Getting a law degree from a law school is one of the requirements for becoming a licensed lawyer, but thanks to online Master's in Business Law programs, many schools now give students the chance to earn a law degree online. These programs are great for paralegals and others who have some legal experience, but the programs are also suitable for those who have less experience and want to practice law. We found the top 10 most affordable programs in business law that help students pay less to earn their degrees.
Ranking Low-cost Business Law Master's
This list of schools was generated from the database at College Navigator using the search terms for Master's of Business law degree online. College Navigator maintains the most accurate and updated information pertaining to colleges and universities today, including the exact cost of tuition and the number of students enrolled. During our hunt, we found 13 colleges in the United States that offer business law degrees online. We looked at the cost of each program to find and rank the 10 most affordable options. Our list starts with the more expensive of those schools at the top and ranks most the most affordable options at the bottom. This list includes schools that charge less than $25,000 a year. We included information about each college and some useful information that students should know before enrolling.
10. Tulane University of Louisiana
MJ in Labor and Employment Law
One option for students looking at online programs is the MJ in Labor and Employment Law that Tulane University of Louisiana offers through its Law School. U.S. News & World Report ranked this law school as one of the best graduate schools in 2018. Designed for human resources professionals and those who work in HR, the program includes online classes and a weekend immersion program that allows students to work on the Tulane campus. Students can start classes during one of the three semesters offered during the school year and finish a degree in only two years. Tulane is the only university to offer a program for HR workers.
9. Boston University
LLM in Taxation – Financial Services Concentration
Boston University offers an LLM in Taxation with a Financial Services Concentration that is suitable for accountants and other tax practitioners who help others file their taxes. Established in 1959, this is one of the oldest tax preparation graduate programs in the country. The online program allows students to pick and take classes from more than 40 courses offered each year. National Law Journal and U.S. News & World Report both rank this among the nation's top 10 tax programs. Boston University allows online students to earn a certificate in estate planning that teaches them how to help their clients plan for the future.
8. John Marshall School of Law
LLM in International Business and Trade
One of the top law schools in Chicago is the John Marshall School of Law, which also ranks as one of the best law schools in the Midwest. The LLM that this law school offers has a concentration available in international trade law that looks at the laws behind how a business can operate when doing work overseas. This program features four required courses and electives that allow students to pick and choose from other classes. Those electives include Current Issues in International Business and Trade Law, U.S. Free Trade Agreements and Homeland Security. The law school also allows students to do an externship for class credit.
7. Pepperdine Law
MLS in Legal Studies
Students interested in business law can enroll in the MLS in Legal Studies program offered by Pepperdine University. Though this is more of a general law program, it features courses on employment law and other areas of business law. Ranked among the top law schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Pepperdine allows students to take courses on subjects like contract law, contract negotiations, property law and administrative law. A unique feature of this program is its live class option. This allows students to log in on the online system and sit in on classes as those classes happen in real time.
6. Widener University
MJ in Corporate and Business Law
The MJ in Corporate and Business Law that Widener University offers has a concentration available in regulatory analysis and compliance that focuses on what companies and their legal teams can do to follow laws and regulations. This is one of the only online programs in the world with accreditation from the Compliance Certification Board (CCB). After completing the 29 credits in this program, students can apply for CCB certification. The university gives preference to students who have some work experience before applying. Programs in this program include Critical Legal Analysis and Writing, Risk Management and Auditing, Business Principles and Introduction to Law.
5. Seton Hall University
MJ in Business Law and Compliance
Seton Hall offers a number of graduate law degree programs that students can complete online. One of those programs allows students to earn an MJ in Business Law and Compliance. The school also offers an MSJ degree program for those who have a bachelor's degree but did not study law. Students have the option of enrolling in a 100% version of the program that takes place entirely online or a hybrid program. The hybrid program allows students to take any of the classes offered in a semester on its campus. Seton Hall requires that students maintain a 3.0 grade point average to graduate.
