Written By - Shannon L.

Edited By Gabriel D.

Review & Contribution By Dr. Benjamin Hayes

Master of Legal Studies Online programs, or MLS Online, prepare graduates to work in various law professions without becoming licensed attorneys. Universities offering MLS online provide a diverse range of professional training that leads to new careers or advancement in the workplace. This online program offers a flexible and convenient way to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of legal principles, legal research, and legal writing. With a focus on practical applications, the MLS program equips students with the skills to navigate legal issues and make informed decisions in their professional roles. This guide will help students find the right Online Master’s in Legal Studies.

Master in Legal Studies

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master of Legal Studies Online Programs

There is a wide selection of accredited Master of Legal Studies programs. The best Master of Legal Studies Online Programs were selected based on rigorous evaluation criteria such as program flexibility, curriculum diversity, faculty expertise, and accreditation. These factors ensure that students receive a comprehensive, high-quality legal education tailored to their needs and career aspirations.

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/master-of-legal-studies-online/">Master's in Legal Studies Online</a>

Code copied successfully!

College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, California 90263
Washington University in St Louis
One Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, Missouri 63130
University of Oklahoma
660 Parrington Oval, Norman, Oklahoma 73019
Hofstra University
100 Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York 11549
Arizona State University
University Drive and Mill Avenue, Tempe, Arizona 85287
Drexel University
3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Webster University
470 E Lockwood Ave., Saint Louis, Missouri 63119
Regent University
1000 Regent University Dr, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464
University of Illinois, Springfield
One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois 62703
California University of Pennsylvania
250 University Ave, California, Pennsylvania 15419
Saint Leo University
33701 State Road 52, Saint Leo, Florida 33574
Hodges University
4501 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers, Florida 33966

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master of Legal Studies Online Programs

Master of Legal Studies Online Programs offers a flexible and accessible avenue for individuals seeking legal knowledge without pursuing a full law degree. Tailored for non-lawyers, these programs cover diverse legal topics, providing insights into the legal system. Benefits include career advancement, enhanced understanding of legal principles, and specialized expertise. Ideal for professionals in various industries, these programs empower individuals to navigate legal complexities, contribute to their fields, and pursue advanced roles within their organizations.

Legal Studies online courses give students an overview of the legal professions, while courses in the specialization or concentration drive deep into student career options. Key skills include legal knowledge and terminology, legal research, writing for the law, conflict resolution and mediation, critical thinking, and interpersonal and professional communication. Here are some common courses in a master’s in legal studies program:

Mediation and ArbitrationThis course explores alternative dispute resolution methods. Students delve into the principles and practices of mediation and arbitration, gaining skills to facilitate conflict resolution outside traditional legal proceedings. This course equips individuals with valuable expertise in dispute resolution.
Human ResourcesThis program focuses on the intersection of legal principles and HR management. Students study employment law, regulations, and ethical considerations, gaining expertise to navigate legal complexities in human resources. This course equips individuals for roles at the legal human resources interface.
Regulatory Compliance and Legal Risk ManagementThis program explores strategies for navigating complex legal regulations and managing legal risks in various industries. Students gain expertise in compliance frameworks and develop skills to mitigate legal challenges, ensuring organizational adherence to laws.
Legal ResearchThis course sharpens students’ skills in conducting comprehensive legal research. Covering methodologies, analysis, and effective use of legal resources, it equips individuals with the tools to explore legal issues critically and contribute meaningfully to legal decision-making and strategy development.
ContractsIn this course, students acquire a comprehensive understanding of U.S. contract laws. Focusing on contractual obligations relevant to business and government contracts, the course delves into legal principles, interpretation, and the practical application of contract law in various contexts, preparing individuals for roles requiring expertise in contract matters.

