Master's Degrees in Law
Numerous master's degree programs in law are available for both lawyers and non-lawyers looking to study a specialized field, like criminal or international law. Review your degree options at the master's level, and check the admissions requirements for these programs, as well as the availability of online study. Explore some course topics you might find in a master's degree law program.
What Master's Degrees in Law Can I Earn?
You can pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M.), a Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) and a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.). An LL.M. is a specialized post-graduate degree, typically requiring one year of study. It allows you to improve your employment potential with law firms by exhibiting mastery in a sub-field of law.
M.S.L. and M.L.S. degrees, which are typically identical to each other, are post-baccalaureate degrees that provide you with an advanced understanding of law and the legal system. An M.S.L. or M.L.S. degree may be useful if you regularly deal with legal issues in your line of work, but have no interest in practicing law.
|Areas of Study||LL.M. allows practicing lawyers to specialize. M.S.L and M.L.S teach advanced legal topics to non-lawyers.|
|Admission Requirements||LL.M: law degree and, sometimes, work experience as a lawyer. M.S.L. and M.L.S: Bachelor's degree in any field|
|Potential Coursework||The legal process and legal research, plus the opportunity to specialize in a particular topic area|
|Online Options||Many available for non-traditional students, as well as synchronous programs.|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||8% growth (for lawyers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$120,910 (for lawyers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Admissions Requirements Can I Expect?
The admissions requirements for LL.M. programs vary significantly from other master's degree programs. You'll need to have a law degree prior to starting an LL.M. program. Additionally, some programs prefer applicants with practical law experience, though this is not universal. For M.S.L. and M.L.S. programs, you'll need a bachelor's degree; you can enroll in these programs regardless of your undergraduate major.
What Courses Will I Take?
Your courses in an LL.M. program will vary based on your focus area. For example, if you study taxation, you'll learn about personal income tax, corporate tax, estate tax and state tax. Other areas of specialization include entrepreneurial law, intellectual property law and bankruptcy law.
In M.S.L. and M.L.S. degree programs, you'll study the legal process and obtain legal research skills. You might explore legal issues related to intellectual property, government compliance and human resources. You can often specialize in a specific area, like dispute resolution, business law or personal injury law.
Are These Degrees Available Online?
You can find many master's degrees available entirely online, with no campus or residency requirements. An online program could be ideal if you have a full-time job or other commitments that prevent you from attending campus-based classes. Because programs are often designed with non-traditional students in mind, you can usually take your courses asynchronously.
Online master's degree programs in law often use a combination of recorded lectures and discussion groups. Some programs use advanced tools for synchronous learning, like Web applications that replicate a classroom whiteboard. You'll need a computer with high-speed Internet access to participate.