What You Should Know About This Degree
Although it can be used as a stepping stone to a Juris Doctor (JD), a master’s in legal studies by itself will not qualify you to practice law. A master’s in legal studies is designed for individuals who need a firm grasp of laws and regulations, typically in relation to another industry, but who do not intend on practicing law. If you are interested in becoming an attorney, you should focus your research on JD programs.
Because these programs typically look at laws and regulations through the lens of a particular field, you should also carefully consider what your career goals are. Another type of degree, like a master’s in your specific field or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) may also be beneficial and more suited to achieving your career goals. If you’re unsure which path is the right one for you, talk to an admissions advisor about what career paths are available to those with a master’s in legal studies.
While the American Bar Association does approve legal studies master’s programs, it’s not mandatory to attend an approved program like it is for someone getting a law degree and seeking entry to the bar. However, for those looking to become paralegals, it can enhance your employability if you received your degree from an ABA-approved program.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters Legal Studies programs:
- Does this program offer the concentration I want? Because students are typically earning a legal studies degree to apply that knowledge to a specific field, this is especially important. Popular concentrations include public policy, compliance, risk management, and business law. Review the concentrations or certificates the program offers to be sure it offers what you’re looking for.
- Are there any in-person requirements? Even if a program offers all of its coursework online, it may still have some in-person requirements for orientations, residencies, or internships. Carefully review the program’s plan of study to see if you will have to travel to campus at all, and make sure to budget and plan for that travel.
You should also look at the program’s admissions requirements, and begin to gather your application materials well before the deadline. This will help your admissions process go more smoothly. You can typically find information about procedures and deadlines online, or by contacting the admissions office directly.
Financing your master’s degree is another important consideration. Find out what your options are for loans, scholarships, assistantships, and employer tuition assistance.