For students

1.28 Master of Legal Studies Program

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Program. This one-year degree program is designed for Ph.D. students who wish to improve their knowledge of law without completing a full three-year degree. The goal of the MLS program is to help Ph.D. candidates better understand the legal issues relevant to their research and to improve their research through interdisciplinary training. Graduates of the program will become academics in either their Ph.D. discipline or in law. Admissions decisions are based in part on the availability of Law School faculty for mentoring admitted students.

Although one of the program's goals is to support those who wish to incorporate legal scholarship in their Ph.D. dissertation, this is not required. Understanding a candidate's research interests is important when assigning a faculty advisor, however.

MLS candidates will be taught by current faculty. Each candidate also will have a faculty advisor to mentor and provide consultation on research interests. All J.D. courses will be open to MLS candidates. For classes with competitive enrollments, the MLS candidates participate in the regular bidding system with J.D. candidates.

Graduates of the MLS program may become academics in their Ph.D. field, as they would without the degree. It is the Law School’s hope that legal training will improve the quality of their doctoral work, and thus help with job prospects. It also is possible that MLS graduates may be able to become legal academics, since they would be more credibly connected to law than people without legal training. Their work would be more likely to address important legal topics, and they would better be able to teach law students because they would have had exposure to the law school classroom. These advantages, we hope, will enable MLS graduates to land top-tier academic jobs.

Degree Requirements

The program is designed for students who have completed their core Ph.D. coursework and are either proposing or working on their dissertation. Candidates will take some of the general first year law school courses and advanced law courses in subjects related to their Ph.D. discipline. The particular program of study is individualized to each student and will be set in consultation with a faculty advisor. To complete the program and earn the MLS degree, candidates must successfully complete 27 credit hours of coursework. Additionally, MLS candidates must be in residence like J.D. students, which means that they must take a minimum of nine Law School credits per quarter for three quarters.


Upon admission to the program, candidates should contact the MLS Faculty Director to be assigned a faculty advisor. Candidates will register for classes with all other degree-seeking students in the Law School.