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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NYU Offers Entirely Online Tax LL.M.

NYU Logo The NYU Graduate Tax Program announced today that it has eliminated the two-credit residency requirement for the Executive LL.M. in Taxation, meaning that the degree can now be completed entirely online:

During the past year, the Executive LL.M. in Taxation program has expanded globally; in order to make the program more flexible and available to more students, NYU Law petitioned the New York State Department of Education to eliminate a two-credit residency requirement, which has been part of the program since its inception in 2008. That had meant that students had to physically appear on campus and take two credits of class. But the Department of Education has now granted NYU Law's request, and the requirement has been completely eliminated, effective immediately and retroactively.

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1. This is a shrewd way to generate copious amounts of tuition revenue...Can't blame them, though, if people are dumb enough, why not?
2. Every other Tax LL.M. program should be scared, particularly if NYU is lax in admission standards for the online program.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 22, 2011 4:51:33 PM

The myth about NYU's admission standards apparently perpetuates itself to today (based on "Anon's" comment. When you take over 100 students who have no jobs (this was more meaningful when the market didn't totally suck), who are you "cherry picking?" Will there even be admission standards for the Exec. LL.M.? Why do you need admission standards if you can offer the course simultaneously to an unlimited number of people. Admission standards exist because there was only "enough room" for a "certain number" of students. Barring a server crash, there is no reason to think that NYU will have any admission standards other than J.D. or LL.B.

And I NYU makes it clear in BIG BOLD LETTERS on the transcript that this is an "EXECUTIVE" LL.M. rather than a real LL.M. (by real, I mean at least you competed to get admitted). If not, my frame will soon be worth more than the degree encased in it.

For that matter, It would be helpful if NYU did the same thing for the INTERNATIONAL tax LL.M. By definition the regular program and int'l program are different otherwise there would be no reason to have 2 programs.

Cash cow as all this may be, NYU better keep its eye on Georgetown or it will do to NYU what it did to Florida (perhaps 1st a tie and then an outright #1). GULC is widely respected and has a wide selection of course offerings not available at NYU. A lot of specialty, niche courses that NYU does not offer on account of tapping the resources of D.C. for numerous adjunct profs. who are experts in what they teach. so perhaps NYU should be more concerned with GULC that its cash cows. Cash cows tend to dissipate when your school falls in the rankings, And NYU has only has one way to go--down.

Posted by: tax guy | Feb 22, 2011 9:29:15 PM

Recently, I received marketing emails from two colleges offering on-line Master's in Accounting degrees -- from New England College and Stetson University. Plus, you can do it in one year!!!

Curious, I also checked the University of Phoenix's on-line courses and found that they offer a PhD in Business Administration! A message from one of their doctorial graduates says, "Everyone has heard the business cliché of 'thinking outside the box.' For University of Phoenix doctoral alumna Dr. Cheryl Lentz, that truism doesn’t go far enough. 'Sometimes,' she says, 'you have to destroy the box.'” Did they ever.

It was a few decades ago, but the M.A. in Accounting that I received earned from Alabama was brutal and took people from two to three years to complete, including working past midnights and even missing ball games, if you wanted to do well. There is no way that any course, on-line or through the mail, can approach anything close to that or simply an honest education. What's sad is that someone can apparently use these on-line hours to meet the CPA requirement as his fifth year of accounting.

For years, high school degrees have been handed out to every student who just showed up for classes. Colleges are now beating that by saying to just sit at home and sign in on your computer.

That qualifies one for a degree?! Call me just a little skeptical.

Posted by: Woody | Feb 23, 2011 8:27:24 AM

Good point tax guy. Like it or not the internet will be the wave of future higher education. You can live in Nepal and obtain a law degreee or LL.M. In fact, the global marketplace is much larger 6.5 Billion v. 300 million. The MCL program at the University of Miami had wht i thought the best and the brightest students from all over the world. The U.S. students "snubbed" these really bright students-the response by the international community "narrow minded americans". Law school is a tradition of "snubbing" and the only question is when will the snubby scools and students change.

Posted by: Nick Paleveda MBA J.D. LL.M | Feb 23, 2011 8:41:49 AM

I seriously hope NYU falls in the LL.M. rankings because of this. NYU is simply selling their namesake for raising revenue, as if NYU needed to do so with an endowment of $2.43 BILLION. In my opinion, this waters down NYU's LL.M. program as a whole and a degree from there will not be as impressive.

