The master’s in business law online is designed to prepare graduates to work as compliance officers, financial examiners, and revenue agents. The degree builds core skills in legal analysis and legal writing, often with an emphasis on compliance with laws and regulations. Professionals in a variety of industries, including financial services, insurance, corporate law, and federal taxation, have the opportunity to benefit from the specialized skills gained during a business law master’s program.
By earning a master’s degree in business law, professionals can advance their careers and increase their salary potential. This page ranks the top online master’s in business law programs; it also provides information about concentrations within the master’s degree, career paths for graduates, and financial aid resources for graduate students.
During a master’s in business law online program, graduate students learn how to analyze laws and regulations to apply them in different industries. Many programs offer concentrations — such as financial service compliance, employment law, and intellectual property law — that prepare graduates for specialized careers as financial examiners, human resource managers, or corporate paralegals. Each program offers specialized coursework designed to build legal analysis, legal writing, and compliance enforcement skills for graduate students.
Most master’s programs require at least 30 credits, and graduate students complete their degree in one or two years. Some programs offer a part-time option, which appeals to professionals balancing school and work. In most cases, part-time students complete one course at a time. Online programs also provide flexibility and accessibility, allowing prospective students to attend their preferred school without needing to relocate.
Most programs that offer a master’s in business law online include core classes that introduce graduate students to the legal system. After completing core classes, many programs offer specialized electives in areas such as taxation, compliance, and enforcement. While the specific courses vary depending on the program, the sample curriculum below lists common classes.
In legal analysis courses, graduate students learn about statutory interpretation and the analysis of legal texts. Students read cases, develop analytical skills, and learn how to research legal information. The course prepares graduate students to apply statutes and regulations when analyzing legal issues in a variety of industries.
Graduate students learn the stylistic elements of legal writing, including how to research legal questions, create accurate legal summaries, and write an analysis of a legal topic. The course also trains students how to identify legal rules and principles and use their skills when applying the law.
Classes on corporate taxation introduce graduate students to tax laws, regulations, and practices as applied to corporations and their shareholders. The course may cover debt and equity in taxation, distributions such as stock sales, and allocation rules. Students may also study corporate liquidations and deductions.
Corporate law classes examine the organization of businesses and the regulations that apply to each, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability companies. Graduate students may also study the rights of shareholders, corporate regulations, and fiduciary duties of owners. The course prepares graduates to work in corporate law settings.
Classes on compliance and enforcement cover corporate compliance with federal and state regulations. The course may include internal corporate compliance procedures, risk management in corporate compliance and enforcement, and the creation of compliance and risk management policies. Graduate students may also study regulatory compliance frameworks.
In a master’s in business law, graduate students complete writing assignments, analyses of regulations, and other projects during their coursework. In addition, the program may include a capstone course or thesis project. During a capstone course, graduate students synthesize the material learned during their program, with a focus on their concentration area. The capstone may also include a research paper or project to demonstrate the student’s knowledge. Some programs require a master’s thesis, which graduate students write under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The thesis may require original research, a literature review, or an analysis of a particular law or regulation.
Business law graduate students pursue a variety of specializations, including financial compliance, tax law, and employment law. These concentrations allow students to focus their courses around their desired career path. For example, HR professionals may prefer a specialized curriculum focused on employment law, while professionals with a background in finance benefit from a concentration in financial compliance.
A concentration in financial compliance emphasizes regulations on corporations in finance and banking. Students study the laws and regulations that apply to the financial services industry and learn how to assess compliance and design programs to evaluate compliance. Graduates may work as financial examiners or in other compliance positions in finance.Tax Law
The master’s in business law with a concentration in tax law emphasizes taxation laws and regulations, particularly those that apply to corporations. Graduate students build knowledge in federal tax regulations, changes to tax law, and tax fundamentals. The concentration prepares for careers in corporate financial regulation or as a revenue agent.Employment Law
A concentration in employment law trains human resource professionals to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The concentration focuses on designing personnel policies that comply with regulations, administering benefits in a legal way, and managing employee relations. The concentration prepares HR professionals to work in management positions.
A master’s in business law online prepares graduates to work in a variety of industries. Specialists in finance or tax law may pursue careers as financial examiners or revenue agents. Graduate students interested in corporate law can work as arbitrators or paralegals. Many industries, including healthcare, insurance, and manufacturing, hire compliance officers to ensure that their company follows current laws and regulations. In these positions, a master’s degree in business law prepares professionals to evaluate legal regulations and design policies to follow regulations. Some of these careers require professional experience.
Compliance officers ensure that a company complies with the laws and regulations that govern their industry. They review and evaluate regulations, investigate whether companies follow laws and regulations, and inspect industries to uncover violations. Compliance officers work in a variety of industries, including finance, insurance, manufacturing, and energy. Many also work for federal or state governments. A master’s in business law with a focus on compliance can help professionals advance in this field.
Arbitrators help disputing parties resolve their disagreements outside of the court system. They discuss issues, conduct meetings, and interview witnesses. Arbitrators create settlement agreements and apply any relevant laws or regulations to determine a solution. With a specialization in business law, arbitrators may play a role in corporate arbitration. Some positions require an advanced degree such as a master’s in business law.