Upon completion of an online Master’s degree in legal studies, graduates will have developed a diverse range of skills and abilities, including but not limited to:

  • In-depth understanding of legal principles and concepts
  • Proficiency in legal research and analysis
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to interpret and apply laws and regulations
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
  • Ethical decision-making and professional responsibility
  • Knowledge of legal systems and procedures
  • Effective negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • Legal writing and drafting expertise
  • Familiarity with legal technology and research tools

There are five types of MLS degrees from which to choose. These are the MLS Degree, MS in Law Degree, MA in Law Degree, MBA in Legal Studies, and the Master of Laws (L.L.M.). The online MLS and M.A. in Law vary by one’s professional goals and orientation. The MS in Law Degree prepares graduates to work in a concentration of specialties and is designed for students to enter the profession or continue toward a Juris Doctor (J.D.).  The MA in Legal Studies is a terminal degree that prepares graduates for the workplace. It is not designed to prepare students for a doctorate.

MLS Degree

The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS)  is designed for students who will not practice law. It doesn’t qualify graduates to sit for the bar examination. The degree is targeted for careers for those who want to assist attorneys or advise on laws affecting business entities.

MS in Law Degree

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Law is a one- to three-year degree developed for professionals who want to prepare for law-related careers within a specialized niche. Graduates may continue to gain skills at the doctorate level. A Capstone or Thesis is required toward the end of the M.S. program, and some universities require an on-site internship.

MA in Law Degree

The online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Law program is a one- to two-year degree designed for non-law graduate students to expand their skills and gain advanced legal knowledge without pursuing a Juris Doctor. The program may not require a Capstone or internship. And there is less technical research than in an M.S. degree.

The online MBA in Legal Studies is for working business professionals who want to add law expertise to their credentials or move into law management positions. It can take from one to three years to complete.

Master of Laws (L.L.M.)

The online Master of Laws degree is for professionals with a J.D. who want to concentrate in a specific sector of the legal field. The degree is research-intensive and can be completed within a year.

Whether to earn an online MLS degree or an MBA in Legal Studies depends entirely on the student’s career objectives. Generally speaking, the key difference in an online MBA vs. MLS relates to the degree’s practice areas. The online MLS gives graduates tools to solve business issues that must conform to the law. An online MBA program focuses on developing the graduate’s leadership skills required to lead legal firms from a business management perspective. The differences in required credits may extend the time to complete the MBA in Legal Studies, which means an increase in total costs. Here are some differences:

Online MLS DegreeOnline MBA Legal Studies
Time to complete: 16-28 monthsTime to complete: 18 to 36 months
Courses: regulatory compliance, contracts, administrative law, negotiation, and mediation.Courses: business leadership, accounting, economics, data analytics, human resource management, and contracts.
Skills: Communication, research, legal writing, problem-solving, and critical thinking.Skills: Management, leadership, and financial analysis methodologies.
GRE requirement: Varies by the university, but many online MLS degree programs do not require scores, or they may waive them.GRE requirement: More typically required by public and private business schools. Some require passage of the GMAT exam as well.

Specializations in MLS Online Programs

Students in a Master of Legal Studies online program earn specializations by completing degree requirements and elective courses and a research project in their concentration. Specializing in a niche area of law can enhance one’s career and improve prospects. Here are some common concentrations:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
Employment & Human Resources LawThis specialization focuses on the legal aspects of employment relationships and human resources management. Students gain knowledge in areas such as labor law, employment discrimination, workplace policies, and regulations, preparing them for careers in HR, compliance, or employment law.HR Manager, Labor Relations Specialist, Employee Relations Consultant, and Compliance Officer.
Regulatory ComplianceThis specialization focuses on the legal framework and practices related to regulatory compliance in various industries. Students learn about laws, regulations, and ethical standards, gaining skills to ensure organizations adhere to legal requirements and mitigate compliance risks effectively.Compliance Analyst, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Risk Manager, and Quality Assurance Coordinator.
Business LawThis specialization explores the legal aspects of business operations and transactions. Students gain knowledge in areas such as contract law, corporate governance, intellectual property, and international business law, preparing them for roles in corporate legal departments, consulting firms, or entrepreneurship.Corporate Counsel, Legal Advisor, Contract Administrator, and Business Compliance Analyst.
Environmental LawThis specialization focuses on the legal framework and regulations related to environmental protection and sustainability. Students gain knowledge in areas such as environmental policy, natural resource management, climate change law, and environmental justice, preparing them for careers in environmental law, advocacy, or policy-making.Environmental Attorney, Compliance Specialist, Conservation Planner, and Environmental Consultant.
Contract LawThis specialization explores the legal principles and practices governing contracts. Students gain expertise in contract formation, interpretation, enforcement, and remedies. This specialization prepares individuals for roles in contract negotiation, drafting, and dispute resolution in various industries and legal settings.Contract Administrator, Legal Consultant, Contract Manager, and Procurement Specialist.

