Masters in Legal Studies Program Overviews

A two-year Master of Arts in Legal Studies program introduces students to the U.S. judicial system and legal theory. The program is designed for individuals who need additional knowledge of the law in their profession or for those who wish to pursue a career that requires a legal background.

Essential Information

Topics covered in a legal studies master's degree program include trademark law, ethics, private sector compliance and professional responsibility. Many programs require that each student either complete a thesis or successfully pass a comprehensive final examination. Some legal studies programs allow students to choose concentrations, such as dispute resolution, legal management, governance and regulation, or crime and law.

A bachelor's degree is generally required for admission into a master's program in legal studies. Additionally, applicants may need to submit GRE or LSAT scores, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose for admission.

Master of Arts in Legal Studies

First year master's students typically begin with general courses on U.S. law and the court system. Students then progress to learning how law has adapted and changed in correlation with social movements and upheavals. If the M.A. degree program allows students to choose concentrations, then the program of study will differ accordingly during the final year. Common courses include:

  • Research methods
  • Legal ethics and professional issues
  • Cyberlaw
  • Law and literature
  • Human rights law
  • Theory and practice of negotiation

Career and Salary Info

Some possible career outcomes for graduates of legal studies master's degree programs include paralegal, human resources director, conflict resolution specialist, legal advocate, investigator or newspaper reporter.

For the period from 2014 to 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an average job growth of 8% for paralegals and legal assistants, while private detectives and investigators could expect a growth of 5% and conflict resolution specialists - like mediators, conciliators and arbitrators - would see growth of 9%. In 2015, paralegals and legal assistants earned an average salary of $52,390, private detectives and investigators made $52,840 and arbitrators, conciliators and mediators made $69,060, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Students may continue their graduate studies by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in legal studies. A doctoral degree provides students with an in-depth look at a particular aspect of U.S. law and the legal system. Graduates often enter into research positions or teach at major universities or colleges.

A Master of Arts in Legal Studies is a two-year program that provides an introduction to U.S. laws and the court system. Students can go on to earn their Ph.D. or use their knowledge in either a career that requires a background in law or in their existing profession.

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