MSL Online Program

The MSL online program is designed for STEM professionals around the world who wish to advance their careers by deepening their understanding of law and business within the STEM context. The online MSL is a part-time program, which can be completed in two to four years. Online students may begin in either the Fall or the Spring and will be required to complete a 2-week online orientation before the start of their first term.

Students in the online program receive the exact same degree as students in the residential program. The requirements and structure of the curriculum are the same, with a rich and varied selection of online electives that cover business law and entrepreneurship, intellectual property and patent design, and regulatory analysis and strategy.

The online program operates on the semester system, with each semester divided into two eight-week terms. Students can also take classes during the eight-week Summer term. Students can take up to two classes during each term. In addition, students are required to participate at least once in a one-week, on-campus “Power Week”, which occurs in the late Spring.

This unique structure allows students to experience a wide variety of classes, topics, formats, and pedagogical techniques.


View term diagram.

Our online courses incorporate a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities, including regular engagement with instructors and peers. Although the format offers some flexibility in terms of scheduling, online MSL courses are academically rigorous and will require approximately 7 hours of work each week, per class (a total of 14 hours if you are taking two classes at a time). 

Students must complete 28 credits to graduate. This equates to approximately 20 courses, of which eight are required.

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International Students: Northwestern University strives to provide access to its online degree programs to all students. While we will do our best to provide access, students must be aware that they may not be able to access course material due to technology or internet limitations. To that end, students are advised that they must meet the following technology requirements:

  • Students are required to have a laptop that meets or exceeds university requirements, with a working webcam and microphone for synchronous sessions.
  • Students are required to have access to a reliable, high-speed internet connection of at least 5 Mbps. While students can connect via Wi-Fi, we highly recommend using a wired internet connection, as faster internet connections improve the online experience.
Course materials are hosted primarily in the learning management system (Canvas), but occasionally courses may link to external content. Any costs associated with procuring access will be borne by the individual student.
In addition, it is a student’s responsibility to understand requirements related to whether an online degree will be recognized in a country other than the United States, how the collection of student data may be used in another country, and whether withholding taxes (in addition to the price of tuition) will apply. Some countries may not formally recognize foreign online degrees, which may have implications for students who later seek to enroll in other educational programs, or for those who seek employment with that country’s government or other employers requiring specific credentials.