The law has a significant impact on healthcare decisions at every level, and a master's degree in health law can give you insight into the system and its effects on the people within it. For lawyers, a master's in health law can provide a strong background to litigate Medicare, Medicaid, medical malpractice and Social Security cases. If you're not a lawyer, a master's in health law can prepare you for such careers as health social worker, researcher or hospital adviser.
A master's in health law degree is a graduate-level degree that can help you gain insight into both the legal and healthcare system. It won't, however, qualify you to be an attorney, so if you want to litigate cases, you'll need to go to law school. Your master's degree will, however, give you a strong sociology, health and law background. You'll take courses such as modern healthcare, health law and policy and bioethics. You may also be required to complete an independent study or write a thesis.
Master of Law Degree
A Master of Law degree, usually called an LLM, is a degree you can only seek after attending law school. It provides you with additional training in a niche area of the law and can be an ideal choice if you want to practice in the complicated area of healthcare litigation. You'll take classes in medical malpractice, health law, health litigation, legal ethics and medical ethics. You may also be required to author an independent study or gain practical experience in a legal clinic.
The University of Washington and Seton Hall both offer competitive LLM programs with several independent study and elective options. An LLM typically takes about one year to complete. At Seton Hall, for example, students have to complete a minimum of 24 courses at the law school itself and gain five credits for their thesis; they can take up to six hours of non-law school electives. At Washington University School of Law, students must complete a total of 40 credit hours on the quarter system.
Master's Degree Options
For students planning on a master's degree, the University of California at San Diego offers a strong curriculum. You can also seek a certification in global health policy while you pursue your degree. If you want to work online instead, Nova Southeastern University offers an online master's degree in health law. Widener Law School offers a similar degree, a master's of jurisprudence in health law. Master's degrees generally take two years or less. At UC-San Diego, for example, students have to take a minimum of 38 course hours.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.