The Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S) degree is a 36 unit, two-year graduate program for individuals who desire to obtain an advanced knowledge of the law and the American legal system, but who do not wish to become lawyers. The degree program is designed for individuals in careers that involve interaction with lawyers and the legal system and for those who are entering professions where an understanding of legal reasoning and the legal system will improve their professional effectiveness. The M.L.S. degree program can be valuable to individuals in fields such as law enforcement, public administration, financial services, human resources, healthcare management, government regulation, non-profit management, court administration, and social services. M.L.S. students attend law courses that are part of the regular law school curriculum and are held to the same standards for attendance, participation, and grading as law students.

Disclaimer for Master of Legal Studies Degree

Except as provided in rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules (Legal education in a foreign state or country), completion of a professional law degree program at San Luis Obispo College of Law other than the Juris Doctor degree does not qualify a student to take the California Bar Examination or satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in California. It may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or to satisfy requirements for admission to the practice of law in any other jurisdiction. A student intending to seek admission to practice law should contact the admitting authority in the jurisdictions where the student intends to qualify to sit for the bar examination or be admitted to practice for information regarding their legal education requirements.

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Admission Requirements

  1. Submission of a completed M.L.S. Degree Program Application form and payment of the non-refundable application fee.
  2. Completion of the required undergraduate course of studies in an academic (non-vocational) program. For details of the undergraduate requirements, contact Dean of Admissions Wendy LaRiviere at wlariviere@slolaw.org or 831-582-4000 ext. 1012.
  3. Official transcripts for all college, graduate school, and professional schools attended by applicant.
  4. Two letters of recommendation.
  5. A personal statement on how the M.L.S. degree will advance the applicant’s professional or academic objectives.
  6. Please note that the admission requirements and admission application for the M.L.S. degree program is different than the concurrent MLS/JD degree program. Applicants interested in the concurrent MLS/JD program must meet the admissions requirements for that program and submit a MLS/JD application.

Applicants for the M.L.S. degree program are not required to take the LSAT, GRE, GMAT or other graduate admissions tests. If an applicant has taken one of these standardized graduate admissions tests, they are encouraged to include the scores on their application. Foreign applicants of non-English background may be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and submit their official scores to SLOCL. Decisions on admissions are made on the basis of a “full file” review that includes each applicant’s previous academic record, test scores (if required or submitted), work experience, personal and professional recommendations, and a personal statement.

Program Requirements

  1. Completion of 36 units of graduate legal studies. A minimum of 18 units must be completed in residence at San Luis Obispo College of Law. Students are allowed flexibility in selecting courses in order to provide the opportunity to focus on specific areas of legal interest. There are 25 units of required courses and 11 units of electives.
  2. Required Courses (units): Contracts (6), Torts (6), Criminal Law (3), Constitutional Law (6), Legal Research (2), and Legal Writing & Analysis (2).
  3. Elective Courses: The 11 units of electives may be selected from other law courses that are offered as part of the regular law curriculum (subject to pre-requisites for certain advanced law courses). In addition to regular law courses, elective units of clinical programs, research and writing, study abroad, or pre-approved independent study courses may be counted toward the degree requirements.
  4. A written project of a 5,000 to 7,500-word paper on a pre-determined legal issue is required.
  5. M.L.S. students are required to meet the same attendance requirements and are held to the same standards for class preparation and participation as regular law students.
  6. M.L.S. students are subject to all administrative policies, including the Student Honor Code, exam procedures, registration, payment of tuition and fees, academic disqualification, and grade appeals that are contained in the Student Handbook and are not specifically directed to the J.D. program.
  7. No units earned as part of the M.L.S. program are eligible to be applied toward the J.D. degree program, unless the student is enrolled in the concurrent MLS/JD program. A student in the J.D. program or the concurrent MLS/JD program may petition the Academic Standards Committee to request a transfer to the M.L.S. program.

Grading Standards

During their course of study, M.L.S. students will not be identified separately from J.D. students in courses, examinations, or the grading process. All papers, assignments, and exams will be graded using the SLOCL system for assigning student or exam ID numbers that protect student identity and ensures anonymous grading.

Administration & Student Advising

The M.L.S. degree program will be under the academic direction and supervision of the SLOCL Dean or his designee. The regular departments of SLOCL will provide all other administrative services.

Faculty

Since all M.L.S. courses are regular J.D. courses, the faculty for the M.L.S. degree will be the same as for the J.D. program.

Scholarships, Awards & Student Loans

Students in the M.L.S. program shall be eligible for scholarships, awards, and student loans. Please Note–Scholarships are currently only available at the Seaside Campus.  In some cases the students will be eligible for the same categories as regular J.D. students. For certain awards, special recognition will be developed for M.L.S. students.

Courses:

Required Courses (25 Units)

Contracts.This class covers enforceable agreements including requirements for the formation of a contract; problems of interpretation, consideration and its equivalent, damages for breach, the statute of frauds, illegality, and rights and liabilities of third parties arising from the contract itself or from assignment of contractual rights or delegation of duties.

Criminal Law. (3) Topics include substantive criminal law and elements of criminal responsibility, law of crimes against persons, property, and habitation, the theory of criminal responsibility, parties and defenses to crimes.

Torts. (6) The historical development and nature of non-contractual civil law that allocates the economic burden of various injuries. A study of the principles of liability for physical harm under theories of negligence, intentional torts, and strict liability, including the law governing defamation, invasion of privacy and other relational harms.

Constitutional Law. (6) A study of the United States Constitution with an emphasis on the theory and practice of judicial interpretation and review. Topics include the separation of federal powers, the relation of the federal government to the states and specific government powers (tax, treaty, war and commercial). The course also covers limitations placed on the exercise of governmental power, emphasizing the Bill of Rights, due process and equal protection clauses.

Legal Research. (2) A class to familiarize students with the basic foundations of legal research. Assignments include researching problems in the law library and researching and writing office memoranda, opinion letters and other documents. Computer assisted legal research is included.

Legal Writing and Analysis. (2) A course designed to improve analytical and written communication skills. Students work on simple legal problems, learning how to identify and analyze legal issues and express their legal reasoning. Assignments include exercises in case briefing, exam writing and drafting legal memoranda.

Elective Curriculum

The 11 units of electives may be selected from other law courses that are offered as part of the regular law curriculum (subject to pre-requisites for certain advanced law courses).

In addition to regular law courses, elective units of clinical programs, research and writing, study abroad, or pre-approved independent study courses may be counted toward the degree requirements. In certain circumstances, pre-approved, law-related graduate courses may be transferred from other law schools or graduate institutions and applied to the 36-unit graduation requirement. A minimum of 18 units must be completed in residence at San Luis Obispo College of Law.

A written project of a 5,000 to 7,500-word paper on a pre-determined legal issue is also required.

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