Masters Degrees in Law: Program Information

Experienced lawyers who want to pursue advanced legal studies or direct their careers toward a particular specialty may consider earning a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. Find out what you can expect from these programs.

Essential Information

Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs emphasize theoretical aspects of U.S. law, legal research methods, and comparisons of U.S. laws to legislation in other parts of the world. These programs often allow students to specialize in a particular aspect of the law, such as business, civil rights or family law. Students can expect to conduct independent research under a faculty advisor. Most programs take one year to complete.

In order to apply, students must hold a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or its foreign equivalent. Most programs also require students to have at least of two years of experience practicing law, but exceptions are made in some cases.

Master of Laws Degree

Coursework in these programs often includes advanced seminars that build on the classes that students took while earning their J.D. degrees. Here are some common course topics:

  • Constitutional law
  • Civil rights law
  • International tax law
  • Comparative transactional law
  • International trade law
  • European Union law
  • International intellectual property law
  • Foundations of U.S. law and immigration law
  • Research methodology

Popular Career Options

People who earn an LL.M. degree are qualified for practical, academic and research positions related to the law. Graduates can work for universities or colleges, independent research groups or governmental agencies. Possible job titles include:

  • Comparative law professor
  • International business lawyer
  • Comparative law consultant

Continuing Education Information

Students who want to pursue further research-based legal studies may enroll in a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.). These degrees typically lead to careers in academic research.

To summarize, LL.M. programs offer students the chance to pursue master's degree-level legal studies in their particular area of interest. Applicants need an J.D. and can expect courses in EU and U.S. law, research methodologies, and trade and tax laws.

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