Explore Graduate Programs in the American Legal System

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  • Academics

    Whatever your goals, we can help you achieve them.

    At MSU Law, the skills you will learn are just as important as the courses you will take.

    • Critical thinking
    • Common law research and writing
    • Applying business concepts to legal practice
    • Oral advocacy
    • Dispute resolution
    • Negotiation
    • International Civil Litigation

    The global legal job market is competitive. Employers want practice-ready professionals. Our graduates are ready to lead the modern legal marketplace. There is no other place like MSU Law to learn how to be a lawyer in a technology-driven global marketplace.

    We offer innovative courses for law students to develop new ways of delivering legal services, training in skills like entrepreneurial lawyering, electronic discovery, and lawyer ethics and regulation in a technology-driven world. We combine disciplines such as informatics, statistics, business, machine learning, programming, and design to better understand and analyze the law. Our students are prepared not only to be good lawyers but to be good businesspeople.

    LL.M. and M.J. candidates are required to successfully complete a total of 24 credits during their studies in the United States and will take J.D. classes with American students.


    This highly customizable program will allow you to meet your professional goals.  You will have access to approximately 140 specialized electives offered to current MSU Law students and you will be guided by an advisor and by faculty focused on your area(s) of interest to make sure your program brings you the most benefit possible.

    Required courses include:

    One of the following courses:
    LAW 530D: Research, Writing, and Analysis (2 cr.)
    LAW 530E: Research, Writing, and Analysis: Intellectual Property Perspective (2 cr.)
    LAW 530N: Research, Writing, and Analysis: Criminal Law Perspective (2 cr.)
    LAW 530Q: Research, Writing, and Analysis: Social Justice Perspectives (2 cr.)

    Two of the following courses:
    LAW 500F: Criminal Law (3 cr.)
    LAW 500G: Property (4 cr.)
    LAW 500R: Torts I (4 cr.)
    LAW 530B: Contracts (4 cr.)
    LAW 500M: Business Enterprises (3 or 4 cr.)
    LAW 500N: Constitutional Law II (4 cr.)
    LAW 532: Administrative Law (2 or 3 cr.)

    Each student will design their curriculum based on their professional needs and interests and will select elective courses to total to the program required 24 credits. We’ve provided a few examples of tracks to provide inspiration for your course selections, but we encourage you to review the Course Descriptions for yourself to explore your options.

    Real Estate Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Property (4)
    Contracts (4)
    Potential Electives Mortgages
    Sales and Leases
    Basic Income Tax
    Corporate Income Tax
    Land Use Planning


    Business Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Business Enterprises (3) or (4)
    Contracts (4)
    Potential Electives Advanced Corporate Law
    Antitrust Law
    Corporate Finance
    Mergers and Acquisitions
    Securities Regulation I
    Product Liability


    Human Resources Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Business Enterprises (3) or (4)
    Contracts (4)
    Potential Electives Labor Law
    ADR in the Workplace
    Contract Drafting
    Labor Arbitration


    Legislative and Policy Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Administrative Law (3)
    Constitutional Law (4)
    Potential Electives Communications Law and Policy
    Government Relations and Lobbying Law
    State and Local Government Law
    State and Local taxation
    Civil Mediation
    Classes Related to any Policies of Interest


    Environmental/Natural Resources Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Administrative Law (3)
    Property (4)
    Potential Electives Wildlife Law
    Animal Law
    Natural Resources Law
    Agriculture Law
    Energy Law
    Environmental Law
    Biotechnology Seminar
    Regulating Environmental Risk


    Criminal Justice Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Criminal Law (3)
    Property (4)
    Potential Electives Criminal Procedure: Investigations
    Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
    Juvenile Law
    Trial Practice Institute - Forensic Science
    Criminal Trial Advocacy I
    Criminal Trial Advocacy II
    Applied Evidence


    Communications/Entertainment Focus
    Required Courses RWA (2)
    Contracts (4)
    Property (4) or Administrative Law (3)
    Potential Electives Entertainment Law
    Sports Law
    IP Survey
    Employment Law
    Communications Law and Policy
    Trade Secret Law
    Licensing Intellectual Property

    If I had studied law just in China, I would have missed the opportunity to learn to communicate with Americans. I see myself as one who will solve problems in this gap – a translator of culture and culture-based thinking.

    Sophia Feng, Head (China) and Chief Representative (China) for the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in Shanghai, China, LL.M. ’13.

    Individualized Academic Support

    Supporting students is a vital part of the work of the Office of Graduate and International Programs. Graduate students receive extensive preparation for their studies during the required orientation at the beginning of every semester and online, and have ready access to a variety of support services during their time at MSU Law.

    Teaching assistants, Academic Success Program staff, and others work closely with our graduate students to help ensure that they understand foundational concepts that are needed for academic and career success. Staff members are available to assist students with exam preparation, writing assignments, and other projects. Students also receive one-on-one assistance from academic and career advisors from the beginning of the application process until – and even beyond – graduation.

