LL.M. or Master of Laws degrees are postgraduate study programmes that allow students to specialise in a certain area of Law. This type of degree is especially popular in the US and the UK, but it is also offered by universities in Australia, Canada, Germany, and other countries.
But what about their close online cousins, are they just as popular? If yes, what are the benefits? Should you consider studying an online LL.M.? Let’s find out!
Universities offering online LL.M. degrees
To get you started, check out a few of the numerous law schools offering online LL.M. programmes:
- King’s College London, the UK
- The University of Law, the UK
- American University Washington DC, the US
- Northeastern University, the US
- University of New England, Australia
Online LL.M. tuition fees
It’s true that Law degrees aren’t generally cheap. But the advantage of online LL.M. courses is that universities and colleges need fewer resources to organise them and that often translates to lower tuition fees. Therefore, there’s an online LL.M. for anyone’s budget:
- Online LL.M. degrees costing 0–1,000 EUR/year
- Online LL.M. degrees costing 1,000–5,000 EUR/year
- Online LL.M. degrees costing 5,000–10,000 EUR/year
- Online LL.M. degrees costing 10,000–20,000 EUR/year
- Online LL.M. degrees costing over 20,000 EUR/year
Here’s what you should keep in mind about tuition fees:
- free degrees (0 EUR per academic year) are often — but not always — available only for students from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA)
- non-EU/EEA students often pay higher tuition fees when compared to EU/EEA students
- if you plan to study in the UK, 2020 (and the first part of 2021) was the last year when EU/EEA students could enjoy the same benefits (lower tuition, access to government loans) as local students. Learn more about tuition fees in the UK after Brexit.
Online LL.M. specialisations
LL.M. degrees are by their nature specialised, so you won’t find general study programmes. Depending on where you study an LL.M., you can either specialise in one area of Law of that country or International Law. Here are a few common Master of Laws specialisations:
- Online LL.M. degrees in Environmental Law
- Online LL.M. degrees in International Business Law
- Online LL.M. degrees in Medical Law
- Online LL.M. degrees in Commercial Law
- Online LL.M. degrees in Insurance Law
Online LL.M. admission requirements
Entry requirements for an online LL.M. degree are different from one country or university to another. But to have a general overview, the following are some of the most common admission criteria:
- previous degree in Law or a related discipline (e.g. Bachelor’s in Law, Juris Doctorate or JD — only in the US)
- proof of English language proficiency: TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic test scores
- professional experience (in some cases)
- two recommendation letters
- statement of purpose
At some law schools, you can apply even if you have a Bachelor’s diploma in a field unrelated to Law. Students in this situation often have to take a foundation or short course to learn the fundamentals of Law.
Online LL.M. duration
Depending on how you want to study, you will encounter one of the following situations:
- full-time online LL.M. degrees: 1 year
- part-time online LL.M. degrees: 2 years
Part-time online LL.M. studies might take 2 years to complete, but they are more popular because it allows legal practitioners to find a balance between work, personal life, and academic studies.
Advantages of studying an online LL.M.
- It represents an easy and quick way to advance your career
- Online LL.M. degrees are overall cheaper (lower tuition, avoiding the costs involved in moving abroad)
- It’s an opportunity to improve your digital skills (e.g. e-learning platforms, video-conferencing apps, collaboration using online documents and cloud services, etc.)
Disadvantages of studying an online LL.M.
- A full-time online LL.M. can be overwhelming, especially if you already work as a lawyer and/or have a family
- You can feel disconnected from your peers or professors, in spite of all the online groups, chats, and video calls
- It’s easier to become overwhelmed, not stick to a routine, and miss assignment or exam deadlines
Online LL.M. degrees – who are they for?
An important thing to keep in mind about LL.M. degrees, in general, is that they don’t qualify you to work as a legal practitioner. For that, you need:
- in most countries, to graduate an initial undergraduate Law degree (in the US, it’s even more complicated; you need a Bachelor’s plus a JD degree and then you can sit for the bar exam)
- pass your bar examination (lawyer qualification exam) in the country where you want to work
People who enrol in on-campus or online LL.M. programmes already work as legal practitioners, but they want to take the next step. They seek to advance their knowledge and specialise in one of the numerous areas of Law.
An online LL.M. is the solution if you want to achieve all this without leaving your job or taking a career break.