Master of Studies in Law ( M.S.L.) (also Master of Legal Studies ( M.L.S.) is a master's degree offered by some law schools to students who wish to study the law but do not want to become attorneys. M.S.L. programs typically last one academic year and put students through the same regimen as a first-year J.D. student. M.S.L. students study such staples as constitutional law, torts, contracts, civil procedure, and other requirements alongside regular law students, writing the same papers and taking the same exams. But they graduate after accumulating two semesters of credit instead of six. M.S.L. programs are usually designed for academics who hold Ph.D.s in a discipline related to the law, and who want to add a legal dimension to scholarship. Compare Master of Laws.
The degree has several variants, including a Master of Studies in Law degree (at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Toronto, and the University of Western Ontario), for example, or a Master in the Study of Law (at Ohio State). In March 2007 The Ohio Board of Regents approved M.S.L. Degree for the University of Dayton School of Law, and beginning in the Fall of 2014, Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas will offer M.S.L. classes to individuals engaged in a wide range of parallel professions. Drexel offers a Master of Legal Studies program as of 2013. West Virginia University offers a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) completely online as part of its nationally ranked Division of Public Administration. Arizona State University also offers an M.L.S. The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and the Albany Law School in New York, both offer M.S. degrees in several concentrations. The Vermont Law School offers a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) degree (formally known as the Master of Studies in Environmental Law (MSEL) degree). As of 2011, UC Hastings will be offering a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) and LLM in Law, Science and Health Policy programs together with the University of California, San Francisco. Since 2004, Friends University has offered a Master of Studies in Business Law (MSBL).
From the mid-1970s until 2004, there was also a unique M.S.L. program at
Yale Law School for journalists. The program was a competitive fellowship offered to three or four applicants a year, chosen by the university. Yale provided free tuition, and the fellows also received a living stipend provided originally by the Ford Foundation and later by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. A number of reporters who currently cover the Supreme Court or other law-related issues for major mainstream media organizations are former fellows, including Barbara Bradley of NPR (1994), Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times (1978), Charles Lane (journalist) of the Washington Post (1997), Neil A. Lewis of the New York Times (1979), Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe (2003), and Viveca Novak of Time Magazine (1986). The program lost its funding after the 2003-04 academic year when the Knight Foundation declined to renew its grant. However, as of February 2007, they seem to be taking applications for the M.S.L. program. Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law introduced their Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program entirely online in 2012, and can be completed in under two years.
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