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Frequently Asked Questions
Master of Studies in Law (MSL) Degree

To help you better understand our Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree, we’ve compiled some answers to your burning questions on the benefits of the MSL degree, the differences from our JD program, common career paths and more.

What is a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree?

An MSL degree is a master’s degree for those who want to learn the law, but don’t want to become lawyers. No prior law experience or degree is required; only a bachelor’s degree is needed to apply.

You may deal with contracts, negotiations, strategy or compliance at work, or perhaps you work closely with your legal department. The MSL degree will give you working knowledge of the law to amplify your career impact in every field.

Across different academic institutions in the field of law, the MSL degree may go by a number of names, including:

  • Master of Studies in Law (MSL)
  • Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
  • Master of Science of Law (MSL)
  • Juris Master (JM)
  • Master of Jurisprudence (MJ)

How is an MSL different from a JD?

The primary differentiator between the programs is the associated professional goal.

  • Do you want to become a lawyer? The JD program is best.
  • Do you regularly need to reference the law and understand legal regulations, even though you don’t want to become a lawyer? Then the MSL is the right choice.

With part-time, flexible classes, the MSL allows you to advance your career through immediately impactful legal knowledge and study, while continuing on your current career trajectory in your specific industry. The MSL should not be viewed as a preparatory program for a JD.

Additionally, the JD program requires approximately 3 years of full-time study. MSL degrees can be earned in as few as 12 to 18 months. It is important to note that only JD graduates may pursue eligibility to take the bar exam. MSL graduates are not eligible to take the bar exam upon graduation or become lawyers.

What can I do with an MSL?

The MSL degree enables graduates to redefine their role with a more thorough understanding of the law and how it impacts their industry and organization. MSL degrees are not job-specific and can apply to a variety of career goals.

Below are some of the most common titles held by our graduates:

  • Business Analyst
  • Clearance Supervisor
  • Compliance Director
  • Contracts Officer
  • Corporate Executive
  • Court Administrator
  • Criminal Investigations Sergeant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Health Care Administrator
  • HR Director
  • Nursing Supervisor
  • Paralegal or Legal Assistant
  • Senior Accountant
  • Social Worker

Additionally, our students enroll from a variety of industries, including:

  • Banking
  • Business/Finance
  • Entertainment
  • Government and Policy
  • Health Care
  • Higher Education
  • Human Resources
  • Intellectual Property
  • Journalism
  • Law Enforcement

Will the MSL prepare me for a JD?

Can I take the Bar Exam with my MSL degree?

How many classes do I need to take each semester?

How much time do I need for this program?

What GPA do I need for this program?

Can I study online full-time and finish faster?

Can I study online and on-campus for a hybrid option?

What is the online experience like? Do I need to attend class?

What is the difference between on campus and online courses?

Do you offer industry-specific tracks?

Can I earn multiple certificates?

I’m pursuing a standalone certificate. Can I earn a master’s degree?

How do I register for classes?

Will my company help to pay my tuition?

How do I apply for a scholarship?

Can I transfer credits from another university?

Still have questions? Reach out to one of our admissions advisors at msl@law.usc.edu.