Many students often wonder about the career prospects of a master’s degree in law. Although some students may think that obtaining a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) is the only way to pursue a career in law, a master of legal studies degree (also known as a MLS degree) can open up a variety of law-related career options in both civilian and military fields. 


At our school, the master of arts in legal studies program is designed to help students gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal system, enabling them to pursue a wide range of law-related professions. While some graduates do choose to pursue law school, most of our alumni opt for careers in law-related professions, such as human resources or healthcare law. In fact, the MLS degree is highly valued for its versatility, as it provides graduates with a range of transferable skills that are highly sought after in various industries.

For instance, paralegals, though not lawyers, work closely with attorneys, making them law-related professionals. Other law-related professions include human resources managers, compliance officers, real estate agents, and government employees who work at regulatory agencies. These professionals deal with legal issues that require specialized knowledge and expertise.


Active servicemembers also require legal knowledge and skills to perform their duties and complete legal tasks. A graduate degree in legal studies can equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out their military duties. Furthermore, many servicemembers use their legal skills and expertise to transition to a post-military, law-related profession.

Overall, a master of arts in legal studies degree can offer a wide range of career options to students from various backgrounds. Graduates gain valuable knowledge and skills that can help them pursue their career goals in the legal and law-related fields.


Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

As a legal studies teacher, one of the most common questions I receive from students is, “How much can I earn after completing my degree?” However, it’s not easy to give a definitive answer because legal studies graduates have diverse career paths, and they work in different locations across the country.

For instance, some graduates work in urban areas like New York City, while others work in rural places like Alabama. Naturally, the salary ranges for these two locations would be quite different. Additionally, legal studies graduates can work in various fields, such as law firms or the military, which also affects their salaries.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies, it’s best to do your own research about the specific profession you’re interested in and the job market in your desired location. You can start by checking relevant labor statistics for the area.

Besides researching job prospects and salaries, it’s also essential to evaluate the schools offering the legal studies program you’re considering. Factors such as the school’s reputation, accreditation, and cost of attendance should be taken into account.

Ultimately, the best program for you will depend on your unique career goals and how each school’s academic program aligns with them. While some students may base their decision on a school’s prestige, it’s more important to choose a program that will help you achieve your career aspirations.

Common Career Paths for MLS Graduates

Many MLS graduates choose to pursue diverse career paths based on their particular interests and professional goals. For example, some MLS holders work in law firms as paralegals or other legal positions. Others may work in banks as regulatory compliance officers. 

Additionally, some may work as human resources managers, where their legal training and experience obtained in the MLS program can help them understand legal concepts that are relevant to their work. This type of work often involves dealing with employment laws and regulations related to benefit programs.

Moreover, MLS graduates can work in various government roles. For instance, some legal studies graduates work in the court system or for government agencies. Their academic coursework enables them to have a solid understanding of the legal system, legal research and writing, and a wide range of legal regulations and laws.

The MLS: Who’s It For?

It’s difficult to define what type of student is best suited for an MLS degree, as students come from various backgrounds and have different reasons for pursuing this degree. Some students have a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and plan to attend law school. Others have extensive legal experience, while some have little legal training or experience, which is perfectly fine. Admission to the program is not based on previous legal knowledge or training.

As a legal studies professor at our school, one of the greatest joys is working with students who are geographically diverse and come from different backgrounds and experiences. This creates an intellectually stimulating environment for both our legal studies students and professors.

Over the years, I have taught a wide range of legal studies students, including military students serving overseas on deployment and international students. All of them have been a great fit for the master’s in legal studies.

I have taught legal studies students who have no previous legal experience and who want to transition into a law-related profession. I have also taught students who have worked in financial compliance or human resources for years. Some of them may be paralegals or other legal professionals who want to deepen their knowledge.

The diversity of our program is what makes it great. Our students can interact with each other and learn from each other in ways that were impossible a generation ago.

It’s crucial to note that a lack of previous legal experience or academic background should not deter an applicant. Our program is designed to provide students with the knowledge needed to pursue job opportunities or expand their knowledge without any previous legal training or education.

American Public University and the Master’s Degree in Legal Studies: A Strong Choice

There are various MLS options available to students after they complete their undergraduate degree. However, our program caters to a diverse range of students, including both civilian and military ones. The legal studies degree curriculum has been designed to address the interests and needs of our students.

I have taught many active-duty servicemembers who are nearing retirement and are interested in transitioning to a legal profession. Our degree equips them with the necessary knowledge to achieve that goal. I have also had active-duty students who serve as military police or paralegals.

It’s hard to generalize what our master’s degree students seek from our program. However, they are provided with a wide range of courses to fulfill their individual goals.

In recent years, many schools have introduced MLS programs, offering students excellent options. However, our school remains an excellent option for prospective students due to the following reasons:

First, our legal studies students come from diverse backgrounds, including both military and non-military students, bringing valuable experience and knowledge to the classroom.

Second, we have professors with varied legal expertise who are also experts in online education. Many of them have over a decade of teaching experience in the online format and understand the unique needs of our diverse student body.

Third, our program offers students a wide range of choices regarding their coursework, enabling them to deepen their legal knowledge and explore their interests.

Fourth, our program is fully aligned with the school’s mission of providing affordable, accessible, and relevant education. This philosophy is reflected in our embrace of an organizing principle: providing equal access to justice in the legal profession.

Fifth, many of our school’s legal studies graduates have pursued numerous job opportunities in both the military and civilian worlds.


These five factors make our school an extraordinary place to study and distinguish us from our competitors. Prospective students should consider our program and research other MLS programs before enrolling.

