Healthcare Law Degree Program Overviews
Healthcare law, or health law, focuses on the legal aspects of medical care, including patients' rights, medical ethics, public ethics and mental health care. Many law schools offer Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Law (LL.M.) specializations in health law, and some schools offer joint degree programs in law and healthcare administration.
Juris Doctor in Health Law
J.D. programs focus on laws regarding criminal activity, civil disputes, taxation, business transactions and healthcare. Many schools allow students to specialize in legal areas like business law or healthcare law. J.D. programs teach the theory, history and practice of law, and often provide students with opportunities to write for law reviews and complete internships with practicing lawyers and their firms.
Applicants need to have strong writing, analytical thinking and communication skills. All law school applicant need to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and submit an undergraduate transcript.
Most law schools have a set curriculum that first year students must complete, covering topics like constitutional law, criminal law, legal writing and civil law. In Second and third year students are often allowed to choose most of their courses. Students interested in health law often learn about the following:
- Health care reform
- Medical malpractice law
- Legal issues in medical research
- Disability law
Popular Career Options
People who earn a J.D. with a specialization in health law are qualified for several positions practicing the law, teaching and consulting. They can work for legal firms, government agencies, healthcare organizations or colleges. The positions noted below are popular options:
- Patients' rights consultant
- Public health law consultant
Master of Laws in Health Law
LL.M. programs emphasize the theoretical and research-related facets of U.S. law. These programs are designed for students with previous legal experience, especially international experience. Students spend much of their time comparing U.S. laws with those of other countries, and often complete a dissertation as part of their coursework.
Incoming students need to have a J.D. or its equivalent from another country. Many programs only admit applicants who've practiced law for at least a year after earning a J.D.
Most programs allow students to select most of their own courses, and many allow students to specialize. Much of the coursework covers international or comparative law. Students often learn about the subjects below:
- Comparative health law
- Pharmaceutical marketing law
- Comparative biotechnology law
- Forensic medicine
- International insurance law
Popular Career Options
LL.M. graduates often choose careers in academia or research, but they can practice the law if desired. Listed below are popular career options:
- Comparative health law professor
- International healthcare law consultant
- Healthcare fraud prosecutor
Law and Healthcare Management Joint Degree
Many schools offer joint degree programs where students earn a J.D. and either a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Health Administration (MHA). These programs take at least four years to complete and combine training in the law with courses in health systems and healthcare administration. Students in these programs learn the business and legal principles relevant to working in hospitals, clinics and other settings.
Joint degree program applicants need to be admitted to each department separately. In addition to meeting their schools standards for grade point average and LSAT score, applicants also need to have strong skills in mathematics and the natural sciences. Some programs prefer applicants who've completed a couple years of relevant employment experience.
The classes in J.D./MBA and J.D./MHA programs blend instruction in law, the physical sciences and business administration. Students often complete internships with either law firms or healthcare organizations before graduation. Programs offer courses in the following:
- Healthcare management
- Health economics
- Healthcare accounting
- Healthcare regulations
Popular Career Options
Students who earn a joint degree in law and healthcare administration are qualified for a variety of careers practicing law, teaching law and managing healthcare organizations. The list below includes some popular career options:
- Clinic manager
- Health management consultant
- Hospital in-house counsel
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