Types of Law Degree Specializations with School List
Specializations within a law degree are key to any law student’s education and professional journey as they prepare them to work in a specific legal field, by augmenting their existing skills and equipping them with new ones through tailored classes. Many law schools offer Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Master of Laws (LL.M.), and Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs with a broad range of specializations. Some even may allow students to earn a second, related master’s degree by taking a limited number of additional courses or take courses for two concentrations at a time.
A Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a graduate law degree for people who have not earned or don’t necessarily plan on earning a J.D., the degree required to take the bar exam and become a licensed attorney. MLS candidates however still have a deep interest in how the law influences various industries and the overall economy.
Your MLS specialization could lead you to become an expert on entertainment or copyright laws. Alternatively, you could focus your studies on lobbying and government regulations. And if you’re intrigued by labor market trends and are hoping to make an impact in that sector, labor negotiations and human resources could be the legal niche for you.
Whatever you decide, you can find an MLS program that offers concentrations or focus in the legal arena that matches your interests. You also can opt to follow a general MLS track. Either way, think about what this educational investment can help you achieve in the field of law and whether or not it can help to boost your marketability.
Legal Practice Areas and Specializations
From healthcare law to commerce law, there are dozens of legal specialties to pick from. Learn about some common law degree concentrations below and find out what schools are offering them:
Commerce and Industry
This concentration equips you with knowledge of business and compliance regulations, best practices in negotiation, taxation and a host of other skills necessary to be your own boss.
This track is for those who are interested in working in entertainment and media, including film, publications, and online platforms as well as representing authors, athletes, and performers. Courses will cover topics including labor contracts, unions, copyright and trademark laws.
This concentration is for professionals who want to specialize in tax matters, including federal/state, corporate, real estate, and international tax regulations. The taxation concentration gives students the analytical skills needed to anticipate trends in tax policies.
This is a wide-ranging field that is integral to any organization’s success. This specialty may focus on issues such as contract negotiations, diversity hiring, corporate governance, organizational behavior, and business ethics.
Corporate compliance experts ensure that a company or organization follows and resolves compliance-related issues to protect its integrity and to prevent liability problems. This may involve designing and monitoring policies on training, corporate practices and procedures.
This concentration focuses on copyright, trademark, and patent systems. You might work on licensing and branding matters for a retail firm, or defend against software or entertainment piracy, or trademark infringement.
This area of law includes the courts, police, prisons, social work, and paralegal services. This concentration covers local, state, and federal laws, legal procedures, law enforcement, and legal theories on crime and punishment. Students may work as FBI agents, police officials, and court clerks, among other jobs.
You learn about fundamental rights and how to use them to protect individuals, states, and corporations from violations by regulators, governments, and other businesses and people.
Personal Injury and Civil Litigation
This area of law involves disputes between two or more parties. Students with this legal specialty may work in law offices, public interest organizations, elder care centers, insurance firms, and mediation groups.
Health and Environment
This is a complex and ever-changing area of law. This concentration is useful for those aiming to work as legal nurse consultants, health care administrators, or compliance auditors. Courses may include health care fraud, privacy and data security and information systems management.
This is a burgeoning field with a big demand for experts. Every type of industry – from retailers to insurers and banks, to government agencies – need legal and technical help to prevent cybercrimes and to guard against liabilities.
Schools with specialty in cybersecurity and information policy:
This concentration focuses on campus issues through a legal framework. Issues include student safety, financial aid, accreditation, and student rights. The concentration prepares graduates to work in school administration or in education policy roles.
Schools with specialty in higher education compliance:
Coursework focuses on the intersection of law and governmental policies and its effect on individuals, communities and our society. Students with background in this concentration may go on to work as a paralegal, lobbyist, mediator or nonprofit administrator.
Focus in this area exposes students to global perspectives and cross-cultural skills that are important for working in careers related to international law, business, human rights, and policy. Courses may be taught by scholars from around the world.
Schools List of Online Legal Studies Program with Specializations
Master of Legal Studies programs often have specialty concentrations or areas of focus that qualify you for professional certification along with your degree. Here’s a list of schools that offer MLS and related master’s degrees for non-lawyers.
Schools List of Online Legal Studies Program with Specializations
You have the option of earning a general Master of Legal Studies that provides you a broad view of the different legal disciplines. But if your sights are set on a particular career field, then you can opt to earn an MLS in that concentration or take enough courses to become certified in a specific legal area. Your expertise in that niche may make you more attractive to potential employers.
Can I switch my concentration after I begin a legal studies program?
If you change your mind about your MLS concentration or area of focus, you usually can switch even after you start the program. But keep in mind that you can earn an MLS in as little as 12 months and with as few as 24 credits. That won’t leave much room to redirect your studies without spending more time and money.
So, take the time to explore your areas of interest before you enroll. And once you begin the program, focus on completing your core MLS courses at the beginning and reserve your elective courses for later on. Those elective courses may account for one-third to half of total credits you need to graduate.
Do I have to choose a concentration to get a Master of Legal Studies (MLS)?
No, most schools offer a general study track that provides a broad overview of legal theories and systems for non-lawyers. Even without a formal concentration, you have the option of taking elective courses that suit your interests or possible career field.