Creating Innovative Graduate Law Degree Programs

Topics: Academic Planning, Academic Affairs, Curriculum Development

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As law schools face declining enrollments, leaders seek alternative revenue streams and program opportunities. This brief examines examine innovative non-juris doctor law degrees (e.g., master’s of law, master’s in jurisprudence) with an emphasis on business and technological applications. More specifically, we will investigate the characteristics, implementation, and outcomes of LL.M. and M.J. programs.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. Graduate law degree programs increase enrollments and generate revenue to counter recent J.D. enrollment declines; however, programs without adequate faculty and curriculum development do not maintain adequate enrollments to offset program financial and administrative costs.

    2. Law school administrators consider local specialty demand and emergent industries to identify viable degree program offerings.

    3. Graduate law degree programs require additional staffing, student support, and marketing resources to ensure program viability.

    4. LL.M. degrees require between 24 and 30 credit hours of specialized legal training, typically one year of full-time study, while foreign students and master’s degrees for non-attorneys require additional introductory legal courses.

    5. Successful graduate law degree programs maintain between 25 and 40 students across multiple specialties and degree types with strong student employment outcomes.