2023 Best Online LLM Programs [Master of Laws Guide]

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Explore the best online LLM programs. Take a step toward advancing your legal expertise. Find specialized or generalized LLM courses to suit your career goals.

Studying for a recognized master’s degree is often a strategic career choice, especially if you’re considering online LLM programs.

Best Online LLM Programs

With a master’s degree in law online program, you’re taking a step toward becoming an expert in the legal field. You can also specialize in an area of law you love best.

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So, without further ado, let’s dive into what there is to know about online LLM courses.

Online Master of Laws Programs

Online Master of Laws Programs

If you want to further your career in the legal field, LLM online programs can be very beneficial. LLM courses allow you to advance your legal expertise. This could lead to opportunities for higher earnings while also making you more attractive to employers.

Yet, what exactly is a Master of Laws degree? Usually, this postgraduate degree is internationally recognized and can be earned while you continue working. When you choose this master’s degree, you’re dedicating yourself to studying a specialized subfield of law.

When choosing to complete an online LLM degree, you will typically have two options: a generalized LLM or a specialized LLM. If your interests don’t fit within a specialized LLM program, you could study a generalized LLM and customize it to your preferences.

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The curriculum of an LLM degree varies, and the subjects you study will depend on your area of specialization. Even though you’ll mostly have the freedom to choose electives that align with your intellectual and professional interests, there are a few core courses.

Some core courses and electives include topics on:

  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal law
  • Legal research, writing, and analysis
  • Election law
  • Energy law
  • Estate planning
  • Corporate finance

With this type of master’s degree, you can practice law in various sectors. Related positions can include diplomat, politician, law professor, judge, and even legal counselor. Ultimately, this master’s degree can help you further develop your analytical, reasoning, and critical judgment skills. You can also learn to hone your persuasive communication abilities.

You can usually improve these skills in an LLM program through research, coursework, real case studies, seminars, and group tasks.

LLM Careers & Salaries

LLM Careers & Salaries

This degree could help you gain a competitive edge in the job market. Essentially, the career path you choose as a lawyer with this degree will depend on your preferences, passions, and salary expectations.

Lawyers typically work at law firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments. Some lawyers go global with this degree and work as immigration lawyers, attorneys at a multinational law firm, or in-house counsel with an international corporation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for lawyers is $127,990, which is significantly higher than the median wage for all other occupations.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Lawyers — Federal Government $152,590
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates $148,030
Lawyers — Legal Services $127,530
Postsecondary Law Teachers $123,470
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers $102,550
Lawyers — State Government $100,330
Lawyers — Local Government $100,240
Top Executives $98,980
Personal Financial Advisors $94,170
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators $49,410

How much you earn in the legal field will depend on a number of factors, such as your career path, previous experience, employer, and geographic location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for lawyers will increase over the next ten years as individuals, governments, and companies continue requiring legal services.

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Professionals who have a background in law may also pursue positions outside of the legal field. Some may go on to become marketing executives or financial advisors, while others become law professors.

Online LLM Curriculum & Courses

LLM Curriculum

Since there are various LLM degree paths and specializations, you could encounter many different curriculum options from one educational institution to the next.

There are similar course materials that you’re likely to take regardless of your degree specialization. Below are some of the courses you could study as an LLM student:

  • Mediation Theory and Practice: Throughout this course, you’ll learn the constraints, dynamics, benefits, and skills surrounding third-party intervention when resolving legal disputes.
  • Arbitration Theory and Practice: This course aims to give students an idea of the issues and scenarios that legal counselors and advocates in arbitration routinely encounter.
  • Cross-Cultural Conflict and Dispute Resolution: During this course, you can learn how cultural differences affect the resolution of interstate and interpersonal disputes.
  • Psychology of Conflict and Communication: This course teaches how psychology, conflict, law, and dispute resolution intersect.
  • Public Policy and Environmental Dispute Resolution: This course explores the consensual processes used to resolve environmental and community impact and natural rescue management.
  • International Commercial Arbitration: While studying this course, you’re provided a comprehensive overview of international arbitration law and practice.
  • Selected Issues: Entertainment: During this course, you’ll learn how disputes are resolved in the entertainment industry through the legal concepts of mediation and arbitration.
  • Selected Issues: Ombuds: With the increased rate at which ombud programs are being created, this course explores the theory and practice of ombud programs and ombuds.
  • Negotiation Theory and Practice: Throughout this course, you’re taught the theory and practice of negotiation as a process utilized to resolve legal claims and disputes and put together deals.
  • Selected Issues: Employment Disputes: This course aims to teach students the protocols for resolving disputes in the non-unionized workplace.