    Our Faculty

    Graduate students who come to MSU Law find knowledgeable and caring mentors on our faculty.  At MSU Law, faculty make it a point to have “open doors” to their students for questions, discussion, mentorship, and more. Students are our top priority.

    My professors at MSU Law were definitely a bunch of legal geniuses whose combined academic expertise and practical experiences skillfully transform theories and principles into working tools needed by law students not only in passing the bar exams but in preparing them to become competent practitioners in any legal field.

    Hon. Marlon Moneva, LL.M. ’12 (Philippines)

    Here’s just a sampling of our amazing faculty, committed to helping you achieve your goals.

    Nicholas Wittner

    Michael A. Lawrence

    Daphne O’Regan

    Hon. Rosemarie Aquilina

    Mary A. Bedikian

    Daniel D. Barnhizer

    Review all of our faculty profiles »

  • The MSU Law Experience

    Student Life

    MSU Law is a second home to students from all over the world, and these students come together as a family while they are away from their own loved ones. Celebrating national and religious holidays together and educating one another about customs, beliefs, and traditions from their countries, our international students join with their American classmates to recognize important dates on the U.S. holiday calendar as well.

    The Office of Graduate and International Programs, the MSU Law Office of Diversity Services, and numerous student groups present frequent educational, cultural and social gatherings throughout the year.

    Our international students also make the most of their experience by spending time with American J.D. and law graduate students both inside and outside of class, including through activities spearheaded by a student group focused on bringing international and American students together at the Law College.

    Law students join international students from other MSU departments to celebrate holidays, host events and otherwise interact with the larger MSU international and student community. While MSU Law has more than 50 student groups, MSU has more than 250. MSU Law international students may join any Law College student group or any MSU graduate or other student group, making the possibilities for making friends and professional connections endless.

    The MSU Campus

    The MSU College of Law is a small law college on the campus of a major research university. With fewer than 1,000 students, MSU Law students truly have the best of both worlds: an intimate, personal law college environment within one building, and the enormous campus and college town in which the Law College makes its home.

    Michigan State University is a world-class educational institution with more than 43,000 students. The university is located in East Lansing, Michigan, itself a community of 50,000 people. MSU is just miles from neighboring Lansing, the state capital, and only a short drive from Chicago, Detroit, and the scenic shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

    Learn more about the MSU campus.

    Life in East Lansing

    East Lansing is a mix of small-town charm and cosmopolitan diversity and sophistication. With nightlife, shopping, and excellent dining all within walking distance, the world is at the doorstep of MSU College of Law.

    Michigan State University is home to more than 4,000 international students from more than 125 countries. Student groups representing most cultures of the world can be found on campus and all welcome new members. A variety of religious and cultural institutions are within a short walk of MSU Law.

    Students living alone and looking for a convenient location may live right across the street from the Law College in Owen Hall, a graduate student facility with one-bedroom units and an excellent cafeteria featuring foods from all over the world. Those who wish to bring their families to East Lansing or who prefer to live off-campus will find university apartments located just a short distance from MSU Law, and many other comfortable and affordable options.

  • Careers

    Our Alumni

    MSU Law grads are in demand. We offer intellectually stimulating work with an impressive return on investment. Our graduates find positions in firms, companies, government agencies, courts, universities, international organizations, and multiple other employers around the world. Here’s just a sampling:

    • Agencia Nacional de Mineria, Colombia
    • Çektir & Başarı, Turkey
    • Council for American-Islamic Relations
    • Court of Appeals, State of Indiana, United States
    • Faculty of Law, Ishik University, Kurdistan, Iraq
    • Freundenberg Corporation, Germany/United States
    • Georgian-American Alloys Management, Tbilisi, Georgia
    • Gjensidige Corporation, Norway
    • Gulf National Bank, Saudi Arabia
    • Jeong Se Law Firm, South Korea
    • Jinko Solar Company, China
    • Magneti Marelli, LLC, Italy/United States
    • Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Indonesia
    • P.T. Indonesia Asahan Aluminum, Indonesia
    • Philippine Judiciary, Philippines
    • Robert Bosch, LLC, Germany/United States
    • Rolim, Viotti & Leite Campos Advogados, Brazil
    • Saudi Arabian Food and Drug Authority, Saudi Arabia
    • Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore
    • Sun Yat-Sen University, China
    • Tark Grunte Sutkiene and Baltic Legal Solutions, Lithuania
    • TECOM, United Arab Emirates
    • United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Rwanda
    • Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
    • University of Bialystok, Poland
    • Van Campen Liem, Luxembourg
    • White & Case, LLP, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
    • William Booth University, Democratic Republic of Congo

    Professional Development

    Your dream job will be out there. Take charge of finding it.

    Professional development is more than just resume-building and networking. It’s about learning appropriate etiquette, developing networking know-how, meeting the right people in the industry, and understanding what skills you need to get the right job or the best practical experience.

