Not every law student follows the traditional educational track. Many students are older, or have financial obligations that require them to work day jobs. Some have already been in the field for years, working as paralegals or legal assistants and have decided to earn a J.D. degree. For non-traditional law students, part time programs can be a great fit.
There are a few differences between most part time law school programs and typical full time programs:
In a word: Yes. U.S News and World Report issues an annual Top Law School in the U.S. List; the publication also releases one for part-time programs. You’ll see that the top ranked part-time programs are at some prestigious schools. Here are the top 10 ranked part-time law schools for 2013:
1) Georgetown University
2) George Washington University
3) Fordham University
4) George Mason University
5) University of Connecticut
6) Loyola Marymount University
6) Loyola University Chicago
6) University of Maryland
9 Lewis & Clark College
10) American University (Washington)
*Three schools tied at a number 6 ranking.
A variety of circumstances make part time programs attractive to law students:
While tuition for part time programs may be less per semester, the overall program may end of costing more. Check out tuition differences to make sure you know about any cost increases up front.
Schools typically offer transfers for those students who wish to switch into the full time program, so if you change your mind you can always switch. The same applies to full-time students who have altering circumstances that makes a part-time program more attractive halfway through school.
Part time programs are just as rigorous as full time, traditional ones. The work is the same; it’s just spread out over a fourth year.
Some of your professors may be adjuncts. This can be good or bad, depending on your goals. Many evening law professors are professionals who are working in law. You can gain valuable insight from these people, and get up-to-date information from them. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to pursue a career teaching the law, you may want to attend the full time day program, where you’ll have mentors who are working in academics.