An LLM degree offers a diverse range of compulsory and elective topics.

Should I Get an LLM Degree?

Should I Get an LLM Degree

Whether or not you choose to get an LLM degree will likely depend on your career aspirations. Here are some advantages of an LLM to consider:

  • US legal expertise. This legal master’s degree is beneficial for those who want to further their legal expertise or change careers.
  • Higher earning potential. By advancing your qualifications and expertise, an LLM can also increase your earning power and add to your credentials.
  • Specialized expertise. An LLM can help you grow your current career by help you develop advanced knowledge in a specific sector of law.
  • Preparation for non-lawyer roles. With specialized training from an LLM degree, you can also choose to branch out from the strict confines of the legal profession and try your hand at finance or politics instead.

An LLM may even help equip you with the skills and know-how to open your own firm. The average annual salary for someone in the legal profession is much higher than the national average. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal profession is expected to continue being in demand.

Admissions Requirements

LLM Requirements

Not every university has the same admission requirements for its online LLM program. There are a few general admission requirements, though, that you can expect:

  • JD law degree or equivalent
  • Resume
  • Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • LSAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Letters of recommendation

When researching LLM programs online, it’s helpful to carefully examine the specific admission requirements of the educational institutions you’re interested in.

Online LLM Programs Accreditation

LLM Programs Accreditation

The accreditation status of a university or college is a key consideration when choosing to study an LLM in the US. Through the accreditation process, a school is carefully reviewed and only given accreditation if they’re found to meet educational standards of quality. Regional accreditation is typically seen as the highest standard in the US.

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Attending an educational institute that is regionally accredited could make it easier to transfer credits to another school or program. Attending an accredited school is also a common eligibility factor for federal aid and corporate reimbursement plans. Most students choose to study LLM online programs that are regionally accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) because of these benefits.           

Financial Aid and Scholarships

LLM Financial Aid

If you’re a graduate student wanting to study an online LLM, why not explore your financial aid options to see if you qualify?

Many online LLM students choose to apply for scholarships at the universities they have applied to. There will often be a scholarships available specifically for law students who are furthering their studies. Additionally, you could fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to try and secure federal student loans.

If you are currently working, especially in the legal field, you could also see if your employer offers tuition grants or reimbursement programs for employees who are furthering their education.

What Is an LL.M. Degree?

What Is an LL.M. Degree

A Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree is an internationally recognized postgraduate credential. This master’s degree is aimed at early- and mid-career attorneys who are considering specializing in a specific area of law.

This degree is also for those who have already earned their Juris Doctor (JD) and who want to further their expertise and expand their knowledge in a legal discipline they’re passionate about. Many international lawyers also choose to complete an LL.M. degree to further their knowledge of the US legal system. The LL.M. may also prepare international lawyers to pass the bar exam in the US, depending on the state.

What Can You Do with an LLM Degree?

An LLM degree can help you develop advanced, specialized skills in the field of law. Most LLM graduates go on to become lawyers, if they are not already. An LLM can help qualify lawyers to practice in a specialized field of law.

There are some professionals, though, who earn their JD and LLM and do not proceed to take the bar. Rather, they may use their legal expertise to consult or to undertake a career in politics and finance. Others become law professors.

How Long Is an LLM Online Degree?

How Long Is an LLM Online Degree?

Earning an LLM degree might not take as long as you’d expect. A masters degree generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete with full-time study.

A 36 credit masters program can often be completed in 1 year with full-time enrollment. An LLM degree usually only consists of around 24 to 26 credits. If a thesis component if required, it will often add some additional time to completion.

Some universities offer full-time classes to complete this degree in 1 year or less, while others offer part-time options to accommodate students are working or need more time.

What’s the Difference Between an LLM vs. JD Degree?

A Juris Doctor (JD) and a Master of Laws (LLM) are two different types of legal degrees.

Juris Doctor (JD) Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Professional doctorate
  • Is a prerequisite for sitting for a state bar exam in the US
  • Covers necessary, fundamental legal knowledge
  • Masters degree
  • Can only be pursued after earning a JD
  • Delves deeper into a legal specialization

Ultimately, a postgraduate LLM degree can benefit JD professionals who want to further their legal studies.

What’s the Difference Between an LLM vs. MLS Degree?

The key difference between a Master of Laws (LLM) and a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is that an MLS is geared toward non-lawyers.

