So you've made the decision to pursue higher legal education in the form of an LL.M. You're probably now considering important things like what kind of time commitment you want to make to your LL.M., how long you want to remain out of the work force, and whether you're willing to relocate for the degree.
The good news is that law schools all over the world offer a myriad of different kinds of LL.M. programs, geared towards students with different needs. Read on and discover whether a full-time LL.M., a part-time LL.M., an online LL.M. an executive LL.M. or a blended LL.M program is right for you.
The full-time LL.M. is the typical one-year, residential program that consumes most of a student's time and energy for those 12 months. Since students are usually expected to take between 20 and 24 credits in one year to finish their LL.M., it's usually not possible to work while pursuing a full-time degree. Many law schools advise that students who choose this road should be prepared to remove themselves from the work force for the duration of their studies.
For students who don't want to or can't remove themselves from the work force, most schools offer a part-time LL.M. program. Students in these programs typically take classes on the weekends and/or in the evenings, allowing them to continue on their career paths while still studying. However, most schools still require students to complete their degrees within a certain amount of time; Georgetown University Law Center, for example, requires part-time students to finish within three years of matriculation. And international students should keep in mind that their student visas might not permit them to study part-time.
An increasing number of schools are offering online LL.M. programs that allow students to earn their degrees remotely. These programs are perfect for students who are working and can't afford to take a year off, as well as students who can't relocate to a new city. In these programs, students can watch pre-taped lectures and participate in discussion forums, and in some programs, even virtually attend classes.
The Executive LL.M. is an alternative to the traditional LL.M. This degree is geared towards experienced attorneys; students in these programs are typically pursuing knowledge that they need right away for work, whether they're foreigners who need to learn about the American legal system quickly, or domestic lawyers who need fast information about a particular area of legal expertise. Some of these programs, such as the Executive LL.M. from NYU’s School of Law, are completely online. Others, like Boston University's, are mainly online, but require students to visit campus for two weeks for an intensive series of classes.
Some universities offer a blended LL.M. degree, which combines online learning with intensive on-site modules. City Law School in London offers a blended LL.M., as does Northwestern University School of Law, which boasts an online program combined with in-person modules either in Spain or Chicago.
After you choose the kind of LL.M. program you want to pursue, you'll also have to decide whether you want to pursue a general LL.M. or a specialized LL.M. Some of the most popular LL.M. specializations include tax law, international law, corporate law, and intellectual property law, but many schools offer a whole host of other, even more specific options.
Image: www.tOrange.us / CC BY 4.0 (cropped, rotated)