MSL Overview, Requirements, Admissions & Tuition
MSL 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.
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 8:1 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.
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MSL 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 UNM departments. Some UNM departments offer graduate courses in the evening, on weekends, on-line, and during the summer.
- 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.
- To take a graduate course in another UNM department students must fill in and email a form called “Approval for Courses Taken Outside of Law School” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Optional “Transcripted” Concentrations and “Untranscripted” Areas of Focus
- MSL students may earn an optional concentration in Indian Law or in Natural Resources and Environmental Law.
Indian Law concentration: To enroll, MSL students must meet with Mitzi Vigil, the Administrator of the Law and Indigenous Peoples Program, in Room 3405 and submit the required form to her by December 1 st of the first semester of law school for full-time students; December 1st of the third semester of law school for part-time students.
- Natural Resources and Environmental Law concentration: Interested MSL students must meet with Professor Reed Benson.
- Besides these two concentrations, 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.
November 1 - Application Opens
July 15- Final Application Deadline (Application Closes)
Your application will not be reviewed for admission or scholarships until all required materials are received.
The Admissions Committee will begin meeting in October and will issue decisions on a rolling basis. Those who submit a completed application will typically receive a decision within two (2) weeks from the date their file is assigned for review.
Applicants must submit an electronic application* available on LSAC.org. There is a $50 nonrefundable application fee.
*When setting up your LSAC account, MSL applicants should choose Account Type “LLM & Other Law Programs” and select the “Master of Studies in Law Application” for the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Application materials and fees submitted directly to the Office of Admissions will not be accepted.
The personal statement should be two (2) or three (3) pages, double-spaced, using standard font and margins.
There is no required topic for the personal statement; however, candidates are encouraged to provide insight into their personality, experiences, or anticipated contributions to the law school community beyond the information provided in other required application materials (for example, applicants should not submit a recitation of their résumé in essay form). Applicants may also wish to discuss how they anticipate the MSL applying to their current or desired future career.
The personal statement should be free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors and should demonstrate the applicant’s capacity for high-quality written work.
A résumé should be well-organized and provide a concise overview of the applicant’s academic, work, military, and volunteer histories. Applicants may also include honors, scholarships, extracurricular activities, publications, foreign language proficiencies, and other significant information.
Standardized Test Score (optional)
Standardized tests, like the LSAT and GRE, are not required. However, candidates who wish to submit test scores may do so. Any score submitted must be from tests taken within the past five (5) testing years. Official score reports must be submitted; self-reports of scores will not be taken into consideration.
Academic Addendum (optional)
Applicants may choose to provide a brief addendum explaining aspects of their academic performance necessary for the Admissions Committee to understand when reviewing the applicant’s file. An academic addendum should be no more than one (1) page, double-spaced, using standard fonts and margins, unless extraordinary circumstances merit a longer explanation.
Character & Fitness:
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. THE MASTER OF STUDIES IN LAW DEGREE DOES NOT MEET REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR IN ANY U.S. JURISDICTION.
Applicants who answer “yes” to any of the questions in the Character & Fitness section of the Electronic Application must submit an addendum to fully explain the circumstances, including relevant dates, final dispositions, and other appropriate details. Addenda should be in the applicant’s own words. Court documents should not be submitted in place of the applicant’s own narrative statement of events.
Failure to answer the Character & Fitness section of the application truthfully and completely could impact your eligibility for bar admission. Applicants to the University of New Mexico School of Law have a continuing obligation to disclose. If, after submitting your application, circumstances arise that change your answer to any of the Character & Fitness questions from “no” to “yes”, you must contact the Office of Admissions and provide a written explanation.
CREDENTIAL ASSEMBLY SERVICE REPORT
You must submit, through the Credential Assembly Service, official transcripts from all undergraduate and post-undergraduate institutions where you have been enrolled, even if you did not earn a degree from the institution or the credits from that institution transferred to another institution.
Transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions will not be accepted.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants must submit via the Credential Assembly Service two (2) letters of recommendation, though applicants may choose to submit up to four (4) letters. The Admissions Committee expects letters to be academic or professional in nature and strongly prefers letters of recommendation written within one (1) year of the date of application.
Applicants who are currently enrolled in an academic program, or who graduated in recent years, should have at least one academic letter of recommendation from a professor with personal knowledge of the applicant’s academic work. Professional letters of recommendation should come from an employer with personal knowledge of the applicant’s workday experience, preferably from a direct supervisor. Letters from a professional mentor for whom the applicant has not worked directly are not persuasive. Personal letters of recommendation, such as those from family members or personal acquaintances, are strongly discouraged.
Letters of recommendation sent directly to the Office of Admissions will not be accepted.
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Tuition, Fees, & Estimated Costs
Please see the MSL tuition, fees and estimated costs page under the Law School Admissions section.