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The Master of Studies in Law degree (M.S.L., 30 credits) is for those who hold an undergraduate degree and seek a graduate degree specifically tailored to a career in ethics and compliance. It was offered 100% online for the first time in fall 2018. 

This is a 21-month program running five consecutive semesters, beginning in August and ending in May.

Intro to Legal Reasoning (3 credits) Compliance Programming (3 credits) International Anti-Corruption Law (2 credits) Ethical Cultures (3 credits) Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age (3 credits)
The Effective Ethics and Compliance Professional (3 credits) Risk Management (3 credits) Investigations (2 credits) Project Management (3 credits) Executive Perspectives (3 credits)
    White Collar Crime and Compliance (2 credits)    



Introduction to Legal Reasoning (3 credits)
Through this course, non-lawyers will gain a better understanding of the ways that attorneys are trained to navigate complex situations. Careful reading and analysis of case law and statutes will prepare students to address the ambiguity of many scenarios that arise in compliance work, emphasizing the importance of critical thinking and argument. The course will also introduce students to the common law method by which doctrine is created; the importance and authority of statutes, codes, and regulations; and the structure of the U.S. legal system and its various actors and venues. The U.S. doctrines of contract and tort liability will form the substantive underpinning for the course, both because a knowledge of these areas is foundational for many later law courses and also because professionals working in the compliance field encounter these areas of law.

The Effective Ethics and Compliance Professional (3 credits)
Many of the skills necessary for effective ethics and compliance leadership involve competencies that are not obvious but yet can be learned: thinking critically, identifying and navigating around nuances within one’s organization, clearly and concisely communicating to all levels of the organization in many different scenarios, and knowing and understanding how to document and apply the foundational ethics and compliance elements from the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines to various industries and business models in line with best and ethical practices. Being proficient at these skills allows a compliance and ethics professional to create a program strategy that plugs into business strategy to prove the value proposition of an effective ethics and compliance program. This course will help students fine tune these nuanced skill sets to become self-aware, persuasive and trustworthy leaders who are able to create and achieve strategic program objectives that tie into the business needs of the organization.


Compliance Programming: Design, Operation and Performance (3 credits)
Compliance and ethics management is a complex management process that requires program design that supports management’s objectives, coordinated activities to be operated across functions and geographies, and performance measurement to reasonably assure effectiveness and a return on management’s investment. This course will engage participants’ personal knowledge and experience – in dialogue with instructors and guests from industry with law and business backgrounds – to explore the following themes: program design frameworks and key elements (including risk identification and assessment, communication and training, investigations and discipline, reporting and disclosure, auditing and monitoring, and remediation), leading practices relating to these program elements, and how to measure effectiveness (from the perspectives of both ethics and economics). The course will also use case method and other practical examples to explore the familiar distinction between compliance-based and integrity-based programs as a link to the course, “Ethical Culture.”

Risk Management (3 credits)
The recent economic crisis, along with a range of other looming challenges (climate change, unrest in the Middle East, health and food security concerns, demographic changes and social mobility), have presented global organizations with a daunting array of risks. Broadly, this situation presents organizations with the challenge of developing more comprehensive approaches to the management of risk. Key subjects of investigation in MGMT 751 will include: 1. Engaging Boards and Executive Management in order to get risk management onto their agendas. 2. Translating risk policy into risk management systems and structures. 3. Knitting together the existing technical specialist infrastructure. 4. Developing sufficient risk management competence among the entire organization. 5. Communicating relevant risk information to external stakeholders.


International Anti-Corruption Law  (2 credits)
This course focuses on international anti-corruption law, practice, and compliance. The course will review the history and substance of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the theoretical and political reasons for anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA, the interpretation of the FCPA by the courts and agencies that enforce it (the U.S. DOJ and SEC), the FCPA’s impact and influence on businesses, anticorruption compliance programs and investigation best practices, the proliferation of anticorruption laws and enforcement around the world, and arguments around FCPA reform.

