Master of Legal Studies Degree
While law permeates almost every aspect of American society, most people have only a limited knowledge of the law. Gaining a sound understanding of the law and the American legal system--without actually becoming a lawyer-- can benefit individuals in a wide variety of professions and careers.
You can stand out as the employee in your organization or profession who can interact with counsel, protect your ideas and your organization; assess the need for regulation and be able to effect regulatory change; work more efficiently with changing legislation, such as health care reform and compliance, or develop a specialization in your field. You will take the same classes as the JD students who will go on to become lawyers, but you will use the MLS to enhance your career.
Who can benefit from a Master of Legal Studies?
Anyone who works regularly with lawyers, or with laws and regulations. like corporate managers, accountants, auditors, government employees, realtors, engineers, scientists educators, health care professionals, court employees, law enforcement personnel, and human resource professionals. Or anyone who wants to bring legal knowledge to their work, such as librarians, information specialists, journalists, authors, and scholars. Anyone who wants to enhance their professional value or redirect their career, or who has always been interested in the law and wants to learn more about it could benefit from the MLS.
Applicants to the MLS program should understand that the MLS is not intended to prepare students for the JD program. Further, under rules promulgated by the American Bar Association, the acrediting body for law schools, no credit may be given towards the JD for any courses taken in the MLS program. However, students who successfully complete courses in the MLS program will have a better understanding of law than people who have not. If they eventually do enroll in a JD program, the MLS experience might prove beneficial.
The MLS degree will be awarded upon completion of 30 Semester credit hours. MLS students will be eligible to enroll in all first-year and upper-level courses at the College of Law.* Flexible day and evening class schedules allow you to juggle work and family responsibilities while you pursue your degree. Part-time students have a maximum of four years to complete the MLS degree.
All MLS students will be required to take Introduction to American Law (2 hours) in their first semester at C|M|LAW. Designed specially for MLS students, the course covers the basic structure and function of U.S. legal institutions, the interaction of state and federal law in the American system of federalism, common law and case analysis, the American criminal and civil justice systems, trial by jury, and the American legal profession.
Additional Degree Requirements:
1. First semester of Legal Research, Writing & Advocacy (3 hours),
2. At least one of the J.D. first-year core-curriculum courses:
a. Civil Procedure, L513
b. Contracts, L511
c. Criminal Law, L506
d. Property, L514
e. Torts, L512
MLS students will be permitted to earn up to 8 credit hours towards the MLS degree by taking appropriate CSU graduate-level courses in a related field. To transfer the credits to the MLS degree, the student must earn a minimum grade of B, or Satisfactory, in the non-law graduate course.
* Some courses require prerequisites or will have limits on enrollment.
Choose an area of concentration to help you focus on what’s important in your chosen field
MLS students may elect an area of concentration with the assistance of a faculty advisor. An area of concentration should be a minimum of three courses totaling at least 8 credits. Possible areas of concentration include:
- Administrative and Regulatory Law
- Business Law
- Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Education Law
- Employment and Labor Law
- Environmental, Land Use and Real Estate Law
- Family Law
- Health Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- International and Comparative Law
- Local Government Law
- Personal Injury Law
- Tax and Estate Planning
- Self-Designed Concentration (with faculty approval)
Alan C. Weinstein, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Studies & Director, Law & Public Policy Program, answers questions about the Master of Legal Studies program in this short video.