Hero Background Image

Progressive Degree Program (PDP) - On-Campus MSL

USC Gould School of Law

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 Business Law, Human Resources Law and Compliance, or Media and Entertainment 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: 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.

Program Course Sequence(s)

USC Gould Progressive Degree Program - Master of Studies in Law offers the option of earning a certificate in business law, human resources law and compliance, or media and entertainment law, which are concurrent with their degree studies at no additional tuition cost.


Do I Qualify

To apply to the Progressive Degree Program (PDP), you must:

  • Have a GPA of 3.0 (during application and throughout program).

  • Must have completed at least 64 total units of undergraduate course work (excluding AP, IB, or transfer units earned prior to graduation from high school)

  • Submit a two-to-three-page personal statement that answers the following questions: [1] Why do you want to pursue the MSL degree at USC Gould, [2] How do you plan to use this degree to advance your career, and [3] What strategies will you implement to be a successful graduate student?
  • Students may apply in their junior (recommended) or senior year but no later than the semester prior to beginning graduate course work.

Course List in the Master of Studies in Law

LAW 513: Effective Writing for Professionals (2 units)

This course is designed to study and practice writing in business and legal settings. The premise is to teach students writing structure based on audience, tone, form, and purpose. With business writing, the course will address the fundamentals of business writing including electronic mail, business letters, formal reports and memos, with an emphasis on clear and concise writing. With legal writing, it will address the fundamentals of legal writing including IRAC, with an emphasis on legal analysis as well as clear and consistent writing.

LAW 520: Introduction to the US Legal System (2 units)

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.

LAW 525: Fundamental of IP Law (3 units)

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.

LAW 559: Human Resource Compliance (2 units)**

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.

LAW 567: Introduction to Litigation in U.S. Courts (2 units)**

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.

LAW 598: Regulatory Compliance (2 units)**

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.

LAW 603: Business Organizations (3 units)

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.

LAW 613: Corporate Governance (2 units)**

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.

LAW 635: Employment Discrimination Law (2 units)

Employment Discrimination Law will examine the regulation of employment discrimination under federal law. Primary attention will be paid to issues of race, sex, age and disability discrimination. The course will provide students a comprehensive overview of the legal doctrines developed to address workplace discrimination. It will address issues of statutory interpretation, litigation strategy and problems of proof. It will also situate this body of law within a set of sociological and theoretical frameworks aimed to enrich students' understandings of the law's foundations and purposes.

LAW 650: Entertainment Law (2 units)

An examination of how the courts are handling selected, "cutting edge" topics in entertainment law. The topics will include the scope of and limitations on the right of publicity; fair use and parody defenses to copyright infringement; future technology clauses in rights contracts; and copyright and defamation issues arising in the online world.

LAW 676: Dealmaking (2 units)

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.

LAW 710: Contract Drafting and Strategy (2 units)

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.

LAW 845: Negotiation Skills (2 units)

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.

**During the 2024-2025 academic year, these courses will only be offered online.

How To Apply

  1. Download the application form
  2. Make an appointment with the USC Gould advisor to draft a proposed course plan.
  3. Review the proposed course plan with your major's undergraduate advisor.
  4. Obtain signatures from your undergraduate advisor and include a recent STARS report.
  5. Email signed application and course plan, STARS report, and personal statement to the USC Gould advisor at [email protected].
  6. If approved, the USC Gould advisor will be responsible for submitting your approved application and proposed course plan to the University’s Office of Academic Records and Registrar.

Application Deadlines

We offer two starts throughout the year in fall and spring. Below are the upcoming start dates:

Program Start Application Deadline First Day of Classes
Fall 2024 June 19, 2024 August 26, 2024
Spring 2025 November 6, 2024 January 13, 2025


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.

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.

-Nathan Coker, MSL 2017

Interested? Learn more.

Receive more information about our Progressive Degree Programs and get notified about upcoming events.

Fill out my online form.

Connect with USC Gould

Attend an Event

View upcoming webinars, sample lectures and recruiting events online and in your area

Schedule a Meeting

Set up an appointment with one of our admissions advisors to discuss your program of interest

Next Steps

Apply Now
Start the online application process.
Visit USC Gould
Come experience life at USC Gould.
Upcoming Events
Join an upcoming event
Contact Us
Still have questions? Let us help.