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Master of Legal Studies - Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. To learn more about the program and apply to the MLS in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy, click here. 

The MLS program is designed for non-lawyers who work regularly with laws and regulations and could benefit from a greater understanding of the law as it relates to their field in a current or future position. This includes persons in business, non-profit and government positions whose involvement with issues like contracts, financing, real estate transactions, or employment/labor negotiations frequently requires working with lawyers. Additionally, people who regularly encounter legal issues in their work; for example, employees who have to deal with complex state or federal regulations.

The MLS will also be of interest to people who have always wanted to learn more about the law, but do not want to be a lawyer or practice law.

Possible positions that benefit from an MLS (but not limited to):

  • Corporate and non-profit managers
  • Accountants
  • Auditors
  • Government employees
  • Realtors
  • Engineers
  • Science educators
  • Health care professionals
  • Court employees
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Human resource professionals
  • Librarians
  • Information specialists
  • Journalists
  • Authors
  • Scholars
  • University Faculty
  • Secondary-school teachers
  • Researchers

Or anyone who wants to enhance their professional value or redirect their career, or who has always been interested in the law. 

The MLS Program tailors each student’s education to his or her needs and interests. There are eight tracks from which an MLS student may choose, or, if you can’t find any area that is of interest to you, you may design your own concentration. In addition, as an MLS student – regardless of your area of concentration – you will be provided with an Academic Advisor who will assist you in selecting the courses best suited for your needs.

The MLS degree will be awarded upon completion of 30 Semester credit hours. MLS students will be eligible to enroll in all first-year and upper-level courses at the College of Law.* Flexible day and evening class schedules allow you to juggle work and family responsibilities while you pursue your degree. Part-time students have a maximum of six years to complete the MLS degree.

All MLS students will be required to take Introduction to American Law (2 credits) in conjunction with Independent Legal Research (1 credit); and Legal Research and Writing (3 credits) in their first semester at CSU|LAW. Designed specially for MLS students, these courses cover the basic structure and function of U.S. legal institutions, the interaction of state and federal law in the American system of federalism, common law and case analysis, the American criminal and civil justice systems, trial by jury, and the American legal profession. 


Additional Degree Requirements:

At least one of the J.D. first-year common law courses:

  • Civil Procedure, L513
  • Contracts, L511
  • Criminal Law, L506
  • Property, L514
  • Torts, L512

MLS students will be permitted to earn up to 8 credit hours towards the MLS degree by taking appropriate CSU graduate-level courses in a related field. To transfer the credits to the MLS degree, the student must earn a minimum grade of B, or Satisfactory, in the non-law graduate course.

* Some courses require prerequisites or will have limits on enrollment.

Yes. An MLS student is eligible for student loans in any semester in which they are taking at least 6 credits of coursework.For more information regarding financial aid, click here. 

It is anticipated most MLS students will want to take the program on a part-time basis. If you are interested in being a full-time MLS student, please contact the MLS Program Director, John Plecnik at

Introduction to American Law and Legal Research & Writing for MLS Students will be offered only in the evening. Except for those two required courses, MLS students may take any law school course, whether it is offered during the day or in the evening.

Generally yes. With the exception of two courses – Introduction to American Law and Legal Research & Writing for MLS Students – the courses you will take while in the MLS Program are the regular law school courses attended by students in the JD Program.

A 3.0 GPA is required upon graduation in order to earn the MLS degree. While enrolled as an MLS student, a student will be graded on a separate scale, similar to other Master’s students at CSU, rather than on the mandatory curve required for JD students. 

Yes. With the approval of your advisor you will be able to take credits in CSU graduate courses outside the law school and those credits will count towards your MLS degree.

Yes. An academic advisor will be assigned to you upon your completion of the mandatory courses, per your concentration. Your advisor will work with you to create an individualized curriculum tailored to your needs and interests.

No. The MLS is not intended to prepare students for the JD degree. However, a student who successfully completes courses in the MLS program will have a better understanding of law than someone who has not. In addition, should MLS graduates eventually enroll in a JD program, the MLS experience may prove beneficial.

Currently, students are admitted into the MLS program only at the beginning of the Fall semester.

To be considered for admission, applicants must complete the Application Cover Page and email the required application materials to 

Application Requirements:

  • Application Cover Page 
  • Official transcript showing the applicant has earned a Bachelor’s degree
  •  Additional official transcripts of all other college, graduate, and professional studies, whether a degree was obtained or not
  • A current resume
  • A personal essay describing how you expect to use the knowledge acquired in pursuing the MLS degree

NOTE: Applicants with a final undergraduate grade point average under 3.0 must also submit a standardized test score. LSAT, GRE, or GMAT are acceptable.

