Master's in Immigration Law

Explore graduate degree and certificate options in immigration law and related areas of study. Learn about educational prerequisites, legal courses, practical training and degree benefits. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Master's Degree in Immigration Law?

In general, master's degree programs in law areas are offered as Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees to those who've already completed law school. Few LL.M. programs exist that are specifically tailored to immigration law. However, you can earn an LL.M. with a concentration in human rights and international law or an LL.M. in International Law. Such programs may offer courses or clinics on immigration law.

If you haven't yet completed law school, you can also earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) with a focus on immigration law. Some programs award certificates in immigration law studies; such programs may be offered online. You'll need at least a 4-year degree to enroll in a certificate or J.D. program. LL.M. programs usually require a J.D., and in some cases, you'll need experience practicing law before you enroll.

Degree SpecializationsWhile specific immigration law degrees are rare, students may choose to pursue LL.M. degrees in human rights or international law
Key SkillsInterpersonal skills, research abilities, analytical skills
Key Program ConceptsNaturalization process, deportation issues, political asylum issues, refugee status, national security
Prerequisites for Field4 year bachelor's degree, J.D degree, specialized training in immigration law
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (for lawyers)*
Median Salary (2018)$120,910 (for lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Benefit From These Programs?

If you decide to earn a certificate, you can acquire the basic knowledge of immigration law to interface with immigrants as a professional in a wide variety of settings. Such skills and knowledge can be beneficial to those working as social workers, attorneys, advocates, public employees and the healthcare community.

A J.D. program will prepare you to pass your state's bar exam and qualify you to work as an attorney. An LL.M. program can benefit those with a general legal education seeking to acquire additional skills and specialization.

The primary benefit of both types of J.D. and LL.M. programs that cover immigration law is the opportunity to practice under the supervision of an experienced immigration attorney. This will allow you to develop the interpersonal, research and analytical skills required to represent clients in immigration hearings and related proceedings.

What Will I Learn?

In a certificate program, you'll learn how to file different types of forms and pleadings used in immigrations proceedings. You'll also receive a generalized overview of the naturalization process and the different issues immigrants face.

If you decide to earn a J.D. with a focus on immigration law, you'll learn the basics of practicing law as well as learning how to address the issues immigrants face in court proceedings. You'll also learn how to represent clients dealing with employment, family, detention, naturalization or deportation issues. Additionally, you'll be prepared to represent employers and businesses in immigration-related cases. Specific coursework will cover evidence, procedure, advocacy and administrative hearings.

LL.M. programs in international law teach you how to research immigration issues and expand your practice into immigration law. You can also expect to complete related coursework that explores human rights, comparative law, political asylum issues, refugee status and national security. Other coursework will explore trade, detention and diplomatic policies as they relate to immigration.

What Do I Need to Practice Law?

If you're looking for a career practicing immigration law, you'll need to start by earning a 4-year degree. While there are no specific undergraduate majors required by law schools, you should complete coursework in writing, oral communications, philosophy, rhetoric, international studies and a foreign language.

The next step is to earn your J.D. You can enroll in a generalized J.D. program or pursue one focused on immigration; however, if you wish to move specifically into immigration law, you'll need specialized training beyond a standard legal education before you practice. You'll also have to sit for and pass the bar exam in the jurisdiction you plan to work in.

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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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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