If you’re looking to earn an advanced degree in business law, chances are you’re looking into one of two paths: either a master’s degree (e.g. master of science or master of arts) in business law, or a master of laws (LLM) in business law. Whether you’re a non-lawyer who wants to gain a better understanding of how law impacts the business world, or you’re a lawyer who wants to specialize in practicing business law, there’s a degree path that’s right for you. So, what’s the difference between a masters in business law and a master of laws in business law?
What’s a master’s degree in business law vs. a master of laws (LLM) in business law?
There are several key differences, though both focus on how laws and regulations affect the business world. However, the main factor to consider is that a master of laws, also known as an LLM, is usually only for students who already hold a professional law degree, known as the JD (Juris Doctor). This means that most people who pursue a master of laws are usually already practicing attorneys (or law students) who want to gain expertise in a specialized field.
However, you do not need to be a law student or practicing lawyer to pursue other types of master’s degrees in business law, such as a master of science, master of arts, or MBA. These programs also teach students about the intersection of business and law, but are generally designed for students who intend to use their education and training in a corporate setting (without actually practicing law).
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you quickly know the difference:
Master of science/arts/business in business law: for non-law lawyers and students who want to learn more about the application of business law in a corporate setting
Master of laws (LLM) in business law: for practicing lawyers or law students who hold a JD and want to gain expertise in business law, either to expand their practice or transition into corporate compliance
Ready to move ahead in your career by earning an advanced degree studying business law? We’ve ranked the 13 best masters in business law programs – start exploring below!
What will I learn in a masters in business law program?
Curriculum will vary by institution, but in general, a typical curriculum will cover topics like:
- Property law
- Tax law
- Corporate compliance
- Labor law
- Human resources law
In a masters in business law program, students can gain the skills and expertise they need to work in corporate compliance departments or enhance their knowledge as C-level leadership, human resources executives, or heads of mergers and acquisitions.
What will I learn in a masters of law (LLM) in business law program?
Depending on the program, lawyers or JD students who enroll in an LLM program can expect to learn the following:
- Compliance law
- Regulatory law
- Taxation law
- Corporate finance
- Intellectual property law
- International Business Law
- Business Transactions and Agreements
- Entrepreneurship law
- International Arbitration
Attorneys and law students can become experts in business law and use their expertise to help corporations navigate complex business problems like compliance, mergers and acquisition, and major financial issues.
If you’re ready to advance your career in business law, then a master’s degree in business law could be the perfect option. We’ve compiled a list of the best masters in business law programs along with their tuition cost per credit and graduate school enrollment numbers. Check out our list below!
Best 5 Master’s Degrees in Business Law for Non-Lawyers
1. Regent University – The Master of Arts in Law – Business program
Regent University offers a Master of Arts in Law – Business program that combines contract law and business management so students are equipped to help organizations manage compliance, legal regulations, and more. Students gain an expertise in business law by taking courses in contracts, property law, taxation, and labor law, and can narrow down their studies by choosing complementary coursework in areas like investments, business planning, marketing, or economics. Graduates of the program leave knowing how to apply legal knowledge in practical business settings, and often pursue careers as C-level executives, real estate professionals, human resource leaders, and entrepreneurs.
- Tuition per credit: $675
- Enrollment: 5,536
2. Liberty University – Master of Business Administration (MBA) in American Legal Studies (39 points)
Liberty University offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in American Legal Studies that prepares students to solve complex legal problems in a business setting. By teaching a combination of legal studies and business administration, this program equips students to navigate increasingly strict compliance regulations throughout several industries. The curriculum covers several key areas of business and law, including organizational management and design, human resources management, international business, marketing, legal studies, accounting, and leadership skills. Featured courses include Legal Writing and Analysis, Contracts Law, Legal Issues in Business, and Organizational Design and Structure.
- Tuition per credit: $565
- Enrollment: 1,493
3. Oklahoma University – The MLS in International Business Law (31 points)
Oklahoma University offers an MLS in International Business Law through its College of Law designed for non-lawyers who want to learn about the laws, processes, and regulations that affect business and commerce on a global scale. This program meets the increasing demand for business professionals with expertise on international business transactions and the laws that govern them. The program can be completed in 15 months and includes courses such as Sources of International Law, Comparative Corporate Law, International Finance: Banking and Structured Finance, International Trade and Investment, International Payment Systems, and more.
- Tuition per credit: $524
- Enrollment: 216
4. Abraham Lincoln University – Master of Science in Law (31 points)
Abraham Lincoln University offers a Master of Science in Law that provides students with the opportunity to gain a comprehensive overview of the legal system. Students can take classes in Business Law and International Business Law while preparing themselves for a wide variety of law-related careers, including compliance or roles in corporate legal departments. Classes include Contract Law Fundamentals, International Business Law, and Communications Law.
- Credit: $175
- Enrollment: 22
5. Widener University Delaware Law School – Online Dual Degree: Master of Jurisprudence in Corporate and Business Law / Master of Business Administration (MJ/MBA)
Widener University Delaware Law School offers an Online Dual Degree with a Master of Jurisprudence in Corporate and Business Law and a Master of Business Administration (MJ/MBA). This unique program is ideal for students who want to pursue an advanced education that combines compliance, business law, business administration, and business management. Both degrees can be earned simultaneously in about two-and-a-half years. The MJ in corporate and business law focuses on legal analysis, regulatory compliance, and ethics in a wide variety of settings, including business, government, and non-profit. The MBA program complements the MJ degree by providing students with real-world, practical knowledge about business management and leadership. Courses include Corporate Compliance Rules & Standards, Auditing & Monitoring, Corporate Deviance, and Business Principles.
