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Why Pursue a Master of Studies in Law?

May 16, 2022
Legal images relating to pursuing an MSL

The Master of Studies in Law (MSL) is becoming an increasingly popular master’s in law program for non-Juris Doctor (J.D.) students, especially since 2006 as institutions began to see increasing value in legal education outside of the traditional J.D. route.1 While the J.D. still dominates the legal education landscape, access to legal education is proving beneficial in a number of fields where laws and regulations affect the day-to-day work of many. From HR to IT and beyond, building a legal foundation is key for workers to set themselves apart in the business landscape and to increase their earning potential.

Let’s explore the MSL in greater depth to better understand the benefits of pursuing this degree.

What is a Master of Studies in Law Degree?

Simply put, the MSL is a law degree for non-lawyers. Unlike the Master of Laws degree (LL.M.), students do not need a J.D. prior to seeking an MSL degree. The main prerequisites for earning a master’s of law would be an interest in the law and in building your expertise in a specific area, either to apply to your current field of work, or to break into a new career. MSL programs are typically designed with a core focus on learning the law, including U.S. law at large, common law, administrative law, and more.

Depending on the program, an MSL may still be appropriate for practicing attorneys depending on the focus of the program, especially if the program’s focus provides deeper insights into a specific area of the law. For example, a practicing attorney who is looking to practice in the healthcare compliance space would find an MSL focused on this area helpful. However, the MSL is generally considered an alternative to the traditional J.D. degree as legal foundations are taught that would be redundant for those who have completed a J.D. program.

You may sometimes hear a Master of Studies in Law called a Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) or a Master of Legal Studies (MLS). Regardless of the degree name, these programs share a commonality in being geared toward nonlawyers. This degree is popular in law-adjacent roles, such as a paralegal position, and in fields where the law is instrumental in day-to-day operations like IT, healthcare and HR.

Is the MSL the Right Fit For You?

The MSL degree proves useful in an array of fields, so if you are seeking to advance your career in a field that is interrelated to law, the MLS is an excellent degree choice.

The Master of Studies in Law will be a good fit for you if you:

  • Work with lawyers
  • Work with the law
  • Want to reorient your career
  • Want to learn more about the law, but are not looking to practice as an attorney

Overall, if you are in a position where knowledge of the law will make you better at your job, or you want to move into a position where legal knowledge will be important, then this degree could be right for you.

If you are on the fence about whether or not earning an MSL would be worth it for you, taking the time to reflect on your motivations for seeking additional education is a good starting point. Reflect on the following questions to better understand if this degree will be worth pursuing in order to meet your goals:

  • Do you want a raise, or do you have a salary goal in mind?
  • Are you looking for a promotion?
  • Do you want to gain additional work responsibilities?
  • Are you interested in the law and the legal system?
  • Would you like more job security?
  • Are you seeking clarity around legal issues in your current role?
  • Are you a career changer who wants to break into a new industry?

Understanding the outcomes of earning an MSL will help you ask better questions and have deeper conversations as you seek out your ideal MSL program.

Benefits of Earning an MSL Online

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase in your education level typically leads to higher earnings and a decrease in the likelihood you will find yourself unemployed, Those who hold master’s degrees earn 20 percent more than those at a bachelor’s level.2

You have many options open to you as you look at MSL programs in order to get to that pay increase. In addition to the specific focus of the program, you also get to choose whether you want to seek the degree online or on campus. Online programs have increased in popularity due to their flexibility and generally lower costs. Many classes are asynchronous, meaning you can complete the work on your schedule, which allows you to earn your degree without having to put your current job or other commitments in your life on hold.

Online courses are now being offered on engaging platforms. You can enjoy the flexibility of asynchronous classes and still build connections with your professors and classmates, giving you the added benefit of building your professional network.

Specialize in Data and Privacy Law with Cardozo School of Law

Earning a master of studies in law with a specialization is an excellent way to set yourself apart in your field. As such, Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law’s online MSL focuses on data and privacy law, breaking down the complexities of cybersecurity, data and privacy laws to allow students to excel in IT, cybersecurity, HR, operations and more.

Cardozo’s MSL program is designed by industry leaders and combines theoretical and practical perspectives on compelling topics, including international data protection, cybersecurity, internet law and much more. As a Cardozo student, you’ll study with our top-ranked faculty and build connections with your fellow students in small group settings that focus on engagement. Gain the skills and confidence to make smarter decisions about data operation and management—in your current professional role or your future career as a data specialist.

Connect with an Admissions Advisor to learn more about the online MSL in Data and Privacy Law.

  1. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from lawschooltransparency.com/trends/enrollment/all
  2. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm