Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Graduate Law Degrees Soar Online

Following up on my previous post, Non-JD Enrollment Continues To Soar:  Up, Up and Away, Nat'l Jurist, Spr. 2020, at 17:

Non-JDGraduate law degree programs are soaring online, thanks to ease of use and the flexibility they offer busy professionals.

More and more people are going to law school and never leaving their homes — or their local coffee shops.

Have a computer? Have at it.

And many students are, particularly those pursuing a law related master’s degree, such as a Master of Laws (LL.M.) or a Master of Studies in Law (MSL).

Consider the growth of these online degree programs. In 2013, there were 1,677 students enrolled in them. By 2019, that number had skyrocketed to 7,378, a 440% increase. The number of law schools offering such online degrees has also climbed since 2013, from 22 to 65.

While the number of J.D. students has been declining since the Great Recession, the opposite is happening with non-J.D. law students. Recent figures show 19,819 online and on-campus non-J.D. students, up from 11,132 in 2013.

The J.D. slump led schools to become more entrepreneurial, said Ken Randall, founder and president of iLaw, a Barbri company that helps law schools create, manage and market online programs.

They saw non-J.D. programs as another revenue source, one they could tap into because they had all the necessary elements on hand — particularly faculty.

An online master’s degree in law became an attractive option, since many professionals from other fields — such as health care and human resources — can benefit from knowing more about the law, Randall said. ...

Focusing on strong specialty areas is key, particularly as competition grows, Randall said. Schools that have great reputations in certain areas can market their programs nationally and internationally. There are no geographical limits.

It’s one of the reasons why Pepperdine Caruso School of Law started an online Master of Dispute Resolution. That speciality is the school’s strongest. Pepperdine now has three non-J.D. online offerings, which attracted 357 students last year — up from the 122 in 2018.

“The market was untapped,” said Jason Jarvis, the school’s associate dean for strategic initiatives, “We’re very happy with the results so far.” Students run the gamut. Teachers, doctors, CEOs and even security guards have taken online courses, he said.

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