Online Universities with a Master's Degree in Law: How to Choose

Oct 20, 2021

There are various types of awards and program formats for students to consider when looking for online master's degree programs in law. We examine a few of these programs and discuss some of the schools that offer these programs.

How to Select an Online Master's Law Degree School

Online schools offer master's degrees in law for both lawyers and non-lawyer professionals. Students have program options for specialties that include health and environmental law, as well as a more general focus on the American legal system. Online master's degree programs in law are available through 4-year colleges and universities. Students should then weigh the program formats with the types of awards.

Types of Awards

There are two types of master's law degrees. A Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Law (MSL) program is designed for professionals who are not lawyers but who wish to have in-depth instruction on the American legal system, legal theory, the role of law in society and perhaps a focus area like educational law. A Master of Laws (LLM) degree is for practicing lawyers or students who hold a Juris Doctor seeking to specialize in a particular area of law, such as health, the environment or international taxation. LLM programs focus on research, knowledge and development of professional skills. Online programs are available for both types of degrees.

Program Formats

Prospective students will want to find out if their chosen school offers a hybrid program - a combination of online courses and on-campus activities - or a fully online program. Hybrid programs are common, since master's-level law studies often require research projects, seminars or internships that must be completed in person.

List of Online Master's Degrees in Law

Online MSL Degree

An online MSL degree helps develop the practical and intellectual skills of non-lawyers and can be a good choice for those interested in career advancement. Though MSL programs aren't intended to prepare students for the bar exam, graduates are qualified for jobs that include investigative and justice department work. A bachelor's degree is required for enrollment. Courses may be delivered via live or recorded online lectures and study modules, with topics that could include:

  • Constitutional law
  • Physical and intellectual property
  • Contracts
  • Criminal law
  • Wills, trusts and estates

Online LLM in Health Law

An online master's degree in health law gives practicing lawyers in-depth instruction in the concepts and processes of American healthcare law. Graduates can seek jobs at hospitals and insurance companies, or they might go into public policy advocacy. Most health law master's degree programs have a hybrid format, requiring on-campus seminars and research projects; some require completion of a thesis. Courses could include:

  • Health law and policy
  • Administrative law and regulation
  • Healthcare business and finance
  • Tax exemptions
  • Corporate healthcare transactions

Online LLM in Environmental Law

Lawyers graduating from an online LLM environmental law program will be able to practice environmental law, as well as pursue a career in public policy, advocacy or teaching. Environmental law programs may be available entirely online, with thesis and non-thesis options provided. Course topics evolve along with the rapidly-changing environmental field, and may include:

  • Water and energy law and policy
  • Climate change and extinction
  • Urban environmental and land use law
  • Ecology
  • Animal and wildlife law

Schools With Online Master's Programs in Law

California Southern University provides an online Master of Science in Law degree program that requires 36 credits and about two years to complete. This program is not designed for those wishing to become an attorney. Students complete a capstone project at the end of their studies. Other core courses include topics in contracts, criminal law, legal ethics and more.

Loyola University Chicago has an online LLM in Health Law program that is 24 credits and can be completed in two years by part-time students. Students are required to attend two Education Immersion Weekends in-person at different points throughout the program. Students must complete a thesis and have an option to add a concentration in compliance studies. A Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree is required for admission.

Florida State University offers a hybrid LLM in Environmental Law and Policy that allows students to take some courses online. Students must hold a J.D. degree. This program totals 24 credits and should be completed in one year by full-time students and three years by part-time students. Students can complete an optional thesis, but all students must participate in a one-week orientation prior to the start of fall semester.

Interested students have several options for online master's degree programs in law. However, students need to consider what type of degree best suits their career goals and educational backgrounds, as well as the formatting of the program, such as any in-person requirements like residencies or orientations.

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