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.
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]
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.
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.).
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 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 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]
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 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 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 may explore U.S. intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
International law graduate programs might encompass trade laws, human rights, international banking and other complex issues.
Taxation law graduate programs might include advanced study in tax law, commercial law, accounting, and estate planning.
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;
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].
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.
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