Financial examiners ensure that financial institutions comply with laws and regulations. They play a role in risk assessment and financial management and may review new regulations or establish procedures and policies to comply with regulations. Financial examiners work in finance, insurance, and government. While a bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level educational requirement, a master’s in business law with a focus in financial compliance prepares professionals for career advancement.
Paralegals work with lawyers to conduct legal research, draft documents, and help lawyers during a trial. With a specialization in business law, paralegals may conduct research on laws and regulations, prepare contracts or shareholder agreements, and draft financial reports. They may also review regulations to ensure compliance with legal requirements. Some employers prefer candidates who complete a paralegal certificate program or at least hold a bachelor’s degree. A master’s in business law helps paralegals advance in corporate law positions.
Revenue agents review complicated tax returns to ensure their accuracy. They may specialize in an area such as multinational businesses or a particular type of corporation. Revenue agents work for the Internal Revenue Service or a state and local tax collecting agency, and they study tax law and regulations. A master’s in business law with a concentration in tax law prepares professionals for advancement in this field.
Professional organizations help legal professionals connect with colleagues through conferences and events, build professional skills through webinars and continuing-education courses, and stay current on the latest research through professional journals. Graduate students often benefit from career services offered by professional organizations, including job postings and career advice.
Founded in 1878, the ABA represents lawyers, law students, and legal professionals. The association accredits law schools, provides professional resources, and offers continuing-education courses. The ABA also offers a legal career center.
The business law section of the ABA offers resources for professionals who work in business law, including an annual conference, continuing-education classes, and publications. The site also offers a library of business law resources.
A professional organization for paralegals, NALA offers continuing-education resources, professional development tools, and certifications. The association also offers a career center with job postings and career tips.
ALSB represents educators in business law and offers conferences, regional associations, and proceedings. The academy also publishes the American Business Law Journal and the Journal of Legal Studies Education.
Representing legal professionals around the world, IBA offers a corporate law section for professionals who specialize in business law. The section publishes Business Law International and offers professional development resources such as articles and podcasts.
By earning a master’s in business law online, professionals increase their earning potential. Many of these careers offer above-average salaries, with the median salary for compliance officers exceeding $67,000 a year. With a master’s degree, professionals in some fields may command a six-figure salary. A master’s in business law does not necessarily guarantee eligibility for these positions, but the degree can potentially lead to the following career paths.
|Job Title||Lowest 10% Earned Annually||Median Annual Salary||Highest 10% Earned Annually||Job Growth 2016-2026|
|Compliance Officer||Less than $38,170||$67,870||More than $107,010||N/A|
|Arbitrator||Less than $35,800||$60,670||More than $124,570||+10%|
|Financial Examiner||Less than $47,400||$81,690||More than $153,850||+10%|
|Paralegal||Less than $31,130||$50,410||More than $81,180||+15%|
|Revenue Agent||Less than $31,730||$53,130||More than $99,990||-1%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2018
Many career paths with a master’s in business law will see job growth in the next decade. As the BLS projects, arbitrators and financial examiners will see 10% more positions by 2026, with paralegals growing by a projected 15%. In these growing fields, a graduate degree positions professionals to take leadership roles and earn above-average salaries.
Salaries vary depending on a candidate’s highest degree level. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, professionals with a bachelor’s in legal studies earn a median salary of $51,000. By earning a graduate degree in legal studies, professionals increase their median salary to $78,000, an increase of $27,000 a year.
Colleges, universities, and programs earn accreditation after a voluntary review from an independent, nonprofit accrediting agency. The process measures the institution’s student learning outcomes, reviews graduation requirements, and assesses faculty qualifications. Accreditation serves as an important marker of academic standards, and students benefit from earning an accredited degree. Accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and an accredited degree meets the requirements for many certifications and professional licenses.
Accreditation may come from a regional, national, or specialized accrediting agency. Regional and national agencies review colleges and universities, with regional accreditation holding the most prestige. Specialized agencies accredit a program, such as a business school, a social work program, or a teacher training program. By choosing an accredited program, prospective students can ensure that their degree meets the highest standards for academic excellence.
Graduate students pay for their degrees through loans, savings, and financial aid. Many benefit from scholarships offered by professional organizations or graduate funding packages through their university. Graduate students also qualify for federal financial aid. By researching how to pay for a master’s in business law online, prospective students may find the necessary resources to mitigate the cost of graduate school.
Graduate students qualify for federal financial aid, including loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. After filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, prospective students can receive need-based and non-need-based support, including direct loans and the federal work study program.
Many universities support graduate students through fellowships or assistantships. For example, the University of Washington School of Law offers a Global Business Law Fellowship for law students and graduate students earning a master’s degree. Programs may also offer research assistantships to support graduate students.
The American Bar Association offers fellowships and scholarships to law students, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Students pursuing a master’s in business law may qualify, particularly if they already possess a JD.
A resource created by the ABA, this page provides information on student loan forgiveness programs at the federal and state level, including for government employees, professionals working in public interest fields, and nonprofit employees. The page also provides information on income-based repayment plans for student loans.