About USC Gould
USC Gould is a top-ranked law school with a 120-year history and reputation for academic excellence. We are located on the beautiful 228-acre USC University Park Campus, just south of downtown Los Angeles.
Learn about our interdisciplinary curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and specialized areas.
Participate in an unparalleled learning experience with diversity of people and thought. Get involved in the law school community and participate in activities that enhance your studies.
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Our faculty is distinguished for its scholarship, as well as for its commitment to teaching. Our 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates an intimate and collegial learning environment.
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Progressive Degree Program (PDP) - On-Campus MSL
USC Gould School of Law
- MASTER OF STUDIES IN LAW (MSL) DEGREE - ON CAMPUS
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- MASTER OF STUDIES IN LAW (MSL) DEGREE - ONLINE
- PROGRESSIVE DEGREE PROGRAM (PDP)
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Set yourself apart with an understanding of how laws impact your chosen field by earning a progressive degree. In as little as five years, you will earn both a bachelor's degree in your field and a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree.
The program is designed for individuals who want to gain an understanding of legal and compliance issues that will impact their future careers as entrepreneurs, business owners, administrators, scientists, engineers, educators, advocates, activists and more.
Fine tune your knowledge in law by completing the coursework to earn your master's with additional specialized certificates in Compliance and Business Law for the same number of units it takes to earn the MSL.
Jump ahead of your peers! Apply theoretical knowledge and basic research skills acquired as an undergraduate to practical applications of the professional world.
(Note, the MSL is not intended for the student who wishes to go on to law school and practice law.)
Course List in the Master of Studies in Law
This course provides students with an in-depth perspective on the U.S. common law system specifically in relation to sources of law and value of case precedent. In addition, students will learn how to conduct legal research with an emphasis on selecting, understanding and interpreting statutes and administrative regulations. Students will also learn how to evaluate the quality of the materials and documents.
This survey course will provide students with a substantive overview of American law by reviewing selected legal materials in: criminal law and procedure, contracts, evidence, real property and torts.
Any company wishing to prosper will have to manage efficiently their Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio. For this reason, it has become essential to understand the different types of IP and how they are exploited. This class will focus exclusively on issues related to copyright and fair use, trademark, trade secrets and related laws that seek to protect intellectual property. In addition, students will learn strategies for licensing and enforcing a company's IP.
Human Resource Compliance explores the key areas within the field of human resources and employment and labor law from recruiting through termination. As the people who comprise the workforce, human resources are the backbone of every organization. Thus, the human resources field is valuable for every business leader and advisor to understand in order to meet the strategic objectives of an organization and to minimize risk. This course will prepare you to advise and support employers in day-to-day management of the workforce by enabling you to spot issues, compose policies and procedures, and develop an appropriate course of action based on legal requirements and best practices.
This class will focus on an overview of civil litigation by looking at the rules, practices and procedures that govern civil disputes. Students will be taught the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and best practices for mitigating and managing risk. This will include two stages of litigation: getting the lawsuit started and moving the lawsuit through the trial court.
Health Care Compliance explores the key areas of risk for healthcare organizations generally as well as unique risk areas for specific types of healthcare companies. Nearly all healthcare organizations require the implementation and operation of a compliance program. The course will prepare you to work as a compliance professional in a healthcare organization by enabling you to compose policies and procedures, spot problems, develop plans to address compliance challenges and respond to government investigations. This course also delves into what traits of a compliance program make it effective.
Compliance is the process of ensuring that a company and its employees follow the laws, regulations, and standards that apply to an organization. This course provides students with an examination of various areas of law, regulation, and policies, as well as the ways specific industries utilize compliance protocols or programs. Central principles, as well as the statutory and regulatory framework that governs this growing field of compliance, will be analyzed.
This course examines the legal organizations most often used by businesses in the United States. We will study the specific laws governing business organizations, the policies and theories underlying these laws, and best practices for complying with them. The primary focus of the course is to analyze comparatively corporations, partnerships and hybrid entities. In addition, students will learn basic transactional practice skills by learning how to spot legal issues that concern business organizations at the time of formation, during operation, and when shutting down.
