Careers with a Master's Degree in Law
Learn about the different kinds of master's degrees in law and which professions benefit from each. We also discuss each degree option and topics they may cover.
There are two different kinds of master's degree programs in law. Students who complete a Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) program are non-lawyers and are often business owners and others in the business field whose profession involves dealing with legal boundaries. Government employees, professors, and certified public accountants also benefit from an M.S.L. An M.S.L. course of study can teach these professionals about the nuances of the law as it relates to their work or help them to understand their work within a larger legal context.
Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs are different because they cater to professionals who already hold a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or other foreign law degree. An LL.M. offers an opportunity to specialize in a specific area of the law. While some programs allow students to create their own course of study, others offer a set curriculum in areas like tax, bankruptcy, and business law. An LL.M. is a sign to employers that the student has completed advanced coursework in that particular area of the law. In some states, foreign lawyers may sit for the bar exam after completing an LL.M.
Master of Studies in Law Programs
M.S.L. programs are often meant for working professionals and can be taken online, at night, and on weekends. However, this course of study may also be offered as a one-year, full-time, on-campus program. Students take introductory courses, like introduction to law and legal reasoning, along with a selection of elective courses that are tailored to their needs and interests. They may also participate in seminars, research, and clinical experiences. Other common courses include:
- Constitutional law
Master of Laws Programs
LL.M. programs are also a one-year course of study, and some of these programs are available online. These online programs typically include case studies, simulations, and the opportunity for learning experiences on campus. Schools that do not have pre-defined LL.M. courses generally have several required courses, but otherwise provide students with the flexibility to create their own curriculum. International students often focus their LL.M. degrees on contracts, constitutional law, property, and other basics of U.S. law. Some LL.M. programs offer an opportunity to pursue a research project with a faculty advisor. Common courses include:
- Fundamentals of U.S. law
- U.S. law and methods
- Professional responsibility
Students can pursue an M.S. L. degree to learn about particular areas of the law as it relates to their profession of choice, or they may pursue an LL.M. degree if they have a J.D. degree and wish to specialize in a certain area of the law. Both programs take about a year to complete and can be found in flexible, online formats.