Masters Degree in Business Law: Program Overview

Master's degrees in business law are available in the form of a joint master of business administration and juris doctor or the master of laws. Students are prepared for careers in corporate law, corporate finance, contract law and international trade.

Essential Information

On the master's level, degree programs in business law typically come in the form of a joint Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) or the lesser-known Master of Laws (LL.M.). In a joint MBA/J.D. Program, students earn two degrees at once, taking classes in each topic of study. A bachelor's degree is required to enter the programs. A license is required to work as a lawyer. In an LL.M. program, applicants should have already completed a J.D. Program. Courses are available in a variety of specialty areas, such as banking, business or finance.

  • Program Levels in Business Law: Dual master's degree, master's degree
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; LSAT scores
  • Program Length: 1-2 years

Joint MBA/J.D. Program

Students earn two degrees through this business law program. The MBA focuses on the business portion of the program, while the J.D. focuses on the law side. Additionally, at some schools, MBA/J.D. students can pursue a specialty, such as taxation. These programs usually require 3-4 years of full-time study, reducing the time for obtaining the degrees individually by one year.

In most cases, each degree is earned from a different college within a university. Thus, students often have to apply to both programs separately. A bachelor's degree from an accredited school is always a requirement, and some schools might require an undergraduate major in a particular area, such as accounting or business. Additionally, most law schools require applicants to take the LSAT. Students in an MBA/J.D. program take all courses required for each degree. Emphasis is placed on law courses, with up to 80 hours required versus 22-54 hours of business-related courses, depending on the school. Core courses common to MBA/J.D. programs include:

  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal law
  • Contracts
  • Torts and property
  • Financial accounting
  • International business and economics

LL.M. Program

Master of Laws programs prepare students who already have a J.D. to specialize in areas such as corporate law, international business law or environmental law. Some LL.M. programs have no defined course requirements, allowing students to design their own curricula. LL.M. programs are usually one year in length. LL.M. programs that require specific coursework might include the following classes:

  • Arbitration
  • Banking regulations and laws
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business regulations around the world
  • Corporate finance
  • International litigation

Popular Careers

A degree in business law can lead to a variety of careers, such as the following:

  • Labor relations specialist
  • International trade specialist
  • Corporate litigator
  • Contract administrator
  • Arbitrator

Employment Outlook

For the decade spanning 2012-2022, lawyers are expected to see a 10% increase in employment, which is about average for all U.S. occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2014, the BLS indicated the median annual salary for lawyers was $114,970.

Continuing Education

Practicing lawyers must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Additionally, each state has its own requirements for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE); this typically ranges from 8-15 continuing education hours annually. While continuing education in business is generally not mandatory, courses are available in general business and business specialties, such as accounting.

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