There are several types of master's degree programs in health law, some designed for health care professionals seeking knowledge of legal issues in the industry and others aimed at attorneys who want to enter the field of health law. All courses in these programs are available online, but students may be required to visit campus periodically to attend seminars or make presentations.
Available degrees include a Master of Science, Master of Jurisprudence and Master of Laws. A bachelor's degree and experience in the health care industry is required for enrollment in non-professional law programs. A Juris Doctor is required admission to Master of Laws programs.
Students in an online master's degree program in health law explore industry regulations, including privacy laws and insurance requirements. They take courses that look at tax regulations and exemptions as well as medical liability and malpractice. These programs also include courses in contemporary issues in health care, including those regarding end of life care. Students must research and present a thesis prior to graduation.
Overview of Online Master's Degrees in Health Law
Health care professionals seeking knowledge to help resolve job-related legal issues may pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) in Health Law. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and demonstrated experience in the health care industry. Attorneys wishing to practice health law may wish to earn a Master of Laws (LLM) in Health Law. To enroll, these individuals must have passed their state Bar Exam or hold a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and have professional experience as lawyers or health care professionals.
All three types of master's degrees are available online and none of them prepare graduates to practice law. Students train to interpret legal terms and understand the state and federal regulations affecting the health care industry.
Program Information and Requirements
Master's degree programs can be completed via distance learning in 2-3 years. While almost all coursework is available online, programs often require students to attend on-campus workshops for orientation, seminar participation or the presentation of individual research. A thesis that incorporates original research must be written and submitted after coursework is completed.
Coursework covers general legal practice skills such as negotiation as well as topics particular to the health care industry. Attorneys may also take specialized courses such as those that teach health care tax exemption laws, industry-specific legal documents and medical malpractice.
In healthcare, sensitivity to patient confidentiality and a comprehensive understanding of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is imperative. This class explains how the diligent protection of identifiable medical and financial information is crucial, especially in the digital age.
This course reviews federal regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. Lessons cover laws regarding biomedical research, new drug testing and how to finance the development of new products.
Case studies featuring medical malpractice lawsuits illustrate negligence laws. Methods of arbitration, litigation and mediation are presented.
Health care administrators, insurance providers, health policy advocates and attorneys can benefit from a degree in health law. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the annual mean salary for medical and health services managers was $106,070 in May 2015. The same source listed a mean annual salary of $136,260 for lawyers and $72,650 for insurance underwriters.
When it comes to online programs in health law, there are a couple of different options depending on a student's professional and educational background. For example, M.S. and M.J. degrees are designed for medical professionals with a bachelor's degree, while LLM degrees are designed for lawyers with a J.D.