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05 Apr

What Can You Do with a Master's in Legal Studies?

A master's in legal studies (MLS) gives you in-depth knowledge into the legal system in the U.S. and how it affects the field in which you work.1 A degree, like the Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance offered by the Santa Clara University School of Law, can prepare you to help your organization better understand and work within its legal environment.2 It's a widely applicable, in-demand degree that can help you advance along your career path or enter something new in any field that intersects with the legal system in some capacity.3

Earning a Master of Legal Studies degree will help you cut through the complexity of the U.S. legal system. While you won't have the full expertise or licenses as a lawyer, you may be able to help reduce your organization's dependency on attorneys to navigate the law.4 Organizations are increasingly looking to hire or promote experts in compliance in our highly regulated world.2 With a master’s in legal studies, you will be ready to fill this need.

Who should get a Master's in Legal Studies?

Master in legal studies

Many industries that require knowledge of some area of law would benefit from an experienced, trained professional who understands the legal system.5 Experts with corporate compliance knowledge are in high demand across the workforce. For individuals interested in law but who do not wish to become lawyers or pursue a J.D., the MLS degree can open doors.2

A master's in legal studies will be an asset for you and your employer if you work in or are looking to enter one of these industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Compliance
  • Child welfare
  • Environmental regulation
  • Human resources
  • Accounting
  • Financial services

It's also a great fit for paralegals who work alongside lawyers and for a wide range of government employees.2

If you're in a management role already, the legal training and knowledge you'll gain in an MLS program will help continue to grow your value to your employer so you can move into a position with more responsibility and authority.4

Why a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree?

The law is often complicated and unintuitive, yet corporations and other organizations must navigate through an increasingly regulated working environment. An MLS degree responds to this growing need with training in legal theory as well as practical solutions. It's a versatile degree that will build your analytical skill set as well as deepen your understanding of the law.4 You'll learn to think like a lawyer, effectively communicate with legal professionals, and interpret and understand the legal system in the U.S.

While you won't be a replacement for a licensed lawyer, with a master’s in legal studies you'll be able to assist in situations with legal context and determine when a lawyer's assistance would be necessary.4 If you work in one of many legally regulated industries, employers will know they can depend on you to break down complex scenarios and make educated recommendations. And if you work in government, the formal study of law will help you be more confident in the legal aspects of your job.5

What career paths are a good fit for an MLS degree?

One of the advantages of a Master of Legal Studies degree is that it doesn't limit you to one particular field or direction. Many different industries intersect with the legal system, and understanding and interpreting the law as it relates to your field can help you help your organization. Whether you work with lawyers and legal issues directly, or are connected to government or in a legally regulated industry, master’s in legal studies programs can prepare you to serve an organization at a high level and gain fluency in the legal system.

A Master of Legal Studies can help advance your career as an:

  • Accountant
  • Human resources administrator
  • Healthcare administrator
  • Legal assistant
  • Lobbyist
  • Government employee
  • Patent agent
  • Nonprofit director

What do you study in a master's of legal studies program?

Master’s in legal studies programs will give you a solid, fundamental understanding of U.S. law, the Constitution, American legal traditions, and legal thought.3 You'll further develop your communication skills and learn to communicate across cultural and disciplinary boundaries, on both sides of the law/industry divide. In some cases, you may be taking law classes alongside students who are pursuing their JD.5

Many master’s in legal studies programs are designed with working adults in mind, allowing you to continue your career while pursuing your degree part-time. An even more convenient option is the Online Master of Legal Studies, which enables you to enroll from anywhere in the country and still have all the benefits of expert instructors, experienced classmates, and a well-connected alumni body.1

A general MLS program will familiarize you with the U.S. legal system overall, but you can also choose to focus on the legal environment specifically related to your professional field. If you have a particular career direction in mind, you can choose a concentration in a specific area of law.5

Some common concentrations include:

  • Corporate compliance
  • Human rights
  • Tax law and policy
  • Intellectual property
  • Regulatory law

Why choose an MLS in Corporate Compliance?

The regulatory environment in which organizations do business is constantly evolving, and organizations need someone they can depend on to help them stay on top of these changes. There is great demand for compliance professionals with a strong understanding of the law as well as business ethics.

Maybe you already work in compliance, or maybe you're looking to make a career shift or add more value to your employer. Earning a Master of Legal Studies in Corporate Compliance prepares you to develop creative, practical strategies to help corporations avoid potential risks, navigate regulatory dilemmas, and achieve financial success without sacrificing ethical behavior.

A program like the Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance offered by the Santa Clara University School of Law will teach you legal theory, grounded in the real-world experience of its expert instructors. You'll graduate ready to tackle complicated issues and make a meaningful difference for your organization and in your life.


Getting an Online MLS in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara University School of Law will give you a foundation of legal knowledge you can put to work in a variety of careers, from finance to healthcare and human resources. Whether you are trying to break into the field or working towards advancing your career in compliance, contact a Santa Clara Admissions Advisor to discover how you could help make a meaningful impact in the world and your company’s bottom line.


1. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from bestcolleges.com/features/masters-legal-studies-programs/
2. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from legalstudiesms.com/legal-studies-jobs-salaries/
3. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from legalstudiesms.com/what-is-legal-studies/
4. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from nationaljurist.com/national-jurist-magazine/are-master-legal-studies-worth-it
5. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from paralegaledu.org/what-can-you-do-with-a-masters-in-legal-studies/