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A Master’s Degree for the Modern Professional

A current MSL student at McGeorge, Nancy Beecher, explained how a Master’s degree can be instrumental to success as a modern professional — and provided some excellent tips for anyone considering enrolling in the program. 

Nancy, a Senior Environmental Biologist at the Southern Nevada Water Authority with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, highlights the diverse and enriching experience of the Master of Legal Studies (MSL) program. At 53 years old and with a career already established, Nancy sought the program as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

A Program for Personal and Professional Growth

In her current role, Nancy finds the MSL program incredibly beneficial, providing a new perspective on legal aspects related to environmental issues and water management. Key courses like Introduction to American Law and Privacy Law and Management have equipped her with a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape in her field.

The MSL program has empowered Nancy with tools and insights to navigate legal complexities in her field, contributing to her professional growth and enhancing her ability to address legal aspects in environmental biology effectively. “I was just looking for something where I could grow and develop and contribute in a different way and explore new opportunities. It’s quite a diverse program.”

Gain a Holistic Understanding of the Legal Field

Noticing a disconnect between biologists and legal professionals, Nancy looked for a program that would allow her to bridge these gaps and communicate effectively across disciplines.  McGeorge was a perfect fit.


Nancy emphasizes the practical expertise of McGeorge’s professors, who bring real-life experiences as attorneys, legislators, and judges into the classroom. This practical approach, combined with theoretical education, has made the MSL program uniquely valuable for Nancy, providing her with a holistic understanding of the legal field and its real-world applications. “I’m at the end of my second year, and I have grown so much by being part of the program, and I apply what I learned at work on a daily basis.”

Modern Professional

Flexibility Comes First

Nancy appreciates the program’s online capabilities and asynchronous course structure. The flexibility of the online program is paramount,” she says. “I couldn’t do it without it.” There are still plenty of coursework options allowing her to choose areas directly relevant to her interests, such as environmental law and regulations. This customization enables her to apply specific knowledge immediately in her professional responsibilities. 

The number of credits taken per semester is also up to the individual. Some students, with lighter workloads or without family commitments, might opt for taking 3 classes a semester. She chose to take 2 or 3 per semester to fit with her full-time job and family commitments. 

Real-World Career Applications

Thanks to the MSL, Nancy now incorporates a broader perspective gained from the program to her current career. The curriculum has provided her with a real-life education and better collaboration skills. “I’m getting to use what I’ve learned from school and apply it in my job and make a difference. And that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take that first step.”

Nancy offers valuable advice for students considering taking their first step forward:

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of the Program: If the program aligns with your interests and career goals, Nancy encourages you to pursue it without hesitation. 
  2. Be Smart About Time Management: Consider how the program will impact your personal and professional life. Reflect on how you will manage your time effectively to balance your academic endeavors with other commitments.
  3. Financial ConsiderationsTuition is an important factor to consider. Investigate scholarship opportunities, such as internal and external scholarships, and inquire about tuition reimbursement if your job provides such benefits. Be proactive in seeking financial assistance to support your education.
  4. Reach Out and Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to reach out to program coordinators, faculty, and staff for information and guidance. Nancy emphasizes that the program’s coordinators and professors are approachable and responsive, ready to answer any questions and provide assistance.
  5. Take Advantage of Resources: Once in the program, make the most of the available resources. Utilize professors’ office hours, engage in discussions with classmates, and explore opportunities to connect with peers. Building relationships within the program can enhance your overall experience.
  6. Don’t Be Shy: Actively engage with the program, your professors, and fellow students. Ask questions, seek clarification, and participate in discussions. Being proactive and involved contributes to a richer learning experience.
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