The timeline for completing a Master of Legal Studies online program varies based on individual pace, program structure, and part-time or full-time enrollment. Typically ranging from one to three years, students navigate through required courses, electives, and, in some cases, capstone projects, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of legal concepts. Other factors include students with family or work obligations may have less time to commit to full-time study.

Accelerated Legal Studies Master’s Programs offer a rapid pathway to advanced legal expertise. Prospective students should meticulously research institutions, considering program structures, faculty expertise, and industry relevance. The accelerated format allows quicker career entry, providing a time-efficient and comprehensive legal education. This benefits individuals seeking swift, professional advancement and specialized legal knowledge applicable to various sectors within a condensed timeframe.

Master of Legal Studies Online Programs Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for an MLS degree online vary by institution. Requirements are set by each university, by the law department, or by the major. Some programs require test scores from the GRE or GMAT. Many others do not require graduate entrance exams. Entrance to the program may also require the graduate applicants to complete prerequisite coursework. Here are the most common admissions requirements for an MLS degree online:

Online Application

Students must complete a full application online at the university before the deadline. The application lists the required support documentation for admissions.

Official Test Scores

Not all schools require test scores. Universities requiring a pre-admission exam generally accept the GRE or GMAT scores. Depending on the law department, test scores may be waived for prior academic credits or work experience.

Official Academic Transcripts

Transcripts are required upon application from all prior college work at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Professional Résumé or CV

Admissions to the MLS degree online often depend on professional experience. Résumés and CVs document the student’s professional or scholastic background.

Statement of Purpose

Applicants submit a small essay detailing why they chose this university and MLS degree online program. How will the degree further their careers? What experience or knowledge can they bring to the program?

Letters of Recommendation

The online Master of Legal Studies program will require one to three letters of recommendation from faculty, employers, and colleagues. They should cover one’s academic aptitude, work experience, and achievements.

Master’s in Legal Studies Online No GRE Programs

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test assessing verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills. Some colleges waive the GRE requirement for applicants with significant professional experience, advanced degrees, or through the transfer of credits from relevant coursework. Here are examples of Universities that do not require a GRE:

Students should check for accreditation at their prospective universities. A department offering a Master of Legal Studies undertakes voluntary assessments from nonpartisan organizations that evaluate the degree program’s academic quality. Accreditation impacts the value of one’s degree and is required for all MLS students seeking Federal financial aid.

University and departmental accreditation can mean everything in a Master of Legal Studies program.  Employers may not hire students from non-accredited schools. Some may offer higher salaries for grads from accredited schools. If the graduate decides to continue their education for a Juris Doctor must have graduated from an accredited program.  Accreditation organizations are recognized by the United States Department of Education 3 and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation 4.

Here are the six accreditation organizations based on the university’s region:

Free Legal Studies Courses

Free online courses provide valuable knowledge and skill enhancement in various fields, even without formal accreditation. Students benefit by gaining expertise, exploring interests, and receiving certificates of completion. While not accredited, these courses offer accessible and flexible learning opportunities for personal and professional development. Here are a few free or low-cost online courses students of master’s in legal studies can look into:

Alison- Diploma in Legal Studies11

This course provides clear definitions and explanations of fundamental legal concepts, various types of law, and the process of law creation. The crucial legal system in any society ensures the protection of citizens and the preservation of their rights. Acquiring this knowledge is essential for a comprehensive understanding of life.

Alison- Legal Administrative Assistant TrainingLegal Administrative Assistant Training 12

The legal administration course equips individuals with the necessary skills to efficiently support legal teams and ensure the smooth functioning of law firms. It encompasses topics such as preparing and filing legal documents, case file management, client communication, and other vital aspects of legal administration.

edX- The Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions 13

This course allows legal professionals new to the field to enhance their understanding of the law and economics surrounding corporate transactions. By gaining fresh insights, they can effectively apply their existing legal expertise within the specific context of corporate transactions.

