Explore the Advanced Standing J.D. Program
Admission with Advanced Standing allows graduates of foreign law schools the chance to transfer up to 29 credits from these programs to the J.D. program at the MSU College of Law. This unique option can dramatically reduce the time and cost of getting a Juris Doctor, while allowing students the same benefits of a traditional three-year Juris Doctor.
Students admitted to the Advanced Standing J.D. program must complete all J.D. curricular requirements, but have the flexibility to customize their academic program to meet their individual career goals.
For students who wish to take a U.S. bar examination, the Advanced Standing J.D. offers stronger preparation than the one-year LL.M. degree, while adding only one additional year of study.
Evaluation of transfer credits
Given vast differences in grading systems, grading scales, program length and course requirements at law schools around the world, each individual candidate’s academic record will be examined closely to determine how many credits may transfer to the J.D. Program. Credits from LL.M. programs abroad and in the United States cannot be transferred to the J.D. program at MSU Law. The only exception is that up to 12 credits may be transferred to the J.D. from the MSU Law on-campus LL.M. programs, in certain circumstances.
While a maximum of 29 credits may be accepted toward the J.D. Program, upon evaluation by the College of Law, some students may be granted fewer transfer credits.
Upon admission, students will receive a formal Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE) detailing how many credits are accepted toward the J.D. program and what program requirements must be met for graduation at MSU Law.
Our required curriculum provides students with the building blocks for success. Our curriculum is constantly evaluated to ensure our graduates are prepared for today's legal profession. Students complete 88 credit hours to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, including any credits transferred from their foreign law school.
Students start their studies at MSU Law with a weeklong Foundations of Law course, which equips them with an understanding of the American legal system. Advanced Standing J.D. students, like traditional J.D. students, take our prescribed 1L curriculum, which gives students a solid foundation in Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Property, the Regulatory State, and Torts, along with an introduction to Contract Negotiation.
All first-year schedules include Research, Writing, & Analysis, as well as Advocacy—intensive courses that develop critical writing and oral presentation skills. Our 130+ electives enable students to shape their experiences. Upper-level students can focus on a particular area of law, earn a specialized certificate, or otherwise develop their interests.
Review more information on the J.D. curriculum » (PDF)
MSU Law faculty members are committed to helping you navigate the demands of law school and successfully transition into the legal profession. As an MSU Law student, you will have an opportunity to connect with your professors beyond the classroom. Open-door policies allow lecture hall discussions to spill over into conversations in office hours, and professors are often available for group review sessions before final exams. Professors advise student organizations, coach competition teams, work with students on cutting-edge research, and draw upon their expertise in the field to assist individual students as they consider career options.
- The MSU Law Experience
On a Saturday night in East Lansing, one is equally likely to find MSU Law international students sharing their favorite home-cooked meals from their homelands, hanging out at one of the city’s night spots, studying as a group in the Law College library, relieving stress with a game of basketball or soccer, or having a late-night snowball fight on one of MSU’s scenic, park-like stretches of nature.
MSU Law is a second home to students from all over the world, and these students come together as a family while they are all 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.
Our 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.
MSU Law international students also find that MSU’s numerous resources for international students, like host families, the English Language Center, and strong community support, make MSU feel like home.
The MSU Campus
The MSU College of Law is small, private law college on the campus of a major research university. With just 1,000 students, and less than 100 LL.M. 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 life at MSU »
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.
Your dream job is out there. Take charge of finding it.
Professional development is more than just resume-building and networking. It’s about learning appropriate etiquette, developing cultural-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. More than anything, it’s about gaining the skills you need to be ready to work successfully in the international marketplace.
Michigan State Law prepares future lawyers to practice in the real world—as litigators, corporate and transactional attorneys, business people, and public servants. The legal knowledge and practical skills that students acquire at MSU Law, together with the personalized assistance offered by our Career Services Office (CSO) staff, lead our graduates to satisfying careers. The CSO staff provides the individual guidance to pursue any legal career. We equip students with the tools needed to define, shape, and achieve their career goals.
Summer Career Jumpstart
Incoming first-year students work one-on-one with our CSO professionals to get a jumpstart on legal career planning before getting immersed in the 1L experience. In the summer before law school, participants learn how to clarify job goals, research job options, work to develop law-specific job-seeking skills, research various practice areas, and think about how their interests can translate into careers. Most importantly, incoming students start engaging with their futures in the law, and learn how the Career Services Office can support them.
Partners for Success
In the first semester of law school, the CSO team meets individually with each member of the first-year class to establish partnerships that will continue through graduation and beyond. CSO career advisors familiarize students with the legal profession, identify career opportunities, and implement action plans that will lead to success.
The CSO provides programs that introduce students to many legal career paths. The CSO hosts presentations by guest speakers who offer insights about particular practice areas, government employment, judicial clerkships, public interest careers, and the versatility of a Juris Doctor degree.
- Paying for Your Degree
Figuring out how to pay for your degree can be overwhelming. We’re here to help every step of the way.
Tuition and Living Expenses
MSU Law does not charge separate tuition rates for in-state, out-of-state and international students. This is different than other departments at MSU, as the rest of the University charges different tuition rates based on residency.
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. Click below to see the budget for your program.
While MSU Law offers a limited number of partial-tuition scholarships to qualifying candidates, 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.
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.
Federal aid, and sometimes private loans, require students to be enrolled at least half-time. Usually a student must have three credits in a semester to be considered half-time. You can review enrollment information at http://www.law.msu.edu/finaid/enrollmentchart.html 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 with 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 13 credits per semester to be in status for SEVIS purposes, while graduate (LL.M. and M.J.) students must take at least 9.