Posted by: Kona | Feb 23, 2011 10:34:15 AM


You can get a college degree by not showing up for class hardly ever as well. I did it. Any degree is more about what the student puts into it study time wise, not necessarily class time wise (especially law school). For full disclosure, I did the NYU online LLM and it was a much better experience than law school, as I was able to pause/rewind the tapes when I didn't understand something. The online students are watching the same teacher and being graded on the curve with the in-class students, so people that just sign in and don't put the work in will stand out come exam time. With that said, there is no doubt that the online degree will be frowned upon by those who went the traditional route at NYU because they think (rightly so or not) that it will cheapen their degree.

Posted by: online | Feb 23, 2011 10:47:43 AM

UF did this already for their real tax llm...

Posted by: tired of tuition | Feb 23, 2011 12:29:22 PM

I am sorry? Pause and rewind? What's the deal with that. When I went to NYU you could not get the professors to pause or rewind. If and ONLINE LL.M. is to be BARELY equivalent to a real one, you need to time stamp in and out and if you do not watch the 2, 3, or 4 hours from when you tie stamped in then you do not get to see it -- it is like you left class early (or arrived late).

THIS IS NOT TIVO, it is a degree (that is supposed to mean something). Rewind? you have got to be kidding me! No one has the ability to rewind a prof in the real world. I would consider granting 2 (or 3 at most) questions per class that you can email the prof because you were not live in the class to raise your hand. Mind you, the prof has NO OBLIGATION to respond (just like the real world).

Why not just allow 1 billion people watch tapes from Harvard and give out 1 billion Harvard degrees (Bachelors, Masters, Law, Medical, other Doctoral degrees). What is the value of the Harvard education? Isn't value based in part on EXCLUSIVITY. In other words, you were not good enough to get into NYU, so what is your problem? Or, why did you get an Executive LLM rather than go nights like regular working people who get the degree over several years? what is the matter with you?

A LL.M. from Georgetown -- either 1 year, or ESPECIALLY multiple years for part-time students who live in DC and can't move to NYU for a year -- is worth WAY MORE than these FAUX degrees from NYU.

This is like watching the value of your 401(k) plummet. What the hell did I spend 10s of thousands of dollars on, fight for, and work hard to get the degree from NYU if they are just GIVING IT AWAY FOR FREE (figuratively, of course!). I had an obnoxious NYU financial aid officer basically tell me I was not eligible for financial aid because my parents had retirements savings and owned a home. I said "are you telling me that I should tell my parents to liquidate their 401(k)'s and sell their home to pay NYU???" "No," he said. He just pointed out that I was ineligible because they owned a house and had saved for retirement. NYU is a cash ..... well, it begins with an "w" and I'll leave it at that.

Why does it seem that soon my degree is going to be less valuable than TP???

Posted by: tax guy | Feb 23, 2011 6:46:24 PM

Online, I agree with you to a great degree, however, the toughest assignments were the oral presentations that students were required to prepare and defend in class. Or, being singled out by a professor for a question for which you better think fast...if you can stand the intimidation factor. You can't get that on-line. So, I would suppose that people who received their law degrees on-line would not be as prepared as would be classroom students for actual courtroom practice. For corporate law, maybe they're even.

In any event, congratulations, as I know that what you did took a lot of work and that you weren't one of those to slide by.

Posted by: Woody | Feb 23, 2011 7:47:26 PM

Tax Guy,

You can have degrees from each of the top 10 law schools and not get far with your attitude. I understand the "my degree is going to be less valuable because of the online program" line of reasoning, but everything else you said only shows elitism or stupidity. You are paying for an education - the ability to pause/rewind/ask questions is what a student is paying for and deserves - it improves the learning experience.

Also, I don't know that the admissions standards are any less for the online program. With that said, I don't know that getting into the tax LLM program at NYU or anywhere else is that difficult for most law school graduates, as it is a niche program (in tax!). The difficult part is actually getting a job after getting the LLM. To answer your questions, I did the online program because it was the top school with the best teachers, I wanted to learn the material for my job and I don't live in NY or DC to do the traditional part time route. The title of the degree or what people thought about it didn't concern me, but I agree likely should for those just trying to bump their resume with the NYU degree. For those getting the LLM for the right reasons, I see no difference in the online program vs traditional route, especially if you are willing to put in the time.

Posted by: online | Feb 23, 2011 8:18:27 PM


I agree that an online program wouldn't work for law school, which requires a much different type of training than a tax llm does. I think a tax llm is a specialty that an online program works very well for, as transactional tax practice (which is mainly for people who read the Code/regs/tax articles/tax prof blog day and night) can easily be taught in this format.

Posted by: online | Feb 23, 2011 8:33:13 PM