Judge George O'Toole Jr. said he believes a Nov. 3 trial is realistic and fair.
Tsarnaev's lawyers had asked for a trial date no earlier than September 2015. Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, want the trial this fall.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal counts in the April 15 bombings that killed three people and injured 260 others. Several of those injured in the bombings were in court on Wednesday, but Tsarnaev was not.
Prosecutors allege that the 20-year-old Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, planted two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police a few days later.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke said federal prosecutors have been "sluggish" in responding to requests to turn over evidence and there are a "tremendous amount of logistical hurdles" for the defense to be ready for trial in November.
In particular, Clarke cited 2,000 pieces of physical evidence that are still in the FBI's lab near Washington, D.C., that the defense hasn't been able to examine.