9 Questions to Yourself and Your legal Career When Choosing an Online LL.M.
There are so many options to advance your legal career with an online LL.M., that it can be hard to narrow down your search and choose from among the alternatives.
Accredited by the American Bar Association and located in Concord, New Hampshire, the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law is ranked a top 10 law school to study intellectual property law for 29 years, since the rankings began, and is one of the country’s top 100 law schools. The law school offers residential, limited residential, and completely online legal programs.
UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law not only delivers online graduate degree programs, but also recently launched the first Hybrid JD specializing in Intellectual Property, Technology, and Information Law, an ABA-accredited program allowing students to pursue their juris doctor primarily online. Now, the experts in online legal education at the University are sharing their insights with students looking for the right online program.
1. It's all about flexibility, isn't it?
Before choosing a program, it is important to know how much flexibility is built into the program structure. Choosing a program with classes where students are required to log in at a certain time, also known asynchronous courses, can be difficult for students who are in different time zones or who have set work schedules. You should ask how classes are delivered, because if real-time instruction doesn't work for your schedule or time zone, that program may not be for you.
With recorded, or asynchronous, courses you can go back and re-watch entire lessons to make sure you are absorbing the material. That's why UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law delivers online LL.M. programs asynchronously; students gain greater flexibility and increased opportunity to learn the material. International students can take courses and receive the same quality education without moving to the United States.
2. Will I learn from expert faculty who are leaders in the field so that I can become an expert as well?
It is important to ask who will be teaching your classes. At UNH, online students learn from a formidable faculty of full-time professors, high-end practitioners, scholars, and experts from around the globe.
Megan Carpenter, Dean of UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law explains, “We take the approach that all students deserve the opportunity to learn from our top-rated faculty, regardless of whether that student is here in New Hampshire or online. Online students receive the same education as they would if they were physically in our classroom. That matters. Not only to our students, but to us. We want to make sure everyone has the same quality experience.”
Different specializations, various program types
3. How much access will I have to my professors?
An LL.M. is important to expand your expertise in a certain area of the law. Therefore, you will have questions. If you aren't clear about a topic or want to dive further into a certain lesson, personal interaction with a professor can make all the difference in your education. It can also help you advance your career and make connections with others in the field.
Students are often already professionals in the area of law they're looking to become experts in. Faculty at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law find teaching LL.M. students rewarding because students already have a base of knowledge and can share their experiences with the topic. “I can have in-depth conversations with these students and really help them get to the next level in their careers. It’s the personal interactions I have that not only make me a better online professor, but also give the online student exactly what they need to succeed in and outside the classroom” says Professor Albert Scherr, Chair of the school’s online International Criminal Law and Justice program.
4. How will I interact with other students?
Though you may not meet them in person, your fellow online classmates become your community. Interacting with classmates helps students better understand the material or spark ideas they may not have considered. When choosing an online LL.M., ask whether the courses are strictly lecture-based or if there is built-in time for discussion. When classes are in a blended format, this means that professors aren't just delivering information, but also leaving time for discussion between students.
Leah Plunkett, Associate Dean for Administration at UNH Franklin Pierce shares, “Our classes are in a blended format. Discussions are part of a student's grade. When we're reviewing participation, we're not just looking for how many times a student comments, but how meaningful their contribution is.”
These discussions are often part of a student's grade. Since many students already work in the field they are taking classes in, collaborating with fellow students can lead to lifelong friendships and professional relationships. You will create your own support network with the peers you meet in online courses.
Recent UNH graduate Natalie Tackaberry, LL.M. ’19 says, “The UNH online learning environment enables classmates to interact in a meaningful and constructive manner. The faculty engage with students on discussion boards and arrange calls regularly to check in."
How to apply to the University of New Hampshire?
5. How will I be supported?
The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law has faculty advisors, supporting students every step of the way. Support like this can be necessary for finding your balance between studies, work, and home life. Your faculty advisor will help you select courses that will put you on the path toward achieving your professional goals.
At the University of New Hampshire, the Registrar, Business Office, Library and other departments support residential and online students equally.
6. What do I do if I run into technical problems?
Everyone has run into technical problems. You go to log onto a website and your computer crashes or you forget your login details. Solving these tech problems are especially important for online students. Choose an LL.M. program where a tech team is ready to help and can solve the problems with you. UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law supports all students in technical issues so they can troubleshoot any problems and focus on their coursework.
7. What services can I access after graduation?
An LL.M. program shouldn't only support you while you're a student, but after you graduate. Earning your LL.M. is an investment, so make sure that investment works for you well after graduation. That's why many professors at UNH serve as lifelong mentors for their students. They keep in touch and have proved to be excellent career advisors. In addition, alumni of UNH Law's online programs say the friendships built at UNH remain accessible after graduation and have been instrumental in expanding their professional networks. Online students become a part of the same alumni network as residential students and can access the school’s services as they launch or continue to grow their careers.
One of the top 10 law schools in the US for Intellectual Property
8. What if I decide that online learning isn't right for me? Can I become a residential student? What if I start a residential program but want to finish online?
Some students test an online program but quickly realize an in-person program would be better for them. When choosing an LL.M. program, ask questions on whether you can switch from online to on-campus seamlessly. This can help you finish your degree in the manner that's best for you. at UNH Franklin Pierce, we give our students flexibility in how they complete their coursework. Some programs are even organized in a mixed format where the first semester is spent on campus, and then students complete their remaining courses online. This allows students to get the best of both approaches to learning
9. Can you try out a course before matriculating?
If you're wondering which school is the right fit, ask if you can try out a course before fully enrolling. At UNH Franklin Pierce, we believe students should have the opportunity to try out a course before formally applying and enrolling as a degree-seeking student. We believe this allows students to get a feel for the curriculum, the format, and the professors to ensure they enroll in the right program
Choosing an online LL.M. program that works for you can be overwhelming, so thinking about what matters to you and asking a few questions can help you narrow down your search.
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