Most law schools do not offer standalone degree programs in contract law. However, the majority of Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs include studies in this field through courses covering American contract law, international business and trade law, commercial law and interpretation of contracts.
In New York, individual J.D. programs are available as well as dual degree programs combining a J.D. with a master's degree in law or another related field, such as public administration or business administration. Students can also study contract law by taking part in a Doctor of Juridical Science program; dual master's and doctoral degree programs are also available.
Law students can gain hands-on skills by participating in an externship or working in college-sponsored legal clinics. Additionally, students can network with peers who may also be interested in contract law by taking part in student clubs for aspiring lawyers. With the exception of the University at Buffalo, all of the schools listed in this article are private, nonprofit universities.
Columbia University in the City of New York
Located in New York, Columbia University offers prospective law students several specialized legal studies programs and categories of courses that can be taken as part of the university's JD program. Contract law is part of the program's foundational curriculum, and is introduced to students during the first year of study.
Courses dealing with contract law are included in the commercial law and transaction category of law classes. Contract law course topics include American contract law, contracts, collaboration and interpretation and contracts and economic organization. Some of the more advanced courses are taken in the second and third years of the program.
In addition to the general doctoral program, Columbia University law students may also enroll in a couple of joint degree programs in conjunction with the Graduate School of Business. All law students also have access to externship opportunities and a variety of learning centers that are each devoted to specific aspects of the law.
Ithaca's Cornell University offers students a JD degree, which includes a full-year, 6-credit course in contracts. The 84-credit program includes 10 required courses during the first year and student-chosen elective courses during the second and third years. Enrolled students have the option of concentrating in advocacy, public law, business law and regulation and general practice.
Several dual and joint degree programs are also offered to law students. Master's degrees in business administration and public affairs are only some of the degrees that may be jointly earned in conjunction with the JD. Cornell also specializes in international legal studies and offers a number of different dual degree programs or international law specializations, including the dual degree Juris Doctor/Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law.
New York-based Fordham University provides potential law students with one doctoral degree program and six specialized master's degree programs. The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) is a research-based program that culminates with an original written project. The project includes a book-length dissertation that must also be orally defended at the end of the program. All students must audit at least one course, which can be in contract law, and attend the university's official colloquium. Applicants must also commit to full-time enrollment and be in-residence for the first year.
The six master's degrees focus on a wide range of specialized legal topics, including banking and finance law, business and trade law and U.S. law. The program in international business and trade law includes elective courses specific to contract law, though the other programs include contract law courses as well. Students may begin the program in either the fall or spring semester and can attend the program on a full-time or part-time basis. All students are welcome to take courses outside of their specialization area.
Hofstra University, which is located in Hempstead, has one doctoral and two master's degree programs, as well as a joint JD/MBA program. The doctoral degree includes two courses in contract law that must be taken during the first year of study. Doctoral students may choose to concentrate in several different areas of law, such as civil litigation, family law and taxation. This three-year program also includes two major writing assignments and lawyering skills training.
The two master's degree programs focus on family law and American legal studies, respectively. The family law program provides research, analytical, skills and classroom-based instruction. The American legal studies program is specifically designed to train foreign students in the practice of American law.
Students enrolled in any of these programs have access to Hofstra's live-client clinics, intersession and summer courses, externships, legal research centers and institutions and five academic law journals. The joint JD/MBA program is designed for lawyers planning to work in the business or non-profit sectors, or for those seeking to better understand the financial side of running their own practice.
New York University (NYU)
New York City's NYU offers law students a standalone doctoral program, several dual doctoral and master's degree programs, a renowned lawyering program and a few different law teaching programs. NYU's several law programs include a total of 11 different focus areas, including business, criminal, interdisciplinary, international and tax law. Students may also take advantage of 36 law clinics where they work with real clients. NYU also features dual degree programs in conjunction with Harvard University, the Melbourne School of Law, the National University of Singapore and Princeton University.
All students will be required to participate in the school's colloquia courses and are given the opportunity to complete a number of specialized fellowships. Student organizations, full scholarships and intensive mentoring can also be taken advantage of by all enrolled students. The contract and commercial law category of courses includes dozens of courses related to the study of contract law, one of which must be taken in the first year of study.
Pace University - New York
Located in New York, Pace University offers prospective law students two master's degrees, four joint dual degrees and two doctoral degrees. None of the degree programs are directly applicable to the practice of contract law, though the doctoral programs include contract law courses during the first year of the program.
Students can earn a master's degree in comparative legal studies or environmental law and a dual master's and doctoral degree in business administration and law. The doctoral degrees focus on general law practice and environmental law, respectively. The general doctoral degree program includes working with actual clients on real-world cases and more than 65 elective courses.
Three of the joint dual degree programs are offered in conjunction with another university, including Yale and Sarah Lawrence College, and are focused on either environmental studies or women's history. The joint degree program in business administration and law allows full-time students to finish both degrees in four years, and is designed around the particular interests of each student.
All students have access to clinical and research-based centers and organizations. Pace's legal clinics, law-based research and writing and its environmental law programs have been nationally recognized for academic excellence.
