Master of Studies in Law (MSL) Program

As a student in the MSL program, you will gain a fundamental understanding of the law and the legal system. You will learn the leverage points in the law where you can have the most influence. You will also have opportunities to hone your negotiating, reasoning, and writing skills – all while participating in the vibrant academic and professional community at UC Hastings.

An understanding of legal reasoning and doctrine is critical for forward-thinking individuals and organizations to thrive in today’s fast-moving economy. An MSL degree will equip you with knowledge and skills that allow you to evaluate the challenges you encounter from a legal perspective, and help you work with legal departments and outside counsel more easily, having gained a common language and working knowledge of the law. The MSL is designed to help non-lawyers be more effective and successful in their chosen fields. This degree program can also help you pivot to a new career or enrich your retirement.

Apply Today 

The MSL Program

Course Options

As an MSL student, you may choose to pursue a general course of study, you may elect to focus on one of 15 specializations, or you may design your own course of study with the guidance of your faculty advisor.

Enrollment Options

You have varying time commitments, which is why the MSL program is offered both on a full-time and part-time basis. Students attending full-time will complete the degree in one year, or part time in 2 1/2 to four years, depending on your course-load.

Degree Requirements

To earn your MSL degree, you’ll need to complete 24 total units, including:

  1. Legal Research & Writing for Masters Students (Fall, 2 units);
  2. Introduction to Law for Masters Students (Fall, 2 units + Spring, 1 unit);
  3. Minimum of one of the following first-year classes: Civil Procedure I, Constitutional Law I, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, or Torts;
  4. A substantial research paper in connection with a seminar or an independent study aligning with the student’s interests.

Note: You must take a minimum of 6 units to qualify for federal loans, and must attend New Student Orientation shortly before your first semester.

Program Learning Outcomes

When you have completed the Master of Studies in Law degree, you will be expected to have acquired and developed the following skills:

  • You will be able to identify, explain, and employ basic concepts and rules of law in both core legal areas and in your own chosen area of specialization.
  • You will be able to identify relevant legal issues and craft legal arguments and conclusions supported by factual evidence and legal rules.
  • You will be able to independently retrieve, organize, analyze, and evaluate paper and electronic legal and interdisciplinary resources, and differentiate the types and importance of these legal resources.

Testimonial from Lauren, MSL '13

“The  UC Hastings MSL helped me prepare for my career in providing healthcare to children and adolescents. I wanted to learn more about health policy and understand the constitutional basis for legal protections around reproductive healthcare issues. My UC Hastings classes delivered. In my daily work I draw upon the knowledge I gained in the MSL program. My experience with the UC Hastings faculty was fantastic. I appreciated our lively discussions about the intersection of medicine and law.”