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Masters Degree in Business Law: Program Overview

There are two degree options for students who want to earn a master's degree in business law. Find out about the curriculum and prerequisites for each in order to decide which one is a better fit for you.

Essential Information

On the master's level, students can choose between a joint Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. In a joint MBA/J.D. Program, students earn two degrees at once, taking classes in each topic of study. LL.M. programs focus more heavily on advanced legal studies. Specialization options in these programs banking, business or finance.


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 legal 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.

Because MBA programs are usually offered through a university's business school, while JD programs are offered through the laws school, students often have to apply to both programs separately. A bachelor's degree from an accredited school is always a requirement, and some schools 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: about 80 credit hours of law-related courses and 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 a particular area of interest, such as corporate law, international business law or environmental law. Some of these one-year programs have no defined course requirements, allowing students to design their own curricula. Some course options include:

  • 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 2014-2024, lawyers are expected to see a 6% increase in employment, which is about average for all U.S. occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2015, the BLS indicated the median annual salary for lawyers was $115,820.

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.

Depending on the student's educational background and particular area of interest, they can choose either an MBA/JD or LL.M program in order to study business law at the master's degree level.

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