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M.S.L. Overview, Requirements & Admissons

M.S.L. Program Overview

A condensed legal education

The MSL requires 30 hours of course credit that can be taken either full-time or part-time.

  • Study the law and analyze cases, learn about the legal system and how legal principles apply to your particular areas of interest.
  • Gain a better understanding of how the law works and how to use it in your job.

One required introductory course

The only required class is a four-credit course called “Introduction to U.S. Law, Procedure and Legal Education” that is intended to provide MSL students with sufficient background in the U.S. legal system and the study of law to prepare them for upper-division law courses. The course addresses the roles and procedures of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches (including administrative agencies) in the U.S. legal system, and the interpretation of judicial decisions and statutes. This course is the proper forum for students’ basic questions about reading legal authority, the structure of the legal system, etc.

Customizable

You select the remaining 26 credit hours (approximately 9 courses) depending on your course preference, area of focus, or optional concentration in Indian Law or Natural Resources and Environmental Law.

Small classes, high-quality instruction

The MSL program is limited to 8 full-time-equivalent (full-time plus part-time) students in order to maintain the UNM Law School’s 9:1 student-faculty ratio. Classes are taught by UNM Law School faculty at the law school on UNM’s north campus. Other than in the introductory course, MSL students take law classes side-by-side with JD students.

Let's talk!

We'd be delighted to meet you and give you a tour. Email msl@law.unm.edu or call (505) 277-5723 to schedule a visit.

The on-line application goes live in mid-September each year.

M.S.L. Degree Program Requirements

To graduate from UNM with an MSL degree, a student must complete at least 30 credit hours, primarily from courses offered to second- and third-year J.D. students.

Required First-Semester Course

  • All MSL students must take the 4-credit-hour LAW 560 “Introduction to U.S. Law, Procedure and Legal Education.” This course is intended to provide MSL students with sufficient background in the U.S. legal system and the study of law to prepare them for upper-division law courses. Topics covered include the legal method, the common law system, judicial case and statutory analyses, the legal profession and core areas of the law, such as constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. This course is the proper forum for students’ basic questions about reading legal authority, the structure of the legal system, etc.

Other Courses in the First Semester and Thereafter

  • Full-time students will take upper-level law courses that are pre-approved for the MSL program (some courses are restricted to JD students), with the option to take up to 6 hours of pertinent graduate courses in other departments with prior written approval of the Program Director.
  • Part-time students are strongly encouraged to take only LAW 560 during their first semester because it lays the foundation for most upper-level law courses. Students wanting to take more than 4 credits may enroll in upper-level law courses that are pre-approved for the MSL program, and/or take up to 6 hours of graduate courses in other departments with prior written approval of the Program Director.
    • MSL students may earn an optional concentration in Indian Law or in Natural Resources and Environmental Law.
    • Besides these two concentration areas, MSL students, with prior approval, may plan their own areas of focus. These areas include, for example, Constitutional Law & Rights, Criminal Justice, Commercial and Consumer Law, and Business Practice.
    • Other UNM departments offer some graduate courses in the evening, on weekends, on-line, and during the summer.

M.S.L. Admission Requirements

 IMPORTANT PROGRAM UPDATE:

During the 2017-18 academic year, MSL students will pay the lower graduate program tuition rate rather than the previously announced law school rate (which includes differential tuition). The MSL degree proposal that the UNM Board of Regents approved at the April 10, 2015 budget summit included financial projections that used the law school rate, but at the May 24, 2017 budget summit the motion to approve differential tuition for the MSL program failed on a tie vote of 2 to 2. It is unknown at present whether differential tuition will apply to subsequent years of the MSL program. If you have questions about our current or future tuition rates, please contact Daniel Ortega, Program Director, at (505) 277-5723.

Requirements & Deadlines

Applicants are admitted to the MSL program based on their ability to thrive in a demanding, competitive academic atmosphere, as evidenced by their academic record and professional accomplishments. The program accepts applications from individuals with baccalaureate degrees. Beginning MSL students will be admitted to start in the fall semester only.

Application Timeline

September 15Application becomes available through the LSAC
November through AprilApplications reviewed by Admissions Committee
March 1Application priority deadlineWe still encourage you to apply after the priority deadline because we review on a rolling basis and continue to accept applications until all spaces in the entering class are filled.
May 1Applicants who meet the March 1 deadline will be notified of their admissions decision no later than May 1.
July 1Transfer and visiting application deadline

Beginning late in the fall semester, the Admissions Office will assign completed applications to the Admissions Committee for review on a weekly basis. Once an application is complete it may take between three to four weeks for a decision and during peak times may take between six to eight weeks for a decision. All completed files submitted by the priority deadline will receive a decision no later than May 1. Applications will be postmarked on the day they are electronically submitted. No file is reviewed until it is completed.

*A substantial preference is given to those applications received by the March 1 deadline.

