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.

Sponsored Online MLS and Law Programs

Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Sharpen the legal skills you need to make effective decisions. Earn a Master of Legal Studies online at American University.

Sponsored Online MLS Program

Online MSL in Corporate Compliance

Earn your master’s in compliance online from Fordham Law and explore how compliance law directly impacts your organization.

Sponsored Online Law Program

Master of Legal Studies program

Gain expertise and credibility with Pepperdine’s online Master of Legal Studies, a program for nonlawyers.

Sponsored Online MLS Program

Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Earn a Master of Legal Studies online and specialize in a specific area of law with a concentration.

Sponsored Online MLS Program

Best Online Master of Legal Studies Programs For You

We have curated a list of over 21 online master’s in legal studies programs and collected some program information here to enable you to find the best schools 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) and offer both full- and part-time options for students.

Information for the universities below was last retrieved on March 1, 2021. 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 Asynchronous Both
American University – Washington College of Law
Sponsored Program
Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Both Both
Arizona State University – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Online Master of Legal Studies 30 Both Both
Drexel University – Thomas L. Kline School of Law Master of Legal Studies 30 Asynchronous Both
Fordham University – School of Law
Sponsored Program
Online Master of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance 30 Both Both
Hamline University – College of Liberal Arts Master in the Study of Law 34 Both Both
Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law Online Master of Arts in Legal Studies 30-33 Both Both
Northeastern University – School of Law Online Master of Legal Studies 27-31 Both Both
Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law Master of Science in Law 36 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 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 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 New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law Master’s Degree Programs 30-31 Both Both
University of Oklahoma – College of Law Master of Legal Studies 32-33 Asynchronous Both
University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law Online Master of Science in Law 26 Units Asynchronous Both
Vermont Law School Master’s Degree Programs 30 Asynchronous Both
Washington University – School of Law
Sponsored Program
Master of Legal Studies 24 Both Both

Albany Law School

Albany, New York

Albany Law School is a private law school in the United States. Founded in 1851, it is accredited by the ABA. 

The school offers three concentrations in their 30-credit legal studies program: Cybersecurity and Data Privacy, Financial Compliance and Risk Management, Health Law and Compliance. Each concentration provides students with an expertise in the field they are interested in and helps prepare them for the legal field.

Program Name:
Master of Science in Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
one year or more

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Health Law and Compliance

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree

Contact:
Email: graduateadmissions@albanylaw.edu
Website: Albany Law School

American University – Washington College of Law

Washington, D.C.

SPONSORED

The online Master of Legal Studies program from American University Washington College of Law is designed for non-lawyers who could benefit from fundamental legal training but do not want to become practicing attorneys. Through a curriculum that covers advanced legal concepts across various industries and an in-person immersion in Washington, D.C., students will be prepared to apply legal skills in their everyday role. The program can be completed in 12 months. No GRE/LSAT required to apply.

AU offers the following tracks: General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, Cybersecurity, or Technology.

Program Name:
Online Master of Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
Complete in as few as 12 months

Five Tracks Available:

  • General MLS 
  • Business 
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity

Four Certificates Available:

  • Business
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity

Delivery: 
Format: Live online classes taught weekly by the same experienced American University faculty who teach on campus
Instruction style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree with official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, resume, statement of purpose

Program Start Dates:
January, April, July, October

Contact:

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

Phoenix, Arizona

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law of Arizona State University is an ABA accredited and also a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)

The 30-credit MLS at ASU program explores the relationship between law and other topics such as business, criminal justice, engineering and many others. Graduates gain a better understanding of U.S. law, legal structures, and legal reasoning and how to apply the law to situations that affect their careers.

Program Name:
Online Master of Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
12 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Construction Law
  • Corporate and Health Care Compliance
  • Contract Management
  • Criminal Law
  • HR and Employment Law
  • Indian Gaming
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Law and Sustainability
  • Sports Law and Business
  • Tribal Self-Governance

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree

Contact:
Email: graduateadmissions@albanylaw.edu
Website: Arizona State University – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Drexel University – Thomas L. Kline School of Law

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law offers a Master of Legal Studies that requires 30 semester credits.

