Master of Legal Studies FAQs

Willamette University College of Law now offers a one-year Master of Legal Studies program for non-lawyers. Below are answers to several frequently asked questions. If your question is not adequately addressed, please contact the Law Admissions Office at: mls-admissions@willamette.edu or call (503) 370-6282.

  1. What is the MLS?
  2. What are the degree requirements?
  3. What law school courses can I take?
  4. How will I be graded?
  5. Will I get advice or guidance about what law classes I should take?
  6. When do classes meet?
  7. Can I attend part-time?
  8. How do I apply?
  9. What is the application deadline?
  10. What is the cost of tuition?
  11. Is financial aid available?
  12. Will the MLS degree allow me to practice law?
  13. Will MLS coursework count toward a JD degree?
  14. Can I complete the MLS degree and then apply to law school for a three-year JD?
  15. Is Willamette's MLS Program approved?
  16. Does the Willamette University Tuition Remission Benefit apply to the MLS program?

1. What is the MLS?

The MLS is a Master of Legal Studies. It is a one-year (if pursued full time) master's degree program designed for individuals who do not want to become lawyers but who work in an area in which knowledge of the law is helpful, work with lawyers on a semi-regular basis, or are simply curious about the law.


2. What are the degree requirements?

The degree requires 26 credit hours, which works out to approximately eight or nine classes. Those credits may be satisfied by any combination of eligible law school courses, including one required first-year course. MLS students are required to take one of the following: Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, Torts, Criminal Law or Constitutional Law I. In addition, MLS students must write a research paper and sit for finals with the regular JD final schedule.


3. What law school courses can I take?

Almost all law schools courses are available to MLS students (course listing available at willamette.edu/wucl/programs/courses/area.html), with the exception of:

  • First year Legal Research and Writing
  • Clinics
  • Externships
  • Moot Court Competitions
  • Law Journals

MLS students are required to take one of the following first-year law courses:

  • Contracts
  • Civil Procedure
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law I

Please note that not all courses are available every semester.


4. How will I be graded?

MLS students will be graded on an Honors/Pass/Fail basis.


5. Will I get advice or guidance about what law classes I should take?

Yes. MLS students work with a faculty advisor to develop a concentration plan to meet the student's interests and goals. A human resources professional will have a different course concentration from a healthcare professional. Possible concentrations include:

  • Business Law
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Healthcare Law
  • Real Estate
  • State and Local Government
  • Taxation


6. When do classes meet?

Depending on the course, classes meet once or twice a week, Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 8 pm. Three-credit classes typically meet twice a week for 90 minutes; two-credit classes typically meet once a week for two hours.


7. Can I attend part-time?

Yes.The MLS program is available as full-time or part-time program. As a full-time student, the MLS is a one-year program. As a part time student, the MLS can be completed in two to four years.


8. How do I apply?

The MLS program is open to all individuals who have an undergraduate degree (BA, BS, or similar) and meet general program requirements. You are required to submit a brief application, personal statement, resume, and copy of your undergraduate transcript. Please see our Admission Requirements page for further information or to download our application.


9. What is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. For best consideration, prospective students are encouraged to apply by April 15 for fall admission (August start), or October 1 for spring admission (January start). However, applications will continue to be accepted so long as seats are available.


10. What is the cost of tuition?

Full-time MLS students are charged tuition at the same rate as JD students. For the 2016-2017 academic year, tuition is $41,065.

Part-time MLS students are charged on a per-credit basis. For the 2016-2017 academic year, the cost per credit is $1,580. Therefore, a typical three-credit law course will be $4,740.


11. Is financial aid available?

MLS applicants are encouraged to submit their FAFSA by the filing deadlines to qualify for Federal Aid. Additionally, merit-based scholarship may be available for qualified MLS applicants.


12. Will the MLS degree allow me to practice law?

No. Only graduates of accredited JD programs who have passed the bar exam can practice law. The MLS degree offers students who work in the legal or regulatory arena to learn more about the law -- without becoming a lawyer.


13. Will MLS coursework count toward a JD degree?

No. The American Bar Association prohibits law schools from granting credit for any coursework in the the MLS program prior to enrollment in a JD program.


14. Can I complete the MLS degree and then apply to law school for a three-year JD?

Yes, although we aren't able to grant credit for any coursework in the the MLS program taken prior to admission to law school.


15. Is Willamette's MLS Program approved?

Yes. Our MLS program has received "acquiescence" by the ABA Section of Legal Education, the accrediting body for our JD professional law program.


16. Does the Willamette University Tuition Remission Benefit apply to the MLS program?

The Tuition Remission Benefit is available for Willamette University employees only (spouses and dependents do not qualify). Tuition remission is provided for one course per semester at 100 percent and any additional courses at 50 percent. There may be tax implications, depending on the number of courses taken per calendar year. Please see the HR Benefits page for further information.