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How to Choose Schools with Health Law Programs

Health law is the study of various legal issues concerning the medical industry. Certificate programs, as well as master's and doctoral degree programs, are available to medical and legal students throughout the U.S.

Students who are pursuing Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees in order to become practicing lawyers may be able to enroll in health law certificate programs within the J.D. degree program. Dual-degree options are commonly available to J.D. students, including a Master of Public Health, a Master of Health Administration and a Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics.

Top 10 Health Law Schools

In 2016, U.S. News and World Report indicated that the following schools have the top ten health care law programs in the country:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
St. Louis University St. Louis, MO 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $39,195
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Doctoral $49,330
University of Houston Houston, TX 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $29,784 in-state, $44,044 out-of-state
University of Maryland Baltimore, MD 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $30,177 in-state, $43,657 out-of-state
Georgetown University Washington, DC 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $55,255
Georgia State University Atlanta, GA 4-year, public Master's, Graduate Certificate, Doctoral $16,858 in-state, $36,466 out-of-state
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $58,242
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Graduate Certificate, Doctoral $45,288
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $48,760
Seton Hall University Newark, NJ 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $51,018

Source: *U.S. News and World Report

School Selection Criteria

Students may want to keep these considerations in mind when choosing between schools that provide programs in health law:

  • Only J.D. programs prepare students to become lawyers; Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Law degree programs are also available, but do not qualify graduates to practice law.
  • Students seeking an M.S. in Health Law may have the opportunity to enroll in distance education options, which could be useful to working professionals with inflexible schedules.
  • Ph.D. programs can be useful to practitioners in both the legal and medical fields, but they are typically designed for researchers and academic professionals.
  • Students who are equally interested in law and medicine may look for schools with highly integrated law and medical programs, which may offer law students the opportunity to shadow medical professionals in order to understand the practice of medical law in a clinical setting. Similarly, medical students could have the opportunity to study under law professors.

Certificate in Health Law

Certificates in health law are typically offered as specialization options, which are available only to students enrolled in a school's J.D. program. Students can expect to learn about legal issues in the health industry.

Master's Degree in Health Law

A Master of Science in Health Law is a 2-year program that is commonly available to students who hold a bachelor's degree in either a legal, medical or health-based field. A thesis and final research project may be required of master's degree students. This master's degree program does not qualify students to practice law, but is designed to teach students about advanced concepts in the field.

Juris Doctor in Health Law

At a few law schools, the Juris Doctor degree program can include a concentration in health law. Universities with J.D. degree programs commonly offer dual-degree options that allow students to obtain master's degrees in various areas of health law, such as policy, ethics and administration. Dual-degrees usually take 4 to 5 years to complete due to the overlapping of common requirements within the programs. Students may be required to complete a thesis as part of their master's degree curriculum, based on research in the specialty area of their choosing. Students must complete coursework in each of the dual-degree programs, so classes vary.

There are multiple degree options for students who are interested in studying health law, ranging from relevant concentrations in LL.M. and J.D. degree programs to specialized graduate certificates. Students can choose between them based on their interests and career goals, such as legal practice or academic research.


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