The Catholic University of America

Master Your Career with the New
Master of Legal Studies Program at Catholic University

The new Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, available to qualified students beginning in the summer of 2014, offers flexibility, versatility, and broad-ranging instructional excellence.

The 15-month, 26-credit program is designed to equip students with both a general understanding of the American legal system and specific knowledge of their chosen field of interest without requiring the time and expense associated with a JD program. The initial M.L.S. program will offer an area of emphasis in Intellectual Property Law.

This new degree program provides a type of professional credential that is increasingly in demand by today’s employers, and distinguishes its holder as someone who brings specialized knowledge and an enhanced understanding of the role of the law across industries and in a wide variety of disciplines.

Who Can Benefit?

Think of the possibilities. What do you do for a living? Perhaps you work in the area of intellectual property, even examining patents. Are you a scientist or engineer? Perhaps you are a docketing clerk, legal assistant, secretary, or administrator in a major corporation. A deeper understanding of the law and legal principles is relevant in countless occupations; very few professions are unaffected by the substance of the law. An M.L.S. degree may help you further your career.

If you already possess a technical degree and wish to work in a business start-up, or at a law firm but do not want to practice law or desire to enroll in a three-year J.D. program, an M.L.S. degree may be the perfect vehicle to move your career to the next level.

Are you an undergraduate, who wishes to work at a law firm, but not as a lawyer? The M.L.S. may offer you an advantage in the hiring process by giving you a working knowledge of our legal system.

How it Works

Catholic University’s M.L.S. degree is designed for part-time students and offers classes at times that accommodate the schedules of those who work full time. Participants enroll in courses offered over fifteen months, beginning and ending with a summer term. Candidates for the M.L.S. degree will begin by taking classes in Lawyering Skills and the American legal system with other M.L.S. candidates. These courses will provide students with the tools they need to participate in the classroom with J.D. candidates.

In the fall, M.L.S. candidates will take specialized foundation courses for their areas of interest side-by-side with the full time J.D. students. In the spring comes a second semester of lawyering skills, and the opportunity to take intermediate courses providing greater depth to our students in their chosen field of interest. All M.L.S. students will also take a course in Professional Responsibility to help them understand the rules of the road for the legal profession and facilitate working with lawyers.

Finally, during his or her second summer, each M.L.S. candidate will write a thesis, under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The culmination of the M.L.S. degree will be an all-day roundtable during which each candidate will present his or her thesis to the remaining M.L.S. candidates and other invited guests.


Why has Catholic University’s law school decided to offer the Master of Legal Studies Program?

As the legal profession evolves, the need for non-JD professionals with a working knowledge of the law is increasing. The new M.L.S. will serve the educational needs of this expanding group of professionals, including legal support staff, scientists and engineers, and others working in heavily regulated fields.

What are the educational objectives of the new academic program?

To better serve the community by educating a new group of professionals who work in areas related to the law by providing them with a general knowledge of United States law and specific knowledge of the law in their particular field of interest to enhance professional competence and career opportunities.

Does earning a Master of Legal Studies degree allow me to practice law?

No. The M.L.S. program is designed to enhance understanding of the law and legal principles in the context of a professional career. It is not intended to train students for careers as attorneys, nor to prepare them for any state’s bar exam. Credits earned may not be applied toward a J.D. degree, even if the student should elect to pursue one at a later time.

Is the Master of Legal Studies Program accredited?

Yes, by The Catholic University of America following a process of obtaining acquiescence from the American Bar Association.

What does it take?

Required academic credits: 26. Two summers, one fall and one spring semester are anticipated to be necessary for completion.

Will this degree have associated tracks or concentrations?

Yes, initially the degree program will offer an area of emphasis in Intellectual Property. Other areas may be added in the future.

Will I share classes with students pursuing a full J.D. degree?

Yes, but you will also take classes with your fellow M.L.S. students. The summer classes will be a chance to get to know your fellow M.L.S. students in a small class environment. During the fall and spring semester, you will have a chance to take classes with students pursuing J.D. degrees. For example, an M.L.S. candidate with an emphasis in Intellectual Property Law may take courses such as Copyright Law, Trademarks and Unfair Competition, or Patent Prosecution which are also taken by fulltime JD students.

Is there an online component or option?

Not at this time.

How to Apply

Admission to the program is based on a portfolio of information, including a completed application form (see below), undergraduate and graduate transcripts from any accredited schools attended, a personal statement that speaks to the applicant’s interest in the program, a resume, a letter of recommendation, and any standardized test scores (such as the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, GRE, SAT, or ACT) that the applicant wishes to submit. International students will also be required to submit proof of language proficiency through a TOEFL or IELTS score.  Applicants are expected to meet the minimum admissions requirements for other graduate programs at The Catholic University of America. Graduates of foreign universities are eligible for the M.L.S. program and encouraged to apply.

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For further information, contact M.L.S. program co-directors:

Professor Elizabeth Winston

Professor Megan La Belle