Is An Online LLM Worth It

Last Updated on January 18, 2023

Ready to find out more about online LLM programs? We’ve done the work for you and found the best online LLM programs in the country. Finding info on the topic of online LLM programs can be tricky, given that some info is outdated or skewed based on different circumstances (such as for international students).

When you are looking for online LLM programs, the first thing that comes to mind is affordability. Yes, a high quality and accredited law program can cost you a blank check. Then how to go about it? Study Law is not for everyone but if you’re thinking about earning an LLM degree then this article will guide you towards the best study law schools and give you tips on how to make the most economical choice of your career.

Is An Online LLM Worth It

Some might dread the thought of spending yet another year at a university, doing even more reading, writing even longer essays and sitting even tougher exams. They would rather go on into practice as soon as possible and learn law the proper “hands-on” way. Others might be eager to engage in some further study, left unsatisfied with the lack of in-depth coverage of their favourite law subject during their LLB, whilst the remainder might see a LLM as something to give their CV more clout.

On whichever side of the fence you are standing (hopefully, you are not sitting on it – lawyers need to be opinionated people!), I could honestly say that no one really “wins” in this debate. It all comes down to answering the simple, yet difficult, question of: “What is it that I want to get from LLM or why do I want to do it?”

Why should I do a LLM?

One thing is certain: if you are planning to do it solely to postpone the nightmare of job hunting then think again. It’s a costly gap year: you might as well use your money to travel or as a “maintenance grant” to fund legal volunteering or unpaid internships to bulk out your CV.

Otherwise, if you possess a clearer idea of your future, LLM might actually prove quite useful. For instance, a master’s degree is quite welcomed in the barristers’ circles. Whilst it is not a prerequisite, it might strengthen your application as it exhibits an intellectual mind and genuine passion for law. There is a tendency for future (or current) barristers to undertake a Human Rights or International Law-oriented master’s degree.

Would-be or qualified solicitors tend to opt for a more commercially-oriented LLM. This type of LLM might be more beneficial if you are seriously thinking about seeking a training contract at one of the commercial law firms. At this study level, the LLM is a great opportunity for in-depth study of a narrower area of law. Greater emphasis is placed on lateral thinking and putting legal elements into a wider current affairs-context.

Finally, doing LLM is a must if you want to pursue a legal academic career or if you are considering working for some of the NGOs or international organisations, like the UN or the EU.

Why Might LLMs Might be Worth it for Some People

  • For some students, the level of insight offered by an LLB is unsatisfactory. If there is a particular legal area that they would like to research more, the LLM offers the opportunity to do so alongside gaining a well-regarded qualification
  • Other students may complete an LLM because they think this will make their CV stand out to graduate recruitment at law firms and in chambers
  • If a student believes their LLB classification does not reflect their academic abilities, they may choose to prove they can achieve better through an LLM
  • Some students may want to complete an LLM at a higher-ranking university than where they completed their LLB

Why Might LLMs Might not be Worth it for Others

  • If a candidate would like to complete an LLM purely to differentiate themselves from other applicants, it’s worth noting that many commercial law firms say that they do not place greater value on candidates who have completed the LLM over those who have only an undergraduate degree
  • If a candidate believes they can better prove their academic abilities through a high-class LLM, remember that an LLM cohort consists of more experienced students and as such, generally the academic standard rises from that of an LLB cohort, meaning it is harder to get a high grade
  • In order to complete an LLM at a high-ranking institution, a 2.1 is necessary but a first is more realistic to be accepted onto the programme. This is alongside other achievements such as scholarships and work experience. As such, an LLM application will take time and effort, which for some candidates, may be better invested into law firm or chambers applications.

It’s also good to consider that completing an LLM is expensive (£10,000-£20,000 in the UK; $10,000-$60,000 in the US) and typically takes 12 months to complete. Therefore, undertaking one is a big commitment. It may be more beneficial and cost-effective to do some work experience, either paid or voluntary, to strengthen a CV rather than take on the debt of an LLM.

