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1.4 Master of Legal Studies Program Degree Requirements

To earn a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree, candidates must successfully complete and pass 27 credit hours of coursework in the Law School. The Law School requires most M.L.S. students to be in full-time residence for three quarters of no fewer than nine credit hours per quarter, with no fewer than six Law School credit hours per quarter. In some instances, students may take the required credits over two or more years. Non-law coursework will not be counted toward the 27 credit hour requirement.   

Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) 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, and for established scholars. The goal of the M.L.S. 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. 

M.L.S. candidates will be taught by current faculty. Each candidate also will have a faculty advisor to mentor and provide consultation on research interests. 

Students may enroll in only one UChicago degree program at a time unless they (1) have approval in writing from the relevant UChicago programs and deans of students and (2) are enrolled in a joint – or dual degree program.

Graduates of the M.L.S. 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 M.L.S. 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 M.L.S. graduates to land top-tier academic jobs.

M.L.S. Degree Requirements

To complete the program and earn the MLS degree, candidates must successfully complete 27 credit hours of coursework. There are no required courses. Instead, MLS students choose courses at the law school that are relevant to their research. Typically MLS students take one or more of the general first year law school courses and advanced law courses in subjects related to their discipline. The particular program of study is individualized to each student and will be set in consultation with a faculty advisor. 

Most MLS students complete the degree in a single academic year but it is possible to take the required credits over two or more years. Please note that MLS candidates must be in residence during the quarters that they are enrolled in the MLS.

M.L.S. Registration

Upon admission to the program, candidates should contact the M.L.S. Faculty Director to be assigned a faculty advisor. 

All JD courses are open to MLS candidates. For classes with competitive enrollments, the MLS candidates participate in the regular bidding system with JD candidates.