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Master of Jurisprudence

About our Master of Jurisprudence Degree

Professor Colin Marks teaches a Master of Jurisprudence class in the St. Mary's classroom courtroomThis 30-credit-hour program is designed for those who do not wish to practice law, but are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the American legal system.

The M.Jur. degree is primarily for professionals practicing in areas that intersect with the law such as human relations, criminal and juvenile justice, the court system (including magistrates and probation officers), journalism, social work, regulatory agencies, county and municipal government, health care, intellectual property and technology, business, and other professions that directly interact with the legal system.

Some M.Jur. concentrations are available online. See related pages to learn more about all available concentrations.

An M.Jur. student stands outside the law school.The M.Jur. provides an alternative means of acquiring practical knowledge about law in a more efficient manner than the J.D. program and a more comprehensive manner than on-the-job training.

Credits earned through the M.Jur. program will not count toward the completion of a J.D. degree, and this M.Jur. degree does not satisfy the requirements to sit for the bar exam. Instead, a Master of Jurisprudence degree provides graduates with tools to help them better understand legal issues in their field.

Certificate of Public Service

M.Jur students may earn a Certificate of Public Service upon completion of their degree requirements and 50 hours of service to the community. Eligible service may include documented non-profit board service, community volunteering, church service or participation in advocacy and outreach opportunities sponsored by St. Mary’s School of Law and/or St. Mary’s University.

For more details about the volunteer opportunities available through the university:

Pro Bono & volunteer programs

M.Jur Courses

All M.Jur. students take four required courses:

  • Introduction to American Law (a 2-hour course designed specifically for the M.Jur. program, always taken in the first semester)
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Two first-year law courses chosen by the student (Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts I, Criminal Law, Property I, or Torts I)

These courses help place your field of concentration in a broader legal context and help you to understand how lawyers and judges think about and use law.

Altogether, you will need 30 credits to complete the M.Jur. degree, all of which must be taken in the School of Law. Concentrations (if one is chosen) will have additional requirements. These remaining credits may be taken in any elective approved by your concentration advisor.

To select your courses, you will work closely with the program director, who will advise you on what courses will best help you to achieve your professional goals. You may wish to simply take a variety of courses, or to develop a specific track with an emphasis in a particular area. You may choose to pursue a concentration such as Environmental Law, Compliance Law or Military and National Security Law.

Next steps

Frequently Asked Questions

Are M.Jur. courses regular law school courses?
Will the M.Jur. train me to be a lawyer?
Do M.Jur. courses count toward the J.D. degree if I decide I want to pursue that degree?
Will the M.Jur. degree help me get into a J.D. program?
Who will benefit from the Master of Jurisprudence degree?
May I combine graduate or professional studies with the Master of Jurisprudence?
What is the difference between a “track” and a “concentration”?
Do I have to go to school full time or may I obtain the M.Jur. degree part time?
When are courses offered?
What is the grading system for students in the M.Jur. program?
What is the tuition for the M.Jur. Program?
Is there financial aid for M.Jur. students?
Is the program accredited?

Q: Are M.Jur. courses regular law school courses?
Yes. The M. Jur. degree courses are the same courses that the J.D. degree students take with the exception of Introduction to American Law (2 credit hours), which is specifically designed for M.Jur. students.

Q: Will the M.Jur. train me to be a lawyer?
No. If you want to become a lawyer, you should apply to our J.D. program instead. The M.Jur. provides new skills and knowledge to enhance your existing repertoire rather than to prepare you for a new career. It will not permit you to take the bar.

Q: Do M.Jur. courses count toward a J.D. degree?
No. American Bar Association regulations do not permit credits acquired in the M.Jur. degree to be credited toward the J.D. degree. However, certain credits may be transferable from the J.D. degree to the M.Jur. degree.

Q: Will the M.Jur. help me get into a J.D. program?
The M.Jur. program is an independent degree program. It is not designed to be a gateway to the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program.  Students who attend or complete the M.Jur. program may apply to the J.D. program. However, these students will be treated as a traditional J.D. applicant and will receive no specialized treatment or advantages. None of the credits earned in the M.Jur. program can be applied towards the J.D. In addition, M.Jur. students who attended or completed the M.Jur. program must retake the LSAT and submit their score before their application will be processed. Applicants who received a score of 153 or above within the last five years are exempt from this requirement. Applicants may also be asked to provide supplemental information regarding their professional and academic performance in the M.Jur. program.

