Masters Degree in Business Law: Program Overview
Find out about master's degree programs in business law. Check out the two main options to see which is best for you. Learn about the required coursework and prerequisites.
On the master's level, degree programs in business law typically come in the form of a joint Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) or the lesser-known Master of Laws (LL.M.).
In a joint MBA/J.D. Program, you will be earning two degrees at once. Part of your program will focus on business and the other on law. You will take classes in each topic area. You will usually need to enter each program separately even though you will be taking them combined. You need to have a bachelor's degree to enter the programs. Upon completing a program in business law, you will be able to qualify for careers like corporate litigator and arbitrator. You may also work as a lawyer, but you will need to pass your state's licensing exam.
In an LL.M. Program, you need to already have completed a J.D. Program. Many programs don't have specified coursework and instead the coursework is chosen according to your needs and desires. You can take courses in a variety of specialty areas, such as banking, business or finance. Again with this degree, you can work as a lawyer after completing your state's licensing exam.
Joint MBA/J.D. Program
Students earn two degrees through this business law program. The MBA focuses on the business portion of the program, while the J.D. focuses on the law side. Additionally, at some schools, MBA/J.D. students can pursue a specialty, such as taxation. These programs usually require 3-4 years of full-time study, reducing the time for obtaining the degrees individually by one year.
In most cases, each degree is earned from a different college within a university. Thus, students often have to apply to both programs separately. A bachelor's degree from an accredited school is always a requirement, and some schools might require an undergraduate major in a particular area, such as accounting or business. Additionally, most law schools require applicants to take the LSAT.
Students in an MBA/J.D. program take all courses required for each degree. Emphasis is placed on law courses, with up to 80 hours required versus 22-54 hours of business-related courses, depending on the school. Core courses common to MBA/J.D. programs include:
- J.D. courses
- Civil procedure
- Constitutional law
- Criminal law
- Legal research and writing
- Torts and property
- MBA courses
- Financial accounting
- International business and economics
- Managerial economics
- Team dynamics
A degree in business law can lead to a variety of careers, such as the following:
- Labor relations specialist
- International trade specialist
- Corporate litigator
- Contract administrator
Practicing lawyers must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Additionally, each state has its own requirements for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE); this typically ranges from 8-15 continuing education hours annually. While continuing education in business is generally not mandatory, courses are available in general business and business specialties, such as accounting.
Master of Laws programs prepare students who already have a J.D. to specialize in areas such as corporate law, international business law or environmental law. Some LL.M. programs have no defined course requirements, allowing students to design their own curricula. LL.M. programs are usually one year in length.
LL.M. programs that require specific coursework might include the following classes:
- Banking regulations and laws
- Business associations
- Business regulations around the world
- Business strategies
- Corporate finance
- International litigation
- Management statistics
For the decade spanning 2010-2020, lawyers are expected to see a 10% increase in employment, which is about average for all U.S. occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2012, the BLS indicated the median annual salary for lawyers was $113,530.
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