Choose the Best Online Master of Legal Studies Program for You for 2021

An online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) and other legal studies master’s programs may provide an advanced understanding of the laws, regulations and legal standards and procedures that affect businesses and organizations. These degree programs are typically designed for nonlawyers who seek knowledge in various areas of law including regulations, compliance, negotiations, human resources, law enforcement and more.  

Students of master’s in legal studies online programs come from diverse backgrounds. Schools may require students to have a bachelor’s degree, though GRE scores may not be necessary. For MLS programs, students may take as few as one to three courses per term, allowing them to choose the graduate career pathway that is right for them.

OnlineMasterofLegalStudies.com was created to help students research top master’s legal studies online programs. With this page as your guide, you’ll be able to understand what a master’s in legal studies is, decide if an MLS is a good next step for your career and which program is best for your needs.

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Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

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Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

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Online Master of Legal Studies Programs

We have curated a list of over 30 online master’s in legal studies programs and collected some program information here to enable you to find the best school for you. Some of these are online Master of Legal Studies programs, while others are close variations, such as an online Master of Science in Law or a Master of Studies in Law. All of these online programs listed have been granted acquiescence by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Information for the universities below was last retrieved on October 1, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, check with the university.

Online Master of Legal Studies Programs
School Name Degree Name Length Synchronous or Asynchronous Part Time or Full Time
Albany Law School Master of Science in Legal Studies 30 Credits Asynchronous Both
American University – Washington College of Law
Sponsored Program
Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Credits Both Both
Arizona State University – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Credits Both Both
Cleveland State University – Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Credits Both Both
Cornell University – Cornell Law School Online Master of Science in Legal Studies 30 Credits N/A Full Time
Drexel University – Thomas L. Kline School of Law Master of Legal Studies Program 30 Credits Asynchronous Both
Fordham University – School of Law
Sponsored Program
Online Master of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance 30 Credits Both Both
Hamline University – College of Liberal Arts Master in the Study of Law 34 Credits Both Both
Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law Online Master of Arts in Legal Studies 30-33 Credits Both Both
Loyola Marymount University – Loyola Law School Online Master of Tax Law 24 Units Asynchronous Both
New York University – School of Law Master of Studies in Law 24-30 Credits Asynchronous Part Time
Northeastern University – School of Law Master of Legal Studies 27-31 Credits Both Both
Northwestern University – Pritzker School of Law Online Master of Science in Law 28 Credits Both Part Time
Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law Master of Science in Law 36 Credits Both Both
Pepperdine Caruso School of Law
Sponsored Program
Master of Legal Studies 32 Units Both Both
Regent University – School of Law Master of Arts in Law 30 Credits Asynchronous Full Time
Samford University – Cumberland School of Law Master of Studies in Law 34 Credit Hours Both Full Time
Seattle University – School of Law Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management 30 Credits Both Both
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Master of Science in Law 30 Units Asynchronous Both
University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Units Asynchronous Both
University of Denver – Sturm College of Law – MSLA Master of Science in Legal Administration 30 Semester Hours Asynchronous Both
University of Denver – Sturm College of Law – MT Master of Taxation 24-30 Semester Hours Both Both
University of Maryland – Francis King Carey School of Law Master of Science in Law 30 Credits Asynchronous Full Time
University of New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law Master’s Degree Programs 30-31 Credits Both Both
University of Oklahoma – College of Law Master of Legal Studies 32-33 Credits Asynchronous Both
University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law Online Master of Science in Law 26 Units Asynchronous Both
University of Southern California – Gould School of Law Master of Studies in Law 21 Credit Units Both Full Time
Vermont Law School Master’s Degree Programs 30 Credits Asynchronous Both
Wake Forest University – School of Law Master of Studies in Law 30 Credits Asynchronous Part Time
Washington University – School of Law
Sponsored Program
Master of Legal Studies 24 Credits Both Both
Wayne State University Master of Studies in Law 30 Credit Hours Both Part Time
Western New England University – School of Law Online Master of Science in Law 24 Credits Synchronous Part Time

Albany Law School

Degree Name: Master of Science in Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1 Year or More
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Health Law and Compliance
Admissions Requirements:
  • Resume
  • Statement of Interest
  • Contact Information for 2 Letters of Reference
  • Transcripts
Contact:

 

American University – Washington College of Law – Sponsored

Degree Name: Online Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 12 Months
Specialization Tracks:
  • General MLS
  • Business
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity
Certificates:
  • Business
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
American University’s online Master of Legal Studies program prepares students to apply legal concepts to their everyday role. The program can be completed in 12 months. No GRE/LSAT required to apply.

