Earn the MSL made for you.
Earn the MSL made for you.

Master of Studies in Law Online Program

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Online Master of Studies in Law degree (MSL) is for working professionals who want to advance their careers by building a foundation in U.S. law and legal procedure. With an MSL paired with a specialization of your choosing, you can bring an immediate impact and value to your current workplace while setting yourself up for future success.

The Online MSL courses are completely asynchronous and taught by world-renowned Pitt Law faculty and industry experts. You will also go through the program with a cohort of like-minded professionals, which maximizes opportunities for collaboration, support, networking and more. Learn more about the value of earning a master’s degree and what Pitt Law will do for you.

Program Details

  • 30 credits
  • 100% online
  • 3-8 week terms for most required courses
  • Can be completed in two years
  • 2 annual start dates: fall and spring
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Program Brochure

Are you considering a master’s degree in law or a graduate certificate to take your career to the next level? Pitt Law’s Master of Studies in Law online program is designed for professionals seeking to enhance their careers with a versatile alternative to the traditional three-year JD degree. The certificate programs are ideal for those who are not currently looking to pursue a master’s degree.

Complete the form to get a program brochure for Pitt Law’s Online MSL plus your chosen specialization, or your chosen certificate program, delivered to your inbox.

Earn Your Master's Degree Online From Pitt Law School

Why pursue a master’s degree? The job market is constantly in flux. A master’s degree can future-proof your career by equipping you with the tools you’ll need when the market is competitive for job seekers. Conversely, it will give you leverage to earn more when employers are eager to attract and retain talented workers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as your education level increases, your earnings also increase and the likelihood of unemployment decreases. With each level of education you complete, you will pick up more skills and prove to employers that you are tenacious and capable of following through on important tasks and goals. Workers who hold master’s degrees earn 20 percent more than those at a bachelor’s level.1 Over time, that can mean a big difference in quality of life.

This is where Pitt comes in. For more than 125 years, the University of Pittsburgh has been a leader in legal education. Now, our nationally recognized Masters of Studies in Law program is available online, with the added benefits of geographical freedom, time flexibility and cost savings.

Online MSL Curriculum

(core courses, 15 credits)

  • American Legal System (3 credits)
  • Contracts (2 credits)
  • Torts (2 credits)
  • Property (2 credits)
  • Constitutional Law I (1 credit)
  • Constitutional Law II (1 credit)
  • Criminal Law (2 credits)
  • Legislation and Regulation (2 credits)

View Curriculum

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Get More With Pitt Law’s Master of Studies in Law Online Program

With Pitt Law’s Online MSL program, you will not only gain knowledge and skills in the field of law, but you will also be able to pair the core MSL courses to the specialization of your choosing. Customize your master’s experience with a specialization that speaks to your interests and goals so that you can make moves in your career, both in earnings and responsibilities. Explore Pitt Law’s available specializations in Health Care Compliance, Human Resources Law, International Business Law, Corporate Compliance, and Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law below.

MSL Program Specializations

Earning a master’s degree increases your earning potential. Visit our specialization pages to see what these studies can do for your career in conjunction with the MSL core courses.

Corporate compliance jobs are in demand. Build a strong foundation in designing, implementing, and maintaining compliance programs.
Explore this industry-accredited specialization to see how you can grow your career in health care.
Find out how you can become eligible to sit for certification programs offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Gain a solid working knowledge of the complexities of cross-border business transactions and much more for a flourishing career in commercial law.
The Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law Specialization is the multidisciplinary education you need for a multi-hyphenate career.
Althea Mensah, ’22 MSN, RN
"I am so glad that I proceeded with the MSL Program upon completion of the Pitt HCCC Program. I have learned to apply laws to different fact patterns. I also learned to analyze information and make arguments/counterarguments. These are lifelong skills that are transferrable to all facets of life, outside the legal field.

My decision making has improved because I am able to evaluate information quickly and arrive at a conclusion. I am more persuasive since I can appreciate and debate a topic from different points of view.

I learned as much from my cohorts as I learned from the professors. Being able to have professional dialogues on the discussion boards further improved my communication skills.

The professors and leaders of the Program are amazing, generous with their time, and receptive to feedback.

Bottom line: Will I recommend this Program to friends and family?
I already have!"
Althea M.
Marily Nixon
Meet Online MSL Program Director Marily Nixon
Marily Nixon is a Professor of Practice at Pitt Law, and an experienced attorney and teacher of law. She teaches law, policy, and legal skills to diverse student populations, including MSL students, JD students, licensed attorneys seeking their LLM degree, and undergraduate students. She teaches primarily in areas that relate in some way to real property, and she created the Property and Torts courses in the Online MSL core curriculum. She has special expertise in property law, land use law, legislation and regulation, and local government/administrative law. She also teaches law and legal culture to international attorneys, and outside of the legal field she teaches professional communications skills to students in technical masters programs.

