Below are some frequently asked questions about our new Master's of Legal Studies (MLS) degree. If you have additional questions, please contact us at MLS@asl.edu.
Q: Who will benefit from obtaining the MLS degree?
A: The MLS program allows students who have an interest in the law or who have law-related careers the chance to be exposed to important legal concepts and ways of legal problem solving. Those with many kinds of careers should benefit from obtaining the MLS degree, including people who work with lawyers and people who work with the law.
Q: Do I need to take the LSAT for admission?
A: No. The LSAT is not required for admission to the MLS program.
Q: Once admitted into the MLS program, do I need to re-take the LSAT for admission into the JD program?
A: Perhaps. MLS students who are seeking admission into the JD program may be required to re-take the LSAT. Students required to re-take the LSAT and subsequently admitted into the JD program will have their tuition credited for the cost of the LSAT fee.
Q: Do I need a minimum GPA for admission?
A: No. We will look at the entire student, not just the student's GPA, including work experience, obsacles overcome, and other relevant information that will help us determine whether a student will sucessfully complete the MLS program.
Q: What are the requirements for admission?
A: Please see our Admissions Checklist page.
Q: What is the application deadline?
A: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full. Master's in Legal Studies students are admitted only for a Fall Semester start date.
Q: How many students will you accept?
A: This is the first year that we have offered the MLS degree. We anticipate a class enrollment of no more than 20 students.
Q: Will International Students be accepted into the MLS program?
A: No. At this time the MLS program is available only to U.S. citizens.
Q: How will I be graded?
A: MLS students will be evaluated with other MLS students only and not JD students. They will receive traditional grades, i.e. A, B, C, D and/or F.
Q: What is the tuition for the MLS program?
A: The tuition for Academic Year 2013-2014 is $19,100 or $637 per credit hour.
Q: How long will it take me to finish the MLS program?
A: The MLS program may be completed on either a full-time basis over two consecutive semesters (one academic year) or on a part-time basis up to six semesters (subject to availability). The MLS program requires 30 credit hours in order to graduate.
Q: Is the MLS program approved?
A: The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education, the accrediting body for JD degrees, does not grant approval for non-JD programs but only gives aquiescence. The ABA has acquiesced, and therefore a recognized degree can be awarded. ASL is currently pursuing independent accreditation for this Master's program with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Q: Can I practice law after receiving the MLS Degree as a licensed attorney?
A: No. Generally, a person must take and pass a bar exam, as well as meeting other requirements, before he or she can practice law. Most states require those who want to take bar exams to have JD degrees. The MLS degree is not a substitute for a JD degree.
Q: How will the MLS degree affect my application to law school, if I later decide to apply to a JD program?
A: After receiving the MLS degree and deciding that the practice of law is desirable, a student can apply to law school to receive a JD degree. ASL will view favorably the successful completion of the MLS standard program (the curriculum specifically geared towards law school readiness) although we cannot guarantee admission to our JD program. Other law schools may as well. In addition, by completing the MLS program, you will better understand legal concepts. If you do decide to enroll in a JD program, knowledge gained from the MLS program should prove beneficial. Also, if you decide to enroll in, and get admitted into, ASL's JD program, any class that you took in the MLS program where you scored a grade of 'B' or higher will not have to be retaken in the JD program. Note that a student entering the JD program still has to complete the requisite 91 credit hours to graduate.
Q: Can I apply MLS courses towards a JD degree?
A: No. Under ABA standards, law schools are prohibited from awarding credit for courses taken prior to a student being enrolled in a JD program, including those taken in any MLS program.
Q: What courses are offered?
A: Please see our Current Course Offerings page.
Q: Can I add a concentration to the degree so that my transcript will reflect specialized knowledge?
A: Yes. There are Professional Certificates available that an MLS student can receive. The current Certificate options are Human Resouces and Management Regulation (HRMR) and Natural Resources and Energy Regulation (NRER). It is possible for a Certificate to be added while still completing the MLS degree within one calendar year.
Q: Is it possible to take courses online?
A: Absolutely. In fact, some or all of your MLS specialized track degree can be completed online. Note that MLS students seeking potential JD program admission - and on the standard track - must take their courses on ASL's campus. Also be advised that while it is possible to reach the 30 credits required to graduate online, note that not all courses available for the MLS specialized curriculum track are available online. Furthermore, it will likely take more than one academic year for a student to complete the degree entirely online.
Q: I know that loans are available, but what about scholarships and tuition rebates?
A: Loan funds for Masters of Legal Studies students are available through an arrangement with TruPoint Bank of Grundy. The terms are quite reasonable and below the conventional lending market. There is no accrual of interest until nine months after graduation, and the rate is 6% per year. For further information, contact the Admissions Office.
Currently, MLS students that have a family member currently enrolled in our JD program will receive a 50% discount on the MLS tuition. Additionally, students that are later accepted into ASL's JD program will receive a $5,000 per year discount on the JD tuition, contingent upon maintaining good academic performance (according to our academic standards requirement) and not being placed on academic probation. This maximum $15,000 JD tuition discount means that the student has the potential to receive a tuition discount equivalent to over 75% of the $19,100 tuition paid towards the MLS degree.
Q: Can I transfer credits received from a program at another institution or from ASL's JD program?
A: No, we do not accept transfer credits received from other educational institutions. We only accept select transfer credits from students currently enrolled in ASL's JD program who decide they would prefer to receive the Master's degree instead.
Q: I already have a JD degree. Can I come to ASL to attain your Master's degree?
A: No. The MLS degree is geared towards individuals who do not currently have a law degree. However, you can certainly take courses for credit towards earning a Professional Certificate.
Q: If I have a complaint about the program and I do not feel it is being properly handled, is there anything I can do?
A: Yes. If ASL has not resolved the issue to your satisfaction, you can file a Student Complaint Form with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).