Request more information from American University – Washington College of Law

Sponsored Online MLS Program

 

Arizona State University – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 12 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Construction Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Corporate and Health Care Compliance
  • HR & Employment Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Sports Law and Business
  • Law and Sustainability
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • LSAT, GRE, GMAT Not Required
  • Resume
  • Some additional admissions information may be requested.
Contact:

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Cleveland State University – Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 20 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
Admissions Requirements:
  • Resume or CV
  • A Personal Essay
  • An official Transcript(s) of a Bachelor’s Degree
  • LSAT, GRE, or GMAT May be Requested for Applicants with GPA of Under 3.0
Contact:

 

Cornell University – Cornell Law School

Degree Name: Online Master of Science in Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 20 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • None
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Resume
  • Transcripts from all Colleges
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GRE, GMAT, LSAT Scores Not Required
Contact:

 

Drexel University – Thomas L. Kline School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 3 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Cybersecurity and Information Privacy
  • Financial Regulatory Compliance
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Regulatory Compliance
  • Human Resources Compliance
  • Higher Education Compliance
  • NCAA Compliance and Sports Law
  • Criminal Law
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • LSAT, GRE, GMAT Not Required
  • Two Letters of Recommendation – Professional or Academic
  • Resume
  • 500-Word Essay
Contact:

 

Fordham University – School of Law – Sponsored

Degree Name: Online Master of Legal Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: As few as 12 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: None
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • No GRE, GMAT, or LSAT Scores Required
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
Learn to solve complex business compliance challenges with the online master’s in compliance from Fordham Law School. Bachelor’s degree required. Two years’ compliance-related work experience recommended to apply.

Request more information from Fordham University – School of Law

Sponsored Online MLS Program

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Hamline University – College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name: Master in the Study of Law
Program Length: 34 Credits
Average Completion Time: As little as 18 months, Full-Times
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Litigation Support
  • Professional Practice Management
  • Social Justice
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 preferred
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
Contact:

 

Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Arts in Legal Studies
Program Length: 30-33 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years or Less
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • American Legal Studies
  • Health Law and Policy
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • No GRE/GMAT/LSAT required
  • Resume
  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • Professional Statement
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
Contact:

 

Loyola Marymount University – Loyola Law School

Degree Name: Online Master of Tax Law
Program Length: 24 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Business Tax Planning
  • High Net Worth/Private Client
Admissions Requirements:
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
Contact:

 

New York University – School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Studies in Law
Program Length: 24-30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 3-5 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Taxation
Admissions Requirements:
  • Accredited baccalaureate degree
  • Accredited master’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, finance, or taxation; or be a licensed US Certified Public Accountant
  • Minimum of three years of professional experience working in areas related to federal, state, or local tax issues
  • Copy of a current CPA certificate (if applicable)
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcripts
Contact:

 

Northeastern University – School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 27-31 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years or Less
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Business Law
  • Health Law
  • Human Resources Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
Admissions Requirements:
  • Professional Resume
  • Transcripts from All Previous Undergraduate and Graduate Institutions
  • Personal Statement
  • One Letter of Recommendation
Contact:

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Northwestern University – Pritzker School of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 28 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2-4 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • None
Admissions Requirements:
  • Designed for STEM Professionals
  • A Statement of Purpose
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Transcripts
  • Video Interview
Contact:

 

Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 36 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Education Law
  • Employment Law
  • Health Law
  • Law and Policy
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Two years of work experience required for Employment and Health Law programs
  • No GRE or LSAT scores are required to apply
Contact:

 

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law – Sponsored

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies program
Program Length: 32 Units
Average Completion Time: Full-Time – As few as 16 months or Part-Time – 28 months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: Dispute Resolution, Litigation, or Human Resources
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • No GRE, GMAT, or LSAT Scores Required
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Video Interview
Master mediation and become an effective negotiator with flexible, online programs from Pepperdine Law’s top-ranked Straus Institute.

