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Program Brochure (pdf)

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Important Dates

April 6
MSL Informational Webinar

April 15
Second round applications due
Final deadline for international students

June 4
MSL Informational Webinar

June 15
Third round applications due 

Master of Science in Law

OverviewMaster of Science in Law (MSL) Program Diagram: Intersection of Law, Technology and Business

Business is changing. Succeeding in today's complex business environment requires an ever-expanding set of professional capabilities, with legal skills becoming increasingly important for people with technical backgrounds. Leaders with scientific, engineering, and medical backgrounds interact with legal professionals on a regular basis. They are called upon to negotiate a myriad of legal and regulatory structures to move products through regulatory approvals, deal with compliance issues, and resolve disputes over intellectual property issues which bear directly on the success of their enterprises.

The stakes of these dynamic processes are immense—science, engineering, and medicine are key drivers of the United States and world economies.

To address the complex intellectual property, legal, and regulatory environment facing technology professionals and entrepreneurs, Northwestern Law School has established a Master of Science in Law (MSL) degree to provide focused, practical, business-centered legal training. Skills acquired in this program will allow professionals to communicate and interact across disciplines and professions, to recognize obstacles and risks, and to visualize opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Program

The MSL can be completed in nine months of full-time study or up to four years of part-time study. Applications for entry into the Fall 2015 class are now available.

The curriculum consists of courses designed specifically for MSL students, including a core of foundational classes in law: legal & regulatory process; contract law and design; risk, liability, and insurance; intellectual property fundamentals; business formation and structure; ethics; writing, presenting, and communicating. Building upon the core will be an array of specialized elective classes and experiential activities that cluster in three interrelated areas: patent and intellectual property design; business law and entrepreneurship; and regulatory analysis and strategy. Students may mix and match classes from the various areas of study or they may focus their studies in one particular area. The particular areas of study are described below, but please note that not all classes fit squarely into one of the particular areas; many subjects—such as innovation policy, deal-making, and digital environments—are truly at the intersection of these three areas.

Particular Areas of Study

Intellectual Property and Patent Design
Classes in this area will educate the student about intellectual property and patents. Students will learn about patenting inventions, managing a patent portfolio, assessing patent eligibility, patent prosecution, intellectual property litigation, serving as an expert witness on patent/IP subjects, and global intellectual property issues. In addition, the technical and conceptual design of patents and patent portfolios as strategic business and legal choices will be addressed through courses that cover such subjects as intellectual property transactions, licensing agreements and choices, patent valuation, and intellectual property management and strategy.

Business Law and Entrepreneurship
Classes in this area are designed to teach students about the legal aspects of business transactions and business formation, as well as to expose them to various subjects they will encounter in the business world, such as business valuation, employment law, business development, and project finance and management. The program will also impart business and entrepreneurial skills, including negotiations, communications, decision-making, leadership, and quantitative skills, including uses of analytics and big data. In addition, the entrepreneurship curriculum will focus on the issues and opportunities involved in bringing an idea from conception to market, including ideation, business planning and strategy, intellectual property protection, and investor presentation.

Regulatory Analysis and Strategy
Classes in this area will focus on the process and structure of regulation, both in the US and globally. Students will learn to think strategically about regulatory processes and also how to navigate the regulatory environment. There will be agency-specific analysis, focusing on health and medical regulation, technology and telecommunications regulation, and energy and environmental regulation. There will also be material on global standard-setting and on information privacy and security.

Who Should Apply?

  • Recent graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who seek to enhance their professional marketability by gaining a flexible, strategic skill set from a premier university.
  • Early-career STEM-trained professionals in the medical, engineering, and technology fields who wish to expand their professional options by gaining a practical understanding of the IP, regulatory, and contracting and licensing environments.
  • Mid-career STEM-trained professionals in the medical, engineering, and technology fields who are called upon to lead cross-functional teams within their organizations and are interested in positions of increasing responsibility.
  • STEM-trained entrepreneurs in technology fields who need a practical understanding of the legal and regulatory environment to facilitate bringing their products to market.
  • Professionals working in STEM environments who are interested in developing hands-on, practical skills to utilize in their STEM-related professions.

Northwestern University is home to world-class law, business, medicine, and engineering schools, and has a long tradition of interdisciplinary excellence. The Law School is located on the Chicago Campus—in downtown Chicago's beautiful Streeterville neighborhood.

For additional information about Northwestern School of Law's Master of Science in Law program, please email