Q: Who will benefit from the Masters of Jurisprudence degree?
The M.Jur. degree is designed to enhance the knowledge and skill sets of professionals who interact with the law on a regular basis. Many corporate managers, auditors, health care providers, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), government employees and others regularly work with lawyers or work with the law. Other people may have little contact with lawyers, but a lot with the law. If you are in this group, then pursuing the M.Jur. degree will help you obtain a better understanding of the rules and regulations you work with and help to place them in a larger and more systematic context.

Furthermore, those who are pursuing graduate degrees in other fields may also find an M.Jur. degree useful. For instance, MBA students may find that an M.Jur. with a special emphasis on business law enriches their overall understanding of business administration. Ph.D. candidates in a number of fields, such as political science, philosophy or social sciences, can learn more about the policies that shape laws and how they are interpreted and enforced. Even those pursuing degrees in the hard sciences will find the M.Jur. useful for obtaining insights into fields such as health law, intellectual property law, environmental law and natural resource law. In short, the M.Jur. may appeal to any number of people in a variety of concentrations.

Q: Can I combine graduate or professional studies with the Masters of Jurisprudence?
Yes. Graduate and professional students in many fields may enhance their primary program with the study of law in general, and the particular area of law that complements their field. St. Mary’s allows students to design their own specialized track with the assistance of the program director to ensure that each degree candidate is able to maximize his or her degree experience. In addition, St. Mary’s is working on developing a number of concentrations that reflect specialized studies in particular fields, such as Environmental Law, Natural Resource Law and International and Comparative Law.

Students enrolled in any American or foreign university, if they are able to take a leave of absence from their studies, may enroll in the M.Jur. program, or they may pursue the degree on the completion of their graduate or professional studies. However, St. Mary’s does not currently offer joint degrees for its M.Jur. degree with any other institutions.

Q: What is the difference between a “track” and a “concentration”?
Each M.Jur. candidate is allowed to create his or her own track of study that reflects the student’s interests and goals. These are created in collaboration with the program director. These tracks are not reflected on the M.Jur. degree, however. Instead of developing a track, students may choose to pursue a concentration. The concentrations are in specific fields and have been developed by experts in those fields. Concentrations require students to take specific courses that reflect appropriate study in the chosen field. Unlike the tracks, concentrations are reflected on the degree itself. St. Mary’s is currently developing a number of concentrations and will continue to develop concentrations to react to the demands of our students. The concentrations currently being developed are listed below.

Q: Do I have to go to school full time, or may I obtain the M.Jur. degree part time?
You may pursue the M.Jur. degree either on a full-time or part-time basis. The degree may be completed in one academic year (late August to mid-May) if pursued full-time. If you wish to take a part-time course of study, you will have up to three years to complete the degree.

Q: When are courses offered?
Courses are offered in the fall and spring, and a limited number of courses in the summer. Fall courses begin in late August and end in early December. Spring courses begin in early January and end in early May. Summer courses typically run from mid-May to late June and early July to mid-August. Courses are offered during the day and evening.

In addition, you will take Legal Research and Writing (2 credits), and at least two regular first-semester J.D. courses. Courses meet 2, 3, or even 4 times a week for 50 to 110 minutes. Though courses are offered in the evening, part-time students may need to have flexibility in their work schedule to attend classes and to successfully complete the M.Jur. program.

Q: What is the grading system for students in the M.Jur. program?
In order to complete the M.Jur. program, the candidate must obtain 30 credits with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 (C) or better in courses approved by the director of the M.Jur. program. Though J.D. students are graded on a curve, M.Jur. students are not graded on the same curve as the J.D. students. Instead, M.Jur. students are graded according to the individual professor’s preferences; however, professors may use the J.D. performances as a point of reference.

Q: What is the tuition for the M.Jur. Program?
As M.Jur. students are using the same resources and facilities as J.D. students, the tuition is the same and is currently calculated on a per hour basis (rather than by semester). See J.D. tuition rates

Q: Is there financial aid for M.Jur. students?
Financial aid, such as through student loans, is available. However, as the program is new, scholarships have not yet been developed for M.Jur. students. Efforts to fund scholarships for the program are underway. Furthermore, some students may be eligible for re-imbursement through their employers, but this is not controlled by St. Mary’s.

Q: Is the program accredited?
St. Mary’s School of Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools and, as part of the larger University, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The ABA does not approve non-J.D. programs but has acquiesced to St. Mary’s M. Jur. program and the degree has been acknowledged by the AALS and SACS.

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