It is important that you carefully consider if a part-time or full-time online Master of Legal Studies Program is right for you. You will need to weigh several different factors. You should assess your time commitments, your finances, work/life balance, career trajectory and your personal learning style. Luckily, one factor you do not have to consider is the quality of education. Both part-time and full-time MLS options offered by the same school receive the same level of education, same course content, same professors, and same academic resources. Legal theory, application of the law, and legal research will be taught and applied in both types of programs. Ultimately, making the right decision will help to set you off on a path toward success. So what do you need to consider?
You will need to ask yourself:
How much time can I commit to my studies?
Do I need to earn your degree within a set period of time?
Can I afford to not work, or work just part-time?
What are the income tax implications of returning to school?
If I have to maintain a full-time job while I study, will I be able to maintain my family obligations?
Will I qualify for financial aid if I only attend part-time?
Will I be able to maintain my focus if I only attend part-time?
Do I be more successful with immersion into my studies full-time?
Is your company reimbursing a part of your tuition?
Below you will find some more details that will help you decide which option may be best for you.
Sponsored Online MLS and Law Programs
Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
Complete in as few as 15 months
No GRE/LSAT scores required to apply
Four tracks available: General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, and Technology
Full-time programs can typically be completed in 18-24 months. The education is fast paced and focused, allowing students to immerse themselves in the concepts and theories. This often allows for better comprehension and fuller understanding of the subject matter. MLS students need to master the varying complexities of applying legal concepts and case law. The coursework can be quite demanding and being able to focus full time on your studies can be beneficial. If you want to maximize your time and earn your degree quickly, full-time can be a good option. Some forms of financial aid require that you be a full-time student, so choosing a full-time program may help you maximize the aid that you receive. Some programs charge by the semester/quarter rather than by the class, so full-time may enable you to save money if you are enrolled in one of those programs.1
Drawbacks of Full-Time
Full-time programs are a big time commitment and often make it challenging, if not impossible, to maintain a full-time job. Full-time students may not be able to juggle a family, a job, and school. If you are unable to work while in school, you may need to take out student loans to help support you during the program duration. If you are not working while you are in school, you won’t have the opportunity to apply what you are learning to your career in real time. Part time MLS students who are working in a career have the added opportunity of immediately applying newly learned legal concepts to their daily work. Seeing how the law interplays in one’s business life adds to both the understanding of and appreciation of the complexities of the legal system. Lastly, transitioning from a working professional to a full-time student is a big adjustment and can take time. It may be difficult to jump into a rigorous full-time program.2
Income Tax Implications
As a student, you may qualify for both federal and state educational tax credits such as the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Opportunity Credit. It is important that you check with a tax professional, the IRS, or your school’s financial aid department to see if full-time or part-time status will affect which tax credits you may qualify for.
List of Online Master of Legal Studies Programs Offering Part-Time Study Options
Online Master of Legal Studies Programs Offering Full-Time Study Options