It’s no secret that today’s workplace is constantly evolving, as an increasing number of roles and responsibilities intersect with legal matters more than ever before. In response to these shifts, legal education has evolved as well, with USC’s Gould School of Law leading the charge to meet these needs.

In 2016, USC Gould, ranked among the top 20 law schools nationwide, launched its innovative Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree, which enables practitioners and leaders to enhance their business expertise with essential legal education. From contracts and compliance to strategy and negotiation, the MSL offers a uniquely specialized curriculum to give students a solid understanding of fundamental and complex legal concepts.

Learn more about the MSL program, and how it could benefit your career and your company.

What is a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree?

Offered through USC’s Gould School of Law, the MSL degree is specially designed for non-lawyer professionals interested in understanding legal issues related to their fields.

Students have the convenience of completing the degree 100% online, and the flexibility to study part-time — making the MSL an ideal format to balance the demands of work schedules. No LSAT or GRE test is required; no prior law degree is required either. In addition, generous scholarships are available and considered for all applicants.

The MSL degree enables graduates to redefine their role with a more thorough understanding of the law. MSL degrees can apply to a variety of career goals and business industries and roles, including those who deal with contracts, negotiations, human resources, strategy and compliance, or who work closely with their organization’s legal department. The MSL degree provides a working knowledge of the law to amplify their career impact.

How is the MSL degree different from a JD degree?

The primary difference between the two degree programs is the associated professional goal.

• Do you want to become a lawyer? The JD program is best.

• Do you regularly need to reference the law and understand legal regulations, even though you don’t want to become a lawyer? Then the MSL is the right choice.

The JD program requires approximately three years of full-time study; MSL degrees may be completed in as few as 12 to 18 months. Please note that MSL graduates are not eligible to take the bar exam upon graduation or become lawyers.

Does the MSL program offer industry-specific tracks?

MSL students can customize their educational experience to meet their individual goals, by pursuing certificates aligned with their field. These certificate programs – which can be completed at no additional cost, as a part of your MSL education – help students develop valuable legal skills to support their organizations and ultimately improve employee and leadership productivity, as well as bottom-line contributions. Certificates may be earned in as few as two part-time, online semesters.

Industry-specific certificate programs include:

• Business Law

• Compliance

• Entertainment Law and Industry

• Financial Compliance

• Health Care Compliance

• Human Resources Law and Compliance

• Privacy Law and Cybersecurity

What is the online experience like?

The online experience is interactive and flexible. Most of the online coursework and learning activities may be completed at your convenience. Each class also offers live sessions, where students attend classes together virtually, enhancing the online learning experience.

Are scholarships available?

USC Gould considers all applications for scholarships automatically. An additional application is not required. Applicants will be notified via email if they are awarded a scholarship after admission.

Does USC Gould offer corporate partnership opportunities?

USC Gould partners with a number of corporations and organizations that offer scholarship savings as an employee benefit. To see if your business is a partner, or to explore how to speak to your company about corporate sponsorship, please contact USC Gould at

For more information about the MSL degree, including corporate and custom education partnerships, visit

Return to Index

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.