Online Master of Legal Studies
From American University Washington College of Law

Gain Core Legal Skills with a Master of Legal Studies Degree

A thorough understanding of the law is not limited to practicing attorneys. The online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) from American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) is designed for professionals, like you, who have law-related responsibilities and understand the law’s important influence on both your daily job functions and your community at large.

The program offers the following concentration tracks: General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, and Cybersecurity. Each concentration track features fundamental legal training and industry-specific knowledge that will improve your ability to make informed decisions that affect your organization and legitimize your credibility with clients, co-workers, and partners.

If you choose the Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, or Cybersecurity track, you will earn a certificate in addition to your MLS degree.1

Why Earn a Master of Legal Studies?

No matter how you deal with the law — whether it’s handling contracts, drafting new policies, or ensuring compliance with legal regulations in your field — earning an MLS degree equips you with the legal framework you need to effectively solve legal questions and challenges in your role. With an MLS, you will be able to broaden your leadership potential and open the door to new career advancement opportunities.

Through the online MLS at American University Washington College of Law, you will cultivate a solid foundation of knowledge in the U.S. legal system — including legal concepts and procedures — allowing you to better perform your job and make a difference in your community. Careers in many different industries can benefit from the knowledge gained in the MLS program in a variety of ways.

will gain the specialized legal knowledge needed to better support the lawyers within their firm and to stand out from their peers.

Business executives
will better understand legal terminology and regulations behind contracts and transactions.

Government employees
will understand the policies and legal regulations of government agencies they interact with on a daily basis.

Health care compliance managers
will develop an understanding of complex health care laws and regulations and learn to implement an effective health care compliance program.

Software engineers
will improve their understanding of IP and regulations that are impacting the rapidly changing tech field.

The Founding Women of Washington College of Law

In 1896, Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett were determined to lead the first generation of women into legal practice. Having been denied admission to traditional male-dominated law schools, these two women’s rights advocates recognized their opportunity to make history. That year, Washington College of Law became the first law school in the world founded by women. Two years later, it became the first to have a woman dean and the first to graduate an all-female law school class.

Our founding mothers believed that lawyers had a crucial role to play in the development of society, business, government, and individual freedoms. Today, the Washington College of Law stays true to its founders and is a top-10 ranked law school for Greatest Resources for Women by Princeton Review in 2019 2 and continues to be a center for activism and an institution of gender equality. When our students graduate, we ensure that they understand their power and obligation to remove legal barriers to women’s full participation in society.

Washington College of Law founders: Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett

Camille A. Nelson, Dean and Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law

American University Washington College of Law's Top-Ranked Specialty Programs in 2021 U.S. News & World Report Include3 :


International Law


Intellectual Property Law


Health Law

At AUWCL, We Champion What Matters

Champion What Matters speaks to the passion and principles that guide this law school community. People here stand up for ideas and ideals and truly want to make a difference. We speak up. We act. We champion the rights of musicians through copyright law. We champion health care legislation. We champion human rights around the world. And we champion environmental policy.

Increase Your Credibility Within Your Organization

Gain an advanced understanding of the law with a Master of Legal Studies online from American University Washington College of Law.


The online MLS curriculum draws from both American University Washington College of Law and AU’s Kogod School of Business to provide you with a comprehensive education and tangible skills. With this unique partnership, you will not only graduate an expert in law but will also be able to translate your expertise into real-world business solutions that use the law for good.

The program consists of 30 credits and can be completed on a part-time or full-time schedule.

You will have the opportunity to choose a concentration track that provides industry-specific legal training. The following concentrations are available:

  • General MLS
  • Business
  • Health Care Compliance
  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity

For all MLS tracks, you will complete foundational courses, concentration courses, elective courses, and attend one in-person immersion on our Washington, D.C. campus. If you select the Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, or Cybersecurity track, you will earn a certificate in addition to your MLS degree.

Foundational Courses

  • Introduction to Courts and Law
  • Introduction to Regulation and Compliance
  • Drafting for Compliance Professionals
  • Negotiation and Communication

Featured Electives

  • Information Privacy and Data Security Law
  • Business Law, Ethics, and Governance
  • Government Contracting
  • Health Care Law and Compliance
  • Cyber Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Human Resources Compliance

View all course offerings and concentration curriculums.

