Legal Studies Master's Degree

Legal Studies Master's Degree Online Master of Science (M.S.)

About the Legal Studies Master's Degree

Gain insights into the law and its role in modern life.

The online Master of Science in Legal Studies program at PennWest California creates a wide-ranging educational opportunity for working professionals and other serious students with an interest in law and public policy.

The program builds professional skills in research, critical thinking, writing and persuasion as students analyze and critique the law and explore its implications in various contexts. Thought-provoking coursework, taught by legal scholars and other subject-matter experts, positions students to advance their careers in law enforcement, criminal justice, paralegalism, business, government and other related fields where a specialized knowledge of the law is beneficial.

Program Advantages: Students in the M.S. in Legal Studies program benefit from in-depth interactions with professionals from a variety of career fields. Professors have practical experience and expert knowledge of the subjects they teach. Consequently, they can provide students with opportunities for networking and partnering on research for publication in academic and professional journals. 

FBI LEEDA Logo.The legal studies program also partners with the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA Inc.) to award three graduate credits for completion of all three leadership courses required for the Trilogy Award. The three credits can be applied toward completion of the M.S. in Legal Studies.


Choose a concentration for your online master’s in legal studies.

Students in this fully online graduate program specialize their studies by choosing from one of three options:

  • The law and public policy concentration helps students apply the principles of legal research and policy analysis to a wide variety of complex governmental policy issues. Coursework emphasizes how law and policy intersect to influence individuals, communities and our culture.
  • The criminal justice concentration focuses on the practical application of law and policy within the criminal justice system. Students examine real-world legal and policy issues that impact justice agencies within federal, state and local governments.
  • The homeland security concentration places special emphasis on strategies, plans and programs that can make our nation less vulnerable to terrorism. Students apply law and policy as they seek solutions to improve homeland security preparedness.

At PennWest California, students can earn a legal studies master’s degree in each of these concentrations, or complete a specialized 15-credit graduate certificate 100% online.

Accelerated Degree Option

Students in PennWest California’s legal studies program can save time and money with the accelerated B.A. to M.S. degree option. Undergraduates who complete up to 12 graduate-level credits during their senior year are positioned to move seamlessly into the master’s degree program, where those courses also fulfill core requirements.

The accelerated program gives students get a head start on their graduate studies – and they enter the M.S. program prepared to examine practical legal and policy issues through the lens of law and public policy, criminal justice or homeland security.


Step Ahead in Your Career:  Students can earn their legal studies master's degree 100% online in one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. The program positions law enforcement and justice system professionals to move into leadership roles or begin new careers. The program also is valuable for paralegals, cybersecurity personnel and human resources professionals seeking specialized knowledge and training in the law.

Challenging Coursework: As a legal studies student at PennWest California, you’ll take a deep dive into specialized topics with courses such as Law and Police Process (Police Civil Liability); Digital Imaging, Forensic Photography and the Law; Domestic Extremism in the United States; Biological, Chemical, Nuclear and WMD Threats in Homeland Security; Law and Civil Litigation; Law and Administrative Agencies; and Law, Business and the Workplace, among others.

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As a fully online program, PennWest California's Master of Legal Studies is flexible, convenient and affordable.
Concentrations available in the legal studies program: homeland security, criminal justice, and law and public policy.
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Degree Benefits

The 100% online master's in legal studies prepares you to:  

  • Interpret and analyze legal materials such as case law and statutory materials.
  • Explain the public policy impact of judicial rulings and legislative policy.
  • Frame legal issues for specific legal dilemmas.
  • Weigh and evaluate legal arguments and legal remedies.
  • Conduct legal research on diverse topical coverage in law.



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Graduate Outcomes

Because this program is rooted in the humanities, business, political science, jurisprudence, criminal justice and homeland security, PennWest California's online master's degree in legal studies prepares you for a wide range of rewarding careers. Legal studies graduates are sought by leading employers in the legal and public policy sectors.


Legal Studies Online Master of Science (M.S.)

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

legal studies masters degree

Homeland Security:


Graduate students in the homeland security concentration study such issues as domestic extremism in the United States; biological, chemical, nuclear and WMD threats in homeland security; intelligence practice in homeland security; domestic extremism; terrorism, threat and vulnerability analysis, and protection; and other specialized topics.

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legal studies masters degree

Criminal Justice:

The criminal justice concentration takes a practical look at topics such as financial investigations, criminal justice organization and management, justice studies, sexual assault investigations, police civil liability, and other specialized areas.

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legal studies masters degree

Law and Public Policy:

Courses in the law and public policy concentration examine the impact of law on criminal conduct, civil litigation, the international community, administrative agencies, business and the workplace, and more.

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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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