It aims to give students the knowledge of legal issues that businesses and organizations face and how to adhere to regulations. The core curriculum includes topics in law, legal analysis, and risk assessment and management. The courses can be completed online and students are given the option to take selected JD courses.

Program Name:
Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Avg. Completion Time:
three years

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Flexible MLS
  • 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

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, LSAT, GRE, GMAT not required

Contact:
Email: beth.l.haas@drexel.edu
Website: Drexel University – Thomas L. Kline School of Law

Fordham University – School of Law

New York, New York

SPONSORED

The online MSL in Corporate Compliance program from Fordham Law School prepares students to solve complex compliance challenges and protect organizations from violating laws and regulations.

Through Fordham Law School’s online Master of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance program, students learn the legal intricacies of corporate compliance, including an introduction to U.S. law and legal institutions. Bachelor’s degree required and two years’ compliance-related work experience recommended to apply. Complete in as few as 12 months.

Program Name:
Online Master of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance

Avg. Completion Time:
Complete in as few as 12 months

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online, with a in-person colloquium 
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university required
  • GRE, GMAT, and LSAT scores not required to apply
  • Minimum two years’ compliance-related work experience recommended

Program Start Dates:
January, April and August

Contact:

Hamline University – College of Liberal Arts

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Hamline University is a private liberal arts college with a Master in the Study of Law. The online degree consists of 34 credits.

Through the program, students gain competence in foundational areas of law and a deep understanding of the rules and reasoning contained in legal authorities. Students are also given the option to earn their paralegal certificate associated with the program.

Program Name:
Master in the Study of Law

Avg. Completion Time:
as few as 18 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Education Law and Compliance
  • Litigation Support
  • Professional Practice Management
  • Social Justice 

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree; a minimum GPA of 3.0 preferred

Contact:
Email: legalstudies@hamline.edu
Website: Hamline University – College of Liberal Arts

Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Hempstead, New York

Hofstra University is a private institution. The university offers two Master of Arts legal programs in an online format. 

The 30-credit-hour Health Law and Policy concentration examines the state and federal laws that have reshaped the health care system in recent years. The 33-credit-hour American Legal Studies concentration is focused on the U.S. legal system, interrelations with social issues and the utilization of law and policy.

Program Name:
Online Master of Arts in Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
two years or less

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • American Legal Studies
  • Health Law and Policy

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree; no GRE/GMAT/LSAT required

Contact:
Email: N/A
Website: Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Northeastern University – School of Law

Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern University is a private research university in Boston. The School of Law is a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and is accredited by the ABA.

Online Master of Legal Studies offers five concentrations and each features a set of courses, such as Regulation and Global Business Strategies in Business Law concentration, Healthcare Regulation and Compliance in the Health Law concentration, Wages and Benefits in Human Resources Law, and Identifying and Securing Intellectual Property Rights in Intellectual Property Law. The program requires 27 to 31 credits, depending on the concentration.

Program Name:
Online Master of Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
two years or less

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Business Law
  • Health Law
  • Human Resources Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Public Law and Policy

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions, personal statement
GRE or LSAT score not required but optional

Contact:
Email: onlinelaw@northeastern.edu
Website: Northeastern University – School of Law

Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law

Davie, Florida

The College of Law of Nova Southeastern University’s Online Master Of Science In Law consists of 36 credits and is designed for busy professionals who want to balance work and family responsibilities and complete the program on their schedule. 

There are four concentrations: Education Law is focused on how the law and the field of education intersect, Employment Law on how business and legal issues intersect, Health Law on how health care intersects with the law, and Law and Policy on how students’ profession intersects with the law.

