Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

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 — so it is important for professionals to develop their legal knowledge.

The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) from the top-20 ranked Washington University School of Law is a degree for students who could benefit from legal training at work but do not wish to become practicing attorneys. The program explores how law relates to a variety of careers, including topics such as contracts, intellectual property, health law and corporate compliance.

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

Health care professionals
Patent agents
Business executives
Teachers and professors
Government employees
Human resource professionals

Accreditation and Acquiescence

The Washington University MLS program has obtained acquiescence by the American Bar Association (ABA). For more information on acquiescence, please refer to the ABA website.

In addition, Washington University in St. Louis has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913. Learn more about the University’s HLC accreditation.

The Same Rigorous Curriculum Offered on Campus

Offered entirely online, the Master of Legal Studies program allows students to earn their degree from anywhere in the world without putting their careers or personal commitments on hold. With the same rigorous curriculum as the Washington University School of Law’s on-campus program, the online MLS focuses on the application of U.S. law across a broad spectrum of today’s business topics.

Students will take foundational legal courses similar to a first year in law school and have the opportunity to enroll in electives that focus on how the law relates to different industries. Course work focuses on appropriate legal procedure with regard to contracts, legal writing, professional responsibility, intellectual property, business associations, negotiation, international business transactions, property and more.

Program Requirements

The online Master of Legal Studies program is 24 credits and can be completed in as little as one year. All MLS students will complete the required introductory course and then select from a variety of elective courses to align with their desired career trajectory. Review MLS program requirements.

Course Catalog

Explore our extensive course catalog.

A Rich Online Learning Experience

Our online Master of Legal Studies students benefit from an immersive online learning experience that’s tailored to their busy schedules. This includes the:

  • Curriculum taught by Washington University’s distinguished faculty
  • Interactive, supportive learning environment
  • Optional in-person weekend learning experience in St. Louis
  • Commencement ceremony in St. Louis upon completion of the program (if they choose to attend)

Live Classes and Interactive Course Work

The MLS curriculum is delivered through live, face-to-face classes on our virtual learning platform and weekly course work to be completed on students’ own time. Professors use the Socratic method — the preferred method of teaching in U.S. law schools — to facilitate critical thinking skills and an in-depth understanding of U.S. legal procedure.

Additionally, throughout the program, students have access to LexisNexis and Westlaw, two extensive legal research databases used by lawyers and law firms. With these databases, students can view and utilize legal materials including cases, statutes, administrative codes, public records and law journals. Access to these databases will not only help students with their legal writing and research but also give them hands on experience with real-world legal materials.

Through these resources, students can experience the rigor of our on-campus program while completing their degree from anywhere. Learn more about the student experience.

Distinguished Faculty

Washington University School of Law faculty are nationally and internationally recognized experts in their field, with expertise that ranges from international law to constitutional and corporate law. The MLS curriculum is designed and led by School of Law faculty, and classes are kept to a small student-to-faculty ratio, so professors are closely engaged with students and always available for one-on-one mentoring. Explore our faculty’s wide range of expertise.

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
  • Take a one-credit elective course on campus
  • Observe live court hearings and meet with federal and state judges
  • Visit the Washington University campus
  • Network with law firms, organizations and businesses in the area
  • Discover the historic city of St. Louis

View a sample immersion agenda.

What Careers Can You Pursue with an MLS Degree?

Because the law relates to so many different careers — and because the MLS curriculum examines these ties and how to leverage a legal foundation on the job — students graduate equipped to succeed across various industries. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Business
  • Politics
  • Health care
  • Non-lawyer legal professions
  • Human resources
  • Social work

Throughout the program, students also have access to our Career Services, including one-on-one mentoring. Our resources help students determine how they can use this degree to make a career change or succeed at their current job.