Application checklist:

  1. Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education in the U.S. or its equivalent in another country
  2. Official transcript from each institution of higher education attended in the U.S. or abroad (with certified English translation, if applicable) demonstrating a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 (B) or its equivalent in (a) the last two undergraduate years and in the major field or (b) in a graduate-level degree program.
  3. Application for admission and nonrefundable $50 application fee (https://os.lsac.org/Release/Logon/Access.aspx)
  4. Personal Statement, which allows the Admissions Committee to get to know you beyond your academic record while demonstrating your ability to communicate effectively and concisely in writing. Each statement is unique and should address at least the following points:
    • Your reasons for needing or wanting an MSL degree,
    • How you expect to apply legal education to your current or future job, and
    • Why you wish to study law at the University of New Mexico.
    Other topics you may want to cover include family background, obstacles you have overcome, and/or educational, volunteer, and/or work experiences. Personal statements typically range between two to three double-spaced pages.
  5. Current résumé that complements and supports the other sections of the application. Include your educational background (honors, scholarships, extracurricular activities, etc.) work history, military service, public/community/volunteer service, publications, foreign language proficiencies, and any other significant achievements and involvement.
  6. At least two letters of recommendation are required; however, up to two additional letters will be accepted. Overall, a recommendation letter should be from a person in a position to make a critical and informed appraisal of your qualifications from an academic and/or professional perspective.
    • An academic letter should be from a professor who has personal knowledge of your academic work, preferably in a small class or seminar.
    • A professional letter should be from an employer or business associate who has personal knowledge of your work performance. Recommendations can also come from professionals in mentor or supervisory roles in your community and/or volunteer experience.
    Letters of recommendation must have been written within one year of the date of application. Recommendations that are more than one year old as of the date of application will not be accepted. Recommendations from family members or personal acquaintances are strongly discouraged

You may submit any supplemental academic, experiential, and reference materials to your application for consideration by the Admissions Committee. Neither the LSAT nor the GRE is required, but if you have taken these exams you may submit those scores and/or your GMAT, MCAT, SAT, and ACT scores, as applicable.

An interview may be required if deemed necessary by the Admissions Committee.

Application Details

Completed application form

MSL applicants are required to apply through the Law School Admission Council's (LSAC) online application service. It’s easy to set up your account and begin the application process.

The LSAC online application is designed for Juris Doctor applicants, so be sure to follow these specific instructions for use of this online application by MSL applicants:

  1. After setting up your account, go to the “account type” dropdown list and select “Future JD Student” (see next instruction).
  2. Application question 1: Select “MSL” from the dropdown list.
  3. Application question 6: Ignore the LSAT field. Ignore the TOEFL field unless you have taken the Test of English as a Foreign Language and need to report your score.
  4. Application question 10: Not applicable
  5. Application question 11: Not applicable

Once an application is submitted to UNM, no additional materials can be processed online except for any transcript additions to the Credential Assembly Services (CAS) file.

Nonrefundable $50 application fee

Applicants can pay with a credit card through their LSAC account. If paying by check or money order, the application fee must be sent directly to UNM School of Law.

Applicants granted a LSAC fee waiver will have their fee automatically waived. See LSAC for more information on its fee waiver. If not eligible for an LSAC waiver, applicants can request a need-based waiver through the UNM School of Law.

UNM School of Law grants fee waivers to active-duty military, veterans, AmeriCorps volunteers, Peace Corps volunteers, and Teach for America Corps members. To request a fee waiver as a current or former military member or a Corps member, please email the Office of Admissions to request a waiver. Proof of service is required.

Credential Assembly Services (CAS) Report

A completed CAS Report includes the following materials: Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, and your letters of recommendation. To register with LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS), please see the LSAC website for more information.

Official College/University Transcripts

You must have a separate transcript sent to LSAC directly from each undergraduate and graduate institution you attended prior to applying to the MSL program. Only official, sealed transcripts issued directly from your prior institution(s) to LSAC will be accepted.

Heritage Statement

A Heritage Statement is requested from applicants who select “American Indian/Alaska Native” as a category of ethnicity on their application, but have not identified a tribal affiliation and tribal citizenship information in the demographics portion of the application. A heritage statement should describe the applicant’s connection to his/her Native American heritage and is typically one to two pages in length.

Questions?

For questions about the accreditation of your college or university, please contact the UNM Admissions Office at (505) 277-8900.

For questions about the online application, please contact the UNM School of Law Admissions Office at (505) 277-0958 or Law School Admission Council Technical Support at (215) 968-1393. For LSAC FAQ’s see https://www.lsac.org/jd/help/faqs-eapps.

Re-applicants

Individuals who previously applied to the MSL program, but did not attend (whether accepted or denied) must reapply. A re-applicant who has applied in the last year must submit through the LSAC:

  • A new online application
  • A nonrefundable $50 application fee
  • A new personal statement
  • An updated résumé
  • A new CAS report, including:
    • Official college/university transcripts from all prior institutions
    • Two letters of recommendation

Individualized Dual Degree Candidates

Students must satisfy the admission and other academic requirements of both the MSL program and the graduate program. Separate applications must be made to each program. For more information see “Can I combine the Master of Studies in Law with master’s or doctoral studies in another field?” in the “Academic and General” section of the MSL FAQ’s page.

International Applicants

In addition to the standard application requirements listed above, international applicants must satisfy the following requirements in order to be eligible for admission to the MSL program.

  • Have earned a degree that is equivalent to the United States bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Academic records will need to be evaluated by a credentialing service. All foreign transcripts sent to the LSAC will be processed through the JD Credential Service (JD CAS), an extension of the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). There is no additional fee for the JD CAS; it is included in the standard fee.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English. If English is not your first language or if English is not the official language spoken in your country, you must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 600 on the paper-based test, 250 on the computer-based test, or 100 on the internet-based test. Please see TOEFL for more information.
  • All international applicants will be required to submit documentation verifying adequate funding to meet study and living expenses while in the United States. An international applicant must provide proof of funding equivalent to at least one year’s cost of attendance for nonresident applicants (tuition and fees plus cost of living expenses).