Legal Dictionary

Juris Doctor

Legal Definition of Juris Doctor

Related terms

Definition of Juris Doctor


    From Latin juris, genitive singular of jus (“law”), and doctor (“teacher”)


Juris Doctor (plural Juris Doctors)

  1. A first professional graduate degree and professional doctorate in law.


  • J.D., JD, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Doctor of Law (in the U.S. only).

Further reading

Juris Doctor (see etymology and abbreviations below) is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law. The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree (such as the Dottore in Giurisprudenza in Italy and the Juris Utriusque Doctor in Germany and Central Europe). Originating from the 19th century Harvard movement for the scientific study of law, it is a law degree that in some common law jurisdictions has a goal of being the primary professional preparation for lawyers. It is a three year program in most jurisdictions.

Etymology and abbreviations

The degree is conferred in Latin as "Juris Doctor" (abbreviated J.D.) or in English as "Doctor of Jurisprudence" or "Doctor of Law" (abbreviated J.D. or D. Jur.). This is different from the "Doctor of Laws" (abbreviated LL.D.) which is usually an honorary degree.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     salacious
4.     lex situs
5.     lex causae
6.     violent crime
7.     conscionable
8.     family court
9.     leasing
10.     public liability