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Sponsored Online MLS Program

 

Regent University – School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Arts in Law
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1.5 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Advanced Paralegal Studies
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity Law
  • General Legal Studies
  • Healthcare Law
  • Human Resources Law
  • Human Rights & Rule of Law
  • Immigration Law
  • International Business Transactions
  • National Security
  • Nonprofit Organization Law
  • Regulatory Compliance
Admissions Requirements:
  • GRE or LSAT Scores Not Required
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Unofficial College Transcripts
  • Admissions Questionnaire
  • Government-Issued ID
  • Professional Resume (Optional)
Contact:

 

Samford University – Cumberland School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Studies in Law
Program Length: 34 Credit Hours
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Financial Services Regulatory Compliance
  • Health Law and Compliance
  • Higher Education Law and Compliance
  • Legal Operations
  • Custom Option
Admissions Requirements:
  • Transcript of a Bachelor’s Degree
  • GPA of 3.0
  • GRE or GMAT Scores Strongly Advised
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Professional Resume
Contact:

 

Seattle University – School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Taxation
  • Financial Services and Wealth Management
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal Statement
  • Three References (Names & Contact Information)
  • Official Transcripts
Contact:

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 30 Units
Average Completion Time: 1 Year
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Taxation
  • Financial Services and Wealth Management
Admissions Requirements:
  • Applicants must request an application
Contact:

 

University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 30 Units
Average Completion Time: 1-2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Compliance and Legal Risk Management
  • Criminal Law and Policy
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Family and Juvenile Law
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Human Rights
  • Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Trade and Business Law
  • Mining Law and Policy
  • Tax Law and Policy
Admissions Requirements:
  • Personal Statement of 3–4 Pages
  • Unofficial Academic Transcripts
  • One Academic or Professional Letter of Recommendation
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
Contact:

 

University of Denver – Sturm College of Law

Degree Name: Master of Science in Legal Administration
Program Length: 30 Semester Hours
Average Completion Time: 1-4 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Law Firm Administration
  • Court Administrations
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree from Accredited Institution
  • GRE/GMAT not required
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
Contact:

 

University of Denver – Sturm College of Law

Degree Name: Master of Taxation
Program Length: 24-30 Semester Hours
Average Completion Time: 1+ Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • None
Admissions Requirements:
  • Accounting or Business Bachelor’s Degree
  • GMAT/GRE Waivers Available
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
Contact:

 

University of Maryland – Francis King Carey School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 16-24 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Cybersecurity Law
  • Homeland Security and Crisis Management Law
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Statement of Interest
  • Resume or CV
  • Character and Fitness Form
  • Transcripts
  • Letter of Recommendation
Contact:

 

University of New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law

Degree Name: Master’s Degree Programs
Program Length: 30-31 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1-5 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • International Criminal Law and Justice (M.I.C.L.J.)
  • Intellectual Property (M.I.P.)
Admissions Requirements:
  • Open to Both Lawyers and Non-lawyers
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Transcripts
  • TOEFL or IELTS score
  • Essay
  • No GRE, LSAT or GMAT Score Required
Contact:

 

University of Oklahoma – College of Law

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.)
Program Length: 32-33 Credits
Average Completion Time: 15-18 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Oil, Gas, and Energy Law
  • Indigenous Peoples Law
  • International Business Law
  • Healthcare Law
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Minimum GPA: No minimum GPA
  • GRE Required for TOEFL and International Applicants
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
  • Letter of Recommendation – Optional
Contact:

 

University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 26 Units
Average Completion Time: 24 Months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Government Law and Policy
  • Water and Environmental Law
Admissions Requirements:
  • Bachelor’s Degree Required
  • Official Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
Contact:

 

University of Southern California – Gould School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
Program Length: 21 Credit Units
Average Completion Time: As few as 16 months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: No concentrations but certificates are available in:
  • Business Law
  • Compliance
  • Entertainment Law and Industry
  • Financial Compliance
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Human Resources Law and Compliance
Admissions Requirements:
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • No GRE or LSAT Required
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
Contact:

 

Vermont Law School

Degree Name: Master’s Degree Programs
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1-5 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: No concentrations but certificates are available in:
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Energy Regulation and Law
  • Food and Agriculture Law and Policy
  • Restorative Justice
Admissions Requirements:
  • Professional Resume or C.V.
  • Required Essay and Optional Essays
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Official Transcripts from All Schools Attended
  • Optional GRE Score
Contact:

 

Wake Forest University – School of Law

Degree Name: Master of Studies in Law
Program Length: 30 Credits
Average Completion Time: As few as 21 months
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Business Law & Compliance
  • Health Law & Policy
  • Human Resources
Admissions Requirements:
  • Minimum GPA: N/A
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Two Letters of Reference
Contact:

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Washington University – School of Law – Sponsored

Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies
Program Length: 24 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1 Year
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: @WashULaw students in the MLS program can pursue a concentration to specialize in a particular area of law.
  • Business Law
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Employment Law
  • Litigation
  • Regulatory Compliance
Admissions Requirements:
  • Online application
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • LSAT and GRE Not Required
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Interview with Admissions Counselor
The online Master of Legal Studies program from top-20 ranked Washington University School of Law is designed for non-lawyers who would benefit from legal training. The MLS can be completed in as little as one year. No GRE/LSAT required to apply.

Request more information from Washington University School of Law

Sponsored Online MLS Program


Degree Name: Master of Legal Studies in Taxation
Program Length: 24 Credits
Average Completion Time: 1 Year
Concentrations or Areas of Focus: None
Admissions Requirements:
  • Online application
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Bachelor’s Degree with Official Transcripts
  • LSAT and GRE Not Required
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Interview with Admissions Counselor
Washington University’s online Master of Legal Studies in Taxation program prepares non-lawyer professionals to leverage tax law expertise in their field. The program can be completed in as little as one year. Bachelor’s required. No GRE/LSAT required.

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Sponsored Online MLS Program

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Wayne State University – Law School

Degree Name: Master of Studies in Law
Program Length: 30 Credit Hours
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Human Resources
Admissions Requirements:
  • Strong Applicants with GPA of 3.0
  • LSAT, GRE, GMAT Not Required
Contact:

 

Western New England University – School of Law

Degree Name: Online Master of Science in Law
Program Length: 24 Credits
Average Completion Time: 2 Years
Concentrations or Areas of Focus:
  • Elder Law and Estate Planning
Admissions Requirements:
  • Official Transcript of BA/BS
  • Resume
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
Contact:

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What is an Online Master of Legal Studies?

You may wonder, what exactly is a Master of Legal Studies online degree? An online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a graduate degree for nonlawyers and others working in various fields who want to expand their knowledge of law with an interdisciplinary understanding of different types of laws, regulations, and other legal issues. While it doesn’t qualify students to sit for the bar exam or practice law as an attorney, earning an MLS may help professionals enhance their knowledge of the social, political and economic impacts of the law on their industry or business. Similar master’s degrees in legal studies may include a Master of Science in Law, Master of Studies in Law (MSL) and Juris Master (JM).

MLS Curriculum and Course Examples

Online master’s in legal studies programs may include:

  • Core classes to give students a fundamental understanding of legal concepts and procedures. They may include U.S. Law and Legal Institutions, Introduction to Regulation and Compliance, Negotiation and Communication, Legal Research and Writing for Nonlawyers, etc.
  • Concentration coursework for students who have declared a concentration in a master’s in legal studies program. Schools may require students to complete a minimum of credits in the chosen concentration area. Coursework will vary. 
  • Elective courses for students to customize their studies to meet academic and professional goals. Students may be able to choose courses in other concentrations, such as international financial crimes, privacy and cybersecurity, human rights compliance, mediation and arbitration. Course topics vary from program to program. 
  • Capstone projects so students can apply and practice what they’ve learned from their MLS program, under the supervision of a capstone professor. The capstone project may occur close to or during your last semester.

Online master’s in legal studies’ programs may require around 30 credits and could take 12 to 36 months to complete. Depending on the school and curricula offered, each course may be equal to one to four credits.

