements before their junior year and have done their senior project. The number of courses the student takes will not differ; instead, they will have less room for electives, concentrations, and upper-level major courses.

School of Law – University of Oregon

  • Eligible: UO Clark Honors College student
  • Requirements:
    • Enrolled in any major that is compatible with three-year graduation
    • All CHC and major requirements by the end of junior year, except for one elective colloquium and thesis defense (136.5 undergraduate credits)
    • LSAT score that is at least one point above the median for the prior year’s entering class
    • ≥ 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • Deadline: Junior year

CHC students at the University of Oregon interested in the 3+3 program are strongly encouraged to discuss their academic plans with their academic advisor as early as possible. The application fee is waived, and no commitment form is required; if they decide the 3+3 program is no longer right for them, the student can simply finish their undergraduate coursework and graduate in four years.

College of Law – University of Cincinnati

  • Eligible: Undergraduate students at…
    • University of Cincinnati (must be enrolled in one of 14 majors, see here)
    • Mount St. Joseph
    • Thomas More University
  • Requirements:
    • Declare intent to pursue the 3+3 program at the beginning of the first year
    • Same application as traditional JD program
  • Deadline: Junior year

UC students who want to pursue the 3+3 program should meet with their advisor, preferably during their freshman year, to map out a custom path to completing major and GE requirements before the end of junior year. The application is the same as those applying for the standard three-year JD, and includes an LSAT score, letters of recommendation, transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and character/fitness disclosures.

School of Law – Gonzaga University

  • Eligible: Undergraduate students at…
    • Gonzaga University (College of Arts & Sciences majors)
    • Carroll College (all majors)
    • Eastern Washington University (all majors)
    • Whitworth University (all majors)
  • Requirements: Differ depending on the institution; for Gonzaga undergrads…
    • All major and core curriculum requirements completed by junior year (at least 98 semester hours)
    • Written approval received from a CAS official
    • LSAT
    • Rest of the standard applications
  • Deadline: March 15 of junior year

Gonzaga undergraduates with a GPA and LSAT score that meet or exceed the previous class’ medians are given priority consideration for admission to Gonzaga Law. Students below the median are still considered, but have a lower chance of getting in. The rest of the application is the same as the standard JD application. Students should make sure they are in contact with the respective officials at the College of Arts & Science.

Other schools that offer a 3+3 BA/JD program include but are not limited to:

The Top Two-Year Accelerated JD Programs

Caruso School of Law – Pepperdine University

  • Deadline: February 1
  • Begins: Summer session (May)
  • Structure: Four semesters and two summer sessions

Accelerated Program Curriculum

  • Summer 1 (“Pre-Summer”): 12 units
  • Year 1: Same first-year courses as traditional students, including…
    • Civil Procedure
    • Constitutional Law
    • Contracts
    • Criminal Law
    • Introduction to Ethical Lawyering
    • Legal Research and Writing
    • Property
    • Torts
  • Summer 2: 12 units and 6 units of an externship
  • Year 2: Core upper-division courses and the choice of electives, clinics, externships, and student-edited journals

The accelerated JD program at Pepperdine combines the JD program with a certificate from the Straus Insitute for Dispute Resolution. Like traditional JD students, accelerated students also have the opportunity to choose electives, clinics, externships, student-edited journals, and moot court/trial competitions.

Kline School of Law – Drexel University

  • Deadline: January 15 (Application opens August 15)
  • Begins: Summer session (May)
  • Structure: Four semesters and two summer sessions

Accelerated Program Curriculum (w/ Co-op)

  • Summer 1: 15 credits
    • Criminal Law
    • Contracts
    • Torts
    • Legal Methods
  • Fall 1: 15 credits
    • Civil Procedure
    • Legal Methods II
    • Constitutional Law
    • Property
  • Spring 1: 16 credits
    • Legislation and Regulation
    • Upper-level electives
  • Summer 2: 9 credits
    • Co-op
    • Lawyering practice seminar
  • Fall 2: 15 credits (electives)
  • Spring 2: 15 credits (electives)

Drexel University also offers an accelerated JD program. Similarly to Pepperdine’s, the program begins in May and includes Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters. Accelerated students have access to the same opportunities as traditional ones, including professors, electives, clinics, Trial Team, Law Review, and more.

School of Law – Roger Williams University

The accelerated JD option at RWU is a little different from the others on this list. Rather than a separate program, JD candidates can choose to graduate–and take the bar exam–six months earlier than their classmates. They take the same amount of credits, have the same opportunities for electives, and can participate in the same extracurriculars as the traditional students. The only difference is they will take courses in the summer, but only in the evening to leave room for employment and/or externships.

Bonus: Accelerated JD Programs for Internationally-Trained Lawyers & Deferred JD Programs

List of 2-Year JD Programs

Some schools offer fast-track JD programs for foreign-educated lawyers. Students admitted to these programs receive one year of credit for their foreign degree, and have two additional years to get certified.

These programs are offered at the following schools, though there may be others that are not on this list:

List of Deferred JD Programs

Other schools, rather than combining a BA with a JD, offer a deferred program where students can apply while an undergraduate, get admitted, and then defer for several years as they get work experience.

Two schools offer this program right now:

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