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Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Programs hero

Compare master of legal studies (MLS) online programs

Gain legal training without becoming a practicing attorney.

Explore master of legal studies online programs

Why earn an online master’s degree in legal studies?

Expand your legal knowledge

Benefit from legal training that can be used to help your organization.

Gain global opportunities

Network with learners from a variety of diverse backgrounds and expand your reach through global connections.

Learn from anywhere

Gain the freedom to study from anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection.

What is legal studies?

An online master of legal studies program allows you to learn and study the intricacies of legal compliance and gain a solid working knowledge of law. A master of legal studies online does not require you to earn a legal degree, but rather focuses on how laws and regulations work, and how a business can conduct itself within those laws. Legal studies learners explore issues such as compliance, risk management, ethics, professional standards, and legal research and analysis while earning their degrees.

While each program differs, many programs offer concentrations. Concentrations can focus on: criminal law, entrepreneurship and law, financial regulatory compliance, higher education compliance, human resources compliance, healthcare compliance, cybersecurity and information privacy compliance, NCAA compliance and sports law, and pharmaceutical and medical device regulatory compliance. 

Are you a lawyer who’s looking to specialize your skill set? Explore online Master of Law (LLM) programs.

Master of legal studies online admission requirements

While every online master’s of legal studies program differs, there are some admission requirements that are across the board. As you explore different programs, peruse the admission requirements to ensure that you’re qualified for the programs that interest you and that meet your career goals.

Standard to many programs is a statement of interest, a résumé, letters of recommendation, transcripts, a minimum GPA requirement, professional work experience, and TOEFL scores for international learners.

Official or unofficial transcripts are requested from accredited bachelor’s degree programs or from accredited master’s programs.

Some online master of legal studies programs require a GRE, LSAT, or GMAT score; if these standardized test scores are not required, but you have taken the tests, you are often welcome to supplement your admissions package by sharing your scores.

How to apply

Each online master’s in legal studies program will have different procedures for applying for admission. Each university will have information available on its admissions page that will help you learn more about the program and how to apply, as well. You can also request information from the universities in which you are interested in learning more about their application process.

Online MLS curriculum

The curriculum for an online master of legal studies program varies by institution; however, there are many standard aspects of a master of legal studies online curriculum that most programs have in common. Courses are designed to help learners learn law, and how those learnings can be applied.

Some courses that are available through various universities include:

  • Introduction to law

  • Business law

  • International law

  • Employment law

  • Administrative law

  • Privacy and cybersecurity law

  • Risk management

  • Compliance

  • Legal research and communication

  • Conflict resolution

  • Criminal law

  • Construction law

  • Criminal procedure

  • Tort law

  • Property

  • Intellectual property

  • Fundamentals of contract law

  • U.S. law and legal analysis

  • Administrative agencies and regulations

  • Ethics and the professional

  • Legal methods and process

  • Jurisprudence and legal history

  • Applied research in legal studies

  • Understanding civic responsibility

  • Understanding criminal responsibility

  • Family and the legal system

As you determine which online master of legal studies program is right for you, take the time to explore each program’s curriculum, in addition to its admission requirements, as you make the decision of where to apply. Programs may have full- and part-time options as well, to accommodate learners with different schedules and timelines.

Looking to add legal skills more quickly? Explore earning your executive education in law.

What can you do with a master of legal studies?

There are many options available for what you can do with an online master of legal studies. This flexible degree can help advance your career in a variety of fields and professions. Healthcare, IT, law enforcement, finance, and education are common fields for those with an MLS. For example, it’s possible to build a career as a sustainability manager, patent officer, compliance officer, athletic director, law enforcement professional, data privacy specialist, contract manager, or chief executive officer. 

Master of legal studies jobs

A master of legal studies is a helpful degree for anyone interested in working in a field that requires complying with laws and regulations. It’s an opportunity to help your business or organization navigate the complexities of the U.S. legal system that affect commerce at the state and national levels. There is a great array of jobs and careers that those with an online master of legal studies degree gravitate toward, including: 

  • Human resource manager — someone who coordinates, directs, and plans the administrative functions of an organization.

  • Financial analyst — someone who guides individuals and businesses in how to spend money and profit.

  • Medical and health services manager — someone who helps hospitals and nursing homes from behind the scenes as a planner, coordinator, and director.

  • Nurse practitioner — someone who diagnoses, treats, and examines those with health conditions and can prescribe medicine.

  • Network and computer systems administrator — someone who installs hardware and software based on the needs of an organization.

  • Paralegal — someone who acts as a legal assistant, performing tasks that require legal knowledge.

  • Registered nurse — someone who provides and coordinates patient care, and educates the public and patients about health conditions.

Master of legal studies salary

With a variety of professions possible with a master of legal studies, salary information varies by industry and by location. However, there are salary ranges to help you determine an approximate post-graduation salary in your chosen industry, and what sort of salary bump you may receive. The median annual wage for someone with a law and legal studies degree is $60,000.Footnote 1 Most people, 71 percent, work in legal, management, office and administrative support, sales, and business and financial operations occupations.Footnote 2 The median annual wage for legal occupations that support law-related activities and interpret the law is $95,170, and is expected to grow faster than average from now until 2032.Footnote 3

Frequently asked questions

Online master’s in legal studies programs are for those who are interested in a sophisticated understanding of the U.S. legal system. These professionals are not intending to practice law, but rather gain new skills and knowledge. This degree does not allow you to take the bar examination. 

A master of legal studies degree can be worth the effort if your goal is to work in the field of law and regulation without becoming a lawyer. The degree can be applied to your professional life by utilizing the new knowledge you’ve obtained in your job, and almost every field needs those who understand compliance. 

Tuition for a master of legal studies online program varies depending on state and school. With a vast array of programs available, it is possible to find one that meets your needs and fits your budget. There are also financial aid programs available, and the possibility of your employer assisting you with tuition costs.

Many master’s in legal studies online programs can take as few as 18 months to complete. Some programs offer an accelerated track that you can take to complete your degree in less time. Programs can be either full or part time.

Master’s in legal studies programs vary in accreditation. Some programs are accredited by regional, state, or national accrediting agencies. To learn more about the accreditation status of programs in which you are interested, request more information or contact their admissions offices directly.

Choosing the right online master of legal studies program for your career and goals is a personal decision. The best way to find the right program for you is to explore the many programs available, and to request more information from the programs that best align with your goals, qualifications, budget, and schedule.

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