4. Loyola University
MJ Business Law and Compliance
Located in Chicago, Loyola University is home to one of the most affordable Master's in Business Law programs available online. Called its Business Law and Compliance program, it teaches students how to do their own research and how to develop their own thoughts and opinions. Students take four credits of work each semester to earn their degrees within six semesters, which is two years. Though the university offers two immersion weekends each month, it does not require that students attend either session. Required courses in this program include Business Organizations, Introduction to Business Research and Introduction to Legal Study and Legal Writing. Loyola has a thesis requirement for business law students too.
3. Western Michigan University
LLM in Corporate Law and Finance
With an annual cost of less than $11,000, the LLM in Corporate Law and Finance ranks among the most affordable graduate programs in business law. Available online through its Cooley School of Law, this program prepares students for facing and meeting the challenges in the business industry today. Those students actually learn about problems that businesses faced and what those businesses did, which helps them learn how to make their own decisions in the future. WMU requires that students take electives and that they take courses from four different disciplines: corporate governance and finance, advanced corporate transactions, corporate professional responsibility and business organizations.
2. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
LLM in Financial Compliance
Named for a former President of the United States, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law ranks as one of the top law schools in the country. It offers an LLM in Financial Compliance online program that allows students to apply and then start classes less than two months later, which helps them finish their degrees quickly. It is available as an MSL for those who do not have a law degree and as an LLM for practicing attorneys. The program takes only one year to finish, and the law school estimates that students spend 20 hours or less on their classes each week, which gives them time for their other commitments.
1. Texas A&M School of Law
LLM or MJ in Risk Management
The most affordable Master's in Business Law online program available today is the LLM in Risk Management that the Texas A&M School of Law offers. This program is also available as an MJ program for those who do not have a legal background. Designed for those who work in a risk industry, the program looks at some of the tax issues facing businesses and individuals today. It also goes over fraud examination and other topics that most law schools do not cover. Texas A&M takes an interdisciplinary approach to education that allows students to take classes from other disciplines outside of business and law.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Some of the Career Options for Those with a Master's in Business Law?
The most common question that prospective students have about online Master's in Business Law programs is what they can do with these degrees. Many students enroll after gaining some business experience. They might work in a human resource department and run the interviews needed to find new employees or for an organization that prepares taxes for those who could not otherwise afford help. Students can also enroll in a business law program after earning a bachelor's degree but before they gain any other experience.
One career path for those with a business law degree is in corporate consulting. Corporations need consultants who can help them better understand the laws they need to follow. Consultants can also help prepare companies and their employees before appearing in court or attending a settlement meeting. Working as a financial analyst is another possibility. Financial analysts help clients understand the risks and rewards associated with different financial decisions. Some graduates may want to work as a corporate attorney or as a college professor. Law degree holders can also start their own companies and work for banks and other financial institutions.
What is the Earnings Potential for Those Working in This Field?
An old adage says that those who do what they love never work a day in their lives because they never feel like they're at work. Very few students today enroll in college programs without first getting an idea of how much they can make because the cost of going to school keeps rising. Even those enrolled in one of the more affordable business law master's online programs will want to know how much they can make.
There is no simple answer to this question though because it depends on factors like job title. Corporate consultants can easily bring home $100,000 a year, and some consultants make more than $250,000 a year. Some of these consultants work for groups that go to companies that need help, but others work for companies with a good reputation that makes clients come to them. Working as a college professor or in other fields can help workers earn $50,000 to $75,000 a year or more.
Some students enroll in these programs because they want to work as lawyers. Not all programs prepare students for taking the bar exam though. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median wage of lawyers today at nearly $120,000 a year. Lawyers can make more or less depending on the number of cases they take on and where they work.
Location is important for any student looking at enrolling in a cheap business law master's program because where that student lives and wants to work determines his or her cost of living. Cost of living refers to how much it costs to live a happy and stable life and includes the cost of food, transportation and rent or a mortgage. Larger cities like Miami, San Francisco and Chicago usually have a higher cost of living, which means that those working in those cities earn more. Those working in small towns and rural communities earn less but have a lower cost of living.