Although there are more scholarships on offer for the LLM than the LLB, gaining this funding is competitive and is usually given to those who have shown an interest in pursuing a career in law academia, as opposed to those who would like to undertake further study to advance a career in a law firm.

Who is Most Likely to Benefit from Taking an LLM?

  • Someone who would like to pursue law study to begin an academic career
  • Someone who would like to work for an NGO or somewhere like the UN
  • A non-lawyer professional who needs a degree of legal knowledge eg. a senior personnel in HR may find an LLM in employment law useful
  • Prospective barristers may benefit more than prospective solicitors because they can show a high-level of academic ability which will strengthen their applications
  • Someone who is enjoying their legal studies and might not be ready yet to find professional employment

Here are the top 5 things to look for in an online LL.M.

Qualified and Experienced Faculty

A quality institution will have full-time faculty leading their program. At Stetson, our LL.M. faculty are comprised of our full-time tenured faculty and a select, well-trained group of subject matter experts (both experienced practitioners and faculty at other law schools who serve as adjuncts). 


Lawyers have busy schedules. If you have a big court case coming up, you need to put school on hold. Online programs are just better for working professionals. Our faculty tell us that they work with their students when Life Happens, and offer them more flexible timelines for course requirements. As long as you hold up your end of the deal and communicate with your professor regularly, they will work with you. Just don’t abuse the privilege!

High Standards

A quality online LL.M. sets high standards for the courses. They involve assigned reading, reviewing videos, conducting research, recording yourself for an oral assignment, writing papers and more. Many involve team projects and online discussion boards. A quality LL.M. holds students to the same – or higher – standards as a traditional brick and mortar graduate level course. Most students go part-time to ensure they can balance work, family and school.

Top Quality Technology

Reliable, cutting edge technology is critical for asynchronous learning that takes students beyond just watching videos and group chat features. Software that allows for document sharing, group document editing, video conferencing and uploading, and more is essential to a full experience. Good technology enhances the learning environment.

Interactive students and engaged faculty

These courses are not meant to be taken in a vacuum – they are not the correspondence courses of old. A good online program requires and promotes interaction, dialog, group learning and demands hard work from its students. It is rigorous and meant to help you get to the next level of your career.  Stetson’s LL.M. courses require students to engage both in the virtual classroom and out. Students and faculty get to meet one another during conferences held by our Centers. 

Hiring managers are coming to realize that online learning is more in line with the times. Unlike more traditional graduate school, people are just too busy to commit to specific evenings, nor can they give up whole weekends. Very few professional can step out of the workforce to go to school full-time. Online education, when done right, is a fantastic way to continue to grow your skills and prepare for the next step in your career.  

Remember, you get what you give. If you don’t put in the work, you will waste your time and money and will likely fail. There is no fast-pass in an online LL.M.!

online llm programs harvard

The LL.M. (Master of Laws) program is a one-year degree program that typically includes 180 students from some 70 countries. The Graduate Program is interested in attracting intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and with various career plans. Harvard’s LL.M. students include lawyers working in firms, government officials, law professors, judges, diplomats, human rights activists, doctoral students, business men and women, and others. The diversity of the participants in the LL.M. program contributes significantly to the educational experience of all students at the School.

LL.M. Degree Overview

The philosophy of the LL.M. program is to offer our students a broad platform to design their own course of study within parameters set by the Harvard Law School faculty. Those parameters include some exposure to U.S. law, some writing experience, and, in the case of students who hold a J.D. degree from a school in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, a recommended exposure to legal theory. Within this framework, LL.M. students have enormous latitude in planning their year. Interested faculty, the Graduate Program staff, and special student advisors work hard throughout the year to help students identify and refine their study objectives, then develop an appropriate sequence of courses and other work.

Most of a student’s program will be drawn from the regular Harvard Law School curriculum — some 500 courses and seminars each year, offered to J.D. and graduate students alike. Students also have the opportunity to pursue a limited number of credits at other faculties within Harvard and other area schools and a variety of writing projects. About half of the LL.M. class each year writes an extensive research paper of approximately 50 pages on a topic the student develops in consultation with his or her faculty supervisor. Other students write shorter papers of some 25 pages in length, whether independently or in conjunction with a course or seminar.

