Master of Legal Studies (MLS)


The Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Program is a graduate program designed for non-lawyers in fields where an understanding of the law would enhance their careers. Students in the MLS Program may choose to study the legal system broadly or may choose to pursue focused course of study in a particular area.


The MLS degree requires students to earn 24 hours of academic credit at the law school. Most law school courses are open to MLS students.

The MLS degree is flexible allowing students to customize their experience to best align their coursework with their career goals. Washington University School of Law is also developing concentrations in specific specialties or fields to allow a student to focus in a particular area. Although course offerings vary from year to year, prospective students can get a sense of typical offerings by looking at our Course Directory

Students may pursue the MLS on a part-time or full-time basis. The degree could be completed in as few as two semesters, but must be completed in no more than eight semesters. While most classroom courses are open to MLS students, participation in clinical programs will be unusual, as those programs are practice-oriented courses allowing students to represent clients under the supervision of a professor. 

Important Note: Completion of an MLS degree does not qualify recipients to practice law. Graduates of the MLS Program also will not be eligible to sit for the bar exam. Furthermore, MLS students wishing to pursue a JD degree must follow the same application process as JD applicants, including taking the LSAT exam. Credit earned toward the MLS is not transferable to the JD Program. 

Admission Requirements

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis and applications for Fall 2014 are still being accepted. For consideration by the Admissions Committee, submit the following: 

  1. A completed application (available online at Graduate Programs Online Application

  2. One letter of recommendation  

  3. Official academic transcripts in English from all undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools attended, whether or not a degree was awarded, along with class rank 

  4. For non-native English speakers, proof of a satisfactory score on a test of English as a foreign language, i.e., 600 (paper-based) or 100 (Internet-based) TOEFL; a C1 Pass on the ILEC; or a 7.5 on the IELTS. Note: The TOEFL code for Washington University School of Law is 6929-03. 

Admissions criteria include strong prior educational and professional credentials, a clear sense of why the candidate is pursuing an MLS, and how legal studies would contribute to the candidate professionally and personally.