Master of Legal Studies Program Structure

Course of Study

The Master of Legal Studies program has a balance of foundational training on "thinking like a lawyer" and specialized courses tailored to the student's interest and career focus. As such, the program is designed to be completed in three phases (as outlined below). The program can be completed in 9 months with full-time study or 2-4 years with part-time study. A minimum of 26 units is required to complete the degree, but students wishing to do more may take law classes up to four years, with the optional units 27-32 at no additional tuition charge ($13,560 value).


MLS Student Josh Brackett

What I like about the UCLA program is the flexibility to work around your schedule juggling the core classes with the electives. The program and structure offers a soft landing into the field of law.

Josh Brackett, Managing Director at Right Size Media

Achieving Academic Excellence at UCLA School of Law

3 Phases

  • Phase 1: Core Curriculum (13 units)

    These courses are designed exclusively for M.L.S. students. They are all taught in the evenings starting at 6:30 PM. For part-time students, the courses are held two nights a week. The first course is Introduction to American Law which is taught the week before the start of the Fall semester for all incoming M.L.S. students. Students will need to plan to be on campus the full week before the start of the first Fall semester for orientation and this course. Part-Time students who graduate within two years will finish the core curriculum classes within the first year of the program. The core curriculum courses are as follows:

    1. Introduction to American Law (1 unit, taught the week before the first Fall semester)
    2. Private Law: Property and Contract (3 units)
    3. Public Law: Constitutional and Statutory Analysis (3 units)
    4. Legal Communication and Analysis (3 units)
    5. Business Law for Non Lawyers OR The American Dispute Resolution System (each 3 units)
  • Phase 2: Specialization Courses (11+ units)

    Students may select from one of eight specializations. These classes generally are taken from the J.D. curriculum with J.D. students (M.L.S. students are graded separately from J.D. students), but some specific courses of interest are created for the M.L.S students. With over 200+ courses to choose from ranging in time from the morning into the evening, we will work with you to craft the best schedule.

    The eight specializations are:

    1. Business Law
    2. Employment & Human Resources Law
    3. Entertainment & Media Law
    4. Public Interest Law
    5. Health Law & Policy
    6. Government & National Security Law
    7. Law and Technology
    8. Environmental Law

    Students who want to take a variety of courses may elect General Studies or self-design an individual program (with approval) in lieu of a specialization. 

    See here for more information about specializations.

  • Phase 3: Capstone (2 units)

    This is a requirement for graduates of all Master's programs at UCLA. The capstone allows students to deeply engage with issues relevant to their career focus or intellectual interest. There are two ways to satisfy this requirement.

    1.    Capstone Seminar

    This course is offered each Spring semester. It guides the student through a project applying the skills and knowledge gained in the program to a "real world" scenario. This is flexible, but could include a project at work or a project completed with professor guidance.

    2.    Seminar course

    There are several paper-based courses where a student will write an academic paper within the specialization area. It is possible for this to count as the capstone project. This must be approved by the Executive Director of the program in advance. 

MLS Student Christine Shaw

Legal studies aren't something you learn overnight. Being able to dig in, practice, and refresh to apply those core topics to future courses is structured really well. [The program] offers you the real life, real-time utilization of what you're learning.

Christine Shaw, Senior Vice President of Communications at FX Networks

Time Investment

The program can be completed in 9 months with full-time study or 2-4 years with part-time study.  Check out the options below to see how it breaks down.

  • Part-Time

    The Part-Time option is ideal for professionals who are working full-time.

    MLS Part-Time Student Timeline

    MLS Part-Time Student Timeline

    MLS Student Jason Schaeffer

    It's all about discipline. I have a full-time job and two kids, and all of the requirements that go along with those responsibilities. It's all very manageable.

    Jason Schaeffer, Senior Vice President of Growth at Crackle Plus 

  • Full-Time

    The Full-Time option is ideal for:

    1. Recent graduates;
    2. International students on F-1 visas;  
    3. Entry-level professionals, those with 2 or less years of professional experience; or  
    4. Fully-employed professionals with the flexibility to take a sabbatical from work.

    MLS Full-Time Student Timeline

    MLS Graduate Satoshi Mizutani

    It is very manageable [pursuing a full-time course of study in the program]. Once you start having classes, you start to figure out what works best for you.

    Satoshi Mizutani, Full-Time Graduate, 2021 

MLS Graduate David Holtkamp

The ability to be able to go to classes in the evening and earn this degree was really appealing to me. Returning to school was an adjustment, but I had to make little conscious decisions to manage my time well. As I got into the groove and routine of it, it became second nature.

Dave Holtkamp, HR Business Partner at Guckenheimer 

FAQs about Schedule and Classes

  • Can I take courses for the M.L.S. degree remotely?

    The M.L.S. program is primarily a residential program, but there are a limited number of remote specialization courses. 

  • Am I in the same classes as J.D. students?

    The M.L.S. Core Classes are exclusively designed for and attended by M.L.S. students. In addition to several exclusive M.L.S. electives, M.L.S. students have over 200 advanced law courses to choose from as specialization courses or electives. These advanced law courses are taken alongside J.D., LL.M. and other UCLA graduate students.


Program Structure
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Application Information
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Tuition & Scholarships
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