Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Programs in New York

Several law schools in New York offer a master’s in legal studies (MLS) program. The MLS is ideal for individuals who want to expand their career options with knowledge of the law, but do not wish to practice law. 

Students in New York may be able to complete an online master’s in legal studies degree in an average of 12 to 18 months. 

New York holds the second-highest level of employment for legal occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2019 and offers MLS graduates many opportunities, including employment in cybersecurity, business and fashion, as all three industries require regulatory oversight. 

Sponsored Online MLS and Law Programs

American University

Washington College of Law


Master of Legal Studies

  • Complete in as few as 12 months 
  • No GRE/LSAT scores required to apply 
  • Four tracks available: General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, and Technology 
  • Three certificates available: Business, Health Care Compliance, and Technology

Fordham University

School of Law


Master of Studies in Law

  • GRE, GMAT, and LSAT scores not required to apply 
  • Complete in as few as 12 months 
  • Minimum two years’ compliance-related work experience recommended


Overview of Legal Degrees in New York: Types and Concentrations 

In addition to a Master of Legal Studies, other degrees available at schools throughout New York, including Master of Studies in Law and Master of Science in Law. Although completion of any of the above degrees does not permit you to sit for the New York bar exam, you can customize your career path with various degrees and concentrations. In New York concentrations may include:

  • Dispute Resolution
  • Human Resources
  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
  • Policymaking
  • Patent Law
  • Health Law and Compliance
  • Regulatory Compliance

If you hold a professional law degree, such as Juris Doctor (J.D.) and are interested in advancing your legal knowledge in a specific area of law, you may consider a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program instead of a Master of Legal Studies. Those with a professional law degree are usually not eligible for MLS admissions.

Law School Highlights in New York

Out of the 15 ABA-approved law schools in New York, New York is home to the notable programs from Columbia University, New York University (NYU) and Cornell Law School. These prestigious institutions, all founded in the 1800s, boast various world-renowned alumni including business magnates, politicians, and two presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt at Columbia University). 

The curriculum found in New York law schools prepares students to quickly find employment in many sectors. Cornell Law School reports 97.2% of graduates are employed within nine months of graduation. 

Legal Career Outlook in New York

Earning a Master of Legal Studies degree may benefit your career in a number of ways such as an increase in career options, higher salaries and greater job security. According to the BLS in 2019 New York, which has the nation’s second-highest employment level for legal occupations, had 116,130 employed individuals in legal occupations with an average salary of $136,450.

Careers with a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies in New York 

The knowledge gained from a master’s in legal studies program is useful across a range of industries, a few career options with an MLS include:

  • Paralegal
  • Human Resource Manager or Director
  • Court Administrator
  • Contract Negotiator
  • Business Analyst
  • Compliance Officer

To learn more, check our guide on what you can do with a master’s in legal studies.

Nationally, the BLS projects employment in legal occupations to grow by 5% from 2019-2029 which is faster than the average for all occupations. With the large number of businesses and large corporations located or headquartered in New York, there are also opportunities for professionals with law knowledge to work in legal departments to make sure businesses comply with regulations and laws. 

Largest Legal Employers in New York

There are many private law firms in New York, making them major employers of legal professionals in the state. Other possible legal employers include the state of New York, real estate, tech, financial, industrial and fashion companies whose legal department focuses on intellectual property, business and finance, and consumer culture.

For paralegals or other legal support staff with an MLS degree can look to a large number of private law firms around New York as potential employers. The largest law firms in New York include:

  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Note: *Programs granted acquiescence by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Information on this page was retrieved in August 2020.

Pepperdine University

Caruso School of Law


Master of Legal Studies

  • No GRE or LSAT scores required to apply 
  • Complete in as few as 16 months 
  • Dispute resolution concentration available