United States Legal Studies Graduate Programs
Legal studies and law degree graduate programs offer individuals who have earned a basic law degree the opportunity to pursue advanced law degrees such as the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Juris Doctor (JD). Post graduate law degree programs are also offered in various specializations such as environmental law and taxation law.
Why Consider Legal Studies and Law Degree Graduate Programs?
Legal studies and law degree graduate programs may appeal to current and aspiring lawyers as well as other professionals who might benefit from an expanded study of law, legal systems and policy making. In fact, per the BLS., after they graduate, lawyers are obliged to keep informed about legal developments that affect their practices, and may be required by their state to continue their legal education either every year of every three years.[i]
Some legal studies and law degree graduate programs may be geared to the academic or professional who is interested in studying the law, while others are designed for the as the aspiring attorney who is interested in practicing law.
Legal studies graduate programs might prepare students to pursue a variety of potential career paths such as academia, the judiciary, business, and public policy.
DID YOU KNOW?
The most common degree type awarded to current students graduating in Law is the Professional Doctorate; 44,426 professional doctorate degrees in law were awarded in 2014.[ii]
What is Legal Studies?
Legal studies and law degree graduate programs might encompass the values, practices and institutions (e.g. judicial system) of law and legality (e.g. regulations). Legal studies provide an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law, political science, society and cultures. Whereas law degree programs and law school educates the student in the law, legal studies might offer more of a theoretical education about law from a critical and scientific perspective.
Types of Legal Studies and Law Degree Graduate Programs
Legal studies and law degree graduate programs offer different directions for post graduate law education. A variety of legal studies majors are designed for professionals who seek further knowledge but only two graduate degrees in law are designed for aspiring attorneys who intend to take the bar exams in their state and practice in a court of law; these are the Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and the Master of Laws (LL.M.).
LLM vs JD Degree
One of the decisions students may face when it comes to exploring legal studies and law graduate programs is to understand the distinctions between the Master of Laws (LLM) degree and the Juris Doctor (JD)Degree.
The Master of Laws (LLM) Degree
The LLM degree is typically a one-year, full-time or two-year part-time course of study that may range from 22 to 28 credits. Prospective need a first degree in law for admission to LLM degree programs. For United States-educated students, this means a JD degree, while international students must have a first degree in law from their country of origin, The Master of Law degree is considered an advanced law certification and has global credibility.
The Juris Doctor (JD) Degree
The JD degree is usually a three-year full-time program after 4 years of undergraduate study. The Juris Doctor is considered a first law degree in the United States and is usually required to practice law in the U.S. Prospective applicants into JD law programs are typically required to have a Bachelors degree, and pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Most states require lawyers to complete a juris doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to take and pass the ‘Bar exams’.[ii]
Legal Studies Graduate Programs: Specialty Subjects
Aside from the degree level – Masters and Doctorate, individuals have the option to pursue an area of interest within legal studies and law which might help them sharpen their law skills and understanding in a specific field:
- Environmental Law graduate programs
- Health Care Law graduate programs
- Intellectual Property Law graduate programs
- International Law graduate programs
- JD Law Programs
- LLM Master of Law Degree Programs
- Taxation Law graduate programs
Environmental Law Graduate Programs
Environmental law graduate programs might appeal to individuals interested in energy law and policy, conservation of natural resources, sustainable development, global warming or alternative energy.
Health Care Law Graduate Programs
Health care law graduate programs often focus on healthcare policy and health care leadership. Individuals might choose a program that emphasizes organizational leadership within the context of healthcare or one that offers specialized legal training.
Intellectual Property Law Graduate Programs
Intellectual property law graduate programs may explore U.S. intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
International Law Graduate Programs
International law graduate programs might encompass trade laws, human rights, international banking and other complex issues.
Taxation Law Graduate Programs
Taxation law graduate programs might include advanced study in tax law, commercial law, accounting, and estate planning.
