Healthcare Law Degree Program Overviews

Oct 10, 2019

Essential Information

Healthcare law, or health law, focuses on the legal aspects of medical care, including patients' rights, medical ethics, public ethics and mental healthcare. J.D. programs teach the theory, history and practice of law, and often provide students with opportunities to write for law reviews and complete internships with practicing lawyers and their firms.

Joint degree program applicants need to be admitted to each department separately. In addition to meeting their schools standards for grade point average and LSAT score, applicants also need to have strong skills in mathematics and the natural sciences. Some programs prefer applicants who've completed a few years of relevant employment experience.

Healthcare Law degrees normally require a bachelor's degree and a completed Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). LL.M. degrees require a J.D. Students who pursue these degrees should have strong writing, analytical thinking, and communications skills. Some programs require students to complete internships at law firms.

Juris Doctor in Health Law

J.D. programs focus on laws regarding criminal activity, civil disputes, taxation, business transactions and healthcare. Many schools allow students to specialize in legal areas like business law or healthcare law. Most law schools have a set curriculum that first year students must complete, covering topics like constitutional law, criminal law, legal writing and civil law. In Second and third year students are often allowed to choose most of their courses. Common courses include:

  • Healthcare reform
  • Bioethics
  • Medical malpractice law
  • Legal issues in medical research
  • Disability law

Master of Laws in Health Law

LL.M. programs emphasize the theoretical and research-related facets of U.S. law. These programs are designed for students with previous legal experience, especially international experience. Students spend much of their time comparing U.S. laws with those of other countries, and often complete a dissertation as part of their coursework. Most programs allow students to select most of their own courses, and many allow students to specialize. Much of the coursework covers international or comparative law. Common courses include:

  • Comparative health law
  • Pharmaceutical marketing law
  • Comparative biotechnology law
  • Forensic medicine
  • International insurance law

Law and Healthcare Management Joint Degree

Many schools offer joint degree programs offering students the opportunity to earn a J.D. and either a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Health Administration (MHA). These programs take at least four years to complete and combine training in the law with courses in health systems and healthcare administration.

Students in these programs learn the business and legal principles relevant to working in hospitals, clinics and other settings. The classes in J.D./MBA and J.D./MHA programs blend instruction in law, the physical sciences and business administration. Students often complete internships with either law firms or healthcare organizations before graduation. Common courses include:

  • Healthcare management
  • Biostatistics
  • Health economics
  • Healthcare accounting
  • Healthcare regulations

Popular Career Options

People who earn a J.D. with a specialization in health law are qualified for several positions practicing the law, teaching and consulting. They can work for legal firms, government agencies, healthcare organizations or colleges. LL.M. graduates often choose careers in academia or research, but they can practice the law if desired. Students who earn a joint degree in law and healthcare administration are qualified for a variety of careers practicing law, teaching law and managing healthcare organizations. The list below includes some popular career options:

  • Lawyer
  • Patients' rights consultant
  • Public health law consultant
  • Comparative health law professor
  • International healthcare law consultant
  • Healthcare fraud prosecutor
  • Clinic manager
  • Health management consultant
  • Hospital in-house counsel

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers could expect job growth of 18%, much faster than the average for all occupations, from 2018-2028. The BLS reported these managers earned a median annual salary of $99,730 in May 2018. Lawyers in general could expect job growth of 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, during the same decade. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, lawyers earned a median annual salary of $120,910.

Healthcare law degree programs can train and prepare students for legal careers within hospitals, medical centers, and other healthcare facilities.

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