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Application Instructions

Master of Studies in Law (MSL) Degree - Online


To be eligible to apply, you must have earned or plan to receive a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (based on a 4.0 grading scale) from a regionally accredited institution before enrolling at USC Gould School of Law. We seek applicants whose academic background, professional aspirations, personal commitment, tech skills and communication skills meet the demands of a rigorous online legal master's degree program. Prior exposure to or experience in law is not required.

Note: Our legal master's degree is not recommended if your goal is to practice law or earn a Juris Doctor (JD). Pursuant to the American Bar Association standards and USC's graduate transfer policies, credits earned in our MSL program are not eligible for transfer credit to a JD program at USC or other universities. If you aspire to become an attorney, please visit USC Gould's JD Program website.

Dates and Deadlines

We offer three starts throughout the year in fall, spring and summer. Below are the upcoming start dates and application deadlines:

Program Start DateFirst Day of ClassesApplications OpenPriority Application DeadlineApplication Deadline
Spring 2024January 10, 2024August 2, 2023October 11, 2023November 8, 2023
Summer 2024May 8, 2024November 29, 2023February 21, 2024March 20, 2024
Fall 2024September 4, 2024January 17, 2024June 19, 2024July 17, 2024
Spring 2025January 8, 2025July 31, 2024October 9, 2024November 6, 2024

We recommend applying by the priority application deadline for scholarship consideration.

Application Process

To apply for admission, submit the following documents before 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) on the application deadlines listed above:

1. Online Application

Our online application takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please be aware that your work will not be saved automatically.

Note: If you earned a degree outside of the United States of America, you may be directed to submit your application through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) via the link above.

2. Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is your primary opportunity to discuss who you are beyond the application basics. We are particularly interested in how your academic and professional background has led to your decision to study law. This is not the place to repeat items on your resume/curriculum vitae (CV). Please address the following questions in your statement of purpose:

      • Why do you want to pursue the MSL degree at USC Gould?
      • How do you plan to use this degree to advance your career?
      • What strategies will you put into place to be a successful online graduate student?

The statement of purpose should be two to three pages, double-spaced and in at least 12-point font. We value essays that are clear, concise, and compelling.

Email your statement of purpose as a PDF to [email protected].

3. Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Provide a record of your employment history, volunteer commitments, extracurricular activities, and any awards and/or honors by emailing a PDF version of your resume/CV to [email protected].

4. Transcripts

Domestic Applicants: To expediate the processing of your application, you can submit unofficial transcripts via email with the rest of your application materials and request official transcripts to be sent to us from your undergraduate and graduate institution(s) after receiving an admissions decision.

(Optional) Step 1: Submit unofficial transcripts by scanning and emailing transcripts from your undergraduate institution (and graduate institution, if applicable) to [email protected].

Unofficial transcripts must be printed on university letterhead or include a university seal/registrar signature. Print-outs from student portals are not accepted. If admitted, you will be required to submit official transcripts from all academic institutions.

Step 2: Request official, sealed transcripts from your undergraduate and/or graduate institution(s) and provide them with our address. For transcripts to be considered official, they must be emailed or mailed directly from the issuing institution to USC Gould. Any transcripts sent from the applicant, even if in a sealed envelope, are considered unofficial transcripts.

Official electronic transcripts should be sent by the institution or through a secure site formally linked to the sending institution, such as eTranscript California, Parchment Exchange, eSCRIP-SAFE, and National Student Clearinghouse to [email protected].

Official hard copy transcripts should be mailed by the institution to:

Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
USC Gould School of Law
699 Exposition Blvd, Room 336
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0071

International Applicants: If you hold any degree from outside the U.S., you must submit use the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)'s Document Assembly Service (DAS) and International Transcript and Authentication and Evaluation Service (ITAES) to submit your transcripts. Credential evaluation takes 2-3 weeks to complete once LSAC has received all your documents; there may be further delay during LSAC's peak processing periods or if LSAC determines that additional information is required to complete its review. Therefore, we suggest you apply as early as possible so that there is no consequential delay in LSAC transmitting its evaluation report to us.

Note: The fee for DAS and ITAES is $85 and $135, respectively. LSAC will charge an additional $30 to send your Law School Report to USC Gould. Fees charged by LSAC for utilizing its services are payable to LSAC. Please visit LSAC's website for more information about fees charged by LSAC, including its refund policy.

5. English Proficiency - International Applicants

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must take the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic.

English proficiency waiver requests will only be considered if (1) your native language is English, (2) you hold a bachelor’s degree completed in its entirety in the United States or U.S. bachelor’s-equivalent in a qualifying Anglophone country, and (3), you have completed a master’s or doctoral degree from a country in which English is both the language of instruction and the only official language.

  • USC Gould does not have a minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score; however, we recommend a 90 TOEFL iBT or above, a 6.5 IELTS or above, or 61 PTE or above.
  • Official scores must be sent directly to LSAC. LSAC's institutional code is 8395.
  • English-proficiency scores must be dated within two years (24 months) of the date you submit your application.
  • USC does NOT accept MyBest TOEFL scores of applicants as valid proof of language proficiency. We will consider the single best total  score you submit along with the sub-scores from that test.
  • USC does not waive the English-proficiency requirement based on any other consideration, such as work experience, ESL enrollment, amount of time spent in the United States, etc.  It also cannot be waived on the basis of programs taught in English in non-Anglophone countries.

Note: Admission to the MSL does not require letters of recommendation, nor any LSAT or GRE exam scores. Additional application materials or interviews may be requested by the Admissions Committee.

The Online MSL program is not qualified to issue Form I-20 to international students. If you wish to receive a student visa, please consider our on-campus MSL program.


The Admissions Committee will only review your application once all transcripts and supporting documents are received by the application deadlines shared above. You will receive a confirmation email when your application has been complete. Admissions decisions are normally released by email within two to four weeks of application confirmation. If you are admitted and decide to enroll, a commitment deposit will be required to reserve your seat.

State Authorization Information

Due to online learning regulations in each state, our online MSL degree is not available to students residing in all states. Certain states only authorize their residents to enroll in online master's degree programs that require 30 or more units. Other states impose different restrictions.

Effective October 2, 2023, USC Gould is unable to accept new applications for admission to the Online MSL program to students currently residing in Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, and Puerto Rico. However, we are happy to receive applications for admission to our online certificate programs from students residing in any state except for Puerto Rico.

Prospective students may check this site for updates. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

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