What a Master of Legal Studies Can Do for You

Posted by Texas A&M School of Law on Oct 14, 2022 10:35:50 AM

What Is a Master of Legal Studies (MLS)?

A relatively new degree type in the world of higher education, the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is geared toward professionals in a variety of fields who can benefit from extensive legal scholarship and training but have no intentions of actually practicing law. Therefore, the typical MLS program will convey working legal knowledge without stressing the detailed technicalities that are required to become a lawyer. MLS programs do not generally qualify students to sit for state bar examinations after graduation.

Because it is such a new academic discipline, different schools may offer an MLS education under different names, The Master of Science of Law (MSL), Master of Jurisprudence (MJur), and Juris Master (JM) are all remarkably similar to, and generally interchangeable with, the Master of Legal Studies.

What Are the Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies?

Depending on your area of professional concentration and your unique career ambitions, obtaining an MLS can benefit you in a variety of ways. While many desirable positions require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in an industry-related subject, a relevant master's degree is a great way to make your resume stand out from the competition. For example, if you are a nurse with an interest in healthcare administration, you may want to pursue an MLS to better navigate the maze of medical laws that many senior nursing executives must handle.

Among its other advantages, an MLS degree can help you…

  • Boost your workplace value
  • Secure career promotions
  • Increase your earning potential
  • Negotiate a higher salary
  • Contribute to workplace teams
  • Understand complicated legal documents and processes
  • Anticipate and respond to workplace legal problems
  • Use legal information and strategy for professional benefit

Who Should Consider Earning a Master of Legal Studies

You may want to think about an MLS if you need to communicate with lawyers or other legal experts on a regular basis. Or maybe your job requires you to deal with convoluted and confusing regulatory laws.

Essentially, an MLS is ideal for professionals who need a detailed understanding of legal matters but are not focused on representing clients. If you are a non-lawyer who deals (or will be dealing) with relatively complex legal issues as a significant part of your job, an MLS may be right for you.

Common career paths for MLS graduates include business analysis, senior compliance, and human resources administration. An MLS can also prove helpful for business owners and entrepreneurs. Beyond the business world, it is a popular advanced degree for professionals in the healthcare, education, nonprofit, banking, and media sectors.

Master of Legal Studies Degree Specializations

Because it is such a versatile degree with relevant applications in numerous fields, the MLS degree can be pursued with a broad spectrum of specific concentrations and specializations. Different colleges and universities offer different areas of MLS focus.

Texas A&M University School of Law has two MLS degree options for students who want to attend its Fort Worth campus in residence. In addition to its MLS with a specialization in Intellectual Property, Technology, and Innovation, Texas A&M Law in Fort Worth offers a General Legal Studies MLS that is highly customizable. Students who choose to pursue an MLS online through Texas A&M Law can choose among the following degree specializations:

  • Business Law and Compliance
  • Cybersecurity Law and Policy
  • Energy and Environmental Law and Policy
  • Energy, Oil, and Gas Law and Policy
  • Health Law, Policy, and Management
  • HR and Employment Law, Policy, and Management
  • International Tax Law and Policy
  • Real Estate and Construction Law, Policy, and Management
  • Risk Management and Compliance
  • Wealth Management

How a Master of Legal Studies Degree Advances Careers

Unlike a Juris Doctor (JD) program, which trains students to practice as an attorney, an MLS program, in and of itself, will not prepare students to perform any specific job. Instead, the degree is designed to help professionals excel on a broad spectrum of career paths.

Regulatory law and other legal matters play a major role in all manner of professional arenas. Therefore, professionals with a thorough knowledge of legal processes and a firm command of the laws that impact their industry have a considerable advantage when it comes to securing promotions and landing new positions.

The MLS has proven beneficial for people who want a job in middle or upper management. It can also serve as a powerful career booster for existing management professionals who are seeking greater responsibility, authority, and prestige.

How Much Could an MLS Increase Your Salary on Average?

The independent employee compensation authority PayScale confirms that individuals who pursue an MLS degree frequently see higher salaries after graduation. PayScale reports that the average MLS graduate earns roughly $69,000 per year, but financial compensation levels can vary dramatically from job title to job title. For example, a compliance director with an MLS can expect to earn as much as $152,000 per year.

