Online Master of Legal Studies

Earn a Master of Legal Studies from a Top-20 Ranked Law School

Founded in 1867, Washington University School of Law is the oldest operating law school west of the Mississippi River. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked it as a top-20 law school. 1

The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program is designed for professionals who can benefit from legal training at work but do not wish to become practicing attorneys. A fundamental understanding of the United States legal system creates opportunities for growth in a variety of careers. Almost all industries work with legal procedure in some capacity — from risk management to government regulation. It can be beneficial for professionals to develop a background in law to make better decisions on the job and protect themselves and their organization from legal issues.

Candidates for an MLS include, but are not limited to:

  • Paralegals
  • Business executives
  • Social workers
  • Government employees
  • Compliance specialists
  • Lobbyists
  • Health-care professionals
  • Human resource professionals

Acquiescence and Accreditation

The Washington University MLS program has obtained acquiescence by the American Bar Association (ABA). Find out more about acquiescence on the ABA website. In addition, Washington University in St. Louis has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913. Learn about the University’s HLC accreditation.

The Same Rigorous Curriculum Offered On Campus

Designed and led by the School of Law’s distinguished faculty, the online MLS program delivers the same rigorous curriculum as the on-campus program and explores the application of U.S. law across a broad spectrum of today’s business topics, including contracts, intellectual property, health law and corporate compliance. Classes are taught using the Socratic method, encouraging students to discuss and debate course topics and explore subjects such as civil procedure, constitutional law, trial advocacy, torts and negotiations.

Every MLS student completes two required foundational legal courses and then selects from a variety of elective courses to align with their desired career trajectory. The skills-based curriculum prepares students to draft legal documents, conduct legal research and analyze new laws and regulations. Explore the course catalog to learn more about each elective.

Program Requirements


total credits


required courses2



Optional On-Campus Weekend Learning Experience

Each spring and fall, students in the program can attend an optional weekend learning experience in St. Louis, Missouri. These weekends enhance the online experience by allowing students to meet their peers and faculty in person while networking with professionals from law firms and organizations in the area. Students also take a 1-credit elective course on campus as well as observe live court hearings and meet with federal and state judges.

Faculty-Guided Research

This 3-credit research course, supervised by expert faculty, allows students to meet with professors regularly to develop a thesis paper on a topic that interests them or aligns with their career goals.

Join a diverse community of professionals and earn your Master of Legal Studies online.

The final deadline for the January 2024 cohort is December 4, 2023.

Concentration Areas in the MLS Program

Students in the MLS program can choose from five concentrations that allow them to specialize in a particular area of law. Specializing in one of these areas of law can help increase a student’s credibility and marketability in their field. Students interested in pursuing a concentration must first enroll in the MLS program and then complete at least 9 credits from predefined courses.

The concentration areas are:

Business Law

Learn to make informed decisions when negotiating business transactions, interpreting legal regulations or drafting contractual agreements.

Conflict Resolution

Examine how to effectively manage conflict and find solutions in business negotiations, disputes and workplace conflict.

Employment Law

Gain a deeper understanding of the employer and employee relationship, the legal processes behind employment contracts, and recruiting and hiring.


Study the elements of civil procedure and litigation, including pretrial and trial preparation and cross-examinations.

Regulatory Compliance

Gain the legal foundation needed to successfully interpret legal regulations, analyze contractual agreements and implement workplace policies.


Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university to apply. LSAT and GRE scores are not required. To apply, you must submit the following:

  • Online application
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Statement of purpose
  • Résumé or CV
  • Official transcripts
  • Online interview

Class Profile

Our MLS students come from a variety of backgrounds and fields of employment, bringing a wide range of perspectives to the classroom. The School of Law encourages all perspectives and promotes a collaborative learning environment.




Minority Students or Other


Average Age

Top Fields of Employment

  • Banking & Finance
  • Litigation (Paralegals)
  • Corporate
  • Commercial Law (Paralegals)
  • Education
  • InsuranceInformation Technology
  • Real Estate
  • Tax

State of Origin

US Map
This information reflects data collected from online MLS students in the October 2016 to October 2018 cohorts with a 100% response rate. Map shows that students are located in Washington (10), Oregon (1), California (36), Nevada (4), Idaho (1), Colorado (12), Arizona (1), North Dakota (1), Nebraska (1), Kansas (4), Oklahoma (2), Texas (36), Minnesota (1), Iowa (3), Missouri (62), Arkansas (3), Louisiana (3), Wisconsin (3), llinois (29), Indiana (2), Michigan (5), Ohio (7), Kentucky (4), West Virginia (1), Pennsylvania (8), New York (32), New Hampshire (1), Maine (1), Connecticut (3), New Jersey (13), Maryland (19), Delaware (2), Virginia (21), North Carolina (12), South Carolina (7), Georgia (20), Alabama (2), Mississippi (3), Florida (16).

Find out how you can earn your Master of Legal Studies entirely online and advance your career with legal expertise.

Online Learning Experience

The MLS curriculum is delivered through live, face-to-face classes on our online learning platform, and students complete weekly course work on their own time.

Students also have access to LexisNexis and Westlaw, two extensive legal research databases used by lawyers and law firms. These databases will not only help students with their legal writing and research but also give them access to real-world legal materials including cases, statutes, public records and law journals. Learn more about the student experience.

Distinguished Faculty

The School of Law faculty consists of nationally and internationally recognized experts with experience that ranges from international law to constitutional and corporate law. Classes in our online MLS program are kept small, and professors encourage diversity of thought. Learn more about our faculty.

Careers You Can Pursue With an MLS

The MLS curriculum prepares students to leverage their legal knowledge on the job and equips them to succeed across various career paths and industries. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Business
  • Human resources
  • Non-profit work
  • Compliance
  • Health care administration
  • Politics and government
  • Non-lawyer legal professions
  • Social work

Visit our career paths page to learn more about some of the fields MLS graduates can pursue. Throughout the program, students also have access to our career services to help them determine how they can use this degree to advance in their career.

Gain a legal foundation to advance your career. Learn more about the online Master of Legal Studies program.

1 2023 Best Law Schools. US News & World Report. Ranked in 2022.arrow_upwardReturn to footnote reference

2 Please note that Torts is only 1 credit. If you select Torts as your common law course, you will still be required to fulfill 24 credits to graduate.arrow_upwardReturn to footnote reference