Benefits of Online Master of Legal Studies Programs

Whether your career requires continuing your education or not, there is much to be gained from pursuing an online master’s in legal studies program.

Deep Legal Knowledge 

As with any master’s degree,  a master’s in legal studies can help demonstrate a deep and well-rounded understanding of your field, showing employers that you have the academic experience to be a force in their organization.  

Earning a master’s in legal studies may include courses such as American Common Law, Legal Writing, Criminal Procedure, International Law, Civil Litigation, and more. Sometimes the curriculum for a master’s in legal studies program intersects with that of juris doctor students. MLS students may be primed to learn about the legal systems in the United States, laws abroad, and how to work with different clients.


Career Growth Opportunities

People who pursue a career in law may be driven by a passion to uphold justice and protect the legal system.  A master’s in legal studies may help make you a better legal professional, with the training and education to make a difference in the lives of the people with whom you work. 

Candidates with advanced degrees are sometimes able to command more money and may be better positioned for promotions and salary increases. A master’s in legal studies can be viewed as an investment in yourself and your career that could open the door to new opportunities, growth and a better salary.


Flexibility of Online Learning

Pursuing education online can provide more flexibility for your schedule. For example, some online education programs may offer part-time enrollment with the ability to participate when you want instead of at set times. You may be able to continue working while pursuing an online master of legal studies degree. And online learning can be less expensive, reducing transportation costs. 

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How to Choose An Online Master of Legal Studies Program

When selecting which master’s in legal studies program is right for you, there are many factors you need to consider. Is the legal program or school accredited? What are the concentrations available? Is it 100% online or a hybrid model? Are you able to interact with other students? Which programs require you pass the GRE? What is the minimum undergraduate GPA required to apply? 

Below are a few resources to help you find the best online master’s in legal studies program for you:

Legal Studies Program Accreditation

To choose an online master’s degree in legal studies, it’s important to check the accreditation status of the programs. Qualified schools can be accredited by state bar associations as well as regional or national institutional accrediting agencies. Some common organizations may include the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). While the American Bar Association (ABA) does not accredit any non-Juris Doctor (J.D.) or post-J.D. program, the ABA may grant “acquiescence” to Master of Legal Studies and similar programs.

Making sure your legal programs are assessed and accredited by the appropriate accrediting agencies may demonstrate that the content of classes, quality of instruction and structure of the program have met criteria required by the agencies.

Legal Specializations Options

Many online and on-campus master’s in legal studies programs offer a selection of legal studies concentrations. It is important that you carefully compare the programs and concentrations offered. As a master of legal studies is commonly used to augment an existing career, you may want to align your concentration with your current profession so that you will graduate armed to make a greater contribution in your chosen field, thereby advancing and moving up. 

Some programs even offer a “Self Designated” concentration which allows you to cater your classes to what is uniquely of interest to you. Some common concentrations of an MLS degree include:

  • Labor Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Criminal Justice
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Sports Law
  • Financial Regulatory Compliance
  • International and Human Rights Law
  • Constitutional Law and Civil Rights
  • Personal Injury and Civil Litigation

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When selecting your concentration, it is especially important to align it to your preferred career field. Perhaps you have a bachelors or arts in liberal arts and work in the financial industry but have found you aren’t able to compete with colleagues who have a bachelor of science in business. If so, then a master of legal studies with a concentration in financial regulatory compliance may give you the competitive edge you need to advance in your field..

Program Structure and Learning Format

Online master of legal studies schools offer a few different instruction variations. Use our guide to select which learning style you would benefit from and which program offers the choices you need.

Online vs Hybrid Programs

Most schools’ online master of legal studies programs are 100% online. This means that all instruction, all research, all assignments, and all classroom interaction takes place over the internet. 

There are a few programs, however, that offer a hybrid approach. While the hybrid programs’ requirements will vary from program to program, what defines them is that they require students to be physically present on campus for some part of the program. This may be once a semester for a weekend, or once a month for half a day. Each program has differing requirements. 

