International Law Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Explore international law degree programs and areas of study. Learn about undergraduate prerequisites and coursework in addition to employment outlook and salary data for lawyers. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Major Can I Pursue to Study International Law?

Most bachelor's degree programs that touch on international law issues award a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International Studies or a B.A. in International Relations. If you enter the workforce immediately after earning your 4-year degree, you can apply your education in such areas as diplomacy, international commerce or non-governmental organizations.

Although a 4-year degree can be applied in a wide variety of careers, you'll need to earn your Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) before you practice international law. You can earn your joint J.D./LL.M. in International and Comparative Law, LL.M. in International Legal Studies or LL.M. in International Economic Law, among others.

Degree PossibilitiesUndergraduate: B.A. In International Studies or International Relations; Graduate: J.D. or LL.M., joint J.D./LL.M.
Key Program ConceptsPolitical science, geopolitics, anti-terroism, immigration, international development
Admission RequirementsFor an undergraduate program, a GED or diploma will be required; for a graduate program, LL.M programs may require to have already achieved a J.D.
Median Salary (2014)$114,970* (for lawyers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn?

B.A. programs in international studies or international relations provide an interdisciplinary education in liberal arts and the humanities. You can expect to take courses that address political science, foreign language and sociology. Other coursework may cover geography, world history and geopolitics. Courses specific to law might include Western and American legal traditions or international business law.

If you're enrolled in a J.D./LL.M program, your coursework can cover such topics as comparative law, global commercial law, anti-terrorism, climate change and immigration. You may be expected to complete some degree requirements studying abroad. Otherwise, coursework will explore international development and the unique legal concerns of different geopolitical regions.

LL.M. programs focused on international business and economics will cover trade, international investment and dispute resolution. If you're enrolled in one of these programs, you can also expect to learn about intellectual property and securities law.

What Do I Need Before I Apply?

You'll need a high school diploma or a GED before you apply to a 4-year program. You'll need to earn a 4-year degree before you enroll in a dual degree program; however, some of these programs give first priority to applicants who have international experience or foreign language knowledge.

You'll need to have a J.D. from an institution approved by the American Bar Association if you're applying to a program that only awards a Master of Laws degree. Some LL.M. programs also look for experience practicing law, but others are only open to students who've earned a law degree outside the United States. Regardless of what type of LL.M. program you're considering, most are highly selective and have limited enrollment.

What About Earnings and Career Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary of lawyers was $114,970 in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that demand for lawyers should increase 6% between 2014 and 2024. This is attributable to the growth of businesses and populations that require legal consultation.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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