Concentrations and Certificates

At the end of your second term, you will choose one of the following industry-specific concentration tracks that best aligns with your goals: General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, or Cybersecurity. If you select the Business, Health Care Compliance, Technology, or Cybersecurity track, you will earn a certificate in addition to your MLS degree.

If you choose to earn a Health Care Compliance certificate and meet certain qualifications, you may be eligible to receive an additional certificate accredited by the Compliance Certificate Board (CCB), which enables you to sit for the following exams within one year of completing the MLS program: 4

  • Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP)®
  • Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional–International (CCEP-I)®
  • Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC)®
  • Certified in Healthcare Research Compliance (CHRC)®
  • Certified in Healthcare Privacy Compliance( CHPC)®

General MLS

Gain a comprehensive understanding of legal concepts, legal procedures, and the overall U.S. legal system. This track is ideal for non-lawyer legal professionals who traditionally deal with the law, such as paralegals, HR professionals, government contractors, or social workers.

Featured Courses:

  • Human Resources Compliance
  • Government Contracting
  • Criminal Justice
  • Health Care Fraud and Abuse: Contracting and Compliance
  • Anti-Corruption Law
  • Business Law, Ethics, and Governance

View the General MLS curriculum.


Learn to make more effective business decisions and ensure compliance with the law. This concentration is ideal for business, finance, or government professionals who could benefit from legal knowledge when dealing with contracts, negotiations, transactions, and other business procedures.

Featured Courses:

  • Business Associations
  • Banking and Financial Services Compliance
  • Database and Big Data
  • Business Law, Ethics, and Governance
  • Organizational Behavior

View the Business Concentration curriculum.

Health Care Compliance

Develop specialized knowledge needed to gain credibility, further the mission of your organization, and advance your career by implementing effective health care compliance programs. This concentration is designed for health care professionals, such as legal nurse consultants, health care administrators, or health care compliance auditors.

Featured Courses:

  • Introduction to Regulation and Compliance
  • Health Care Law and Compliance
  • Health Care Fraud and Abuse: Contracting and Compliance
  • Information Privacy and Data Security Law
  • Drafting for Compliance Professionals

View the Health Care Compliance Concentration curriculum.


Cultivate fundamental skills needed to stay up to date with the rapid growth of technology and ensure compliance with the constantly changing laws surrounding the sharing and accessing of information. This concentration is designed for tech specialists in areas such as software engineering, e-Discovery, IT, or cybersecurity.

Featured Courses:

  • Management of Information Systems
  • Cyber Law
  • ESI: Preparing for an Investigation or Litigation
  • Information Privacy and Data Security Law
  • Cybersecurity Risk Management
  • Cybersecurity Governance
  • Database and Big Data

View the Technology Concentration curriculum.


Application Requirements
Learn about what you need to apply.

Upcoming Events
Learn more about the program by attending one of our events.

The priority application deadline for the upcoming October 2020 cohort is:

Monday, July 20, 2020

MLS v. JD v. LLM:
Which Degree Is Right for You?

There are many factors to consider when deciding which law degree is right for you. American University Washington College of Law offers on-campus and online law programs so you can earn the degree that best fits your lifestyle and career goals. When assessing the differences between a Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Juris Doctor (JD), and Master of Laws (LLM), it is important to consider your career objectives, the time to complete the degree, and the testing requirements.

Master of Legal Studies

Our online MLS degree is for professionals who interact with the law — legal documents, contracts, or regulations — in their daily lives but are not interested in practicing law in a courtroom. The flexible nature of our online MLS program allows you to continue to work while earning your degree. It also features industry-specific concentrations and certificates for roles that require specific legal expertise in areas such as business, health care, compliance, financial services, or cybersecurity.

The MLS does not require GRE or LSAT scores for admission and can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Juris Doctor

Our on-campus JD degree prepares students to represent clients and become practicing lawyers in the private or public sector. Our JD program requires applicants to submit either an LSAT or GRE score for admission. Upon completion of the degree, you must also study for and pass the Bar Exam in order to become a practicing lawyer.

Our JD program takes three years to complete full-time or four years to complete part-time.

