Master’s in Legal Studies Degrees & Schools Guide

Master's Degree in Law Career Options & Salary

Why Earn a Master’s in Law?


A master’s in law is necessary for many of the highest paying positions. While you won’t need a master’s to take the bar, begin work as an attorney, or even become a judge; it can help you become an executive director, compliance manager, or partner at a law firm. As with most things, increasing your education can boost your resume and earn you a place in the upper echelon of whatever company you are currently a part of, or allow you to shift into a new sector of law in which you currently have no experience.

Criminal Justice & Law Degrees & Career Paths


PROS

The greatest benefit to possessing a master’s degree in law with an emphasis in your field is that you will be able to make quick, sound decisions on a moment’s notice that could save your business potentially millions of dollars, or from complete destruction. This will make you far more valuable than other employees who only have a bachelor’s degree. You will also be able to demand more money when you’re hired. Recruiters understand that employees with higher levels of education deserve higher salary levels. Those who are looking to fill high-responsibility positions will be happy to have you on board.

CONS

If you choose to complete a master’s degree in law, some employers may not fully grasp the benefits of such a degree. To earn more money, you might have to spend a lot more time looking for the right employer who values your accomplishment over looking for a job with a specific bachelor’s degree. This could have serious repercussions for your return on investment. A master’s degree in law will take you anywhere from one year to five years depending upon the amount of time you can dedicate to the program. This can create challenges in your home and professional life. And keep in mind that most employers will not fully appreciate such a degree until you have access to more influential positions, such as a manager or director position. Unfortunately, some industries simply value a master’s in law more than others.

Overview of a Master's in Law


What Law Master’s Degrees are Available?


Most master’s degrees law programs are not designed to gain you entrance into law school. Some programs exist where you can complete a master’s in law and a law degree at the same time, while some master’s in law programs are designed for legal professionals who already possess a law degree, as a way to advance their careers. The overall objective is the same regardless of the title: to provide non-lawyer professionals with a strong foundation in law to advance their existing careers or to change professions.

Here are some examples of degree titles you will find:

  • A Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
    A master of studies in law is a master’s degree in law for non-lawyer professionals. Most individuals will select a specialization that compliments their existing or desired profession. These program participants face legal issues in their everyday work.
  • Master of Science (MS) of Law
    A master of science of law is most common with individuals in business, legal, and STEM professions. Individuals may encounter various business implications of their actions, as well as the regulatory and legal aspects of their positions and decisions.
  • Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
    A master of legal studies is one of the most popular master’s of law degrees available. Upon completion of this degree, you will be considered highly desirable for various mid- and high-level positions in a number of industries, including the government, healthcare, financial services, banks, non-profits, and more.
  • Juris Master (JM)
    A juris master degree is ideal for individuals who work in industries that are highly regulated, such as pharmaceuticals and food. Like all the other master’s degrees in law for non-lawyer professionals, it will provide a solid foundation in law to help advance your career.
  • Masters of Jurisprudence (MJ)
    An M.J. degree is another popular master's degree in law. Many colleges and universities consider this an ideal program for professionals who work with government regulations. These programs often focus on the importance of upholding the highest in ethical standards particularly in certain industries, such as insurance, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and healthcare.

It is important to note that all of these master’s degrees in law are essentially the same degree with different titles. Keep in mind that you can take a dual master’s degree in law and a juris doctor (JD) law degree at the same time to minimize cost and course requirements. And it is important to understand that a master of laws (LL.M.) is a master’s degree in law that is dedicated to legal professionals who already possess a law degree for their career advancement, such as lawyers and judges. You must have a JD degree to apply to an LL.M. program.

Admission Requirements


Most colleges and universities that offer master’s degrees in law only require a bachelor’s degree with a specified minimum GPA. This GPA will vary from one program to another. Highly prestigious programs will require a higher GPA along possibly even community service involvement, work experience, participation in extracurricular activities, or more. Most programs do not even require a GRE, GMAT or LSAT score. If you have already completed one of these exams, you can submit it; however, admissions may not consider your scores in their decision and the exams are most certainly not required unless directly stated by the program. If you are an international student, you will require an IELTS or TOEFL score and everyone will likely require letters of recommendations.

How long does it take to earn a Law Master’s?


Many master’s degrees in law take from one to two years to complete as a full-time student. If you take courses part-time, it will take longer. Keep in mind that many programs only provide you with up to four or five years to complete a program in full. It will be up to you to stay on track and take the appropriate number of courses each term to graduate on time. Remember, many employers offer tuition assistance for anyone completing a degree that can benefit their existing and future positions within their company as long as they maintain a specific GPA.