Before beginning her teaching career, Professor Nixon practiced law for more than 20 years in Big Law (Holland & Hart LLP and Dorsey & Whitney LLP), leading nonprofit legal groups including the Southern Environmental Law Center, and a County Attorney's office in the Denver metro area. She also managed an air quality improvement initiative for The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh.

Professor Nixon looks forward to welcoming students to the Master of Studies in Law online program and notes that all course instructors are enthusiastic and compassionate mentors for Pitt Law students. “We take a practical approach to the program with the goal of equipping our students with the knowledge they need to work with the law throughout their career,” she said.


What is an MSL?

A Master of Studies in Law (MSL) is considered an alternative to the traditional Juris Doctor (JD) degree. An MSL degree is well suited for those who are interested in law, but do not want to be practicing lawyers (at least at the moment). MSLs are popular in law-adjacent roles, such as a paralegal position, and in fields where the law is instrumental in business practices, like health care and human resources.

Who will benefit from the MSL degree offered by Pitt Law?

This degree is beneficial to a wide array of learners:

  • The MSL is for people who work with in-house legal counsel and outside lawyers. If this is you, it’s likely you understand the specific area(s) of the law related to your work, but would like to have a larger and systematic perspective on legal matters. The coursework involved in obtaining the MSL will give you this perspective.
  • The MSL is for people who work with law. You might not have much contact with lawyers, but you are frequently exposed to legal issues in your job. Pursuing the MSL will help you understand the sometimes mysterious rules around the law and help you place them in a larger and systematic context.
  • The MSL is for people who want to reorient their careers. Acquire legal knowledge and skills without spending three years earning a JD degree. If you do not want to practice law, but want a legal education to help pivot your career, the MSL is the ideal fit and is more comprehensive than on-the-job training.
  • The MSL is for people who want to learn about the law, but not practice it as an attorney. Expand your knowledge of the U.S. legal system specific to your area of concentration. Through the MSL program, you will further your understanding of the rule of law through reading and analyzing previous case laws, statutes and regulations. You will also enhance your ability to communicate with colleagues and peers regarding legal issues that affect the workplace.

Can credits earned from Pitt Law online certificates count toward the MSL degree?

You may apply all 15 credits earned in one of the online Pitt Law certificate programs toward the MSL degree. However, credits can only be applied if your grade achieved in a specific course is a B or higher. If you do choose to go on for the MSL after completing a certificate, you must begin the program no more than four years after completing the certificate.

How do the online courses work?

Each course of the Master of Studies in Law online program is delivered through an engaging, custom learning platform. The Learning Management Systems (LMS) is highly organized, intuitive and dynamic. Courses are asynchronous, meaning as a student you can access course materials 24/7 to complete your work as your schedule allows. All quizzes and assignments are submitted on the LMS through real-time submission links. The course instructor checks in regularly via email, discussion threads, comments on assignments, and group and private discussions via Zoom to offer support as you progress through each week of the course.

Is the Master of Studies in Law online program worth it?

The answer to this question depends on your individual goals for pursuing the degree. Identifying the motivations for obtaining this degree can be helpful as a starting point. Consider the following to better understand if this degree will be worth it in order to meet your goals:

  • Do you want a raise, or do you have a salary goal in mind?
  • Are you looking for a promotion or a job title with more responsibility?
  • Are you interested in the law and the legal system?
  • Do you like more job security?
  • Are you looking for clarity around legal issues in your current role?
  • Are you a career changer wanting to break into a new industry?

Visit our tuition and financial aid page to learn more.

Start Your Journey to Your Master’s Degree with Pitt Law

Pitt Law has a legacy of investing in individuals who are ready to develop a well-rounded understanding of evolving laws and regulations that govern business today. The law influences almost every decision—both in the workplace and in everyday life—and Pitt Laws’s MSL program is here to help those without a JD degree learn what they need to get ahead.

With four specializations to choose from, a strong bench of renowned faculty, a cohort to connect with along the way, and a flexible curriculum designed for your busy schedule, make the decision to start your journey with Pitt Law today.

Fall 2024 Admissions Deadlines

Priority Deadline
August 2
Fall 2024
Final Deadline
August 12
Fall 2024
Start Date
August 19
Fall 2024