FAQs: Online Master of Science in Law Programs



What is the MSL degree?

The MSL is a Master's of Science in Law. The degree is innovative and versatile and meant for professionals who seek the benefits of advanced training in legal reasoning and analysis. The degree enhances many professions and is ideal for business executives, entrepreneurs, policymakers, human resource and other professionals in today's economy. With so many businesses and industries being impacted by constantly changing laws and regulations, having knowledge and training in legal analysis can be advantageous in dealing with those everyday law-related issues.


On the website, I see a Master of Water & Environmental Law, a Master of Government Law & Policy, and a Master of Science in Law (MSL) degree - what is the difference in these programs?

The Master of Water & Environmental Law and the Master of Government Law & Policy are named in a manner to highlight the focus of your studies and will be used to distinguish one concentration from another, but your diploma will say Master of Science in Law, Water & Environmental Law or Master of Science, Government Law & Policy. The MSL descriptor is vague at best and does not highlight the expertise you will acquire. By specifying your area of study, employers will have a keen understanding of your educational focus, and you will be able to communicate your passion in this particular area.


If I am interested in law, shouldn't I just get a JD?

If you are someone that would like to practice law, the JD is the appropriate degree to pursue. Some professionals want, and need, a more solid base in legal concepts and principals and the master’s degree is designed for these types of individuals. It is important to know that receiving a master’s degree will not qualify you to take the Bar Exam in any jurisdiction.


Who teaches the classes?

The classes are taught by a combination of McGeorge’s faculty members and highly qualified adjunct instructors. Many of the adjunct instructors are practitioners in the fields of law, business, and government. We encourage you to view the faculty bios and reach out to them if you have any questions.


Will I be taking classes with JD students?

It is possible that in the future there will be some blending of the programs but currently, the online program does not have current JD students participating.


What can I expect in terms of workload?

Students will take six units in each semester. The general rule of thumb is that for every hour you spend in the “classroom”, you can expect another 1.5 – 3 hours of additional studying.


How many courses must I complete in order to earn the either the Master of Water & Environmental Law or the Master of Government Law & Policy degree?

Students must complete 26 credits. Please refer to the program’s curriculum web page for a complete list of required and elective courses.


I do not have any background in law. Am I at a disadvantage with respect to earning admission?

A law background is not required for admission to either master’s program, and students without a law background will not be at a disadvantage – most students enter the program without any background in law. The required classes that students take early on in the program provide a strong foundation in law.


Is there an interview option as part of the application process?

A personal interview may be requested as part of the admissions process. Our goal is to admit professionals who already have experience in their fields that will serve as a foundation for legal studies and who bring diversity in all its forms to the law school community.

Note to all applicants: Working with an agent will not affect your chances of acceptance and scholarship. All applicants should disclose in their application materials if they are working with an agent. We encourage all applicants to communicate directly with us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu.


What is required as part of the application?

An application containing the following items is required: Official Transcripts for all universities and colleges that you have attended, a resume or curriculum vitae, a personal statement, a writing sample, and two letters of recommendation.


How are admissions decisions communicated to applicants?

All decisions will be communicated to applicants via email. If you are admitted, a formal letter will be attached to the email.


If I am accepted, how much time will I have to decide whether to enroll or not?

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis with a commitment required by April 1st (Fall start) or November 1st (Spring start). The sooner you apply, the longer span of time you will have to make a decision that will work best for you. If an applicant submits their application materials after these dates, they will have two weeks from the time a decision is rendered to pay a seat deposit and commit to the program. Extensions to this two week rule may be granted on a case by case basis.


Is financial aid available?

Yes, MSL students may be eligible for financial aid. Please contact our Financial Aid office at 916.739.7158 or finaid@pacific.edu.

We also offer a Dean’s Scholarship to highly qualified applicants.


Is it possible for my employer to cover all or part of the MSL tuition?

Applicants should check with their individual employers. Of the companies that do assist with tuition payments, some have a limit on the amount of tuition that can be covered in any given year. We encourage you to reach out to the Human Resources department to see if this benefit is available to you.


When do classes begin?

Students may begin the online program in either the Fall (August) or the Spring (January). The exact date that the academic terms begin varies from year to year so please reference the academic calendar.


Do I need to participate in an Orientation?

An online orientation program is required for all program participants. Orientation will be available the week before the start of each semester.


How are the online courses organized? Are they self-paced?

Most courses within McGeorge Online Graduate Programs are offered on a semester-long basis, with weekly modules. Although format may vary depending on the nature of the course, in most courses students should expect to be assigned new topics each week, with associated reading, lecture, discussion, exercises, quizzes, and other interactive activities. Individual topics that include a specific group of reading assignments, lectures, discussion, and exercises are called "modules." Most courses will release new modules each Monday and allow one week for completion. Within the weekly modules, most McGeorge online courses will be primarily asynchronous. This means that students do not necessarily need to be online at the same time, and will have the flexibility to complete module activities at a time convenient to their schedules, as long as they complete the activities by the assigned, typically weekly, deadline. Some assignments, such as weekly discussion, may have mid-week deadlines. Some papers or projects may be assigned over several weeks or the course of a semester. To facilitate planning, all deadlines will be announced in the syllabus prior to the beginning of a course.

McGeorge online courses are designed to provide regular and substantial interaction between faculty and students. For this reason, students will generally work on one weekly module at a time so that they are working at the same pace as their classmates. All students are required to participate in each course on a weekly basis.

Online courses may also schedule semi-regular or optional "live" classes, called synchronous classes, in which students would be required to be online at the same time using live conferencing technology integrated into the course. Faculty will also offer regular "live" office hours, and may from sometimes schedule guest speakers or special events on a synchronous basis. Any mandatory synchronous sessions will be announced at the start of each course to allow for proper planning.

McGeorge online courses are designed to provide students with substantial flexibility to manage other professional and personal commitments while also facilitating regular and substantial interaction with the professor and other students. To be successful in the online program, students will need to be self-motivated and organized.


What are the technical requirements for the online programs?

Students need to have regular and reliable access to a computer and high speed Internet. Note that mobile and tablet devices will not provide full access; students will need a laptop or desktop computer with videoconferencing capabilities (webcam & headset).


Are courses offered during the summer?

There will be two units available over the summer. One of these units will have an optional residential requirement. While this is not required, we highly recommend your participation in the option residential opportunity.


Is there a residential component?

There is no requirement for an online student to come to our Sacramento campus. However, we highly recommend students to participate in the one unit hybrid summer course or come to campus for additional learning opportunities.


I live in a state outside of California, can I apply?

Per the Department of Education, we must be authorized to educate students in any particular state, therefore only students from pre-authorized states may participate in this program. If your state is not on the list below, please send us an email for future options. States where McGeorge School of Law has obtained state authorization:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.


As an online student, can I participate in on-campus events?

Yes – you are a part of our community and as such we invite (and encourage) you to participate in any way that is meaningful for you.