Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta. John Disney/ALM

Georgia State University College of Law is launching its first-ever LL.M. for U.S. law degree-holders—in the popular area of health law.

GSU Law is already well-known for its health law program, which is ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report—No. 7 this year. The school is accepting applications for the fall 2017 class for the new LL.M. program through its Center for Law, Health & Society.

The center’s associate director, Stacie Kershner, said GSU Law has 12 full-time faculty, plus affiliated faculty and adjuncts offering courses on topics including transactional and regulatory law, fraud and abuse, bioethics, health and social welfare, health equity, environmental health and even health IT.

But at $16,858 per year in tuition and fees for Georgia residents (the same as for the J.D. program) the new health law LL.M.­—a one-year full-time program with a part-time option—costs a fraction of other top health law programs.

Tuition and fees at the other top 10 schools range from about $30,000 in-state at University of Maryland (ranked No. 2 by U.S. News) to $60,000 at Harvard University (No. 5).

Many of those schools already offer health law LL.M.s, including the University of Maryland, St. Louis University (No. 1 at $40,415 per year), the University of Houston (No. 3 at $30,401 in-state), Georgetown University (No. 8 at $57,576) and Loyola University Chicago (No. 6 at $47,416).

GSU’s Kershner said the new LL.M. grew out of the Center for Law, Health & Society’s well-subscribed certificate in health law for its J.D. program. The J.D. certificate requires an average of 20 credit hours in health law courses out of the 90 hours required for a law degree.

The health law LL.M., which requires 26 credit hours, offers the same courses, starting with a three-hour core course in “quality and access” and another one in “finance and delivery,” plus 12 hours in health law electives and eight additional elective hours.

GSU Law launched its first master of laws two years ago—an LL.M. for students with foreign law degrees who wish to better understand U.S. law and obtain a Georgia bar license.

Kershner said the law school unexpectedly received several applications for the general LL.M. from people with U.S. law degrees, even though they are not eligible, which indicated there was interest in further legal study after the J.D. Meanwhile, people had been asking if GSU Law offered post-J.D. classes in health law, signaling demand for a new LL.M., she said.

“We have the capacity, the faculty and the expertise,” she said.

Kershner said the class size for the LL.M. for foreign degree holders has been just over 20 students. GSU Law is expecting a smaller initial class for the health law LL.M., since the school is announcing it later in the year, with perhaps six students in the fall and then double that for the next class. The school’s annual J.D. class numbers about 200 students, including full- and part-timers.