Law and Public Policy

Law and Public Policy Degree: M.S. in Legal Studies - Law and Public Policy Concentration

About Law and Public Policy

Think deeply about issues that matter to our communities.

You’ll build valuable professional skills as you explore the complex relationship between law and public policy. This concentration within the M.S. in Legal Studies program at PennWest California focuses on the analysis and application of law in a multitude of contexts.

Delivered entirely online, the law and public policy degree program empowers working professionals and other serious students to address, analyze and critique the law and its public policy implications.

You’ll gain knowledge, skills and confidence as you examine law and public policy from social, administrative, juridical, ethical, operational and managerial perspectives.

Examine the law's comprehensive impact on society.

The intersection of law and public policy has practical ramifications for individuals, communities and our society.

With this in mind, program faculty challenge students to hone their research, writing and analytical skills as they engage with case law, statutory law and administrative regulations and learn to support arguments with reputable sources.

The online master’s in legal studies can be completed in one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. PennWest California’s accelerated B.A. to M.S. in Legal Studies option reduces time to completion even further by allowing undergraduate students to complete up to 12 credits of graduate-level courses during their senior year.


Move ahead
PennWest California’s law and public policy concentration is an excellent option for anyone who needs specialized knowledge and understanding of the law, including professionals seeking to advance their careers or move into leadership roles. Paralegals, law enforcement and business professionals, and those employed in the justice system are ideally positioned to benefit from this graduate-level program.

Core principles
The law and public policy degree program creates wide-ranging educational opportunities. Courses focus on the impact of law on criminal conduct, civil litigation, the international community, administrative agencies, businesses, families and more.

Certificate option
In addition to the master’s degree program, PennWest California offers a fully online, 15-credit graduate certificate in law and public policy. Complete the certificate in just 12 months so you can prepare to begin a new career or advance in your current profession. The certificate can be earned as a standalone credential or as part of the master's degree program.


Because it’s entirely web-based, the online master’s in legal studies is a flexible option for busy professionals.
Credits required to complete the law and public policy concentration.
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Degree Benefits

The law and public policy degree program challenges you to think deeply as you analyze and apply the law in various settings.

  • Critique the law and its implications from many perspectives: social, administrative, juridical and more.
  • Examine ethical considerations in legal decision-making.
  • Assess how the law influences our culture, our communities and individuals.
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Graduate Outcomes

PennWest California's online master's degree in legal studies prepares you for well-paying and rewarding careers in the legal environment. Because this graduate degree program blends the humanities and business with political science and jurisprudence, the skills students acquire also can be applied to many other professions. Graduates of this program have found rewarding careers with leading employers in this field.


Curriculum, Admission Requirements, and Related Programs

Course Credits
LAW 600  Law and Public Policy  3
LAW 601  Law and Ethics 3
LAW 602  Law, Civil Liberties and the Constitution 3
LAW 603  Law and Legal Method 3
LAW 607  Law and Criminal Conduct 3
LAW 608  Law and Civil Litigation 3
LAW 610  Law, Justice and the Family 3
LAW 700  Law and the International Community 3
LAW 701  Law and Administrative Agencies 3
LAW 704  Law, Business and the Workplace 3
Total 30



Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Regionally Accredited Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official transcripts from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.9 and below will be reviewed for a decision once the following documentation has been received:
      • Resume with contact information for three professional references with an overview of professional work experience
      • 500-word essay supporting the application
        • If admitted, students will be required to earn a 3.0 in their first term to remain in the program

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

How to Apply:

  • Complete the Graduate School Application
  • Submit the nonrefundable $35 Application Fee
  • Submit required documentation by mail or email:
    • Mail:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
PennWest California
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419

For additional information:
Phone: 1.866.595.6348

Related Programs



Valuable network

The M.S. in legal studies program attracts a wide range of professionals, including police and other law enforcement officers, paralegals, private sector security personnel, military members, government agents and more. Students can make important contacts and build a valuable career network.


Professional resource

Program coordinator Dr. Christina Toras, a licensed, practicing attorney, is also director of the Institute for Law and Public Policy at PennWest California. The institute provides continuing education for a wide range of professionals in southwestern Pennsylvania through degree and certificate programs, and professional development and training opportunities.


Faculty Support

Students in the Legal Studies: Law and Public Policy degree program receive academic and professional advisement from the program coordinator and PennWest California faculty. A dedicated faculty adviser will work closely with you to discuss, monitor and guide your program of study and offer career advice.

M.S., Legal Studies Faculty

Larry Bassi

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Jeffrey Davidson

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Kevin Govern, J.D., LL.M.

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David Heller
Adjunct Professor

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Brian Kohlhepp, M.A.
Assistant Professor

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William Morgan, J.D.
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David Smith, M.S., M.A., J.D.

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Dr. Christina A. Toras, J.D., M.A.
Professor, Legal Studies Program Coordinator, Director of the Institute for Law and Public Policy

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Michael Vennum, J.D.

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Dr. Karl Williams, M.D., M.P.H.

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