Space Law: Mississippi launches LL.M.; Nebraska adds J.S.D.

The University of Mississippi School of Law launched an LL.M. program in Air and Space Law this fall, joining the University of Nebraska as the only other Space Law program in the U.S.  Nebraska, meanwhile, announced a doctorate of juridicial sciences degree (J.S.D.) in Space Law.

The University of Mississippi, which bills itself as a world leader in air and space law education, research, and public service, will offer the only LL.M. program in the U.S. that covers both air and space law. The University of Nebraska program focuses on Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law.

Like its Nebraska counterpart, the University of Mississippi program will be offered online as well as on campus. It is designed for both U.S. and foreign-trained law school graduates and is available on a part-time and full-time basis. Mississippi has been home to the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law since 1999 and the Journal of Space Law since 2003. 

Students will be required to complete six core courses: Comparative National Space Law, International Space Law, Private International Air Law, Public International Air Law, U.S. Aviation Law, and U.S. Space Law. Electives are available in International Telecommunication Law and Space Security Law.
The school publishes the Journal of Space Law and has a comprehensive collection of air and space law materials.

The University of Nebraska’s J.S.D. program will break new ground as the only doctoral-level space law program in the U.S., said Matthew Schaefer, professor of law and director of the college's Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law program.

"This additional degree offering, much like the launch of the online LL.M., is going to widen opportunities for experienced lawyers and legal scholars to delve into very intricate and complex issues facing the regulation of outer space activities in an in-depth manner," Schaefer said.

Nebraska has offered its LL.M. for five years, with graduates of the one-year program moving into careers for private companies like SpaceX; for civilian agencies like the State Department and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab; for military operations such as the U.S. Cyber Command and Space Operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base; as well as for think tanks, consultants and law firms.

Research-focused and dissertation-based, the J.S.D. program in essence will require students to write a book about an aspect of space law, such as regulation of satellite communications or liability issues relating to commerce in space. Students will play a pioneering role in developing the field of space law.

Schaefer said he expects one or two students to join the J.S.D. program each year. It likely will take two to three years to complete the degree. Professor Frans von der Dunk will supervise the J.S.D. students with support from Schaefer and assistant professor Jack Beard.