For questions, contact Julie DiBiasio, Director of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, at or 216.687.2328

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. In order to be considered for the Fall semester, applications must be completed and submitted no later than orientation (typically a week before classes begin).

For questions, contact Julie DiBiasio, Director of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, at or 216.687.2328

MLS classes begin in the Fall semester each year in and follow the same academic calendar as Cleveland State University.

For more information on specific class times and dates, contact Julie DiBiasio at

No. American Bar Association regulations do not permit any academic credits earned prior to beginning a JD program to be credited toward the JD degree.

No. If you want to become a lawyer, the MLS Program is not for you. You should apply to our JD Program instead. The MLS provides new skills and knowledge to enhance your existing ones rather than to prepare you for a new career. It will not permit you to take the bar examination and so it is not intended for people who want to practice law. If that is your interest, you should apply to our JD Program.

For all other questions, contact Director of Graduate Studies and Professional Development Julie DiBiasio at 216.687.2328 or or MLS Director Prof. John Plecnik at 216.687.2346 or


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"When I completed my PhD at Cleveland State in 2006 I truly thought that would be the end of my academic coursework. Although a committed lifelong learner, I believed that earning my terminal degree in counseling would prepare me for all of the things that I eventually wanted to do in my career and I would not need to return to formal class work. However, the fast-evolving world of the assisted reproductive technologies, which is the field in which I work, demands more and more diversified knowledge from its practitioners, knowledge that crosses the domains of medicine, behavioral health and law. The MLS degree at Cleveland State College of Law provided me with access to highly specialized professors who are experts in their respective disciplines as well as the flexibility to create an area of study that met my specific interests and goals. In addition to focusing on law and ethics I was able to earn an advanced certificate in bioethics through the Department of Philosophy as part of my 8 credit electives, as well as focus on family law and mediation which has prepared me to take the Ohio Supreme Court mediation training this September. For those of you concerned that working full-time and taking a post-graduate degree seems daunting it is entirely manageable if you structure your classes well and take advantage of the guidance that the College provides as well as the multiple forms of exam preparedness. I learned much more than I anticipated and began using my improved knowledge base almost immediately upon completing the first semester. I was able to finish in two academic calendar years (including taking a course each summer) and the Master of Legal Studies has been entirely worth it."

Liz O'Donnell, PhD, LPCC-S, NCC, PT, MLS '23   
Clinical Psychotherapist

D'Jaris Richardson

"I believe the MLS is the new “hybrid” degree for professionals working in US industries that are highly regulated by the FDA, CFR, DOT and the SEC such as chemicals, transportation, foods, healthcare, medical devices and banking. You learn how to think like an attorney in a classroom setting with JD students; to quickly analyze how the laws apply to your business risks and programs; and how to write guidance to diverse stakeholders. The classroom setting is perfect for learning how to problem solve and to present both sides of the business case for any profession. I had great flexibility to choose a variety of elective courses in the law school and the business school that were directly related to my particular interests. This flexibility provides for a higher level of education. The law classroom setting is dynamic with students from diverse cultures and business backgrounds. The instructors are dedicated to their field of expertise and to helping you achieve your professional goals."

D’Jaris Richardson, MLS '19, Health Law Certificate '19; Health Care Compliance Certificate '19    
Sr. Regulatory Compliance ManagerSr. Regulatory Compliance Manager   

Ahmed Kilani

"As a physician in a leadership position I feel that having an understanding of the legal aspects of the job is a necessity, especially with the complexity of the current health care system. I found the Master of Legal Studies program extremely helpful in obtaining the legal knowledge I needed, which has helped me tremendously in my work as well as helping me educate physicians-in-training regarding subjects they might face in their future career, and even understanding the basic components of a contract. Gaining understanding of legal analysis was another huge benefit since it changed my thinking process when analyzing the problems I face. The beauty of this degree is that students can pick up classes that suit their needs and learn from outstanding experts at CSU College of Law.”

Ahmed Kilani, MD, MLS '16    
Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital    
Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency; Chairman, Graduate Medical Education Committee; Physician Advisor, Care Coordination Department; Regional Director, Cleveland Clinic Quality Alliance; Clinical Assistant Professor, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University