Programs related to international law are available at the certificate or master's level. Interested students should already hold a bachelor's degree. International law certificate students should be actively studying in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, while those pursuing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) should already hold their J.D. Certificates can be awarded after completing 16 credit hours while master's level programs may be done on a part-time basis in anywhere from one to four years. Students may be required to spend a semester abroad to study legal practices of other countries, and those planning to work as international law attorneys must pass their state bar licensing examination.
Certificate Programs International Law
Completing an international law certificate program provides lawyers with additional knowledge and training in this particular legal field. Students can take certificate programs separately or as concentration areas within J.D. degree programs. Graduates gain a strong knowledge base in the fundamental principles of international law, including financial transaction procedures, global business practices, and immigration issues.
Courses within this type of program focus on providing students with a broader scholastic study of all general areas within international law. Students can choose electives to focus on particular topics, and many programs offer opportunities to study international legal issues abroad. Common course topics include:
- Comparative law
- International business law
- Dispute resolution
- Foreign relations law
- Federal international taxation
Master Degree Programs in International Law
Most students who want to focus on international law enroll in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree program after completing a J.D. degree program at a law school. LL.M. degree programs are specialty programs that allow law students to focus on a specific legal field of study, such as international law. After completing international law LL.M. degree programs, graduates possess the skills necessary to represent clients domestically and abroad in all manner of legal proceedings.
International law LL.M. programs often cover legal business topics related to international issues, such as taxes, contracts, and trade agreements. Most programs also cover comparative studies topics that examine the difference between domestic and foreign legal procedures. Common coursework within LL.M. programs include:
- Public international law
- International litigation and arbitration
- International criminal law
- International finances
- International human rights
- International environmental law
Popular Career Options
Since international law represents such a broad legal field of study, graduates from LL.M. programs have multiple career options, including positions with the government, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and legal firms. Possible career options include:
- Immigration lawyer
- International business firm attorney
- United Nations legal representative
Continuing Education Information
Information from the BLS showed that the majority of states require lawyers to participate in continuing education coursework yearly as a way to stay up-to-date with changes in the legal system (www.bls.gov). Lawyers can meet most state-mandated continuing education requirements through additional college courses or certificate programs related to legal studies. Attendance at legal seminars and conferences may also meet continuing education requirements in some states.
Upon completion of an international law certificate and a J.D. degree program, individuals who plan to practice law as attorneys must pass the state bar exam and meet any other state licensing requirements, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To gain a more comprehensive understanding of international law may require completing a specialized LL.M. degree program, although completing this program is not required to find employment.
Embarking on a graduate certificate or master's program in international law will allow students to gain valuable specialized insights into international legal issues and can help propel them into one of many potential careers in the field of international law.