Corporate Governance introduces students to the role and responsibilities of the board of directors and executive management in private, public, and nonprofit entities. The course will examine the purpose, evolution and history of corporate governance standards, the current structure, makeup, priorities and culture of boards, shareholder/stakeholder engagement, shareholder activism, corporate social responsibility, indemnification of boards and their management, and current "hot" topics in corporate governance.
This survey course seeks to prepare aspiring entrepreneurs for dealmaking. Students will learn the nuts and bolts of negotiating a deal with investors by understanding key legal concepts used in drafting business agreements including financing documents, intellectual property and technology licensing agreements, and strategic partnership agreements. With this course, students will also learn what to do before they seek legal counsel, when to seek legal counsel, and what to ask legal counsel. From a practical perspective, students will learn how to run a deal from start to finish while effectively negotiating terms that are favorable to them.
In this course, students will examine the strategies, objectives, and challenges that will affect how contracts are drafted. They will consider factors that influence drafting style, technique, and content. The course will begin by learning the basic features of a contract (how they are formed, breached, and how terms are interpreted). From there, students will analyze the standard structure and terms of a typical contract, including the purposes behind them. Students then will dissect and examine a range of contracts used in business relationships (e.g., business formations, employment, real estate transactions, mergers/acquisitions) to evaluate drafting techniques and decisions in specific transactions. Finally, the students will use the knowledge they have gained to ink a deal.
This course will examine the negotiator's role as a deal facilitator, problem-solver, and conflict manager. Negotiation strategies (such as identifying risks and prioritizing client objectives) will be taught to encourage students to collaborate and compromise towards a mutually agreeable result. Some theoretical concepts or psychological analysis will be taught; however, the emphasis will be on developing a toolbox of negotiation skills and tactics that can be put into practice. This class will be interactive and simulation-based.
Program Course Sequence(s)
USC Gould Progressive Degree Program Masters Studies in Law offers the option of earning a certificate in business law or compliance concurrent with their degree studies at no additional tuition cost.
- No Certificate - Regular Master's Studies in Law (21 Units)
- Business Law Certificate (21 Units)
- Compliance Certificate (21 Units)
- Combined Business Law & Compliance Certificate (23 Units)
* Note: Units earned may not be applied toward a JD degree even if you elect to pursue one at a later time. Courses used toward a degree or a certificate completed at another university may not be applied toward a master's degree at USC. If courses were not used toward a conferred degree or certificate, a maximum of five units may be transferred to our MSL degree.
Do I qualify?
To apply to the Progressive Degree Program (PDP), you must:
- Have a GPA of 3.0 (during application and throughout program).
- Have completed 64 units since high school graduation.
- Submit your completed application prior to the completion of 96 units of course work. (AP units, IB units and course work taken prior to high school graduation are excluded.)
- Apply in your junior year.
How to Apply
- Download the Application Form
- Make an appointment with the Advisor of Gould School of Law to draft a Proposed Course Plan.
- Review the proposed course plan with your Major's undergraduate Advisor.
- Obtain signatures from your current undergraduate department Chair and Dean (include an updated STARS report and two letters of recommendation).
- Bring all signed documents including an updated STARS report and two letters of recommendation to the Law Advisor.
- Your Law School Advisor will be responsible for submitting the approved application and Proposed Course Plan to the Degree Progress department.
Read more on the application process here: About the PDP Application
Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions (Fall/Spring)
All USC undergraduate students admitted to our on campus MSL/PDP program will be considered automatically for merit scholarships. Those who are awarded a scholarship will be notified upon receiving after their course plan has been approved by USC Degree Progress and reviewed by the MSL Program staff. Scholarship awards are merit-based and range from $5,000 to $20,000.
Scholarships are only applied to a MSL/PDP student's account in the semester or semesters when he or she is enrolled in graduate law (MSL) classes only. Scholarship awards are not applied in semesters in which the student is enrolled in a mix of undergraduate classes and graduate law (MSL) classes.
"I've always love learning about the law, but was never sure I wanted practice as a lawyer. Knowing I wanted to start my own company and be an entrepreneur, I earned my MSL degree and a certificate in Business Law, which have made me feel more competent as I launch my production company. I've even recently filed paperwork with the State of California to register the business, and I'll know what I should be looking for when I do get legal counsel."
To get started on your application, contact: (Appointment required)
Javier Mulato, M.Ed.
Student Services Advisor