International Law Masters Degree Program Overviews

Apr 28, 2020

In this lesson, you'll learn about master's degree programs in international law, including prerequisites and coursework. You'll also find about some popular career options for graduates of a master's degree program in international law.

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International Law Programs

Master's degree programs in international law can lead to a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Law or a Master of Arts (MA) in International Law. Students typically need a Juris Doctor before pursuing an LLM, while a bachelor's degree is usually needed before applying to an MA program. Program emphasis is on international trade law, foreign policy, human rights, terrorism, legal research, and business transactions, which may be of benefit to aspiring international lawyers. Other graduates might go on to become international relations and foreign affairs specialists. Areas of specialization can include international crime and trade law or comparative law.

General prerequisites can include a resume along with a statement of purpose. Although doctoral degrees are typically earned after master's degrees, students applying to LLM programs must have a Juris Doctor (JD), and experience in international law, and submit a research proposal.

Master of Laws

U.S. law schools consider the Master of Laws in International Law as a second professional law degree. Students enrolled in an LLM program complete core coursework that covers the different aspects of international law including comparative law and international crime and trade law. The major goal of Master of Laws in International Law programs is to inform students about the main differences between laws in different countries. Students may also pursue topics in:

  • Terrorism and law
  • Human rights and international law
  • International business transactions
  • Overseas criminal law
  • Law and globalization
  • Laws of the European Union

Master of Arts

Master of Arts in International Law programs are open to students from different educational backgrounds and may require that they learn at least one foreign language. Although applicants do not need an undergraduate or advanced degree in any area of law, some schools may require a minimum number of courses in an area related to international law. In addition to a general application package, which includes a writing sample and recommendations, applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

A Master of Arts in International Law curriculum can include topics in international relations, international environmental law and war, and international law. Unlike a doctoral program, a dissertation or research project is not required. An MA program, much like an LLM program, covers all aspects of international law, including:

  • Transnationalism and international organizations
  • Principles of political theory
  • Global society and law
  • International law
  • United States and foreign policy
  • International law and political challenges

Popular Career Options

Many graduates of LLM programs in international law choose to work as international lawyers; however, some also conduct research and teach at universities and colleges.

Completion of a Master of Arts in International Law program doesn't qualify graduates to practice law. Rather, it equips them with specific skills desired by organizations and businesses with an international presence which may lead to a position as a:

  • Peace Corps coordinator
  • International relations specialist
  • Foreign affairs specialist
  • International intelligence specialist

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that individuals with at least a master's degree in a field related to political science, like international law, can work as political scientists, who earned a median annual salary of $122,220 in May 2019. Between 2018 and 2028 job opportunities for political scientists were expected to increase by 5%, as reported by the BLS.

Continuing Education

Earning a Doctor of Juridical Science, which can have the designation SJD or JSD, is an option for students who have earned a Master of Laws in International Law. Students enrolled in Doctor of Juridical Science programs study law as a scientific discipline and complete dissertations.

PhD, JD, or MBA programs are options for graduates who have completed a Master of Arts in International Law. PhD programs are offered in a variety of subject areas related to international law, while JD programs qualify graduates to practice international law. Many MBA programs offer international business as an area of concentration. Graduates of MA in International Studies programs may be best suited to study the cross-section of international law and international business.

In this lesson, you learned that a master's degree program in international law can lead to a Master of Arts or Master of Law. Prerequisites for the Master of Law in International Law include a Juris Doctor (JD) and prior experience in international law.

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