By Katy McWhirter

Published on August 30, 2021

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A master's degree in legal studies provides the qualifications and knowledge needed to pursue various important positions in legal and non-legal fields. Whether you want to work in a courtroom, hospital, think tank, or real estate firm, a master's degree in legal studies can help you get there.

Prospective learners can find all the information needed to make an informed and confident decision about their degree path below. Read on for details about common classes, available concentrations, and continuing education opportunities.

Should I Get a Master's in Legal Studies?

Pursuing an online master's degree in legal studies offers a great path for students who want to work in the legal and criminal justice systems but do not want to practice as lawyers. Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10% job growth for paralegals and 8% job growth for mediators and arbitrators.

Pursuing an online master's degree in legal studies offers a great path for students who want to work in the legal and criminal justice systems but do not want to practice as lawyers.

Most full-time students can finish these programs in 18-24 months. Part-time students may need closer to three years to graduate. Because many institutions now offer full or partially online master's degrees in legal studies, distance learners can more easily complete courses while keeping up with work or personal obligations.

In most cases, positions for legal studies graduates do not require licensure. Nevertheless, some employers may prefer candidates with professional certifications. Paralegals, for instance, can earn certification if they want to stand out from other job-seekers.

Find the best online master's in legal studies programs

What Will I Learn in a Legal Studies Master's Program?

Master's degrees in legal studies vary by individual school, but typically share certain elements. Core courses often cover civil procedure and litigation, negotiation theory and practice, administrative law and regulatory compliance, and law and policy studies.

Skills commonly gained include negotiation and arbitration, problem-solving, and legal analysis. Rather than offering a master of arts or master of science, some schools make these programs available as master of legal studies degrees.

Concentrations

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Students who want to work as arbitrators, mediators, conciliators, and negotiators often choose this specialization, which provides the skills needed to resolve disputes outside the courtroom.
Compliance and Risk Management
Companies and governments of all types and sizes must meet regulatory requirements and comply with laws. Simultaneously, they often look for ways to limit their risk exposure. This specialization provides the skills needed to keep employers compliant and safe.
Legal Paraprofessional Studies
Learners considering a more traditional role as a paralegal often choose this path. In certain states, this concentration allows graduates to seek licensure as legal paraprofessionals after graduating.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

How to Get Into a Legal Studies Master's Program

Prerequisites and admission requirements vary by school. Some programs may simply require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, while others may expect learners to have already completed some related training.

Additional requirements often include professional experience (related or unrelated, depending on the school), letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, and a satisfactory GPA. Students should review each of their prospective schools' admission requirements to learn more.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Legal Studies?

Although some students may initially think that a master's degree in legal studies limits future job prospects to law and legal systems, this degree translates well to several fields and industries. Understanding how the law works benefits professionals working in human resources, medical facility management, and criminal justice.

Salaries for master's in legal study graduates can vary substantially based on job title, experience, employer, and location. Many roles offer opportunities for growth over time.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Legal Studies?

Salary potential for legal studies graduates depends heavily on the career path they choose. According to the BLS, paralegals make a median annual salary of $52,920, while human resource managers earn $121,220 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Legal Studies Programs

What is legal studies?

Legal studies is an interdisciplinary field that brings together law, policy, criminal justice, and other liberal arts areas. The field focuses on the role laws play in society, culture, politics, and economics.

Is a master's in legal studies worth it?

If you want to work in law but don't want to become a lawyer, a master's degree in legal studies can be a great choice. These programs lead to several different career outcomes in in-demand areas.

Can you practice law with a master's in legal studies?

No, you cannot practice law with a master's degree in legal studies. These programs do not allow graduates to take the bar exam. If you want to follow this path, you must pursue a juris doctor.

Can I get a master's in law without a law degree?

Yes, you can pursue a master's degree in legal studies without first completing a law degree. These two programs lead to substantially different professional outcomes.

Is a law degree higher than a master's?

Yes, a law degree is higher than a master's degree. Although commonly referred to as a "law degree," the official name for the training future lawyers complete is a juris doctor.

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