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The Master of Science-Legal Studies (M.S.L.S.) degree is a one-year nonprofessional degree intended for Cornell University Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows who have no prior legal training and seek an introduction to the foundations of legal systems, legal reasoning, argumentation and analysis, legal procedure, and substantive law in selected areas.

M.S.L.S. FAQs:

What are the degree requirements?

The program requires that you be in residence at the Law School for at least two semesters.

The basic program for M.S.L.S. candidates consists of the current first-year J.D. curriculum, which is:

  • Civil Procedure (6 credits)
  • Constitutional Law (4 credits)
  • Contracts(3 credits)
  • Lawyering (4 credits)
  • Torts (4 credits)
  • Criminal Law (4 credits)
  • Property (4 credits)

There are four qualifications to this basic structure:

  • You are required to take the librarian-taught legal research portion of the Lawyering class, but not the legal writing component.
  • You are not enrolled in "small sections" of first-year courses.
  • You can petition to substitute Law School courses related to your field of study for required first-year courses.
  • You must complete a four-credit thesis supervised by your Law School advisor(s) with input from your home field advisor(s). This thesis, which must be independent of your Ph.D. dissertation, should integrate your Law School work with your primary field of graduate research.

You will be graded in the same manner as students in the Law School's J.D. program and in all other regards will be bound by the same requirements, procedures, and principles of good standing as J.D. students.

What is the application deadline?

All application materials must be submitted by May 1.

How do I apply?

The standard for admission to the M.S.L.S. program will be similar to that applied to applicants for admission to the Law School's regular J.D. program. However, if you have not taken the LSAT, you may substitute a general GRE test score.

Application Checklist

By May 1, please submit your application, including all supporting materials, to Cornell Law School, Graduate Legal Studies Admissions, Hughes Hall, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853. A complete application includes the following:

  • M.S.L.S. Instructions
  • Application form-A completed and signed application form (pending updates).
  • Résumé-A detailed résumé, including academic publications and presentations.
  • Statement of interest-A statement of approximately 750 words explaining your reasons for seeking admission and providing any supplemental information relevant to your qualifications.
  • Transcripts/degree certifications-Complete official transcripts of all previous college, university, and graduate/professional school study, including work done at Cornell.
  • LSAT scores-If you have taken the LSAT, an official score report from the Law School Admission Council ( or 215-968-1001).
  • Letters of recommendation-Two letters of recommendation, including one each from:
    • Your Cornell graduate faculty advisor (normally your Special Committee Chair or supervising or hosting faculty member)
    • The Law School faculty member who has agreed to serve as your Law School faculty advisor
  • Consent form-A signed consent form authorizing Law School access to your Cornell University graduate program records.
  • Application fee-Nonrefundable $80 application fee. Payment should be made in the form of a check or money order or by completing the credit card authorization on the application form, which must include the security code from the back of the credit card.

Once your application to the M.S.L.S. program is complete, it will be submitted to the Law School Admissions Committee for consideration. We will not consider incomplete applications. Tuition for the program is the same as the tuition charged to first-year J.D. students. Financial aid is not available for the M.S.L.S. program.

Contact us to learn more.

Phone: 607-255-5185