The MSL curriculum is unique; courses are interdisciplinary and practical and they focus on the intersection of law, business, regulation, and STEM. The curriculum includes a set of required foundational courses and a rich collection of sophisticated and practical electives. Elective courses cover four main areas, and most of them include two or more of these areas: intellectual property and patent design, business law and entrepreneurship, regulatory analysis and strategy, and skills development.  Students generally mix and match elective classes across all of these areas. 

MSL courses were created specifically for the MSL population. They are designed to impart both a theoretical underpinning and also practical, usable skills and knowledge. They often include hands-on activities and real-world scenarios to illustrate a concept or assess a student’s understanding of that concept.

28 credits are required for the MSL degree. This equates to approximately 20 courses, of which eight are required. To learn more about individual courses, please review the MSL course descriptions document.

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 the theoretical framework on which students build with the elective part of the curriculum. 

  • Business Formation & Structure
  • Business Torts
  • Contract Law
  • Ethics & Law in STEM-Related Fields
  • Intellectual Property Fundamentals
  • Legal & Regulatory Process
  • Effective Professional Communication
  • Research in Law, Business & Technology

Elective Courses

IP and Patent Design

In these courses, students learn about the different types in intellectual property, and also about the intersection of IP with business.  Classes cover what can be protected and the processes for protecting IP, managing a patent portfolio, licensing IP, preparing and prosecuting patents, investing in intellectual property, and addressing global intellectual property issues. 

Business Law and Entrepreneurship

In these courses, students learn about the legal aspects of business formation and transactions.  Students are exposed to a variety of business topics, including mergers and acquisitions, employment law, business strategy, commercial finance, venture capital, antitrust, and the commercialization process. Courses also focus on particular business and entrepreneurship skills, including negotiations, communications, decision-making, leadership, and quantitative skills. 

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. The curriculum also includes classes that focus on a variety of specific regulatory areas: data security, food, environment, health, privacy, gaming, medical devices, pharma, and more.  

Skills Development

Every course in the MSL program helps develop students' skills. In addition, there are a number of courses that focus specifically on improving a set of skills that are increasingly important in today's professional environment – communications, problem solving, quantitative skills, negotiations, and teamwork.

MSL student

Nicholas Koch
MSL '17

"The most valuable class for me was Business Strategy and Frameworks.

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


MSL classes are taught by 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 to their classes.

2023-2024 MSL Faculty Bios (pdf) 

For more information about Northwestern Law faculty, please visit Northwestern Residential Faculty Profiles.

Watch: MSL Professors Present

View videos of MSL professors discussing topics covered in the MSL curriculum:

MSL student

Alexandra Moxley
MSL '17

"The MSL faculty is phenomenal.

The faculty are one of the biggest reasons that the MSL Program is as amazing as it is. 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. Because of this, I was able 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."