Master's in Legal Studies Programs in California

Oct 08, 2019

Online and on-campus programs exist within the state of California for students interested in earning a Master of Legal Studies degree. Candidates for this degree typically wish to learn more about the law but don't intend to take the bar exam.

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Individuals with careers that intersect with the law - but who don't wish to become lawyers - might consider earning a master's degree in legal studies. Within this article, you can find more information about five schools in California that offer this degree in addition to frequent program requirements.

California Master's Programs in Legal Studies

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University, located in Los Angeles, provides a course of study leading to a Master of Legal Studies. Students can choose MLS specializations in areas including cybersecurity, criminal justice, or sports law. The program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis. Applicants should expect to provide a bachelor's degree transcript, resume, recommendations, and a personal statement.

Pepperdine University

The MLS at Pepperdine University is offered in an online format, with two on-campus residencies in Malibu. The MLS can be combined with a Master of Dispute Resolution for a dual-degree program. MLS concentrations in human resources and dispute resolution are available. Prospective students should plan to provide an undergraduate transcript, a letter of recommendation, statement of purpose, and resume. They may also be asked to sit for a video interview.

University of Southern California

USC provides a program of study leading to a Master of Studies in Law (MSL). The program is offered in either an online or on-campus format. Business law and compliance specializations are available. Those who are applying should expect to submit a CV, personal statement, and bachelor's degree transcripts.

The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law

Students can earn an MLS at the college's campuses in Ventura and Santa Barbara. An online option is also available, and students can combine their studies with a dual master's degree in industrial-organizational or forensic psychology. Concentrations in frontiers in law and regulatory compliance are also available. Prospective students should plan to provide undergraduate transcripts, a recommendation, and a personal statement.

University of San Diego

At the University of San Diego, interested students can pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Legal Studies. The program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis through both day and evening courses. Specialized concentrations can be pursued in a range of areas, including taxation, intellectual property, and criminal law. Applicants may be considered for merit scholarships. To apply to the University of San Diego, one should submit all transcripts, a resume, a writing sample, recommendations, and a personal statement.

Program Requirements

Earning a legal studies master's degree typically requires one to two years of study. Students take core and elective courses, and may also need to submit a final paper or take a capstone course. Some common courses students might encounter are profiled below.

Legal Writing

A course of this kind might help students develop their skills in written communication through different types of writing assignments, including legal memoranda and case briefs. Students might also be asked to engage in legal research to identify legal issues. Analysis and legal reasoning are likely to be a critical component of this course.


Torts are considered to be harms that are done to people or to their property. In a course about torts, students might consider intentional vs. unintentional wrongs, defective products, and defamation. Alternatives to torts could also be reviewed. Some courses include the study of relevant legal terminology as well.

Constitutional Law

A constitutional law course is likely to closely review the United States Constitution. Specific topics may include due process, equal protection, and limitations to governmental power. The powers of the three branches of the government might be studied as well.

Immigration Law

In a course of this nature, participants might consider various policy and constitutional perspectives on the American immigration system. Topics of study could include deportation procedures, work permits, and Congressional power as it relates to immigration regulation. Current issues, such as refugees and political asylum, may be touched upon as well.

Employment Law

A course in employment law might review wrongful termination, wage regulations, and occupational safety. Federal and California state statutes are common topics of consideration. Students might even take an in-depth look at how California law differs from other state and federal regulations.

For students who need to know more about the law to succeed at their jobs, there are several options that enable them to earn a master's degree in the state of California. A range of core and elective courses in topics ranging from legal writing to constitutional and immigration law are taken to earn this degree.

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