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Juris Doctor

Pitt Law offers the Juris Doctor (JD) degree, tailored to prepare you to pass the Bar Exam and practice law (explore our Specialized Areas of Study). Additionally, Pitt Law offers multiple joint degree programs with other Pitt schools and Carnegie Mellon University, which confer both a JD and a master’s degree.

In all of these programs, Pitt Law’s essential mission is to help lawyers and legal institutions to meet the demands of a rapidly changing legal and professional environment. JD graduates can  pursue diverse paths, from tech start-ups to prosecuting cyberfraud, from big law to criminal defense, from championing the environment to interpreting health care reform.

The program’s first-year curriculum offers a solid foundation in legal analysis and reasoning through courses in subject areas traditionally viewed as basic for legal education.

Pitt Law JD students enjoy a large degree of latitude in designing courses of study that meet their individual goals and interests, with only a handful of graduation requirements beyond the first year.

Pitt Law offers particularly rich opportunities in:

  • International law, featuring prominent international/comparative law faculty, a rich international and comparative law curriculum, several courses each year taught by visiting foreign law professors, internships abroad, internationally focused scholarships and fellowships, Languages for Lawyers courses, strong University programs (including area studies certificate programs), and international moot law competitions.
  • Live-client clinics in a range of substantive areas and practice settings, giving students opportunities to develop valuable lawyering skills in the context of real-life, not simulated, legal disputes and transactions. Students grapple with legal, ethical, and practical issues, under the supervision of — and in close counsel with — a seasoned attorney faculty member.
  • The Semester in D.C. Program, during which students spend a semester in Washington, D.C., earning a full semester’s worth of academic credit while working full-time as an extern with a non-profit organization or government agency.
  • Seven certificate programs/areas of concentration enabling students to concentrate their studies in particular areas of law. These programs include specialized advanced courses that incorporate lawyering skills relevant to particular areas of practice.
  • Cross-disciplinary learning — Pitt Law students may take courses in other schools at Pitt or other local colleges and universities (up to six non-law graduate credits can be used toward the JD requirements).

Some Pitt Law courses incorporate multiple disciplines, such as Law & Human Behavior and Law & Economics Seminar , or are jointly taught by law faculty and faculty from other disciplines to classes comprising both law and other graduate/professional students — for example, Commercializing New Technologies.


Pitt Law joint degree programs enable students to earn the JD as well as a master’s degree in another discipline through an integrated program, more quickly than earning the two degrees separately.

The Pitt Law curriculum emphasizes these learning outcomes:

1. Legal Analysis, Research, and Reasoning: Given a complex factual situation, students will be able to identify and articulate the legal issues the situation presents; choose and implement an effective research strategy, selecting and employing authoritative resources to locate relevant legal authority; identify, accurately formulate, and apply the rules or principles of law pertinent to the situation; draw and explain relevant factual analogies and distinctions; develop, elaborate, and evaluate legal theories relevant to the situation; and critically examine the rules, principles, and reasoning upon which legal arguments are based.

2. Problem Solving: Students will be able to analyze legal problems by identifying the parties’ common and competing goals and perspectives; the legal, institutional, and interpersonal settings in which the problem has arisen; the relevant facts; and the legal and policy issues the problem presents. Based on analysis of these factors, the student will be able to develop and evaluate potential solutions and strategies and to design and implement a plan for resolving the problem.

3. Communication: Students will be able to speak and write clearly, logically, effectively, and persuasively, in a manner appropriate to audience and purpose, to lawyers, non-lawyers, and decision makers.

4. Knowledge of Substantive and Procedural Law: Students will learn and understand legal doctrine in core areas of law generally regarded as necessary to effective and responsible participation in the legal profession. Students will learn and understand civil, criminal, and administrative procedural law regarded as necessary to effective and responsible participation in the legal process.

5. Professionalism and Ethics: Students will understand and be prepared to conform their actions to the law that governs the conduct of lawyers, including substantive law, procedural law, and the codes of professional responsibility; be attentive to the potential for and able to recognize issues of legal responsibility, professionalism, and ethics and resolve them appropriately; and understand the values of the profession, including the importance of pro bono service and the responsibility to promote justice.

6. Other Professional Skills: Students will develop competency in the skills required of a legal professional, such as: interviewing, counseling, negotiation, fact development and analysis, advocacy, document drafting, conflict resolution, organization and time management, interpersonal communication, cultural competency, collaboration, and self-evaluation and reflection. Each student will develop competency in those skills most directly related to the student¹s planned career path.