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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the application period?

The Master of Legal Studies (MLS) application will remain open, with the initial launch beginning in Fall 2021. For a Fall 2021 start, the deadline for priority consideration is April 30. International applicants should aim to submit their applications as soon as possible to ensure that there is enough time for visa processing.

Can I visit the law school?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State Law is only able to offer tours on a limited basis, and pre-booking is required. As an alternative, we invite you to check out our virtual tour of the building.

Does the MLS program require an interview?

Interviews may be required in certain cases where additional information is needed about an applicant.

Can I meet with someone to discuss my application?

Prospective applicants can request an appointment or contact our office with questions at

How can I be considered for scholarships?

All applicants are automatically considered for scholarships.

Am I eligible to apply for federal aid?

Students enrolling in the Certificate option will not be eligible for federal aid. However, MLS students are still eligible to apply. 

What steps do I take if I am an international student?

International students are advised to check the LLM program’s list of helpful FAQs for those arriving from outside the United States.



What admissions tests are required?

No standardized tests are required for admission to the program. However, international students may need to submit TOEFL scores (see below).

How long should my personal statement be?

Your personal statement should be two pages, double spaced.

How important is my personal statement?

A personal statement allows the admissions committee to get a sense of an applicant’s motivations for studying in the program, and to determine whether the program is a good fit for their particular interests and career plans.

How many letters of recommendation does the MLS program require?

The MLS program requires at least two professional or academic letters of recommendation (from employers, professors, etc.). Personal recommendation letters will not be accepted. 

Do I have to submit a TOEFL score?

All foreign educated applicants (anyone who earned their undergraduate degree at an institution outside of the U.S.) must provide a copy of their TOEFL score report, which can be attached to the application.

Students whose undergraduate degrees were granted in a foreign country where the primary language is English and where the primary language of instruction was English do not need to provide a TOEFL score report.

Applicants who wish to request a TOEFL waiver may do so by emailing us at Applicants requesting a TOEFL waiver should describe, in detail, their experience with the English language in an educational, professional, or personal context. Each request will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and waivers will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

How does the accelerated application work?

For accelerated consideration for Fall 2021, U.S. resident applicants need only submit the application form, copies of all transcripts (either unofficial or official), and a résumé or CV. Upon conditional admission, additional materials, such as official transcripts, can be submitted at a later date. If opting for accelerated admission, please indicate this in the subject line of your emailed application.



I understand Penn State has an LLM and an MLS. What is the difference between the programs?

While both programs are offered through Penn State Law, an MLS is for individuals who do not have a law degree, while an LLM is for those who are already practicing attorneys and have the equivalent of a JD. Each program serves different student types with different goals and credentials. Students should be aware that the MLS is not a JD-equivalent program, and thus graduates will not be qualified to practice law or sit for the bar exam.

Do you have a part-time program?

Yes! Students have the option of completing the program part-time.

What is the difference between the Master of Legal Studies and the Certificate of Legal Studies?

In brief, the MLS requires a minimum of 24 credits, and the CLS requires at least 9 credits. The core courses for all students in both programs will include Introduction to Public Law (3 credits), Introduction to Private Law (3 credits), and Introduction to Legal Research and Writing (3 credits).

I went to Penn State as an undergraduate and heard that the MLS program discourages applications from Penn State alumni. Is that true?

Definitely not! The MLS program welcomes applications from Penn State graduates from all campuses and degree programs, and we encourage you to apply.

Are Pennsylvania residents or Penn State students/alumni given priority in admissions decisions?

No. Although we welcome and encourage applications from Pennsylvania residents and Penn State students and alumni, those applicants do not have an advantage over out-of-state applicants or those from other colleges and universities.

How large is the faculty?

Penn State Law has 54 full-time faculty members with a broad range of expertise. For the MLS program, this expertise may be supplemented by the contributions of part-time, visiting, and adjunct faculty with special expertise in certain fields of interest to MLS students.

What does the curriculum look like?

Please see the MLS and CLS program pages for a more detailed look at the curriculum and course options.

If I choose the customizable option, will someone help me select my courses?

Yes! Students in both programs will work with advisors to select the best course options for their interests.

Can I take classes in the JD program as part of my MLS coursework?

Yes! A certain number of seats will be open for MLS students in JD courses.

Is this an online degree option?

Not yet. For the Fall 2021 semester, the MLS and CLS programs will be residential with in-person instruction. However, online options for both programs are in development, so stay tuned to our website for updates regarding online availability!

Will courses from previous degrees or certificates be eligible for transfer credit in either the MLS or CLS program?

No. Courses from previous degree programs or certificates, including those taken at Penn State, will not apply for transfer credit. 

Is there career services/support for MLS/CLS students?

Closer to graduation, students will work with advisors in the MLS/CLS program to develop an appropriate career plan.