How to Pay for Master of Legal Studies Online Programs

When college tuition and student debt are rising unchecked, students must survey the financial aid available to pay for a Master of Legal Studies online. The Foundation for Economic Education14 found that 90 percent of all student loans come from the Federal government, which currently accounts for a massive $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.  At the same time, university tuition has climbed by 497% in the last 20 years, according to Forbes Magazine15. Fortunately, there are many ways to pay for tuition, and not all require repayment of student debt, such as grants and scholarships.


Scholarships are financial awards granted to students based on academic merit, talent, or financial need. They provide support to help students pursue their educational goals.


Grants are financial assistance provided to individuals or organizations for specific purposes, such as education, research, or community projects. They do not require repayment and are typically awarded based on need or merit.

Student loans

Student loans must be repaid, which is a source of student debt. Loans can be federal or private.  Federal student loans include subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Grad PLUS loans.

Institutional based aid

Institutional-based aid is financial assistance provided by educational institutions to students. It includes scholarships, grants, and work-study programs and is awarded based on factors like academic achievement, financial need, or specific criteria set by the institution.

Tuition reimbursements from employers

Tuition reimbursements from employers provide financial support to employees pursuing further education. Employers offer to cover some or all tuition costs, enabling employees to enhance their skills and knowledge while working.

To know more about higher education funding, read the Best Financial Guide.

Scholarships are considered gift-based aid because they don’t need to be repaid. The government, trade associations, law firms, and individual universities offer them. Scholarships may be awarded based on academic achievement, financial need, and the applicant’s ethical or gender-specific background. Here are several to consider:

AALL Educational Scholarships16

Who Can Apply: Students pursuing a graduate degree in law or library science who plan to work in legal libraries. Based on Financial need and professional experience. 

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April, annually

LexisNexis John R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship 17

Who Can Apply: The American Association of Law Libraries sponsors this scholarship awarded to students Attending an accredited library graduate school or law program. 

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April, annually

American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Scholarship 18

Who Can Apply: The program aims to promote the application of students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds to law school and offer financial support to facilitate their enrollment and successful completion of law school.

Amount: $15,000

Deadline: April, annually

Careers and Salary Outlook for Legal Studies Master’s Graduates

Students who earn their online Master of Legal Studies are qualified to work in various related occupations. Wages and job opportunities are in flux, adjusting to the economy and hiring demands. Graduates of programs offering MLS concentrations may draw better pay or find more available job openings. We have reviewed the professional roles typical to MLS graduates along with median annual salaries:

OccupationMedian Annual SalaryJob growth (2022 -2032)Job Description
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators 19$64,0305% (faster than average)Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators promote negotiation and dialogue to resolve disputes outside the judicial system by facilitating communication between opposing parties.
Compliance Officer 20$91,600No Data AvailableThe Compliance Officer oversees investigations to ensure they adhere to the approved process, are lawfully and objectively conducted, comprehensively gather all relevant facts, and provide an accurate account of the issues. The role also involves investigating alleged violations of the company’s ethical standards or breaches of applicable laws, regulations, and corporate policies.
Human Resources Managers 21$130,0005% (faster than average)These H.R. professionals assist for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in evaluating hiring and benefits practices from a legal perspective.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 22$59,2004% (as fast as average)Paralegals and legal assistants handle various tasks to support lawyers, including organizing and managing files, conducting legal research, and preparing documents.

Certifications and Licensing for Legal Studies Graduates

Certifications for legal studies graduates attest to practical and theoretical knowledge and professional experience.  Licenses to work in the legal studies professions are uncommon across the United States. For example, no state has paralegal licensure, but graduates can earn certifications of their expertise.  A certification alone may not guarantee a job in one’s specialization, but it can play a huge part in landing a position or compensation. Research employers in the field to see which credentials are required.  Here are some common ones:

National Association of Certified Mediators 23
NACM is the largest professional certification association in the world for mediators. Through numerous members, NACM provides certification examinations, training, continuing education, information about the industry, up-to-date news, programs to assist mediators in their work, training programs to assist candidates who want to break into the industry, and initiatives to improve communication with the mediation field.

Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional 24
The Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP) possesses knowledge of regulations and expertise in compliance processes to assist organizations in understanding and addressing legal obligations and promoting organizational integrity through effective compliance programs.

Professional in Human Resources Certification 25
The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is designed for HR professionals with practical experience implementing programs with a tactical or logistical focus. This certification emphasizes the operational responsibilities of HR practitioners within an organization’s HR department.

Paralegal Certification 26
Paralegal certification validates a professional’s competency in legal support roles. It enhances career prospects by demonstrating expertise in diverse areas of law. NFPA’s Paralegal CORE Competency Exam® (PCCE®) and Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam® (PACE®) are nationally recognized certifications that showcase a paralegal’s skills and commitment to excellence.

Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) Certification 27
PLS® and/or CLP® are designations for lawyer’s assistants seeking recognition for their exceptional skills. Certification is earned by successfully completing a comprehensive one-day, four-part examination, showcasing not only professionalism but also the commitment to excel. Personal drive and motivation are essential in achieving this esteemed goal.

Additional Resources for Legal Professionals

In addition to faculty and university law libraries, a student pursuing a Master of Legal studies online should build a comprehensive catalog of legal journals, networking resources, and professional organizations/associations germane to their scholarship. These include information and access to continuing education, academic research, certification test prep, and examinations. Other helpful resources are social networking websites and career job boards (Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor). Meetup.com 28  hosts 20 social networking groups for paralegals. The following is a partial list of resources worth considering:

Academy of Legal Studies in Business (International) 29
The ALS is a forum on business law designed for teachers and scholars in business law, serving law-related courses not found in law schools. ALS publishes the American Business Law Journal (ABLJ) and the Journal of Legal Studies Education (JLSE).

Cambridge Core 30
Cambridge Core is home to publications from the Cambridge University Press, which houses more than 3,500 books and 1.6 million journal articles. Recent critical research articles include Private and Public Law, Feminism, Law and Culture, Gender, and Intersectionality.

National Association of Certified Mediators 31
The NACM offers certification training, examinations, renewals, and mediator industry news. Graduates completing their Master of Legal Studies online can join the NACM and immediately receive the certification prep guideline.  The NACM does not require continuing education hours for re-certification.

National Association of Legal Assistants 32
 The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), formed in 1975, is a clearinghouse of legal assistants’ resources. It offers its 18,000 paralegal members access to courses, publications, and webinars. Students can also obtain the Certified Paralegal (C.P.) designation through testing. Also, members have access to NALA’s exclusive job board.

FAQs About Master of Legal Studies Online Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MLS degree?

An MLS degree, or Master of Legal Studies, is a postgraduate program for individuals without a law degree. It provides in-depth knowledge of legal principles, allowing professionals to navigate legal issues within their specific fields. While it doesn’t lead to bar eligibility, it enhances legal understanding of diverse career paths.

What can you do with a master’s in legal studies?

What is involved in a Master of Legal Studies degree?

Is a Master of Legal Studies worth it?

How long does it take to complete a Master of Legal Studies?

Is it necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in legal studies to pursue a master’s?

Can I collaborate with fellow students and faculty in an Online Legal Studies Program?


American University Washington DC 

Pepperdine Online College 

United States Department of Education 

 Council for Higher Education Accreditation 

New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) 

Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) 

Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) 

Alison- Diploma in Legal Studies

Alison- Legal Administrative Assistant TrainingLegal Administrative Assistant Training

edX- The Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions 

Foundation for Economic Education 

Forbes Magazine

AALL Educational Scholarships 

LexisNexis John R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship 

American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Scholarship 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook for Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

Salary.com- Compliance Officer

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook for Human Resources Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook for Paralegals and Legal Assistants

National Association of Certified Mediators

Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional 

Professional in Human Resources Certification 

Paralegal Certification 

Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) Certification 


Academy of Legal Studies in Business (International) 

Cambridge Core

National Association of Certified Mediators 

National Association of Legal Assistants

Find Your Master’s Program

Start Your Next Step Today

Let’s help you find the right online master’s degree. You can browse through thousands of schools and their online programs. Start exploring the top 20 best online master’s programs now.