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Can be pursued by students with a bachelors in any field
  • Concentrations tend to be business oriented
  • Aimed at professionals outside of the law field who want legal knowledge
  • Requires students to first hold a Juris Doctor
  • Concentrations focus on specific sectors of law
  • Geared toward legal professionals who want specialized knowledge to further their law careers

MLS students don’t usually want to practice law or become lawyers.

Is an LLM Worth It?

Is an LLM Worth It

Yes, an LLM is worth it for many students. Many lawyers can use the advanced skills they gain from an online LLM in their careers. Attorneys can specialize in a field they’re interested in, potentially boosting their current career and increasing their earning potential.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of lawyers is expected to grow 9% over the next ten years. An LLM can also be beneficial for professionals who want to gain specialized legal expertise for roles outside of the legal field.

Universities Offering Online Master of Laws Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Boston University

Boston University campus

Boston University offers an online program for an LLM in Taxation. Accepted students can start in the fall, spring, or summer. Full-time students can usually finish the 24 credit program in two sessions. Students in the program can choose a concentration in Financial Services, Transfer Pricing, International Taxation, General Business Taxation, or Estate Planning.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Florida State University

Florida State University campus

Florida State University offers an online LLM program. Students can choose a concentration in Health Care Regulation, Financial Regulation and Compliance, Employment Law and HR Risk Management, or Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Technology Risk Management. Students can also pursue a general degree without a concentration. The program requires the completion of 24 credit hours of coursework.

The Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Georgetown University

Florida State University campus

Georgetown University offers a Tax LLM. The program is designed to provide flexibility for working professionals through online courses and part-time scheduling options. Most students can finish the degree in 2 to 3 years. Courses include Advanced Individual Income Tax and Personal Financial Planning, Advanced International Taxation, Basic Principles of Finance, and more.

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Lewis & Clark College

Lewis and Clark College campus

Lewis & Clark College offers an LLM in Environmental Law that can be earned 100% online. Coursework is flexible but still interactive. The program is intended for working attorneys, and most students can finish within 3 years. Courses include Energy Law: Electricity Regulation, Wildlife Law, Climate Change: US Law and Policy, and more.

Lewis & Clark is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University campus

Northeastern University offers a 100% online Master of Laws program with three tracks: Bar Examination Prep, Intellectual Property and Technology, and International Business. Accepted students can start in either the fall or spring. The program includes an optional in-person immersion experience in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

The University of Arizona offers an online General Master of Laws program for students who have already graduated from law school. It requires the completion of 24 credits. Coursework includes The American Public Law System, Legal Analysis, Writing and Research, The American Common Law System I and II, and more.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Dayton

University of Dayton campus

The University of Dayton offers an online program for an LLM in American and Transnational Law. Students can potentially finish in just 12 months. Courses are asynchronous and include Introduction to US Law and Legal Institutions for LLM Students, Torts for LLM Students, Civil Procedure for LLM Students, and more.

The University of Dayton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

The University of Southern California offers a 100% online Master of Laws program. Courses include both synchronous and asynchronous components. Students can potentially finish in just 16 months. Accepted students can start in the fall, spring, or summer. The full program is also available on campus in Los Angeles.

The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission.

Villanova University

Villanova University campus

Villanova University’s LLM in Taxation program requires the completion of 24 credits and is available online, on campus, or in a hybrid format. Online classes feature synchronous, live meetings once a week in the evenings. Classes are 8 weeks long, and students take one at a time. Courses include Professional Practice and Tax Procedure and Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders.

Villanova University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Washington University

Washington University campus

Washington University offers an online program for a Master of Laws in US Law. Graduates are eligible to sit for the bar exam in the state of Washington and California. The program requires the completion of 24 credits, and students can potentially finish in just 1 year. Students can participate in an optional weekend learning experience on campus.

Washington University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Master of Laws Degree Online

Getting Master of Laws Degree Online

If you’ve obtained a JD degree, earning an LLM could be a strategic next step. Most workplaces want to hire lawyers with experience and advanced legal knowledge, which can be difficult when beginning a career.

An LLM can help you further develop your legal expertise and allow you to specialize in a specific sector of the law. You might consider an online LLM program if you want to qualify for new career roles, hone your expertise in a specialized field, or increase your earning potential.

Why not start exploring Master of Laws programs from accredited schools today?

Ready to start your journey?
Jason has a bachelor in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University with a minor in history. A life-long learner with a love of science, philosophy, and history, he works in career enrichment, professional development, and improved business practices.