St. John's University - New York
Queens-based St. John's University has one doctoral degree program, four master's degree programs and several joint degree programs. The 86-credit JD program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis and may be combined with several different bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in accounting, government and politics, business administration or bankruptcy.
The four master's degrees include the study of bankruptcy, international and comparative sports law, transnational legal practice and U.S. legal studies. The bankruptcy degree includes over 24 specialized courses and is designed for students planning to work for leading law firms or within the courts. The other three degree programs are designed for students interested in a particular subject, such as sports law, or for American and foreign students looking to become versed in international, comparative and/or American law. St. John's allows all of its students to include the study of global law in their studies as well.
In addition to its specific degree offerings, St. John's also provides law students access to nine specialized legal centers, which focus on everything from civil rights to religion, 11 in-house or partnership clinics and several externship opportunities.
Syracuse University, located in the city of Syracuse, offers interested law students more than 10 joint doctoral and master's degree programs and one master's degree program. Students looking to enter a dual degree program have a wide range of choices at Syracuse. These joint interdisciplinary programs include adding a master's degree in accounting, the science of communication, history, forensic science, andsocial work, among others, to the doctoral degree.
The first year of study in each of these programs must be in the College of Law, which includes the study of contract law. Students must be admitted to the JD and the master's degree separately. The 24-credit standalone master's of law degree is designed for foreign students interested in learning American law.
Law students at Syracuse also have the opportunity to participate nationally recognized trail advocacy elective courses and several different clinical programs and externships where students learn about professional responsibility and gain lawyering skills in a variety of legal sub-disciplines.
Touro College's Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, which is located in Central Islip, provides prospective law students with two master' degrees, one doctoral degree and four dual degree programs. The general master's of laws degree is designed for American students, while the master's of laws degree in U.S. legal studies is designed for foreign students. The 24-credit general master's degree may be completed at the student's own pace, which includes a comprehensive research paper and the opportunity to study abroad for one semester. The doctoral degree program consists of 88 credits of coursework, including required legal skills courses, clinic participation and externships. Both full-time and part-time students must complete two courses in contract law during their first year of classes.
All four of Touro's dual degree programs are offered in collaboration with another school, including Long Island University and Dowling College. The dual degree options include a master's degree in business administration, public administration or social welfare. Touro's law students also have the opportunity to participate in honors programs, summer programs and the research of six different legal institutions and centers. The Institute for Holocaust Law and International Human Rights and the Institute of Land Use and Public Policy are only two of the six legal institutions available to students.
University at Buffalo (UB)
Located in Buffalo, UB offers two master's degree programs, one doctoral degree program and six dual degree programs to prospective law students. The two master's degrees include a general master's of laws degree and a master's of laws degree in criminal law. The general degree is designed for American and foreign students, takes one year to complete and is built around each individual student's research interests. The master's degree in criminal law is one of the few post professional degrees in the country that focuses exclusively on criminal law. Students are able to design their own program as they study comparative, international and U.S. criminal law.
The doctoral program integrates legal theory and real-world practice, includes the study of contract law in its first year and requires students to complete three semesters of research and writing training. Students may choose to specialize in a number of different areas of the law, including civil litigation, international law, family law and finance transactions. JD students can also design their own curriculum in their second and third years of study and are encouraged to take clinical courses and participate in externships and judicial clerkships. An accelerated JD program option is also available for students with qualifying coursework from another program.
The six dual degree programs consist of interdisciplinary studies. Management, applied economics, information management and analysis, social work, pharmacy and urban planning may all be added to the JD as a master's degree with the exception of the pharmacy PhD.
In order to practice law in the state of New York, a prospective lawyer must pass the state's bar examination administered by the New York Board of Law Examiners and officially register with the state as an attorney. To be eligible to take the bar exam, a student must have earned a doctoral degree from an American Bar Association-approved law school. All lawyers must register with the state every two years, regardless of whether or not they actively practice within or without of the state. Graduates of all of the schools profiled above should be prepared to take the New York bar exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Contracts Law Degree Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| JD;
|Cornell University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; small city*|| JD;
|Fordham University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| SJD;
LLM in International Business and Trade Law,
LLM in International Dispute Resolution,
LLM in U.S. Law
|Hofstra University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large suburb*|| JD;
LLM in Family Law,
LLM in American Legal Studies
|New York University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| JD;
JD/LLM in Taxation,
JD/MA in French Studies;
|Pace University - New York||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| LLM in Comparative Legal Studies,
LLM in Environmental Law;
SJD in Environmental Law;
|St. John's University - New York||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| LLM in International Sports Law Practice,
LLM in U.S. Legal Studies;
BA or BS/JD,
JD/MA in Government and Politics,
JD/LLM in Bankruptcy
|Syracuse University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; midsize city*|| LLM;
JD/MS in Forensic Science,
JD/MA in History
|Touro College||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city*|| LLM,
LLM in U.S. Legal Studies;
|University at Buffalo||4-year; public; large suburb*|| LLM,
LLM in Criminal Law;
|$13,705 in-state; $25,265 out-of-state*|
Sources: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).