Master of Legal Studies (MLS)—A Non-Professional Degree

The MLS (Master of Legal Studies) is a non-professional degree designed to introduce a small number of graduate students and scholars in other disciplines to the foundations of the legal system, the basic modes of legal argumentation and analysis, legal procedure, and the substantive law of selected areas. The MLS is intended primarily for those pursuing academic careers.

Exceptionally qualified MLS applicants may also apply to participate in the SPILS Program.

Unit Requirement

To obtain the MLS degree, a student must complete four Autumn Quarter Law School courses, at least three of which must be 1L required courses (at least one of which must be Legal Research and Writing) plus an additional 24 approved quarter units of coursework.

Residency Requirement

To graduate, a student must be “in residence” as a law student for at least three quarters. For purposes of the MLS degree, the term “in residence” means that a student:

  • Takes at least 9 quarter units of credit that can be counted toward the degree each quarter;
  • By the date all grades for the quarter are due, passes at least 8 units each quarter;
  • Pays full tuition to the law school; and,
  • Does not work more than 20 hours per week during the term. (See section entitled ‘Limitations on Working’ for more information.)

A student must be in residence during the quarter in which the final degree is conferred or during the quarter immediately preceding degree conferral.



Course Requirements

  • Successful completion, during the Autumn Quarter, of four Law School courses, at least three of which must be those required of first-year law students in the Autumn Quarter and at least one of which must be Legal Writing.
  • Successful completion of additional courses at the Law School relevant to the candidate’s interest. Those courses may include Winter Quarter first-year courses, including Federal Litigation in a Global Context.
  • Successful completion of at least one course, seminar, or directed research project in which a paper or other form of prepared written work involving a substantial independent effort on the part of the student constitutes a principal part of the assigned work (i.e., a course that would count for “R” credit).

Faculty Adviser

Each MLS candidate is to have as an adviser a member of the Law School faculty. The faculty adviser shall review for approval the student’s course program and provide general guidance to the student on work at the Law School.

Time Limit on Degree Conferral

Candidates for the MLS degree are expected to complete all degree requirements within one academic year and must complete the degree requirements within two consecutive academic years.

Timely Filing of a "Graduation Application"

Students should consult the University’s online Academic Calendar for the Graduation Application deadline dates for each term. The Academic Calendar is available through the Office of the University Registrar.