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Masters in Criminal Law

Master of Law (LL.M.) programs are designed for practicing lawyers and new law school graduates who already have their J.D.s, allowing them to further specialize in a particular area of law. Review the prerequisites for enrolling in an LL.M. program in criminal law, and explore the courses you'd take. Learn about your job options and salary potential in criminal law.

Who is Eligible to Enroll in a Master of Law Program?

An LL.M. in Criminal Law is designed for practicing attorneys, current or recently-graduated law school students, and individuals who've completed academic legal training in a foreign country and want additional legal education. In order to pursue an LL.M., you need to hold a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from a law school in the United States or an LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) from an institution in a foreign country; in some instances, students who've completed at least two years of law school are eligible for enrollment.

Some schools may expect you to have experience as a working attorney. If your primary language isn't English, then you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Candidates from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement.

Online LL.M. in Criminal Law programs are rare. Those that exist may allow you to complete most courses online and some on-campus. You might participate in live courses via webcam or view video recordings of class lectures at your convenience. Instructors who teach on-campus courses usually teach online courses as well.

Admission RequirementsMust hold a J.D. or an LL.B. and be fluent in English. Previous work experience may be required.
Typical CourseworkDomestic and international crime law, the law of evidence, the fourth amendment, jury selection
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (for lawyers)*
Median Salary (2018)$120,910 (for lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

Courses in a criminal law LL.M. program examine criminal law in theory and practice. Some programs require completion of a hands-on experience in a law firm or district attorney's office. You may be asked to write a thesis or complete a research project. Typical course topics might include:

  • White collar crime
  • The fourth amendment
  • Criminal sentencing procedure
  • International criminal law
  • The law of evidence
  • Jury selection

What Can I Do With My Degree?

You must pass a state bar exam before practicing criminal law. After passing the exam, you might work for federal or state government as a prosecutor or public defender. Additional employment opportunities may be available through private law firms.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 20% of attorneys were self-employed in 2016 (www.bls.gov). The number of jobs for lawyers was expected to increase by 8% between 2016 and 2026, as fast as the average for all jobs. In 2018, lawyers earned a median annual salary of $120,910, as reported by the BLS.