Potential Career Outlook for Law Graduates
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for legal services continues and employment of lawyers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024; in May, 2015 the median annual wage for lawyers was $115,820[ii]. Other potential career paths might include;
- Government counsel
- Legal aid lawyers
- Defense lawyers
- Environmental lawyers
- Tax lawyers
- Compliance Coordinator
- Professor of Law
- Policy makers
Accreditation for Legal Studies & Law Graduate Degree Programs
Accreditation for legal studies and law graduate degree programs might come from different accreditation agencies, depending on the program itself. Several regionally accredited universities offer graduate legal studies degrees, although, if you intend to pursue a Juris Doctorate, look for ABA-accredited law schools[ii].
Are Legal Studies and Law Graduate Programs Available Online?
Some legal studies and law graduate programs may be available through distance education. This may be a convenient option for working professionals and International students. Browse specifically for ‘online’ programs in your desired category. Alternatively, conduct a location search to find ‘on campus’ graduate programs in law and legal studies by city, state or country.
Take the Next Step
Choose your category within legal studies and law graduate programs, then refine by degree level (e.g. MSc, LLM, JD, PhD or graduate certificate) and program format (online, campus). Submit a ‘request info’ form to prospective law schools and universities. It is that convenient to take the next step in your education!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm | [ii]datausa.io/profile/cip/220101
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Loyola University Chicago
The School of Law at Loyola offers the Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) degree to professionals working in the field of child welfare who do not want to practice law but who seek a deeper understanding of the laws affecting children and families.
- Chicago, IL
Northcentral University’s Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program will help students develop a comprehensive understanding of law and the U.S. legal system, including ethics, torts and contracts.
Purdue University Global
Whether you aspire to or currently work in a regulated field or within the legal framework or process, gaining advanced insights into the law could help you increase your effectiveness and career opportunities.* Legal knowledge is no longer solely in de...
- Saint Louis, MO
- South Portland, ME
- Lincoln, NE
- Omaha, NE
- Milwaukee, WI
- Mason City, IA
- Lewiston, ME
- Indianapolis, IN
- Davenport, IA
- Cedar Rapids, IA
- Cedar Falls, IA
- Des Moines, IA
- Augusta, ME
- Rockville, MD
- Hagerstown, MD
- Washington, DCWashington, DC
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- Washington, DC
- Los Angeles, CA
- Chicago, IL
California Southern University
CalSouthern’s Master of Laws program (LLM) gives attorneys the opportunity to develop highly specialized knowledge to grow their practices and enhance their legal careers. It’s also a great way for attorneys to distinguish themselves...
- Springfield, MASpringfield, MA
Western New England University
Offering full-time day, part-time evening, and part-time day JD programs. Also offering combined JD/MRP (Master's in Regional Planning) degree with Un...
- Long Beach, CALong Beach, CA
California State University, Long Beach
- Montclair, NJMontclair, NJ
Montclair State University
The Master of Arts in Legal Studies offers a program of study for students seeking advanced preparation in legal studies.
- Santa Ana, CASanta Ana, CA
Trinity International University (FL)
Trinity Law School is a Christian law school committed to the non-traditional, as well as the traditional student.
- Evanston, ILEvanston, IL
Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies
The Law and Social Science Program is an interdisciplinary program that capitalizes on the growing intellectual and policy significance of law, both d...
- Evanston, IL
- Chicago, IL
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
University of Illinois at Chicago
- Ithaca, NYIthaca, NY
Cornell is a national center of learning located in Ithaca, New York, the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
- Shippensburg, PAShippensburg, PA
Serves working professionals to enhance their understanding of theory and conduct research related to their organizations.
- Louisville, KYLouisville, KY
University of Louisville
- Provo, UTProvo, UT
Brigham Young University
- Queens Village, NYQueens Village, NY
St. John's University
The School of Law is internationally recognized for the quality and breadth of its programs and the success of its graduates.
- Durham, NCDurham, NC
Most international students seek the master's degree, having already been trained in the law of their own countries.
- Annapolis, MDAnnapolis, MD
St. John's College