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Online LLMs, Huh! Good God y'all! What are they good for?

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Ever been sitting at home thinking, “I’d sure love to pursue an LLM degree, but I hate the whole idea of showing up in person”? Me neither. But, apparently the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law think there’s a market for this kind of program, as they are now offering an online LLM degree. Just what the market needed.

The degree will cost $475 per credit hour. 24 credit hours are necessary for the degree, so it will end up costing over $11,000, not including any fees or books.

Or you could use your internet access to delve into Google and Wikipedia and create your own personalized online LLM program at no cost except your time. You can autodidact cheap. Not sure what that means? Look it up. (Congrats! Now you’re an autodidact!) Most of the knowledge it out there for free, or rather cheap from a few books and a CLE or two. It’s the degree that costs $11,000.

The School expects the new curriculum to be “particularly useful to people who have management duties in heavily regulated areas, such as business, law enforcement, education, health care and human resources.” In some instances this may be true, and if the job your heart desires requires an LLM, by all means, don’t let us stop you on your pursuit of happiness.

But in the age of information, knowledge of new laws and regulations and their potential impacts are available on the internet almost as soon as those things go into print.  Does an $11,000 degree that purports to prepare you to explain those things make you $11,000 more valuable or get you an equivalent salary increase? Sure, there are workplaces where that kind of position is necessary, and those workplaces probably already have those positions. Does the degree make you a better qualified candidate for such a position? Maybe. But in many of these “heavily regulated” areas, bureaucracy is the name of the game, and your years of education and five-figure student debt just won’t beat out Maxine with the penciled-on eyebrows’ seniority or obese Gerald with his 10 gained pounds per year of employment when it comes to the available position.

If management and the business community would receive enough benefit from this “education” to make it worthwhile, it seems probable that the business community would have already evolved to provide such an education. And for the most part they have. It’s called on the job training, and generally businesses put more stock in their preferred method training than alternatives like an LLM.

If you’re just looking to learn the stuff (maybe you’re your own boss), go the cheap self-study route. If you’re trying to work your way up the corporate ladder, make sure you ask your boss if this degree is actually going to help you get a promotion. Odds are it won’t, and if it does, ask the company to foot the bill.

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