Anyone who wants to study law has a vast array of different types of law degrees to choose from. Each type of law degree offers students an opportunity to not only learn about the law but also to pursue a specific career in law. On this page, we will show you what types of law degrees are there, how long they are, why you would want to study them, and answer all of the questions that you might have.

What is a Law Degree?

A law degree in Canada is a degree that qualifies you to become a lawyer in Canada. In 2024, a law degree is referred to as either a Juris Doctor (JD) degree or a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. However, all law schools in the country only offer JD degrees, and LLB degrees are generally obtained abroad in countries like the UK. Although any law degree is essentially an academic study of the subject, the vast majority of people who study law at law schools intend on becoming lawyers. Thus, this degree involves not only the academic study of the law but also teaching students foundational practical skills that are necessary to anyone who wishes to practice law.

Types of Law Degrees in 2024

In Canada, there are numerous different types of law degrees that you can study at a university. Each type has its purpose and reason for being offered to students. Take a look at our list below:

Types of Law Degrees in 2023 Complete Chart

Juris Doctor Degree (JD)

This is the most common professional degree in law that is offered by all law schools in Canada. JD degree fulfills the requirement to practice law in all provinces and territories of Canada. It is a 3-year full-time course. Alternatively, it can be completed part-time in no longer than 6 years, most part-time students finish it within 4 or 5 years. JD degrees allow students to explore various areas of law along with gaining practical legal skills for a career in law. You are required to have an undergraduate degree to study in the JD program.

Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

The LLB degree or Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate degree in law, which is offered in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It was available in Canada until the mid-2000s, when all Canadian law schools switched their degree designations to JD. The LLB is a 3-year full-time course that high school graduates can enroll in. Very few law schools offer part-time LLB studies.

Alternatively, it can be a 2-year Senior Status LLB course if you have already completed an undergraduate degree, which is why many Canadians choose to study law in the UK. Upon returning to Canada, students are required to undergo the NCA accreditation process and the provincial law society’s process, which then allows them to practice law in Canada. Just like in the JD program students gain academic and practical skills that are required for the legal profession.

Master in Law Degree (LLM)

LLM or Master in Law Degree is different from JD and LLB because it is a post-graduate degree in law. Meaning that to enroll in an LLM you are very likely to need to have completed a JD or an LLB degree. LLM programs focus either on a specific area of the law, for example, Criminal Litigation, or focus on gaining a specific skill, for example, an understanding of Legal Technology. Thus, there is a vast array of why someone might want to do an LLM, which could be either for academia or to enhance their professional skills and further their legal career. Most LLM programs are either 1 year or 2 years in duration and can be studied either full-time or part-time. An LLM degree by itself, will not allow you to practice law in Canada.

Find Out the Cost of Becoming a Lawyer in Canada

Master of Legal Studies (MA)

Just like the LLM degree, a Masters’s degree in Legal Studies will not allow you to become a lawyer in Canada. You will still need a JD or LLB. MA in law, however, is usually pursued by people who do not intend on becoming lawyers anyway. This degree is ideal for people who want to better understand the interconnection of the law and some other disciplines. These programs are generally 1 or 2 years long and can be studied either full-time or part-time.

Online Law Degrees

There are no online law degrees for JD or LLB programs in Canada. However, there are numerous certificates that you can complete by studying online. These certificates tend to be separated into the following categories:

  • Certificate in Law – this one is a general study of law, which is ideal for someone who just wants an introductory course in Canadian law.
  • Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship – this course allows graduates to become immigration consultants in Canada.
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Service Management – this course allows students to explore the theory of legal practice.
  • Paralegal Certificates and Diplomas – these programs put their graduates on a course to become qualified paralegals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Law Degrees

Below you will find answers that students always ask us about the law degrees that are available to them:

Foreign LLB law degrees are recognized in Canada through an official accreditation process. To get your LLB degree recognized, you will have to go through the NCA assessment process. The NCA will assess your degree and grades to assign you exams in various areas of law. The assessment involves completing several NCA exams intended to evaluate your competence. If you pass the exams that were assigned to you, then your LLB degree will officially be recognized in Canada, and you will be one step closer to practicing law in Canada. The next step would be to fulfill provincial lawyer licensing requirements (ex. articling process).