Investigations (2 credits)
Conducting and supervising investigations have become growing responsibilities of many types of attorneys. The purpose of this joint course is to engage in a practical focus on the development of knowledge-based skills and practices that will benefit future lawyers in the acquisition and analysis of relevant facts to address and solve legal issues and problems. This experiential course will provide an opportunity for students to learn about criminal, civil, and internal investigations from a practical, hands-on perspective. Through individual and group exercises, each student will play multiple roles of government lawyer, criminal defense attorney, outside counsel, and in-house counsel.

White Collar Crime and Compliance (2 credits)
This course will expose each student to key types of white collar offenses within the context of a focus on ethics and compliance, all through learning how to investigate, prosecute, and defend white collar cases, as well as how to prevent or minimize such cases in any organization. Topics may include conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, bribery and computer and internet fraud, and money laundering. Guest speakers will participate on a regular basis. A critical component of the course will be experiential learning.


Ethical Culture (3 credits)
Cultures of economic competitiveness and legal compliance are necessary but not sufficient for corporate responsibility. This course will examine the elements of ethical decision-making and ethical corporate cultures from the perspective of an organization’s leadership. The premise of the course is that leaders are the architects of corporate culture – and that the moral agenda of leaders includes three practical imperatives: elucidating, institutionalizing and sustaining ethical values. The first two imperatives (elucidating and institutionalizing) involve placing moral considerations in a position of salience and authority alongside considerations of competitive strategy and compliance in the organization’s mindset. The third imperative (sustaining) has to do with passing on the spirit of this effort in two directions: to future leaders of the organization and to the wider network of organizations and institutions that make up the social system as a whole. The case method will be used to introduce frameworks for making reasoned, thoughtful ethical decisions and to diagnose both positive and negative cultural leadership. Students will learn to recognize and resolve ethical issues and identify practical ways (1) to enhance sound ethical cultures and (2) to remediate weak ethical cultures.

Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age (3 credits)
Built on a legal ethics framework, this course explains in understandable terms the real-time threats of hacking, the ever-present concerns about the security of client and personal data, and the growing amount of unlawful activity on the Dark Web. Students will analyze privacy and ethical considerations of data protection and data protection in light of fast-changing legal frameworks. The course will also explore the discovery and admissibility of electronically stored information (ESI) in the modern courtroom. The course focuses both on current practical skills and knowledge and also underlying core principles and concerns that will impact future considerations and changes in this realm.


Executive Perspectives on Ethics and Compliance (3 credits)
This course will provide students with an opportunity to learn about compliance from the perspective of executives and leaders in the industry. Practicing compliance executives will discuss goals, strategies, activities and challenges associated with their business. Students will have an opportunity to relate the philosophies and techniques developed in the MSL/LLM Compliance program to those presented. Through candid and in-depth conversations with participating executives, students will learn about compliance from a leadership perspective relevant to today’s complex business environment.

Project Management (3 credits)
The field of project management is young and constantly changing. Companies seek to reduce development cycles while increasing the technological complexity of their products. Corporate downsizing has increased the average workload and reduced the resources available for project development. Sound familiar? This course will discuss the fundamental basis for scheduling and project scope difficulties, and provide tools for creating practical solutions. We will become more aware of why we encounter similar pitfalls with each new project. Discover that you are not alone in encountering a chaotic project life-cycle, the complexity people bring, and the reasons why our organizations are continuing to become more chaotic. This course will examine the new phase development of project management. We will use numerous disciplines to create a more dynamic and flexible project management methodology. These disciplines include Industrial Behavior, Psychology, Human Behavior, Chaos and Complexity, Organizational Behavior, and Systems Theory to name a few. As project managers, we face impossible schedules, unrealistic specifications, and limited budgets. As leaders we face personnel issues, motivation requirements and organizational issues. This course will provide insight and practical examples of the areas of knowledge needed to practice effective project management in today's dynamic work environment.


Tuition for the online M.S.L. program is $7995 per term. Students also will be assessed a technology fee of $120 per term and a graduate health fee of $60 per term. There may also be costs associated with textbooks, copyright fees and commencement fees.


St. Thomas offers a guaranteed discount rate (GDR) to all qualified and accepted applicants in its organizational ethics and compliance program. In other words, you will automatically qualify for the GDR if you are admitted into the program. For more detailed information on the GDR, contact Colleen Dorsey, director of organizational ethics and compliance programs, at colleen.dorsey@stthomas.edu or (651) 962-4864.


As a student in our Organizational Ethics and Compliance program, you will have the option of applying for student loans. To be eligible for financial aid, you must be registered for a minimum of 3 credits per term. More information is available from Graduate Financial Aid.

Our Admissions Committee thoroughly reviews every application to understand the strengths, skills and unique potential of each prospective student. All information you submit is considered, and we encourage you to be thorough and straight forward. We want to make sure that the University of St. Thomas School of Law is a good fit for you, and that you are a good fit for the School of Law.


You must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher degree to be eligible for admission. Standardized test scores are not required for admission, but you are invited to submit GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT scores to supplement the admissions materials.


A completed application for this program includes:

  • an application form,
  • official academic transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended,
  • two letters of recommendation (no more than four),
  • a written response to essay questions posed on the application form, and
  • your resume or CV.


Feb. 1: Application available. St. Thomas operates on a rolling admissions basis
July 1: FAFSA priority filing date
July 15: Application deadline
Aug. 22-25: Orientation week
Aug. 29: Classes begin


1. Complete the online application.

Includes: essays, resume or CV, and any necessary addendums

2. Ask at least two people to submit their recommendations to the Office of Admissions. Use the Letter of Recommendation Form LLM/MSL form provided.

3. Arrange to have official academic transcripts, from all universities attended, sent directly to the Office of Admissions.

Mailing address and contact info:
University of St. Thomas School of Law
Office of Admissions
1000 LaSalle Avenue
MSL 124
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015

(651) 962-4895 or (800) 328-6819 (Ext. 2-4895)

e-mail: lawschool@stthomas.edu


English Proficiency: All international applicants and non-native speakers of English must meet one of the English proficiency requirements listed below before qualifying for an I-20/DS-2019 or being allowed to register for classes. Score reports can be no more than two years old.

  • TOEFL iBT overall score of 80 (school code: 6110)
  • IELTS (Academic) overall score of 6.5
  • Dulingo English Test overall score of 105
  • Pearson PTE Academic overall score of 53 or higher.
  • ELS level 112. (Only available in the following programs: Education, Engineering, Theology, Software, Law, Social Work)
  • Completion of an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited college or university in the US, English-speaking Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.

Candidates who do not meet the English Proficiency requirements but can offer other strong evidence of English proficiency may qualify for admission. Often candidates who have educational or professional experience in the English language can submit alternative documentation to demonstrate strong evidence of English proficiency. The Admissions Committee will thoroughly review your application to understand your unique strengths, skills and potential. Detailed English proficiency requirements can be found here.
International Transcripts:  If your undergraduate work was done outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada, then the University of St. Thomas School of Law requires that your foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a transcript evaluation service that is a current member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). Two recommended services are WES and ECE.


Because many of our courses directly cover compliance, ethics, risk, corporate governance, internal controls and other relevant topics, they can be submitted to count toward live training and/or continuing professional education requirements. This includes certifications offered by:

  • SCCE/CCB including the following trademarked certifications: CCEP, CCEP-I, CCEP-F, CHC, CHC-F, CHRC, and CHPC;
  • CPE credits related to the Certified Internal Auditor certifications offered by The Institute of Internal Auditors;
  • CE credits required for any of the certifications offered by the American Bankers Association; and
  • CPE’s required by The American Anti-Corruption Institute for its Certified Anti-Corruption Manager professional qualification

If your certifying body is not listed, but you would like to explore whether courses in our program would count as continuing professional education in your chosen focus area, please contact Colleen Dorsey at colleen.dorsey@stthomas.edu or 651-952-4864.

Organizational Ethics and Compliance  Compliance Officer Ranked #17