- Tuition per credit: $2,233
- Enrollment: 224
Best 8 Master of Laws (LLM) Degrees for Lawyers
1. Loyola University of Chicago – The Master of Laws (LLM) in Business Law
Loyola University of Chicago offers a Master of Laws (LLM) in Business Law designed for post-JD lawyers and attorneys who want career advancement and greater opportunity in the area of business law. This program helps students gain the skills and knowledge they need to better advise corporate clients while learning about the latest in transactional and regulatory practices in business. Courses include Business Planning, International Business Transactions, Advanced Partnership Tax, Art Law, Anatomy of a Deal, Bankruptcy, Advanced Corporate Tax, and more. Students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience by representing actual clients in the school’s Business Law Clinic.
- Tuition per credit: $1,615
- Enrollment: 5,088
2. Arizona State University – LLM in Business Law
Arizona State University offers an LLM in Business Law through its Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law that prepares lawyers to advise companies on key business issues such as compliance, formation, strategic decision making, and buying and selling businesses. Graduates leave with the experience to guide businesses of all types, from large to small, local to international. Combining a theoretical and practical approach, the program focuses on risk mitigation rather than risk elimination so lawyers can help their corporate clients grow and thrive. The school also offers an alternative concentration: Entrepreneurship Law and Strategy, which focuses on the unique legal challenges associated with early stage ventures.
- Tuition per credit: $1,223
- Enrollment: 286
3. Florida State University – LLM in Business Law
Florida State University offers an LLM in Business Law geared towards students with a JD degree and foreign lawyers who want to learn regulatory compliance, in-house counsel, transactional law, financial regulation, and complex business litigation. This program prepares students to deal with areas of growing demand as a result of ever-evolving changes to the legal landscape, as well as cybersecurity and the adoption of the Dodd-Frank act. Each new student is matched to an experience faculty member mentor, who helps the student customize their course of study to meet their interests and professional goals.
- Tuition per credit: $688
- Enrollment: 228
4. The University of Texas at Austin – The Master of Laws – Business Law
The University of Texas at Austin offers a Master of Laws in Business Law that focuses on the legal regulation of both U.S. and international businesses. Students gain expertise by learning from leading theorists and practitioners in topics like bankruptcy, tax, arbitration, antitrust, and energy. Required courses include Business Associations and Contracts for Foreign Lawyers, but students are encouraged to design a curriculum that is tailored to their professional goals. This program is specially geared towards students with a foreign law degree, but some students with a JD and some degree of background in the subject area may be considered on an individual basis.
- Tuition per credit: $1,322
- Enrollment: 322
5. University of San Diego – LLM in Business and Corporate Law
University of San Diego offers an LLM in Business and Corporate Law designed for attorneys who want to transition to an in-house position as corporate counsel or who want to expand their practice to include complex business transactions. The curriculum covers topics like corporate finance, intellectual property and transactions, labor and employment, and taxation. By combining required courses with electives that suit their professional goals, students gain a combination of theoretical and practical experience that will help them navigate complex business transactions both in the U.S. and internationally.
- Tuition per credit: $1,960
- Enrollment: 253
6. Capital University – LLM in Taxation or Business
Capital University offers an LLM in Taxation or Business with flexibility for busy attorneys who need to balance their professional and personal lives. This program is designed for lawyers who want to gain a competitive edge in the business and tax world. With classes offered in the evening, students can work towards gaining expertise in tax and business law while maintaining their professional work schedules. The program also provides students with a solid understanding of business and tax transactions in regulatory, global, and economic environments.
- Tuition per credit: $1,612
- Enrollment: 212
7. Boston University – Executive LLM in International Business Law
Boston University offers an Executive LLM in International Business Law that teaches students how to develop a strong understanding of international business law from US perspective, as well as a cultural understanding of business problems on a global scale. Courses include US Contract Law for the International Lawyer, US Corporate Law for the International Lawyer, International Business Transactions & Agreements, Cross-Border Legal Practice, Global Cyber Law and Governance, and International Arbitration. Three online concentrations are available: Enterprise Risk Management & Compliance; International Taxation; and International Environmental & Energy Law.
- Tuition per credit: $2,402
- Enrollment: 455
8. University of Southern California – Master of Laws (LLM) in Business Law
University of Southern California offers a Business Law LLM that offers lawyers the opportunity to develop diverse legal, negotiating, and transactional skills in the area of business. The program also allows students to gain further expertise in areas of concentration including finance and taxation, general corporate law, real estate, entertainment and technology law, and mergers and acquisitions. This LLM is open to anyone with a first law degree (LLB or equivalent) outside of the US and helps international lawyers gain a strong understanding of American business law and how it may differ from other legal systems globally.
- Tuition per credit: $2,859
- Enrollment: 505
Want to explore additional masters in business law programs? Try our Degree Finder tool, where we’ll help you find the best program for your educational and career goals.
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