Yes, if you hold an LLB degree, whether from Canada or from outside of Canada, you can become a lawyer in Canada. LLB degree is considered a qualifying law degree in Canada, the same as a JD degree. Since most LLB degrees are obtained from outside of Canada, you will have to complete the NCA assessments to receive federal accreditation for your LLB degree. However, the next step in becoming a lawyer in Canada is the same for people with LLB degrees and with JD degrees. You will have to follow the provincial law society’s requirements to become a lawyer, which is usually experiential training known as articling and/or a short legal training course.

All law schools in Canada only have JD degrees in 2024. There are no LLB degrees available at any university in Canada. There are some combinations of JD degrees to accommodate Quebec’s BCL degree, so sometimes you will see joint JD/BCL degrees. In the mid-2000s, Canadian law schools started switching their degree designation from LLB to JD mainly to be on par with the rest of law schools in North America.

LLB degrees are not the same as JD degrees in 2024. The most significant difference is that to start an LLB degree, you generally will only need a high school diploma, while to get accepted into a JD program, you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree. LLB degree designations are widely used in commonwealth countries like England, where high school graduates are eligible to enroll in law school. LLB degrees were used in Canada until 2010, when all law schools switched their degree classification from LLB to JD.

The fastest law degree to complete is a MA in law degree which is usually 1 year long. However, you can get a law degree in 3 years, 2 years, or 1 year, depending on the type of degree and what you want to pursue after completing the degree. A traditional JD law degree in Canada is 3 years, allowing you to become a lawyer. An LLB degree can be 2 years if studied abroad, which also makes you eligible to practice law in Canada. Although MA in law can be 1 year long, this degree will not allow you to become a lawyer and practice law in Canada.

A law degree in Canada is 3 years long. This applies to all JD and BCL degrees offered by Canadian law schools in 2024. These degrees allow graduates to go on and become lawyers in any province or territory of Canada. 3-year law degrees are the standard length of legal studies in almost all common law countries. However, Canadians could take a 2-year law degree abroad, which would allow them to save time and money, while also qualifying as a lawyer in Canada.

Yes, there are law degrees available that take 2 years to complete. For instance, Senior Status LLB degrees in England are specifically designed to last 2 years. You can only do this degree if you already have completed an undergraduate degree before, thus shortening the usual 3-year LLB degree to 2 years. This option is an attractive option for many Canadian students that are looking for alternative options to the traditional 3-year JD degrees that are offered in Canada and the U.S.

There isn’t one type of law that is the best to study. Instead, the area of law that will be most appealing to you is the one that you are the most interested in. For this reason, it is recommended that law students explore different subjects in law school in order to experience different areas of law and develop a passion for one or a few of them.

To study law in Canada you must first have completed an undergraduate degree before applying for a JD program. The undergraduate degree must typically be 4 years, however, a 3-year degree could also be accepted. Then you must complete the LSAT exam and achieve a score that is acceptable by Canadian law schools, which is usually around 160. With our undergraduate degree and a good LSAT score now you can apply to law schools in Canada.

In Canada, a law degree that allows you to practice law is called Juris Doctor or JD. This degree is 3 years long. Although the JD degree is studied after your undergraduate degree, the law degree is not considered a graduate program. It is still referred to as an undergraduate program because it is technically the first degree in law that one can get and practice law.

The best degree that will prepare you to study law in law school is one that will train your logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. Many undergraduate degrees will allow you to develop those skills, but English, business, and science degrees are known to prepare their graduates well for studying law.

Law school in Canada can be very hard to get into. Firstly, there aren’t that many law schools in Canada. Secondly, the spaces are very limited in each law school. Thirdly, the requirements are rigorous because you have to have a high GPA as well as a good LSAT score. Thus, about 1 in 10 applicants will get accepted into law school in Canada. The average acceptance rate in 2024 is 10.62%.