TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Growth Of Law School Online Master's Programs

2U Pepperdine 2Following up on my previous posts:

ExtensionEngine Blog, Online Master's Programs at Law Schools: Why Online Learning?:

The growth and acceptance of online learning over the last decade have been mostly in undergraduate, business, and technical education. Despite the report that the American Bar Association (ABA) rejected Syracuse College of Law's initial application to develop a partially online hybrid Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, I believe the next area of growth and acceptance will be with legal education.

While the ABA has yet to approve any 100% online J.D. programs, one fascinating but not often discussed aspect of online legal education is the recent growth in the number of 100% online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degrees and post J.D. Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees offered by ABA-approved law schools. These graduate degrees may appeal to a variety of working professionals, including but not limited to compliance specialists, risk management professionals, professionals in the tax industry, or other business professionals who would like or need to learn more about the law.

For example, 100% online Master of Legal Studies degrees, which require only a Bachelor's degree, are now offered at ASU, Northeastern, Wake Forest, and Seton Hall [and Pepperdine].

100% online Master of Laws degrees, which generally require a J.D., are available at the University of Southern California and Washington University in St. Louis, who both also offer online Master of Legal Studies degrees. Even more popular are relatively more specialized 100% online Master of Legal Studies and Master of Laws degrees that focus on a specific discipline within the law, such as Georgetown University School of Law's Executive LL.M. in Taxation and Master of Studies in Law in Taxation, Boston University School of Law's LL.M. in Taxation, NYU's Executive LL.M. and Master of Studies in Law Taxation, the University of Miami School of Law's LL.M. in Real Property Development, and Albany Law School's Master of Science in Legal Studies with a Concentration in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy.

Despite the successful development and launch of these fully online programs, only a minority of the 205 ABA-approved law schools offer a fully online MLS or LL.M. degree program at this time. Here are several reasons why I think more law schools will, and should, offer online Master's programs in the near future. ...

In sum, law schools should definitely seek to develop online Master's programs at this time. There have been successful early entrants into this market already, and the time is right for more law schools to innovate and play a greater role in this exciting domain.

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