Berkeley Law launches hybrid option for LL.M.

LL.M. students at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law have a new option that will allow them earn a degree with one summer term in-residence and two terms of online study.

The new hybrid LL.M. option was launched to expand access to the school’s education to prospective students who cannot take a full year or two summers away from professional and personal commitments. The school has an existing LL.M. option for lawyers educated outside the U.S., who spend two rigorous and consecutive 10- or 13-week summer semesters at the San Francisco-area campus. Applications are now being accepted for both versions of the LL.M. program.

“The hybrid option program is ideal for highly-qualified students who would otherwise forgo attending an LL.M. program due to work or individual commitments and travel constraints,” said Susan Whitman, Berkeley Law’s assistant dean for Academic Planning.

The new hybrid format will allow students more flexibility and the ability to continue working while taking online classes.

Over the course of one calendar year (January through December), students will complete 8 credits online and 16 credits in-residence.

The schedule includes two consecutive online classes from January to May: Fundamentals of U.S. Law followed by Introduction to Intellectual Property. During the fall, from September to December, students will complete two online classes: a 1-unit course in business and IP law, and a 1-unit capstone writing project. 

During the intensive summer format, students complete on average one to two courses every three weeks, completing a total of 16 units. They study exclusively with other LL.M. students. They're also involved in the full array of professional opportunities that are a Berkeley Law hallmark, including visits to top Silicon Valley companies, such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn; networking events with attorneys from leading Bay Area law firms; and seminars with preeminent practitioners.

The online courses were piloted a few years ago, when faculty members William Fernholz and Molly Van Houweling taught Fundamentals of U.S. Law and Introduction to Intellectual Property, respectively. The new program incorporates elements of each course including interactive discussion forums, video lectures, and narrated screencasts. Quizzes, team projects, and high-profile guest interviews complete the package.

“For students, it’s akin to a small, engaged community, with the instructor serving not only as an educator, but also as a mentor and advisor,” said professor Robert Merges, who leads the law school’s global engagement efforts. “The hybrid approach combines the schedule flexibility of online coursework with the chance to spend an educationally and culturally immersive summer in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

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