The MLS versus the Juris Doctor

There is a significant difference between the MLS and the JD degree. A JD degree allows students to take the bar exam and eventually practice law in a particular state or jurisdiction. On the other hand, while students pursue many legal occupations after obtaining an MLS degree, it is important to note that the MLS is not a law degree.

The MLS degree is designed to meet the needs of a different student population. For instance, our program caters more to students who are already in law-related professions or want to transition into law-related professions, be it in the military or in the civilian world. Although some students may choose to go to law school after completing our program because it has sparked an interest in becoming a practicing attorney, the program should not be considered as a pathway to law school. Therefore, students intending to practice law should pursue a Juris Doctor degree instead of an MLS degree.

Can An MLS Help Me If I Am in the Military?

The MLS degree places a strong emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking, as these skills are crucial for students who aspire to take on leadership roles. As an example, I teach a course on homeland security law, where my students engage in legal-based research and writing, as well as role-playing, case study analysis, and debates, all of which help them develop their problem-solving skills. Furthermore, our classes adopt an interdisciplinary approach, which exposes students to how legal problems and issues involve the intersection of various subjects, including:

  • The law
  • Politics
  • History
  • International relations
  • Business
  • Ethics

This interdisciplinary approach offers active servicemembers a comprehensive understanding that is crucial for leadership positions. The courses that I instruct delve into the ways in which the law intersects with ethical dilemmas. The study of ethical challenges in law can be beneficial for military servicemembers who aspire to leadership roles, because these positions demand the ability to navigate intricate moral issues.

Is a Legal Studies Degree Needed in the Military?

Many active servicemembers face legal problems and issues regularly. The coursework provided by our program equips them with the necessary skills and experience to handle complex legal and ethical issues and procedures that they may encounter.

Emphasizing the intersection between law and ethics is essential in helping my military and civilian students make informed decisions in their daily work. A military paralegal who has a deeper understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of law can provide attorneys with a wider perspective that is highly valuable.

Adaptability is a crucial trait that all organizations, including the military, look for in their employees. Our program instills this trait in our students by assigning them complex projects and tasks with tight deadlines. This approach helps build skills such as adaptability, resilience, and persistence, which are highly sought-after in the military.

MLS Degree Requirements

Our program offers a combination of core, major, and elective courses to students. This combination of courses provides students with a comprehensive overview of a variety of legal concepts while also allowing them to personalize their education. Students must complete required courses such as criminal law, criminal justice process, legal research and writing, property law, contract law, tort law, and constitutional law. Additionally, students can choose from a list of primary and elective courses. For instance, students may opt to study business law or employment law. Others might take an interest in space law, homeland security law, or sports law.

Providing Equal Access to Justice

Our program is dedicated to addressing issues related to access to justice. It offers our service-minded students an opportunity to explore topics that are critical in both military and non-military contexts. By focusing on access to justice, our program exposes students to ideas about how they can make a significant difference in various communities. Our courses not only educate military and civilian students about the issues related to access to justice, but also equip them with the tools to create positive changes. Our program aims to instill a sense of responsibility in our students to uphold justice for all.

The Online Advantage to Gaining Legal Knowledge

Our program is designed to cater to the needs of students who cannot commit to a fixed classroom schedule. Unlike other online schools that try to replicate traditional classroom settings with fixed schedules and set lectures, our courses are asynchronous, interactive, and constructed with the understanding that our students are geographically diverse, some even serving overseas. Our courses are highly interactive, providing an excellent learning environment based on the best online learning practices.

To foster interactivity, our faculty members create assignments to promote valuable learning opportunities. They encourage the development of relationships between students and between students and instructors. For instance, my class on homeland security law requires students to engage in debates and discussions asynchronously and work with other students to discuss relevant legal material. Similarly, my class on torts allows students to work on legal matters that they would typically encounter if they worked as paralegals in litigation. Students are required to complete varied assignments such as creating presentations and participating in discussions dealing with issues ripped from the headlines, including legal matters like health care compliance and sexual harassment.

Our professors are experts in online education, and they possess diverse legal backgrounds and advanced degrees (or several degrees). They are encouraged to experiment with various teaching and learning methods, providing our students with classes that prepare them for the changing job landscape and the legal profession.

We offer all the resources expected from a traditional university, including access to a wide range of student organizations, career services, and advising staff. Our University library is well-stocked and includes access to various legal sources and materials to help students develop specialized knowledge in legal information and business operations.

Factors Involved in Choosing a Program

Prospective students can find many lists that rank online law studies programs. However, it is essential to consider various factors when evaluating each program. The cost of the program and student outcomes are significant factors that any applicant should consider when making their decision. Additionally, students should consider whether the school has experience in online education. For instance, our school is a leader in online education, and our classes are constructed with the needs of online students in mind during the course creation process. The diversity of the student body is also a significant factor in a student’s decision-making process.

Our school’s program is a great choice for students looking for a quality MLS degree program. However, each student should assess their options based on their unique goals and aspirations. We encourage interested students to consult with one of the many talented professors in our program before making a decision. Our admissions and advising staff can also serve as consultants.

The first step for interested students is to reach out to our school and express their interest. This way, we can start a dialogue about our legal studies program. Such a dialogue will help students decide whether the program is a good fit for their needs.

Students also need to explore our program’s curriculum and weigh the pros and cons of completing this degree. This research is only possible if students make use of the many available resources. 

The most important thing is that students pick the program that aligns with their professional goals and ensures the program is the right fit for them.