Education Career Articles

Connect Facebook Connect Twitter Connect Google+ Connect Pinterest Connect Stumbleupon

How Professional Law Degrees Differ from Legal Master’s Degrees

Higher Education Articles September 19, 2015

Professional and master’s degree programs are available through many law schools. Writing, independent legal studies and academic research are in Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs. Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs award professional law degrees.

Professional Law Degrees vs. Legal Master’s Degrees

The professional JD degree enables aspiring lawyers to qualify to take state bar examinations. By contrast, Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs are meant for established lawyers, offering specialized training in numerous legal subjects. Non-professional master’s programs in legal studies or related areas are also available at a few schools.

Juris Doctor Degree

Aspiring lawyers who wish to take state bar exams may enroll into a JD program. Many programs are available in both full-time and part-time formats.

It may take 20 hours or fewer per week for full-time students to complete the program in keeping up with the stipulations of the American Bar Association, and consequently they may earn the JD degree within three years. The program may last 1-2 years longer for part-time students who often attend evening classes.

Coursework for first-year JD students includes general courses, such as civil procedure, torts, and criminal law. Second- and third-year students enrolled in most law schools are allowed to tailor the coursework in accordance with their specific area of focus, such as:

•Sports law
•Environmental law
•Administrative law
•Civil rights
•Employment law
•Copyright law
•Trusts and Estates

Master of Laws Degree

Law school graduates and experienced lawyers would benefit from enrolling into Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs that are usually less structured than professional JD programs and incorporate 12-40 credit hours of coursework. In the majority of cases, enrollment in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program is restricted to students who hold a JD or its foreign equivalent.

As in the case of the majority of master’s programs, Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs are available in evening, part-time and distance learning variants. These programs are considerably flexible and allow students to choose an area of specialization or a range of subjects without insisting on a specific area of focus. Schools may offer numerous specializations such as:

•Contract law
•Criminal law
•Jurisprudence
•Family law
•Constitutional law
•Administrative law
•Juvenile Justice
•International business

Master of Legal Studies

People often mistake a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) for a law degree, which it isn’t. Advanced students who seek a grasp of basic law principles can enroll into this nonprofessional degree program. Students without any prior legal training can seek admission though the program does attract many applicants with legal experience.

Dual Degree Programs

An advanced education beyond the law field is necessary for successful careers as lawyers, and many law schools recognize this fact. Secondary degree options are available to JD students through most schools. Coursework overlaps in Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs and students may complete the programs concurrently. Schools may offer other common programs in combination with a JD such as:

•Master of Education (M.Ed.)
•Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)
•Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (Ph.D.)
•Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
•Master of Arts in International Law (M.A.)
•Master of Science in Accounting (M.S.)
•Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

Showing schools in your area

Matching School Ads
2 Program(s) Found
  • Passionate about law and the justice system? Pursue a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in Criminal Justice online from Grand Canyon University.
  • GCU's Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies and Master of Science in Criminal Justice are designed to prepare students to serve the needs of 21st century communities.
  • Whether you are a full-time student or working professional, Grand Canyon University offers the flexibility you need to earn your criminal justice degree.
  • If you are interested in growing your skills in crime analysis and strategic planning, consider earning a degree in criminal justice.
  • Grand Canyon University prepares learners to become global citizens, critical thinkers, effective communicators & responsible leaders by providing an academically challenging curriculum.
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Post University has trained thousands of successful professionals in Criminal Justice
  • Find concentrations in Legal Studies, Correctional Counseling & more
  • 100% online Criminal Justice B.S. degree
  • Ranked in the Best Online Bachelors Programs for Veterans by US News & World Report
  • Ranked in the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by the US News & World Report
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Offers associate and bachelor-level programs in Criminal Justice.
  • Program topics include criminal investigation processes and ethics, criminal law, juvenile justice and more.
  • A B.A.S. in Criminal Justice program is also available for students who already possess an A.A.S.
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
  • Find Online Criminal Justice Courses
  • Get Matched to Criminal Justice Programs In A Few Clicks!
  • Study at Your Own Pace, 100% Online Criminal Justice Courses
  • Accredited and Affordable Schools that offer Criminal Justice and Legal studies programs
  • Online Courses

Showing schools in your area

Matching School Ads
2 Program(s) Found
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Start your exciting Paralegal education with a legal studies certificate from Post
  • 100% online with degrees at all levels
  • Learn to summarize depositions, do legal research, prepare legal documents & more
  • Led by faculty who bring years of practical legal experience and insights
  • Post University earned the 2017 Military Spouse Friendly School® designation
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Offers associate and bachelor-level programs in Criminal Justice.
  • Program topics include criminal investigation processes and ethics, criminal law, juvenile justice and more.
  • A B.A.S. in Criminal Justice program is also available for students who already possess an A.A.S.
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
  • Find Online Criminal Justice Courses
  • Get Matched to Criminal Justice Programs In A Few Clicks!
  • Study at Your Own Pace, 100% Online Criminal Justice Courses
  • Accredited and Affordable Schools that offer Criminal Justice and Legal studies programs
  • Online Courses

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!