An LLM (Master of Laws) program is not just a commitment of your time but also of your money. How much will an LLM program cost and what should you think about?
Deciding to take an LLM course is based on answering many questions, including the following.
Is taking an LLM the right thing for me to do?
Where should I study it – locally or further away, perhaps even abroad?
Will it be necessary for me to work during the LLM program?
All of these decisions are difficult to make absent good information about the costs (and ways of meeting them) as well as the benefits of doing an advanced degree. The complexity of the subject – different programs charge radically different tuition fees; some students will qualify for substantial aid grants or subsidised loans, but others won’t; the cost of living varies according to where (and how) one lives; and so on – makes it important to do your homework early on.
Any given LLM program consists of its direct costs (those directly associated with your enrolment, such as tuition, student fees, books, a computer and other supplies) and indirect costs (those not directly associated, including housing, utilities, food, personal expenses, transportation, relocation costs and other basic living expenses). A significant indirect cost of full-time attendance at law school is the ‘opportunity cost’ or money forgone, meaning the amount of money you could have earned if you had continued working.
Part-time LLM (Master of Laws) programs are not such a heavy financial burden because you can continue to earn a salary, plus the costs are split over two years. Furthermore, employers are often willing to cover some or all of the costs of a part-time program.
Online/distance learning LLM programs can be an even more affordable option, allowing the student flexibility to study when they want and to fit their paid work around their studies.
An LLM program in the UK can range from around £10,000-£20,000 in direct cost, and in the US the tuition fees range from under US$10,000 to over US$60,000. The fees for full-time programs are by no means identical. A good rule of thumb is that the most expensive programs also have the most substantial financial aid available. So don’t be discouraged by the ‘sticker price’ of a program, even if it seems to place a given program out of your reach. Instead, investigate whether you qualify for financial aid.