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Ways of studying an LLM program: full-time or part-time study

The proliferation of LLM programs – in terms of subject specialisation and mode of study – means that you can almost certainly find one tailored to your needs.

Many LLM programs are entirely coursework based, others require a serious paper (of perhaps 10,000–20,000 words) in addition to coursework, and still others allow students the choice of taking additional courses or writing one or many papers in their stead. Many LLMs can be studied either full or part time. Both types of program have advantages and disadvantages – and it is important to chose the way of studying that fits in with your lifestyle.

So how are you going to choose between full-time study or part-time study?

Full-time study

Full-time LLM programs generally last nine to twelve months, although some are two-year courses. A full-time program is obviously the quickest route to gaining an LLM qualification.


There are several advantages of studying your LLM degree as a full-time program:

1. You can focus entirely on the program without distractions.

2. You can take full advantage of non-course offerings, such as student organisations and lunches with professors.

3. You can travel to a far-off program to take advantage of a particular specialisation (or quality) not available locally – maybe even opting to study your LLM overseas which will give your CV and life experience a whole new boost!

4. You can qualify for a visa if attending a foreign program as many visa regimes do not permit part-time study.


However it is important to realise that there are downsides to full-time study too.

1. You will not have time to work or earn money while following the program.

2. You will have to leave your current job to do your studies, which means there will be a break in your career depending on the economic climate, you may feel uneasy about the job market once you have completed the program as gaining a Master of Laws doesn't guarantee a job in the future.

Part-time study

Part-time LLM programs usually take two years, although some offer the flexibility of longer time periods or, indeed, require longer periods. A typical program requires you to take one or two courses per term, with class sessions most often taking place during weekday evenings, or ins some cases at weekends. Part-time study is worth considering if you already have other serious commitments, such as a family to support.


There are numerous advantages to studying part time, these include:

1. You can keep earning money while gaining your qualification.

2. Your employer is more likely to pay your tuition for a part-time program than for a full-time program.

3. You can continue to progress in your job/career.

4. You don't need to relocate for your studies.

5. You eliminate the cost and risk of searching for employment at the end of the program (assuming you stick with your current employer).


However there are also disadvantages, including:

1. It is much harder to commit yourself to your studies and to your fellow students in the same way you could if you attended a full-time postgraduate program.

2. The demands made by the combination of a full-time job and part-time study can be overwhelming. However, it is possible to do both and maintain a rewarding personal life – you just need to make sure you use your time efficiently.  

3. Your classmates may be only from the surrounding area, if classes are offered in the evening, given that full-time students often avoid evening classes – this will mean you are less likely to meet a diverse range of people.


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