    MSU College of Law students receive one-on-one career advising, mentoring and lessons in the practical, “real life” skills needed to succeed beyond the classroom. Professional development opportunities include the following:

    • International and graduate student lunches
    • Access to the CASE job postings database
    • Social media training
    • Resume-writing workshops
    • Personal career advising with Career Services Office staff
    • Mentoring from alumni and professors
    • Networking opportunities
    • Access to career fairs
    • Annual etiquette dinner

    Learn more about MSU Law Career Services »

    Taking a Bar Examination

    Graduates of the MSU Law LL.M. in the American Legal System may be eligible to take a bar examination in select U.S. jurisdictions, depending on their prior legal education and the coursework they take while at MSU Law. Students who enroll in the LL.M. in Intellectual Property, Information & Communications Law will not be eligible to take a bar examination in the United States unless otherwise qualified.

    Given the difficulty of the examination, and the fact that J.D. students take three years of coursework in American law in preparation for the bar as compared to one year of LL.M. coursework, MSU Law strongly encourages international lawyers who hope to take a bar examination in the United States to apply for the Advanced Standing J.D. program (link) rather than the LL.M. program.

    The rules and regulations relative to admission to the practice of law vary from state to state. For the specific requirements, reference should be made to the statutes, rules of court, and the Board of Bar Examiners in the particular state in which the student intends to seek admission. In general, a written examination conducted by a state agency is a prerequisite to admission.

    The National Conference of Bar Examiners is a great resource for Bar Exam information and testing resources beyond commercial providers. Their website is: http://www.ncbex.org/

  • Paying for Your Degree

    Figuring out how to pay for your degree can be overwhelming and we are here to help every step of the way.  Students are expected to provide their own funding to cover their tuition, living and travel expenses. Students are encouraged to secure funding early in the application process so that they can meet visa processing, federal financial aid, and other admissions deadlines.

    Tuition and Living Expenses

    East Lansing is significantly more affordable than many urban areas and has excellent public transportation so that a car is not needed for local travel.

    Estimated expenses vary by program depending on the number of credits required, the length of time needed to complete the program, and other factors.

    Law College Scholarships

    The Law College awards a limited number of scholarships each year to qualified applicants. No special application is necessary.  The Law College has limited scholarship awards because tuition recently was decreased to help students better manage their tuition costs.

    Foreign Government-Sponsored Education Programs

    Many foreign governments will sponsor tuition and living expenses (some partially and some completely) for their citizens to study in the United States. Often, awards are made through competitive scholarship programs. Students should inquire with their countries’ ministries of education, or connect with the EducationUSA office at the local U.S. embassy or consulate, which can assist in helping find funding sources. EducationUSA can also assist students interested in Fulbright or other U.S.-government sponsored fellowship and scholarship programs.

    Private Loans for International Students

    Students who do not qualify for federal aid may need to consider a private loan. Although the Office of Financial Aid does not recommend any particular lender students are encouraged to speak with John Garcia, Financial Aid Director if they decide to pursue a private loan. Generally, a non-citizen would need a stateside co-signer for the loan; the co-signer will be responsible for repaying the loan if the student does not do so. Some additional information can be found at http://www.law.msu.edu/finaid/intl_students.html

    Federal Financial Aid for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

    The cost of a quality education is not insignificant; most students need to look beyond their own resources for assistance. The Office of Financial Aid at Michigan State University College of Law is committed to making sure you have resources that will allow you to enroll and that you receive your aid in a timely and efficient manner.  A full description of the MSU Law Financial Aid Office’s resources and information can be found at http://www.law.msu.edu/finaid/aid-preparation.html. Links to the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and the federal aid process are also found here.

    Enrollment Requirements

    Federal aid, and sometimes private loans, require students to be enrolled at least half-time. The number of credits required in a semester to be considered half-time vary by program. You can review enrollment information and contact the Office of Financial Aid with any concerns.

    Tuition Reimbursement Benefits through your Employer

    It is not uncommon for employers to offer financial assistance for employees’ education. Some offer tuition reimbursement, educational fellowships or scholarships. Consider asking your employer to invest in your education. Be sure to prepare well ahead of time by researching the program you wish to pursue, making a list of ways your company will benefit from your education and address concerns your employer may have.

    Student Visa Funding Requirements

    To qualify for an I-20, you must prove that you have the funding to cover the cost of attendance for EVERY YEAR of your program of study. To fulfill this funding requirement, you must prove that you have the funding immediately available to pay for your first year of study AND the ability to fund additional years in the program, as necessary to graduate. This can be proven through sponsor proof of current or projected income or through a work or government funding guarantee.  If you are self-funded, you will have to prove that you have the entire Projected Program Total immediately available because it is assumed that you will have no income while you are attending MSU College of Law.

    Students in the J.D. program must take at least 12 credits per semester to be in status for SEVIS purposes, while graduate (LL.M. and M.J.) students must take at least 6.

    Learn more about the visa process »