The Master of Laws is typically a bachelor's degree program, taken by individuals either already possessing an academic undergraduate legal degree in an appropriate field, or pursuing an advanced educational level in a relevant area. In some states the “Master of Law” is the minimum educational requirement for entry into professional practice. For these reasons, the Master of Law is very similar to a Bachelor of Arts in Law. As in the Bachelor of Arts, the Master of Law program requires a minimum of 300 credit hours and will award the student the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in Law.
As with most master's law programs, most require students to pass an examination on an area of interest prior to graduation. This will be determined by the student's personal choice of the exam as well as the college offering the program. Most Master's programs also require their graduates to take one course in another related area, such as a history course, which would fulfill one year of the required course load.
Prior to enrolling in a law school, prospective students are encouraged to find out how the legal system works and what legal terminology they should be familiar with. Some institutions also have an orientation program that will help them become more acquainted with the law prior to enrollment.
Students who wish to continue their education beyond law school can complete their studies at a university. At many private universities, the Master of Arts in Law program is the most common. Students who have already studied law can pursue a Doctorate degree from a university, and this is also a common option for students wishing to further their legal education.
Many law schools also offer online programs. However, the programs are usually quite different from school to school and will depend upon whether the school offers a traditional classroom setting or online learning. Online programs generally have a longer duration and less student-to-teacher ratio than traditional classroom programs.
Most Master's degrees in law are awarded for two to four years, with some programs offering only two years or less. Some students choose to pursue a doctorate degree after they have completed their Master's program, whereas others choose to begin their legal education sooner and complete it in four years. If you are planning on a career change after your Master's degree, you can consider getting a Master's of Science in Law.
While it is possible to enter the field of law right away with a Master's degree in law, many employers prefer candidates who have completed at least two years of undergraduate training. For example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) requires a minimum of two years of study before applying to work as a federal prison officer. Although most Master's degree programs in law provide extensive instruction in the basics of the law, an employer may still want to conduct a background check on the applicant to make sure they are not simply an academic pretender.
To apply to work in the BOP you must meet certain academic standards, and although there is no minimum GPA requirement, a Master's degree will often improve your chances of success. It may be necessary to submit a letter of intent or a portfolio of your academic work to convince the BOP that you possess the qualities of a responsible and dependable employee.
If you already hold a Bachelor's degree you should not immediately stop your studies. You may find employment in the BOP but you may not be satisfied with the pay, working hours, and location unless you increase your salary and status through further education. Also, if you are currently employed, there may be additional requirements for promotion and advancement, which may prevent you from pursuing your Master of Laws. degree.
A Master's degree in law covers an array of areas such as contract law and professional ethics. These are extremely important fields and often require the candidate to demonstrate an outstanding level of legal writing skills and legal research skills. The candidate must demonstrate these abilities in order to become an effective attorney and legal advisor.
Once you have a Master's degree in law, the sky is the limit. You may be able to open your own law practice, conduct business law firms, or seek out new career opportunities in the legal industry.