Potential Careers in Law with a Master’s


  • Compliance Director -
    A compliance director must ensure that all business practices are in accordance with all pertinent local, national, and international laws and regulations. Such laws and regulations might change regularly. They must also follow business practices as outlined by the employer and uphold all professional and ethical standards.
    Average Income: $100,500
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) -
    A CEO is the top position in any organization. They make all final decisions at a very high level and depend upon their employees to guide them in the right direction. They also act as the liaison between the company and the board of directors.
    Average Income: $159,400
  • Financial Controller -
    A financial controller is the primary decision maker on day-to-day tasks for the finance department. This position is considered one of the highest in any financial department. They report to the financial director.
    Average Income: $81,100
  • Healthcare Consultant -
    The roles and responsibilities of a healthcare consultant will vary from specialization to employer type. You might work for non-profits, pharmaceutical companies, hospital administrations, doctors’ clinics, or others.
    Average Income: $76,800
  • Venture Capitalist (VC) Partner -
    A VC partner is a co-owner of a venture capital firm. These are investors that offer capital to businesses for various potential returns, including equity and high-interest loans. A VC partner determines whether or not a business is worth their time and money.
    Average Income: $192,400

Options to Advance


Many professionals in various industries will benefit greatly from a master’s degree in law as a way to ensure career advancement including biotechnology, financial services, healthcare, IT, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications. If you have any aspirations to acquire positions in the government or to pursue a political career, this degree is almost essential. You can also more easily become an executive or hold a C-level position in any business organization or you could be offered a position to be a part of a board of directors.

Best Master’s of Science in Law (LLM) Programs


  • Loyola University
    Evanston, Illinois

    A master of jurisprudence (MJ) degree offered by Loyola University will allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of legal procedures within the concentration of your choice. It will help you to overcome daily challenges through an understanding of the law.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MJ in Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
    • MJ in Children’s Law and Policy
    • MJ in Health Law
    • MJ in Rule of Law for Development (PROLAW MJ)
  • Drake University
    Des Moines, Iowa

    Drake University has one of the most prestigious law schools in the Midwest. Their MJ degrees allow you to specialize in a variety of fields, including business law, criminal law, international law, global citizenship, and sustainable development. You will be able to customize your curriculum to meet your exact professional needs and aspirations.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Masters of Jurisprudence in Legal Studies - Business Law
    • Masters of Jurisprudence in Legal Studies - Criminal Law
    • Masters of Jurisprudence in Legal Studies - International Law and Global Citizenship
    • Masters of Jurisprudence in Legal Studies - Sustainable Development
    • Masters of Jurisprudence in Compliance and Risk Management
    • Dual LLM and MJ in Individualized Legal Studies
  • University of Illinois at Springfield
    Springfield, Illinois

    The University of Illinois at Springfield offers an MA in legal studies rather than an MS. As such, the program places focus on law from a social perspective while also utilizing conceptual thinking, public policy advocacy, writing, ethics, public interest, and scholarly research.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Arts in Legal Studies
  • University of Washington
    Seattle, Washington

    An MJ from the University of Washington offers a number of specializations. Within each specialization, the program will focus on industry-specific legal issues. They also focus on career advancement for all of their program participants.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Jurisprudence - Employment and HR Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - Environmental Regulation
    • Master of Jurisprudence - Health Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - IP Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - SID Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - Technology Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - Tax Law
    • Master of Jurisprudence - Indigenous Rights
  • Duke University
    Durham, North Carolina

    Most master’s degrees in law from Duke University are designed specifically for individuals who already have a JD law degree, particularly judges, or those in search of a dual master’s degree and law degree to complete at the same time.

    Degrees Offered:

    • JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship
    • JD/MBA & Accelerated JD/MBA
    • JD/Master in Global Business Law
    • JD/MD
    • JD/Master of Environmental Management
    • JD/Master of Public Policy
    • JD/Master of Theological Studies
    • JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law
    • JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship
    • JD/MA in Bioethics & Science Policy
    • LLM
    • SJD
    • LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship
    • Master of Judicial Studies

Traditional Schools Offering a M.S. in Law


  • University of Oklahoma
    Norman, Oklahoma

    The University of Oklahoma offers an online master of legal studies in four specializations. These specializations include Indigenous peoples law, healthcare law, international business law and oil, and gas and energy law. The programs are offered to US residents and international students alike.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Legal Studies - Oil, Gas, and Energy Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - Indigenous Peoples Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - International Business Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - Healthcare Law
  • Arizona State University
    Tempe, Arizona

    Arizona State University has a growing online master of legal studies program. It is a one-year program, and it claims to offer a full legal foundation without the need for a law degree. You will be able to specialize in up to eight areas of concentration.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Legal Studies - Conflict Resolution
    • Master of Legal Studies - Construction Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - Corporate and Health Care Compliance
    • Master of Legal Studies - Criminal Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - HR and Employment Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - Intellectual Property Law
    • Master of Legal Studies - Law and Sustainability
    • Master of Legal Studies - Sports Law
  • West Virginia University
    Morgantown, West Virginia

    The master of legal studies degree program at West Virginia University prides itself on providing the public who hold professional positions with a greater understanding of US law so that they can better serve their employers and to make the right decisions under the direction of others.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Legal Studies - Healthcare
    • Master of Legal Studies - Justice Systems
    • Master of Legal Studies - Homeland Security
  • Washington University
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Individuals who choose to pursue a master of legal studies at Washington University will experience a program created to provide professionals in various backgrounds with the opportunity for career advancement. These individuals will be able to make more educated decisions and protect their organization and themselves from potential legal issues.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Legal Studies
    • Certificate in Business Law
    • Certificate in Conflict Resolution
    • Certificate in Employment Law
    • Certificate in Litigation
    • Certificate in Regulatory Compliance
  • Pepperdine University
    Malibu, California

    Pepperdine University offers a master of legal studies that emphasizes the analysis and interpretation of legal concepts to enable students to make better decisions in their professional careers. They also claim that program participants will be seen as more credible within their industries.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Legal Studies

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