Examples of Careers that Might Benefit from a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies

In addition to the specific positions, professional fields, and business sectors listed above, the following careers rank among the most likely to benefit from an MLS. It is important to note, however, that this list is far from exhaustive.

  • Human Resources Managers
  • Law Librarians
  • Chief Executives
  • Healthcare Administration Managers
  • Climate Change Policy Analysts
  • Compliance Officers
  • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers
  • Fraud Examiners, Investigators and Analysts
  • Legislators
  • Tax Examiner or Collectors
  • Contract Negotiators
  • Directors of Operations
  • Social Work Professor
  • Real Estate Asset Manager

How to Decide if an MLS Is Right for You

As we have previously discussed, the reasons for pursuing a Master of Legal Studies are as varied as the students who pursue them. However, you are far more likely to benefit from a relevant MLS program if…

  • You work in an industry that is highly regulated
  • You want to advance your career with legal knowledge
  • You have an interest in legal issues but aren’t sure about law school

Master of Legal Studies Education Requirements

Most institutions of higher learning require their MLS program applicants hold a bachelor's degree in an appropriate academic area. These programs will also take a close look at your GPA, academic honors, and extracurricular activities, among other entrance criteria.

The admissions process for the MLS program at Texas A&M University School of Law requires, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree from a US college or university with regional accreditation. It also accepts foreign-educated students with an equivalent degree.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an MLS?

MLS programs are offered both online and in-person. They can also be pursued through either full-time or part-time study. Therefore, some students will be able to earn an MLS much more quickly than others.

The Texas A&M University School of Law MLS program requires 30 credit hours to earn a diploma. Students typically graduate in one to two years.

How Much Does an MLS Cost?

The cost of MLS programs varies even more dramatically than their areas of specialization and time requirements. State residency and associated fees are just two important matters to consider before paying to enroll at any institution of learning.

The Texas A&M University School of Law MLS program has an estimated cost of $34,000 which can be completed in one year, but a normal timeline for completion is 18 to 21 months. In comparison, University of Cincinnati MLS program has an estimated cost of $29,250 and Georgetown University is around $69,000. 

Can I Complete an MLS Program Online?

As we have previously noted, the Texas A&M University School of Law offers Master of Legal Studies tracks in ten different degree specializations online. This is emblematic of the great diversity of MLS programs that are currently available online.

For More Information

To learn more about the Master of Legal Studies degree, its many benefits, and how to earn it, contact a knowledgeable representative of Texas A&M University School today. We will be happy to answer any questions that you might have about the MLS degree in general as well as the various paths that we offer for a Texas A&M Master of Legal Studies (formerly Master of Jurisprudence) degree.


FAQs: Is a Master of Legal Studies Degree Worth It?

What Can You Do With a Master of Legal Studies? - NU

Schools Tuition For Legal Studies Program

MLS Admissions Process and Application Link

Online Master's Degree in Legal Studies | USNews.com

Field of degree: Law and legal studies : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Salary | PayScale

Master of Legal Studies Online (formerly Master of Jurisprudence)

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About Texas A&M School of Law

Texas A&M School of Law is an American Bar Association-accredited institution located in downtown Fort Worth. Since integrating with Texas A&M University in 2013, the law school has sustained a remarkable upward trajectory — dramatically increasing entering class credentials; improving U.S. News and World Report rankings; hiring more than 30 new faculty members; and adding more than 10 clinics and six global field study destinations. In the past several years the law school has greatly expanded its academic programs to serve the needs of non-lawyer professionals in a variety of complex and highly regulated industries such as cybersecurity, energy and natural resources, finance, and healthcare.

For more information, visit law.tamu.edu.

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Texas A&M, established in 1876 as the first public university in Texas, is one of the nation’s largest universities with more than 66,000 students and more than 440,000 living alumni residing in over 150 countries around the world. A tier-one university, Texas A&M holds the rare triple land-, sea- and space-grant designation. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

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As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey (2016), based on expenditures of more than $892.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.