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New York University School of Law is making its LL.M. tax degree available online starting in the fall. The law school is touting the Online Executive LL.M. program as virtually identical to its current part-time graduate tax program. The main difference is that students will view lectures through course Web sites. The law school expects to enroll about 25 students from around the world in the online program for its LL.M. degree, considered a premier tax credential for lawyers and scholars. “We’ve tried to replicate what we do in class as much as possible,” said Noel Cunningham, director of the graduate tax program at New York University School of Law. Both the online program and the school’s regular LL.M. program require students to complete 24 credits. For online students, they generally must complete two of those credits at the NYU campus in New York and can take all others electronically. At least one other ABA-accredited law school currently offers an online LL.M. degree: Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Since an accreditation rule change three years ago, the American Bar Association, accrediting authority for NYU’s law school and 195 others across the country, has allowed students to take 12 of the 90 credits required for a juris doctor degree provided by so-called distance learning. The ABA does not accredit schools that offer only online courses, and it permits accredited schools to offer only second- and third-year courses online. In NYU’s case, it did not need to obtain ABA approval for the new LL.M. program, Cunningham said, because it is part of the graduate tax law program and because its requirements are basically the same as the part-time program. Tuition for the online program is $1,731 per credit, the same charge for the part-time program.

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