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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Law

Majors Overview November 2, 2015

Those with a professional law degree and international students should look into Master of Laws (LL.M. – Legum Magister) degree programs.

Master’s Degree Programs in Law

Theoretical and comparative aspects of U.S. law are in Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs that students typically complete within a year. Additionally, coursework delves into legal research methods and students are often allowed to choose a specialization in a specific aspect of the law like civil rights, business or family law. The emphasis of programs is usually on the manner in which U.S. laws and laws from other parts of the globe compare with each other. Independent research projects are often completed by students, in close collaboration with faculty members. A Juris Doctor (J.D.) and experience are prerequisites for application.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or its foreign equivalent, in addition to having practiced law for a minimum of two years before seeking admission. Schools may also admit some incoming students with less practical experience.


Program coursework is devised to provide an in-depth grasp of specific aspects of the law. The theories and foundations of U.S. laws often find comparison with those of other countries. The JD curriculum also includes much of the same coursework, though specialized seminar classes may be exclusively available to LL.M. students. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•International intellectual property law
•European Union law
•International trade law
•Comparative transactional law
•International tax law
•Comparative constitutional law
•Comparative civil rights law
•Immigration law
•Foundations of U.S. law
•Comparative law research methodology

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek law-related academic, practical, and research positions in governmental agencies, at colleges or universities, or independent research groups. They may choose from available job positions such as:

•Comparative law consultant
•Comparative law professor
•International business lawyer

Continuing Education Choices

Earning a JD and passing their respective state’s bar examination is a compulsory requirement for individuals seeking to practice law in the United States before they can begin working with clients. A JD program, though not considered as advanced as an LL.M. program, covers practical legal skills that LL.M. programs do not. The individual laws of the state dictate the conduct of each state’s bar exams. In some states, the passage of the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Exam and the Multi-state Performance Test are also required by lawyers.

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