The MSL curriculum includes a set of required, foundational classes and a rich collection of electives. Electives fall into three subject areas: intellectual property and patent design; business law and entrepreneurship; and regulatory analysis and strategy. Many students select classes across the three areas of study, while some focus on one particular area. 

Courses are designed specifically for MSL students, with the goal of imparting practical skills and knowledge. To this end, the courses are very hands-on and often use real-world or simulated real-world situations to illustrate a concept or assess a student’s understanding of that concept. Additionally, courses are designed to strengthen communication, problem-solving, quantitative, and dispute resolution abilities. 

28 credits are required for the MSL degree. This equates to approximately 20 courses, of which eight are required.

Required Courses

Required courses provide students with a foundational understanding of the legal system, the basic structure of business, and the regulatory process. These courses impart a theoretical framework on which students can build with the elective part of the curriculum. 

  • Business Formation & Structure
  • Business Torts
  • Contract Law & Design
  • Ethics
  • Intellectual Property Fundamentals
  • Legal & Regulatory Process
  • Public Persuasion or Persuasive Communication
  • Research in Law, Business & Technology

Elective Courses

IP and Patent Design

In these courses, students learn about patenting inventions, managing a patent portfolio, assessing patent eligibility, preparing and prosecuting patent, serving as an expert witness on patent/IP subjects, and addressing global intellectual property issues. 

Business Law and Entrepreneurship

In these courses, students learn about the legal aspects of business formations and transactions and are exposed to subjects including mergers and acquisitions, employment law, business strategy, commercial finance, venture capital, and antitrust. Courses also focus on business and entrepreneurship skills, including negotiations, communications, decision-making, leadership, and quantitative skills. Various aspects of the commercialization process – the issues and opportunities involved in bringing an idea from conception to market – are also addressed.

Regulatory Analysis and Strategy

Classes in this area examine the process and structure of regulation, both in the U.S. and globally. Students learn to think strategically about regulatory processes and compliance and how to navigate the regulatory environment. Classes focus on a variety of specific regulatory topics: data security, food, environment, health, privacy, telecommunications, and universities.

MSL student

Nicholas Koch
MSL '17

"The most valuable class for me has been the Business Strategy and Frameworks class.

It teaches a way of thinking about strategy that I can apply to many areas in business and in life."

Course Descriptions

2021-2022 MSL Course Descriptions

Note: Course offerings (including day, time, and faculty teaching) differ between the residential and online programs, and vary by term. Please refer to the current class schedules here:


MSL classes are taught by a combination of residential Northwestern Law faculty and highly renowned adjunct instructors. The residential faculty are distinguished scholars and researchers, while the adjunct instructors are leaders in their respective fields who bring a wealth of real-world professional experience into the classroom.

2021-2022 Faculty Bios (pdf) 

Please visit Northwestern Residential Faculty Profiles, for more information.

Watch: MSL Professors Present

In the below series, MSL professors discuss how law, business and STEM converge on a variety of topics:

MSL student

Alexandra Moxley
MSL '17

"The MSL faculty is phenomenal.

The professors have a vast array of real-world knowledge that they bring to the classroom to really enhance the learning process. The faculty members are willing to explore students’ areas of interests and facilitate intriguing and vibrant class discussions on a daily basis. I have found that each professor is successfully able to teach us the most important concepts about a topic in a short amount of time. Not only is this admirable, but it also leaves students with the ability to apply these concepts to the real world right away. The faculty encourage and challenge us in ways that push us to reach our full potential. The faculty are one of the biggest reasons that the MSL Program is as amazing as it is."


MSL Symposium

The MSL Symposium, “At the Intersection: STEM, Law, Business, and the MSL,” showcases the importance of cross-disciplinary awareness at the intersection of STEM, law, and business – the type of thinking that is at the heart of the Master of Science in Law program. The MSL Inaugural Symposium featured a poster presentation session where students displayed their work on a variety of projects at this all-important intersection, a keynote address by Dr. Norbert Riedel, and live presentations from student projects on a range of topics, including artificial intelligence, genomic data, medical device entrepreneurship, health and human rights, and the space industry.