Suffolk University Law School will offer an accelerated JD program beginning in May 2018 that will allow students to earn a juris doctor in as little as 24 months or, for part-time evening students, 36 months.

Suffolk Law’s accelerated JD is the only program in Massachusetts that enables students to earn a law degree in fewer than three years -- and one of only 21 nationwide.

Students in the accelerated program will earn the same number of credits as traditional students but complete the credits in a shorter time period by enrolling in summer evening classes. Suffolk Law requires a minimum 84 credits to earn a juris doctor.

Suffolk Law was founded on the idea that aspiring lawyers should have some flexibility in how they obtain a legal education,” said Law School Dean Andrew Perlman. “In 1906, that meant an evening law school that allowed people to work during the day and attend law school at night. An accelerated juris doctor degree is a natural extension of this longstanding mission; it offers students an opportunity to pursue their legal education in ways that best fit their schedules and needs.”

The initiative offers opportunities for advancement in professions where a legal degree adds value as well as a faster path to legal practice for career changers.

“I certainly would have taken advantage of this program,” said attorney Thomas Sullivan, a founding partner of the law firm Lando & Anastasi, which specializes in intellectual property law. As an electrical engineer, Sullivan knew early on that he wanted to use his expertise in a legal capacity and so earned a juris doctor attending Suffolk Law part-time. “Our firm has five or more employees – technology specialists and patent agents – who are studying nights at Suffolk Law right now. This is fairly common across Boston’s intellectual property law firms, and this program will allow these aspiring lawyers to attain their law degrees relatively quickly while they work.”

Class size will be kept small for the highly selective accelerated program at its inception, and applicants with at least a year of professional work experience will be given preference.

“This initiative is another example of Suffolk Law’s ability to be nimble in addressing legal education needs,” said attorney Philip C. Swain, a Foley Hoag LLP partner focused on patent law, who teaches a patent litigation course at Suffolk. “In setting up the program so that summer classes are offered at night, Suffolk Law’s accelerated JD allows students to benefit from internships and summer positions in law firms and thus build their resumes while gaining valuable experience. And I have always found that the kind of students Suffolk attracts are also the type willing to work a little harder to finish their JD in less time.”

Timetable for accelerated juris doctor

  • Accepted students begin in May with an 11-credit, 12-week summer session; all classes are in the evening.
  • Full-time students attend six straight semesters, including two part-time summer sessions, and graduate in May.
  • Part-time evening students attend six straight semesters at night, take the third summer off, attend another two semesters, and then graduate in May three years after starting. They also could opt for eight straight semesters, including the third summer, and graduate in the fall after 2.5 years.
  • Summer classes are at night, allowing time for full- and part-time students to work or intern.

The inaugural accelerated class will begin in May 2018, with a planned graduation date of May 2020 for full-time students and May 2021 for part-time evening students.