The Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a Master’s degree for students who wish to accomplish post-graduate studies in the law but do not want to pursue a traditional Juris Doctor law degree (JD).

Cal Northern School of Law has established the Master of Legal Studies program (MLS) to enable individuals to attain a Master’s degree in as little as two (2) years of part-time study. This thirty-six (36) unit graduate program allows students from varied educational and professional backgrounds to gain a sophisticated understanding of the basic tenents of legal studies, legal reasoning, and the interaction between law and society. The MLS is appropriate for professionals whose work brings them into the interaction between law and their career field. The high quality of legal education for the M.L.S. is commensurate with the rigors of the traditional JD program and incorporates the very best aspects of the long history of the school of law.

The objective of the Master of Legal Studies program is to enable students to pursue diverse career choices though the acquisition of a foundational understanding of the legal system. In addition, it is the objective of the law school to enhance the professional skills and knowledge for those graduates who do not choose to sit for the California Bar Examination.

This program is designed to inform and educate professionals about the fundamentals of the law and help them gain an educated appreciation for the intricacies surrounding the intersection of law, public policy, and the professions. Master’s candidates shall take a variety of core classes in the law school curriculum in order to increase their understanding of the basic building blocks of the legal profession. Professionals from diverse fields, including banking, finance, insurance, education, law enforcement, human relations, and sales and marketing all deal with the law as it is applied to their activities. With increased sophistication regarding legal principles, Master’s candidates shall be able to increase their awareness of and preparation for legal issues which may arise in their daily lives.

MLS graduate students shall attend regular Cal Northern School of Law classes along with classmates pursuing the JD degree. All Cal Northern courses are taught by current Judges or practicing attorneys who teach in their areas of expertise.


Any person who is either currently employed or who contemplates employment in a field where the law is a principal or significant factor in job duties or responsibilities will benefit from a Master of Legal Studies degree. Fields such as probation, law enforcement, healthcare, non-profits, public administration or the courts, school administration, finance, insurance, and human resources all require to one degree or another a clear understanding of basic legal principles and their application.


Individuals enrolled in the MLS program are not admitted to Cal Northern School of Law as a potential candidate for the JD degree.

Except as provided in Rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules (Legal education in a foreign state or country), completion of a professional law degree program at this law school other than for the Juris Doctor degree does not qualify a student to take the California Bar Examination or satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in California.  It may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or to satisfy requirements for admission to the practice of law in any other jurisdiction.  A student intending to seek admission to practice law should contact the admitting authority in the jurisdictions where the student intends to qualify to sit for the bar examination or to be admitted to practice for information regarding their legal education requirements.


  1. Submission of an application form and payment of the non-refundable $55 application fee.
  2. All undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree.
  3. A personal Statement of Intent outlining the applicant’s interest in the graduate study of law (maximum of 500 words.)
  4. Two (2) letters of recommendation from individuals personally acquainted with the applicant.
  5. An interview with the Dean of the School of Law.

Applicants to the MLS Program are encouraged to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), but it is not required for admission to the program.

Foreign applicants with a non-English background will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (“TEOFL”) and submit an official score prior to admission to the program.

All admission decisions will be based upon a complete review of the admissions file as well as upon a consideration of the applicant’s work history, life experience, and previous academic success.


  1. Required Courses: Introduction to Law School and Legal Analysis (1 unit), Legal Writing (2 units), Legal Research (2 units), Criminal Law (4 units), Contracts (6 units), Torts (6 units), and Constitutional Law (6 units).

  2. Elective courses: The remaining nine (9) units may be selected from other courses offered in the law school curriculum, subject to pre-requisite requirement for advanced courses. Eligible courses include regular law school courses, elective courses offered on a rotational basis, and a maximum of three (3) units earned in a Cal Northern clinical program. No transfer units from another law program shall be allowed. No independent study or international study units shall be allowed.

  1. Cal Northern’s MLS students are subject to the same attendance requirements as the JD students (see “Catalog”).

  1. Cal Northern’s MLS students will be held to the same stringent standards of academic preparation as the JD students. Class participation requirements shall also be the same for MLS students.

  1. Completion of one of the following plans:
    (a) Thesis or Project-A public presentation and/or oral defense of the thesis or project is required. Students may choose a specific area of the law in which to concentrate for the thesis or project. The Faculty Senate will approve topics for thesis and projects.
    (b) Comprehensive Exams-The Faculty Senate will administer and evaluate three hours of written comprehensive examinations, plus oral review, covering the student’s major emphasis of study. All components of the exam must receive a grade of “pass” for the degree to be awarded. Exams may normally be repeated only once, at the discretion of the Faculty Senate, no later than the following semester. The Faculty Senate may allow partial rewriting of the exam, but only once. A second failure will result in termination of the student’s course of study.

