Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree program.
Ethics and compliance professionals, also called compliance and ethics officers, work within large for-profit and not-for profit organizations—particularly firms in heavily regulated industries to help ensure that those entities are complying with complex regulations and that compliance is documented.
Ethics and compliance professionals are responsible for a wide array of tasks within an organization, including:
- comparing organizational practices to regulatory requirements;
- assessing risk and developing risk-management strategies;
- creating codes of conduct, policies, and procedures;
- detecting potential misconduct;
- running whistleblower programs;
- conducting internal investigations and audits;
- working with examiners and other regulatory officials;
- conducting trainings; and
- authoring employee manuals.
Ethics and compliance has been labeled as one of the fastest-growing employment fields in the U.S. economy, with the number of positions growing 27 percent over the last 10 years. For example, in 2014 the Health Care Compliance Association reported 8% growth in the number of health care compliance positions staffed. Aside from health care, the biggest industries for ethics and compliance staff are insurance, financial services, higher education, and pharmaceuticals/medical devices. State, local, and federal governments and energy companies are also major ethics and compliance employers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual wage in 2016 for compliance officers was $66,540.
The MSL degree is designed to be completed in 2 semesters. However, in an effort to accommodate a variety of students and schedules, we offer a part-time option that allows students to complete the program in 3-6 semesters.
Currently, all course are taught at the law school in Boulder. Courses are offered Monday-Friday. While we do not have an evening program, we make every effort to schedule MSL-required courses in the afternoon and in blocks to limit the days and hours that part-time students are required to come to campus.
The MSL program is designed to prepare students to become ethics and compliance professionals, but may also help students decide to pursue a three year JD degree later and become attorneys. Unfortunately, the American Bar Association does not allow MSL credits to be counted toward a Juris Doctor. However, taking a year of law school courses will provide excellent preparation for those MSL students who later decide to pursue a three year JD degree.
Students in the MSL program pay their tuition on a per credit basis. Specific information about tuition and related fees can be found here.
At this time there are no scholarships for this program. Students are eligible for financial aid.
Admission and Eligibility
Your letters should be written by people who have had an opportunity to observe your performance and skills in either an academic or professional setting. If you have recently completed a degree, at least one letter should be written by a former professor or instructor from your undergraduate or, if applicable, graduate school. Letters written by family friends or acquaintances are less helpful to the admissions committee and should not be submitted
Yes. While we do not require our applicants to take the LSAT or other graduate school entrance exam, you are certainly welcome to submit scores from the LSAT, GMAT, GRE, MCAT, or other similar exam.
Externships provide students with an opportunity to get hands-on work in the field of ethics and compliance while also earning academic credit. Students register for an externship just as they would a class.
We are very lucky to be situated on a university campus that has a number of offices doing interesting and cutting-edge work in the ethics and compliance. We have placed students in the following campus offices:
- Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
- Office of Research Integrity
- Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
- Environmental Health and Safety Department
- Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
We have also placed students at area hospitals and credits unions.
While our program is still relatively new and therefore has relatively few graduates, several of our alums are working in exciting jobs including the following:
- Chief Compliance Officer for Heartland Family Services
- Compliance and Ethics Professional for ON Semiconductor
- Compliance officer with an international investment company
If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to any of our MSL faculty members. Our associate director of admissions, Alan Schieve, is also available to answer any questions and can be reached at Alan.Schieve@Colorado.edu.