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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) 277-1652 to schedule a visit.

The on-line application for Fall 2018 will go live on September 15, 2017.

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.

Admission Requirements

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. Application material is available year-round on the Graduate Studies website.

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://app.applyyourself.com/AYApplicantLogin/fl_ApplicantLogin.asp?id=unmgrad)
  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. Writing sample from the last two undergraduate years and in the major field or from a graduate-level degree program or from current employment
  6. Current CV/Resume
  7. At least three letters of recommendation are required; however, one additional letter 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.

A law school Admissions Committee will review the applications and make admissions decisions.

Beginning MSL students will be admitted to start in the fall semester only.

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

How to Apply

Application Guidelines

Apply Online