Full-Time vs Part-Time

Is your goal to earn your Master of Legal Studies as quickly as possible or do you require the flexibility to be able to work your studies into your professional and social obligations? Answering these questions will help you determine if a full-time or part-time program is right for you.  

If you want to earn your Master of Legal Studies Programs in the least amount of time possible and have the ability to take on a full course load to focus primarily on your studies, then you might want to select a full-time program. If, on the other hand, you need to be able to maintain your full-time job, and/or have family obligations to juggle, then taking more time and enrolling in a part-time program might be a better option for you. 

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Classes

When deciding which master of legal studies program is right for you, you will need to consider whether you prefer to learn on a set schedule in sync with other students or if you prefer the flexibility of learning on your own time, independent of an online classroom. 

Synchronous master of legal studies programs allow students to attend classes on a set schedule, in concert with their fellow students, similar to a traditional classroom setting. Via webcam, students log in at specific times to view lectures, interact with their classmates, and learn in tandem. 

Conversely, asynchronous master of legal studies programs allow students to make their own schedule and view lectures on their own timeline. Students will watch pre-recorded lectures at a time that is convenient for them, work on assignments independently, and typically do not need to interact with other students. Assignments are submitted online according to set deadlines. 

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Law school scholarships are available for students pursuing legal and law degrees, not just J.D. students. Students who want to enroll in a master’s in legal studies online or on-campus program may also research scholarships offered by the university and federal student aid. Students may also consider tuition assistance from their employer or grant opportunities to further offset costs.

Resources for Legal Students

Applying to law school for a master’s in legal studies program may seem daunting but many schools offer law and legal students resources to support their academic and career goals. Be sure to check with your preferred program and school for career assistance, certificate options or off-campus experiences. Ultimately the best legal program for you would depend on your own career goals and what you expect to obtain from your master’s program.

Admissions Requirements for Master’s in Legal Studies Online Programs

Admission criteria of master’s in legal studies programs vary from school to school.  Prerequisites may include an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college. Most on-campus and online MLS programs do not require a GRE or Gmat score. Here is a checklist of commonly required documents for master’s in legal studies programs:

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Official college or university transcripts.
  • One to three letters of recommendation.
  • Personal statement/statement of interest.
  • TOEFL for non-native English speakers.

Some schools may also require courses in finance or business before MLS applications, as well as writing samples or work experience in the legal field. 

A benefit of these varying admission requirements is that if you feel your GPA isn’t strong but your work experience is, you might apply to MLS programs that consider your resume and work experience.  

Legal Careers

There are many different careers you can pursue with a master’s in legal studies. Graduates can consider career paths to become a paralegal or become a compliance officer or even government work. Graduates may use the knowledge and skills gained through a master’s of legal studies to strengthen and increase the effectiveness in their current role. Most organizations in the United States consult the law or legal procedure in some capacity. 

As a result, a master of legal studies can be used to build upon your bachelor’s degree or current career – amplifying the reach and impact you have by improving your ability to navigate legal regulations, compliance, or business law.

FAQs on Online Master of Legal Studies Degrees

How is an online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) different from an on-campus program?

Generally, both online and on-campus MLS programs are offered by the same schools and the curricula of on-campus and online Master of Legal Studies programs are very similar. They only differ in how the courses are delivered.

What types of online master’s degrees in legal studies are there?

There are several types of legal studies programs with similar curriculum to a Master of Legal Studies. These include the Master of Science in Law (MSL), Juris Master (JM) or Master of Jurisprudence (MJ). Check this list of over 30 online master’s in legal studies programs and find the best one for you.

How long does it take to complete an online Master of Legal Studies degree?

On-campus and online Master of Legal Studies degrees usually require around 30 credits hours and take approximately 12 months to complete if students are enrolled in full-time studies.

Who should consider an online Master of Legal Studies program?

Prospective students or working professionals who live out of state and do not want to relocate or commute to campuses may consider an online Master of Legal Studies to take advantage of the flexibility of online degrees.

Is a Master of Legal Studies a law degree?

No, a Master of Legal Studies is not considered as a law degree even though it is offered by law schools. Law degrees usually refer to J.D. degrees. Read more about the differences between MLS vs. LL.M. vs. J.D.

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Last updated January 2021.