  2. All administrative policies of Cal Northern School of Law relating to examination procedures, Honor Code, tuition and fee payments, registration, and all policies and procedures described in the Student Handbook apply to the MLS Program students.

  3. A student currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program shall not be prohibited from petitioning the Dean and Academic Standards Committee for a transfer from the JD Program to the MLS Program. All units successfully earned in the JD Program (grade of 65 or higher) shall be transferrable to the MLS Program. However, no student may then re-apply to the JD Program. Once accepted, units from the JD Program are exclusively for the MLS Program and cannot be re-transferred. Under exceptional academic circumstances, a student in the MLS Program may petition the Dean of the School of Law and the Academic Standards Committee for a transfer into the JD Program as long as they have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 and have taken the LSAT.  Transfer credit may be received for up to 6 units from another Master of Legal Studies or equivalent degree program at a regionally accredited institution.

  4. Each regularly scheduled 3-hour class constitutes 3-hours of instruction.  One hour of classroom instruction is defined as 50 minutes of instruction, consistent with the CBE Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules, Guideline 6.5(I)(3). For every hour of class time a student can expect to spend between 2 to 3 hours of outside study and preparation.  Legal Externships require  45-hours of participation to equal the 15-hours of instruction required for 1-unit of credit.

  5. Students must complete all requirements for the MLS degree within five years of beginning the program.


Students are eligible for the degree of Master of Legal Studies (MLS) when they have:

  1. Completed a minimum of 36 semester units in accordance with the law school’s prescribed curriculum, 27 units of which are mandatory and 9 are elective units as selected by the student;
  2. Maintained a numerical percentage average of 65.00 or better throughout their studies at the law school;
  3. Completed one of the following plans: (a) Thesis or Project; or  (b) Comprehensive Exams; and
  4. Pay all fees, charges and tuition due.


The MLS Program shall be under the supervision and academic direction of the Dean of Students of the School of Law.


All MLS Program participants shall be held to the same rigor in grading and high standards as students in the JD Program. MLS students shall also participate in Cal Northern’s process of anonymous grading of student examinations. At no time shall MLS students be identified separately from JD students in course, on course rolls, examinations, or papers. For MLS students the overall required GPA is a 65.0.


The faculty for the MLS Program shall be the same as the faculty for the JD Program.


Descriptions for the required courses, elective course, and clinics are to be located in the law school’s Catalog.


Participants in the MLS Program shall pay the same per unit tuition as students in the JD Program. All questions regarding financing shall be directed to the Registrar.



Course No.  Course Title  Units  Total Units


100 Introduction to Law and Legal Analysis 1
104 Legal Writing 2
103 Legal Research 2
Total Units 5 5
 101A/B* Contracts 6
 102A/B* Criminal Law 4
 105A/B* Torts 6
 Total Units 16  21
312 A/B* Constitutional Law 6
Total Units 6 27
Total Units for Graduation 36

 * Denotes all non-severable two semester courses. Both semesters must be successfully completed.

** These courses will be taken during the summer, fall, or spring semesters as the student’s schedule permits.

NOTE: A minimum of 9 elective units are required towards the 36 unit graduation requirement. Students select their choices from the following list of rotational Elective Courses. These courses are taught on a rotational basis as professional needs or student interest demands.


Course No.  Course Title  Units
106  Legal Analysis 2
205 A/B*  Civil Procedure 5
207 A/B*  Evidence 4
208 A/B*  Real Property 6
210  Wills 3
209  Trusts (Wills pre-requisite) 2
309 A/B*  Business Associations 6
310  Community Property/Family Law 3
315  Estate Planning 3
314  Professional Responsibility 2
400  Advanced Legal Writing 2
406  Criminal Procedure 3
415 A/B*  Remedies 4
410  Taxation 2
420  Trial Advocacy 2
E-110  Alternative Dispute Resolution 2
E-115  Debtor-Creditor Law 2
E-120  Employment Law 2
E-125  Insurance Law 2
E-130  Practical Skills 2
E-200  Practical Family Law 2
E-230  Special Studies in Civil Discovery 2
E-250  California Workers Compensation 2

* Denotes all non-severable two semester courses. Both semesters must be successfully completed.

** These courses will be taken during the summer, fall, or spring semesters as the student’s schedule permits.