Program Name:
Online Master of Science In Law

Avg. Completion Time:
two years

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Education Law
  • Employment Law
  • Health Law
  • Law and Policy

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, two years of work experience for Employment and Health Law programs; GRE or LSAT score not required

Contact:
Email: mslawprograms@nova.edu
Website: Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law

Malibu, California

SPONSORED

The online Master of Legal Studies program from Pepperdine Caruso School of Law enables nonlawyers from across the United States to develop the legal expertise and credentials to advance within their chosen fields. Students will learn to interpret foundational legal concepts, solve legal challenges, and interact effectively with lawyers.

Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty members are legal scholars who will mentor and challenge students to succeed in the classroom and beyond. They focus on providing hands-on training that students can immediately apply in their current professions. 

Customize your learning experience by selecting an optional concentration in human resources, dispute resolution or litigation. The Straus Institute at Pepperdine Caruso Law is top-ranked for dispute resolution by U.S. News & World Report.

Program Name:
Master of Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
Complete in as few as 16 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus: 

  • Dispute Resolution
  • Human Resources
  • Litigation

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online, with two in-person residencies

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • No GRE or LSAT scores required.
  • Transcripts from all schools attended.
  • A résumé or curriculum vitae.
  • A statement of purpose.
  • One letter of recommendation.
  • A video interview.

Program Start Dates:
January, May, September

Contact:

Regent University – School of Law

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Regent University is a private Christian university. Regent’s online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Law program includes 30 credits and is designed for professionals who want to advance their career by benefiting from legal knowledge without committing to a Juris Doctor. 

Students learn how to operate effectively in a government, corporate, nonprofit or legal environment. Graduates gain an understanding of communicating effectively on legal issues, evaluating legal issues and thoroughly researching American law, including cases and statutes.

Program Name:
Master of Arts in Law

Avg. Completion Time:
1 1/2 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

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online, with select on-campus course options
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, admissions questionnaire, government-Issued ID; GRE or LSAT scores not required

Contact:
Email: lawschool@regent.edu
Website: Regent University – School of Law

Samford University – Cumberland School of Law

Birmingham, Alabama

Samford University is a private Christian university accredited by ABA.

Cumberland School of Law’s Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) is a 34-hour master’s degree program designed for individuals without a Juris Doctor (J.D.). Through courses and training in the coursework, the program may better prepare students for their careers. Students can choose to specialize in one of five regulatory compliance-focused concentrations and to pursue relevant professional credentials from organizations.

Program Name:
Master of Studies in Law

Avg. Completion Time:
two years

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Financial Services Regulatory Compliance
  • Health Law and Compliance
  • Higher Education Law and Compliance
  • Legal Operations
  • Custom Option

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online, with select on-campus course options
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, GPA of 3.0, GRE or GMAT scores strongly advised

Contact:
Email: gradlaw@samford.edu
Website: Samford University – Cumberland School of Law

Seattle University – School of Law

Seattle, Washington

Seattle University (SU) is a private Jesuit university with a Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management program that requires 30 credits. 

It begins with foundational courses in legal institutions, methods and communication. When moving into the core aspects of compliance operations, students learn specialized knowledge of investigation, auditing, and report writing in the healthcare, finance, data, and cybersecurity industries, from experienced legal educators and adjunct faculty from Seattle businesses.

Program Name:
Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management

Avg. Completion Time:
two years

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Healthcare Compliance
  • Corporate Compliance
  • Financial Compliance
  • Data & Cybersecurity Compliance

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree

Contact:
Email: lawgraduateonline@seattleu.edu
Website: Seattle University – School of Law

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

San Diego, California

Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) is a private law school approved by the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners.

Master’s of Science of Law programs have been offered online and consist of 30 units. The courses are offered entirely asynchronous to meet students’ schedule with a low student to faculty ratio of 6:1. Students have the opportunities to join in and learn from real-world client scenarios such as writing memos or conducting relevant research and writing projects.

Program Name:
Master’s of Science of Law

Avg. Completion Time:
one year

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Taxation
  • Financial Services and Wealth Management

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, applicants must request an application

Contact:
Email: graduateadmissions@tjsl.edu
Website: Thomas Jefferson School of Law

University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law

Tucson, Arizona

The University of Arizona is a public land-grant research university that offers a 30-unit Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program to help students understand U.S. legal systems and regulations, advance their career and development prospects and gain critical-thinking skills. 

All courses are offered asynchronously to cater to busy professionals, working families, and international students.

Program Name:
Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Avg. 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

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree

Contact:
Email: keithswisher@email.arizona.edu
Website: University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law

University of New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law

Concord, New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law offers master’s degrees for lawyers and non-lawyers. 

Two out of three specialized areas of the law are available online: a master’s in intellectual property for nonlawyers, and International Criminal Law and Justice for practicing lawyers, professionals, students, and scholars in diplomatic, criminal justice, military, and law enforcement communities.

Program Name:
Master’s degree programs

Avg. Completion Time:
1-5 years

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Intellectual Property (M.I.P.)
  • International Criminal Law and Justice (M.I.C.L.J.)

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online or mixed
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree; no GRE, LSAT or GMAT score required, open to lawyers and non-lawyers

Contact:
Email: admissions@law.unh.edu
Website: University of New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law

University of Oklahoma – College of Law

Norman, Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a public research university with a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) that requires 32-33 credits depending on the concentration chosen. 

The programs are offered primarily online to increase the flexibility and accessibility for working professionals and are ideal for those seeking a law-related career in the nonprofit, government or business sectors.

Program Name:
Master of Legal Studies

Avg. Completion Time:
15-18 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Oil, Gas and Energy Law
  • Indigenous Peoples Law
  • International Business Law
  • Healthcare Law

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online (Oil, Gas and Energy Law requires one residency week)
Instruction style: asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, no minimum GPA

Contact:
Email: lawcommunications@ou.edu
Website: University of Oklahoma – College of Law

University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law

Sacramento, California

University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law is a private, ABA-approved law school. Both Master of Science in Law programs require 26 units over approximately two years. 

The Water & Environmental Law concentration is for land use planners, engineers, environmental consultants and more; Government Law & Policy is designed for working professionals in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying who do not require a traditional law degree.

Program Name:
Online Master of Science in Law

Avg. Completion Time:
24 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Government Law and Policy
  • Water and Environmental Law

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, writing sample

Contact:
Email: graduatelaw@pacific.edu
Website: University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law

Vermont Law School

South Royalton, Vermont

Vermont Law School is a private law school approved by the ABA and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

The master’s degree programs at ULS require 30 credits with four focus areas: the political, scientific, and communications aspects of environmental law; the law and policy governing energy use, production, and transmission; the law and policy to support sustainable and just food systems; and how to address deficiencies in our justice systems.

Program Name:
Master’s degree programs

Avg. Completion Time:
12-18 months

Concentrations or Areas of Focus:

  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Energy Regulation and Law
  • Food and Agriculture Law and Policy
  • Restorative Justice

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree, optional GRE Score

Contact:
Email: admiss@vermontlaw.edu
Website: Vermont Law School

Washington University School of Law

St. Louis, Missouri

SPONSORED

The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree from Washington University School of Law offers an in-depth perspective of the U.S. legal system and develops practical legal skill sets – debate, analytical thinking, legal writing, and more. Designed for non-lawyers, the degree provides students with the legal acumen needed to advance their careers in a wide variety of professions – from business to health care. 

Delivered entirely online, the program blends live, face-to-face classes with self-paced coursework that is designed and taught by Washington University School of Law faculty. Graduates of the online Master of Legal Studies program receive the same degree as on-campus candidates, participate in graduation, and join the global Washington University School of Law alumni network.

Program Name:
Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Avg. Completion Time:
Complete in as little as one year

Five Concentration Areas:

  • Business Law
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Litigation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Employment Law

Delivery: 
Format: 100% online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements:
Online application, application fee ($70), statement of purpose, official transcripts from all previous schools, resume or CV, and interview.

Contact:

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. 

Back to Top

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

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

Last updated January 2021.