Master of Laws

Our on-campus LLM degree is for lawyers looking to advance and enhance their skills in a particular area of law. You can earn an LLM if you already have a JD or an LLB (for foreign attorneys) and are interested in learning new strategies and tools to master a specific area of law, such as advocacy, IP, or international legal studies.

Foreign-trained lawyers can also use the LLM to become eligible to take the Bar Exam in certain U.S. states. Our LLM degree can usually be completed in one year.

Earn Your Master
of Legal Studies Online

Gain the legal knowledge required to reach your goals.

Student Experience

Through the online MLS program’s hands-on, experiential approach, you will receive the same quality education as on-campus students. The online learning experience features:

Online Learning

Each week you will attend live online classes on the Zoom HD video platform. The online classroom allows you to collaborate face-to-face with your classmates and faculty in real time using a variety of features including small group break-out rooms and live chats. In addition to the live classes, you will complete self-paced, engaging coursework that you can access 24/7 on our convenient mobile app.

In-Person Immersions

Expand on your online learning during an in-person immersion on American University’s beautiful Washington, D.C. campus. At the immersion, you will complete a 1.5 credit course and network with faculty and classmates.

Dedicated Faculty

Develop relationships with experienced faculty who serve as mentors and have valuable law connections across different industries.

Student Support Resources

Receive personalized technical and academic support from the admissions process to graduation.

WeWork Membership

Receive a free Global Access membership to WeWork, a network of workspaces with hundreds of locations worldwide. With this membership, you will have access to all WeWork locations, amenities, and events. You can use these workspaces to attend class, complete assignments, and network with your local classmates.

LinkedIn Premium Membership

With LinkedIn Premium Career, you gain access to a suite of career-enhancing benefits, including instant insights on salary and earning potential, a library of videos to sharpen your skills, and the ability to contact recruiters and hiring managers using InMail.

Valuable D.C. Connections

Located in the legal hub of Washington, D.C., American University is immersed in the center of the country’s legal institutions. As a student in the MLS program, you will benefit from the school’s ties to this legal environment and will have the opportunity to gain connections to important D.C. resources.

Alumni Network

American University — and specifically Washington College of Law — has a large alumni network in D.C. and around the world. As an MLS student and future alumni member, you will have access to some of the top professionals in government, health care, intellectual property law, and international relations.

Class Profile

American University Washington College of Law values its history of diversity and inclusion and continues to uphold its commitment to increasing accessibility to a quality legal education. The following information reflects enrolled students as of February 2020.

Breakdown of class profile by percentage

The self-reported data above reflect all-time enrolled students as of February 2020. The circle graph shows percentage breakdown of race: 50% Black/African American, 23% white, 13% Hispanic, 7% two or more races, 5% Asian. 2% of students chose not to report their race.




Over the Age of 35



Career Services

As an MLS student, you will have access to a dedicated career advisor, as well as career resources designed to prepare you for today’s job market. Our Virtual Career Center features:

One-on-one Career Coaching
Whether you are looking for a career change or a job promotion, you can meet with your dedicated career advisor to discuss your professional goals, develop a customized action plan, get your resume reviewed, and learn strategic ways to network and negotiate salary.

Development Courses and Resources
Download helpful application materials and access self-directed professional development courses and lectures that will help you enhance personal branding and craft a successful application.

Employment Opportunities
Be in the know about employment opportunities that career advisors and other students share on the Virtual Career Center job wall.

Mock Interviews
Prepare for the big day by scheduling a mock interview with your career advisor, who will ask industry-specific questions, give you interactive exercises, and provide real-time advice.

Develop Advanced Legal Skills Needed to Make a Difference

1 The Master of Legal Studies and the associated certificate offerings are not J.D. degree programs and will not qualify a graduate to become a lawyer, practice law, sit for the bar exam, or engage in activities for which a law license is required. Coursework completed in either of these programs is not transferable to a J.D. program.Return to footnote reference
4 Administered by the Health Law and Policy Program, the Health Care Compliance Certificate (HCCC) designates students in the J.D., L.L.M., and MLS programs who have completed a concentration of courses in health care law and compliance. The Health Care Compliance Certificate is accredited by the Compliance Certificate Board (CCB). MLS students who complete the health care compliance track will earn the certificate and be eligible to sit for the CHC, CHPC, CHRC, CCEP and/or the CCEP-I exams within 12 months of completing the program.Return to footnote reference