Are There Any Disciplines Within Business Law?
As there are a number of disciplines within the business law field and related disciplines, students need to have some idea of what they want to do with their degrees before enrolling. This makes it easier for them to select the concentration or field that they want to study and to pick out which classes to take. One popular discipline is something called employment law. This refers to the federal and state laws the employers must follow and any laws put into place at the local level. Employment laws prevent employers from using factors like age or gender when hiring a new employee. Those caught violating these laws are subject to high fines and other penalties.
Taxation is another discipline that students can study. Some of the top accounting programs in the nation offer tax preparation assistance programs that allow locals who need help to come in and get free tax help. The best online Master's in Business Law programs with an emphasis on taxation encourage students to gain experience through low-income tax programs in their own areas. Students take courses to learn more about filing income and business taxes on the state and federal levels.
Some of these online programs offer concentrations in tax services or financial services too. These programs are a little different because they focus more on what clients can do with their money. Students can take courses on the legality of tax shelters and why the government does not let individuals and companies keep money overseas. This discipline also looks at wealth management and what students can do to help their clients maintain and increase their wealth.
Are All Law Degrees the Same?
All law degrees are not the same. A Juris Doctor, also called a JD degree, is one that qualifies a student to sit for the bar exam, which is the examination offered by the American Bar Association. Practicing lawyers in the United States must pass this exam to practice in a specific state. It usually takes three years to complete one of these degrees. A Master of Law, also called an LM or an LLM degree, is one of the more common degrees offered through online business law master's programs. Students can finish one of these degree programs in as little as a single year.
There is also something called a Master of Judicial Studies program, which awards students an MJS degree. This is a longer program that usually includes three years of full-time study. Many schools offer these programs for students who do not finish a pre-law program as an undergraduate and those who have no legal experience. A small number of schools offer MS programs that award students a Master of Science degree too.
Will Finishing a Law Degree Help a Student Become a Lawyer?
Anyone who wants to practice law in the United States must take the bar exam, which is the exam that the ABA offers. A lawyer who wants to practice in more than one state will need to pass the bar exam in each of those states. Only those with a JD degree can typically take this test. Applicants must have a degree from an accredited college or university, which usually means a school with ABA accreditation. Anyone applying for the exam must also pass a criminal background check. Certain convictions can prevent an individual from taking the exam and becoming a lawyer. Those with a business law degree may find that they can only take the exam after obtaining a JD degree too.
How Long Does it Take to Earn One of These Degrees?
The amount of time that it takes to earn a business law degree depends on the program itself and the type of degree awarded to graduates. Basic programs take only one year to finish, but it can take up to three years to earn a more advanced LLM degree. It also depends on whether the student enrolls on a part-time or full-time basis. Part-time students take up to half as many courses each semester as full-time students do, and some take even less classes. Programs may allow students to take only one class every semester. Most schools do have a time limit in place that requires students finish their degrees within a set period of time such as five years. A student who does not finish a degree by the deadline may need to take introductory and lower level classes over again or completely start the program over.
What are Some of the Application Requirements?
One of the most important things to consider before applying to an online Master's in Business Law program is the application process itself. This process varies between schools but can take a few days or longer to finish. Most colleges that offer online programs also offer online applications that students can fill out while at work or at home. Many have a system that asks the student to pick out a unique user name and a password that he or she can remember. The student may need to complete some other requirements offline and mail in documents to the school. Schools often let students file electronic or digital copies of these documents too.
Students may need to take a graduate standardized test like the GMAT, which is often a requirement for attending business school, or the GRE. Many colleges will waive this requirement for students who have more experience and those who graduated from college more than five years before enrolling. Schools can ask for a resume to get a look at the experience that the student has and to find out where the individual went to college. Other admissions and application requirements can include references familiar with the applicant's college or professional work, a personal essay statement, writing sample and/or an application fee.