Online Master’s Degree in Legal Studies (MLS)

Legal Studies (MLS)

College of Law

Program Overview

Seeking a master of Legal Studies degree? Learn from nationally ranked faculty through the University of Tennessee, Knoxville online master's degree program in Legal Studies (MLS.)

This fully online degree program is customizable, offering a variety of focuses for distance learners interested in studying and utilizing law in their chosen professions without becoming attorneys or practicing law.

MLS degree coursework includes contract management and business law, human resources, law and social welfare, and state and local government.

Credit Hours


Cost Per Credit Hour*

In-State $700

Out-of-State $775

Testing Requirements


Admission Terms

Fall, Spring, Summer

*Cost per credit hour is an estimate based on maintenance and university fees. Some programs may have additional course fees. Please contact your department for additional information on any related fees, and visit Tuition and Fees in Detail at One Stop.

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Excel With a Masters of Legal Studies Degree

The online MLS degree is designed for working professionals whose professional fields of study intersect with the law, and those who would benefit from legal studies but do not wish to pursue a Juris Doctorate. The master’s in legal studies program is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the legal system’s basic concepts and structures; develop problem-solving, research, and writing skills; and allow students to gain substantive knowledge concerning relevant legal issues in their fields.

What do you learn during a Master of Legal Studies? 

Students in the MLS program gain a breadth of knowledge and skills in law studies that can be applied to increase their expertise in their chosen fields. The program’s learning outcomes are as follows: 

  • Knowledge of substantive and procedural law 
  • Legal analysis and reasoning skills 
  • Proficiency in conducting legal research 
  • Create, execute, and adapt a plan for reaching professional goals 

What can you do with a Master of Legal Studies degree?

As a graduate of the MLS program, you will have the opportunity to pursue a career in a variety of fields. Examples include:

  • Human Resource Director 
  • Contract Officer  
  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Social Worker  
  • Paralegal 
  • Lobbyist  

Featured Courses

MLS students can tailor their studies based on their legal interests and career focus with course selections including:

LAW 503: Structure & Operation of the American Legal System

Introduces non-JD students to the structure of the American legal system and basics of US law.

LAW 504: Introduction to Legal Reasoning and Communication

Introduces non-JD students to the process of legal reasoning and communication.

LAW 511: Health Law & Compliance

Will give students an understanding of the organization, financing, and rules that govern healthcare entities and services within the United States. 

LAW 508: Criminal Law

Introduces non-JD students to general principles applicable to criminal conduct and includes specific analysis of particular crimes and defenses.

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Program Career Pathways

Students in the Master of Legal Studies Program can customize their studies to meet their individual career goals and interests in the following fields:

Contract Management & Business Law

The Contract Management and Business Law focus provides non-lawyers with the understanding of contract law and the skills necessary to review contract language, mitigate risk, and ensure compliance with legal standards.

Human Resources

By focusing on the law regulating the hiring, retention, supervision, promotion, and termination of employees, human resource professionals and office managers can acquire the understanding of the law of the workplace necessary to navigate complex employment law issues. 

Law & Social Welfare

The Law and Social Welfare focus helps social workers, non-profit managers, and those in similar fields develop an understanding of the law and policy issues necessary to effectively assist low-income and other disadvantaged populations. The College of Law also partners with the College of Social Work to offer an online Master of Legal Studies/Master of Science in Social Work (MLS/MSSSW). 

State & Local Government

State and local government employees and those who regularly interact with government can benefit from a course of study that focuses on relevant law and policy issues.  Note:  the fee waiver program of the State of Tennessee allows full-time employees of the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the State of Tennessee to take one graduate course per semester.

Ready to light the way in legal studies?