Given the flexibility of the program, the range of curricula students design is enormous. Some students take a varied curriculum, with courses ranging from environmental law to corporations to public international law. Others select courses primarily in a single area, such as constitutional law, business organization and finance, legal theory, or human rights.

Finally, our students participate in a variety of extracurricular and co-curricular offerings on a not-for-credit basis. Graduate students participate in the full range of student organizations at the Law School. The Graduate Program and the Law School offer a multitude of other opportunities as well. For example, the Graduate Program features a series of information sessions highlighting various aspects of law teaching — an interactive forum for students from the various Law School degree programs — known as the Law Teaching Colloquium

LL.M. Degree Requirements

The philosophy of the LL.M. program is to offer our students a broad platform on which to design their own course of study within parameters set by the Harvard Law School faculty. All students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 23 credits and a maximum of 28 credits in one academic year; most students complete between 23 and 25 credits. The foregoing minimum and maximum include the one credit assigned for completion of the portion of the Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course that takes place during Orientation. Students also must satisfy some specific course and written work requirements.

Specific Requirements

International LL.M. students are free to choose their own courses.  The only course requirement is that students must take one core course in U.S. law.  The following courses have been pre-approved for this requirement: Antitrust Law and Economics – U.S., Contracts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Corporations, Criminal Law, Evidence, Family Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, Separation of Powers, Taxation, or Torts. International students also must write a paper of 25 or more pages that involves independent reflection, formulation of a sustained argument and, in many cases, outside research. Papers may be written either independently or in conjunction with a seminar. Finally, we strongly encourage students to take at least one course focusing on legal history, legal theory, policy analysis or legal process.

For students who hold a J.D. from a law school in the United States or Puerto Rico, and who are hoping to embark on a law teaching career, the emphasis is slightly different. These students have the opportunity to take a step back and relate the doctrinal areas in which they previously concentrated to broader intellectual, social, and cultural traditions and to pursue an extended writing project. Thus, students from the United States and Puerto Rico are strongly encouraged to take at least one course that is primarily focused on legal theory or jurisprudence and are required to write a paper of at least 50 pages in length.

The LL.M. (Master of Laws) program is a one-year degree program that typically includes 180 students from some 70 countries. The Graduate Program is interested in attracting intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and with various career plans. Harvard’s LL.M. students include lawyers working in firms or NGOs, government officials, law professors, judges, diplomats, activists, doctoral students, business people, and others. The diversity of the participants in the LL.M. program contributes significantly to the educational experience of all students at the School.

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered for the LL.M. program, an applicant must have a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from an ABA-approved U.S. law school or a first law degree (J.D., LL.B. or the equivalent) from a foreign law school. Harvard Law School is rarely able to accept into its LL.M. program anyone who already holds (or is pursuing) an LL.M. from another law school in the United States.

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the LL.M. program is highly competitive. Each year approximately 1,600 applicants compete for around 180 places in the LL.M. program. Most applicants are fully qualified for the program, and the Committee on Graduate Studies must select from among a large number of candidates who have excellent credentials. In evaluating applications, the Committee takes into consideration the applicant’s grades and rank in their law and other university studies, letters of recommendation, occupational interests, professional and personal accomplishments, and other factors, including the following:


The program is designed for intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates who come from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and who have demonstrated an intent to return to their country to contribute to academia or the legal profession. We are equally interested in applicants pursuing careers in law teaching and research, government service, the judiciary, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and private practice.  While we do not require work experience, we generally find that applicants who have had at least two years of work experience or further study beyond law school have a better sense of what they hope to accomplish during the LL.M. program. As a result, they often are able to submit stronger applications, and those who end up enrolling in the LL.M. program often find that their experience makes it easier for them to select courses and identify research topics, and in general get more out of their LL.M. year.


