Saint Louis University has added a new degree, a master’s of science in human resources law.
SLU will offer the program, which is a one-year degree, this fall. Program director Matthew Bodie said the school saw a need that wasn’t being met: a program for those interested in going into human resources that need to get an understanding of the law, but don’t plan to practice law.
“They don’t want that broad-based legal knowledge you need to be an attorney and to handle a variety of situations,” Bodie explained. “They need to know one area of the law well.”
Bodie said SLU appears to be the only one in the country that has specific non-juris doctorate master’s program targeted at HR.
Students will still need a general understanding of the law, but beyond that they need to focus more specifically on the knowledge they need for human resources work, he said.
“To me, it’s just kind of a natural fit to link those two things together in a degree that is not a three-year time commitment,” Bodie said.
Gary Rutledge, who recently joined SLU as a professor of practice in the employment law center after retiring as vice president and zone general counsel for Anheuser-Busch, said he sees value in the program.
“I think the opportunity with the program is to really provide a bridge between classic human resources professionals and the legal side of the business,” he said.
SLU could offer similar degree programs in other areas, like health law, in the future, Bodie said, but nothing has been decided yet.
Some other schools offer similar types of programs. Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, for example, offers juris master’s degrees in several different subject areas.
Rutledge pointed out there are also opportunities to get certification specializing in human resources, but the program at SLU offers a different type of training, he said.
“I think the aspect of providing the legal training and legal skills is something that hopefully other people will see as beneficial,” Rutledge said.
Enrollment is open for the class now, Bodie said, and he expects the program will start off with a small number of students.
“We are looking at a small cohort we can really mentor to talk to on a daily, weekly basis and check in and see how everything is going,” he said.