The program is designed for graduates of U.S. law schools who have had at least two or three years of experience beyond law school and who have committed themselves to a career in law teaching. In the admissions process, the Committee focuses primarily on applicants who have excelled in their basic law school studies, who elicit strong letters of recommendation from law school teachers and others familiar with their work, and who have spent at least two years working as a law school teacher, judicial clerk, or practitioner in a public agency or private practice. Evidence of graduate education in a field other than law is also significant. Weight will be given to materials demonstrating the applicant’s interest in, commitment to, and capability for a career in law teaching.

cheapest online llm programs

#7 – University of Illinois

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Springfield, Illinois

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,308

University of Illinois offers one of the most affordable law degree online programs on our list. Night classes, 100% online delivery, and small class sizes make this program appealing to working professionals with daytime responsibilities. Courses are delivered entirely online and are taught by the same esteemed professors who instruct on campus. These classes include introduction to graduate legal studies, legal research and citation, public advocacy, and theories of justice. Admission requirements require an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and applicants are expected to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. The institution is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 64th best regional university in the Midwest and the 12th top public school.

#6 – The University of Alabama

Online LLM

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,780

The University of Alabama offers an alternative to the online JD degree–the online LLM. This 24-credit hour program is offered fully online and with two concentration options in business transaction and tax. Courses are taught by distinguished faculty and experienced practitioners not only from Alabama but also Emory, Georgia State University, and other prestigious universities and legal firms. To be considered for admission, candidates must hold a law degree and an academic record reflecting an ability to perform graduate work. Official transcripts must also be submitted. The institution is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and best value school. Also, several graduate programs have earned top 50 rankings.

#5 – Grand Canyon University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice – Legal Studies

Phoenix, Arizona

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,555

Grand Canyon University’s law degree online program consists of an online master’s in criminal justice with an emphasis in legal studies. The program is designed to assist professionals in law enforcement and other decision makers to address issues in public policy, social research, and justice reform. Courses are administered online and include criminal behavior analysis, ethics and decision-making, exploration of law and public policy, and legal research. The online program takes approximately 20 months to complete. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the school as a top 300 best national university. Also, several graduate programs at GCU have earned rankings.

#4 – University of Nebraska

Online LLM in Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law

Lincoln, Nebraska

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,978

One of the more niche yet accredited online law school programs on our list is the online LLM in space, cyber, and telecommunications law degree at University of Nebraska. This 24-credit hour program is fully online and designed for experienced attorneys who want to continue work in law firms or government agencies. Classes may be completed entirely online and are taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. Some of the courses include domestic telecommunications law, international law, international telecommunications law, researching space law, and a capstone thesis project. The school is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 124th best national university and the 96th best value school in the country.

#3 – Liberty University

Online Master of Laws in International Legal Studies

Lynchburg, Virginia

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,723

Liberty University’s online law degree programs include the online Master of Laws in international legal studies. This fully online program consists of 24 credits and is considered to be a postgraduate program that can help enhance your professional legal career. Admission to the program requires a conferred Juris Doctor from an accredited United States law school or a first law degree (LLB or equivalent) from an international law school. All classes are delivered online and taught by Liberty professors. These courses include civil procedure, foundations of law, and lawyering skills. Liberty is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top 200-300 national university. Also, several of the online graduate programs have earned top 150 rankings.

#2 – University of Arkansas

Online Master of Laws in Agricultural and Food Law

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,571

University of Arkansas offers one of the best online law degree programs on our list. For those interested in understanding the complex issues in agriculture and food law, University of Arkansas offers the first advanced legal degree in food law. This 100% online program consists of 24 credit hours and takes between two semesters and four years to complete, depending on student pace. Classes are taught by university professors and experts in the field of agricultural law. To apply to the program, students must hold an earned JD or LLB degree. The school is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 133rd best national university and 132nd best value school in the country.

#1 – American Military University

Online Master’s in Legal Studies

Charles Town, West Virginia

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,900

American Military University offers the most affordable online law degree on our list. The 36-credit hour program is designed to provide legal and non-legal professionals with knowledge that will further your career. All classes are delivered online and include criminal justice process, criminal law, legal and ethical issues in management, methods of legal research and writing, property law, and tort law. Admission requirements include an earned bachelor’s from an accredited institution that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The university is accredited and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top unranked regional university in the South. American Military University is the most affordable school on our list to offer an online law degree program.

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