MSU College of Law

Required Curriculum

Students Entering Fall 2016 or Later     Students Entering Fall 2011 - Summer 2016

Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR)     Professional Skills Requirement     Experiential Learning Requirement

Required Curriculum for Students Entering Fall 2016 or Later

The Michigan State Law curriculum embodies a 21st-century approach to legal education, with expanded opportunities for practical skill development. While students entering prior to Fall 2016 are not subject to the new core-courses requirement noted below, all students are strongly urged to comply with the requirement because the courses are rooted in legal fundamentals and helps with performance on the bar exam. 

First-Year Curriculum

Fall Semester


Spring Semester


Civil Procedure






Constitutional Law and the Regulatory State


Foundations of Law


Contract Negotiation


Research, Writing & Analysis


Criminal Law


Torts I




Total Credits


Total Credits


Students begin their legal education at MSU Law during Immersion Week, a mandatory component of the 1L program. Students take their first required 1L course, Foundations of Law, during the week. To complement students’ emerging knowledge of the substantive law, all first-year schedules include Research, Writing & Analysis, and Advocacy—intensive courses that develop some of the most critical skill areas for beginning lawyers.

Upper Level Curriculum

 All students are required to choose at least five (5) classes from the following core courses to complete the requirements for graduation:

  • Administrative Law
  • Basic Income Tax
  • Business Enterprises
  • Commercial Transactions Survey
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law II
  • Criminal Procedure:  Adjudication
  • Criminal Procedure:  Investigation
  • Evidence
  • Remedies
  • Sales and Leases
  • Secured Transactions
  • Secured Transactions and Practice
  • Torts II
  • Trusts and Estates

A student who has completed 29 credits with a GPA of 3.50 or above and for good cause may apply to the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs for a waiver of this requirement.  The student must submit the application prior to completing 60 credits.

In addition to the five core courses, the following are also required for graduation:

Total Credits Required to Graduate:  88

Required Curriculum for Students Entering Fall 2011 - Summer 2016

The following are required for graduation.

Course Requirements Credit Hours
Advocacy 2
Civil Procedure (formerly Civil Procedure I) 4
Constitutional Law I (effective Fall 2011 - Spring 2015) 2
Constitutional Law and the Regulatory State (effective Spring 2016) 4
Contracts 4
Contract Negotiation 1
Criminal Law 3
Foundations of Law 1**
Lawyers & Ethics (effective Fall 2011 - Spring 2015) 1
Professional Responsibility or Lawyer Ethics and Regulation in a Technology-Driven World 3
Property 4
Regulatory State (effective Fall 2011 - Spring 2015) 2
Research, Writing & Analysis 2
Torts I 4
*Total Credit Hours for Required Courses 32
Electives 56
Total Credits Required to Graduate 88

*Students who have a cumulative grade point average of less than 2.50 at the conclusion of his/her first two regular semesters (fall/spring) are required to choose at least 14 credits of classes from the following core courses to complete the requirements for graduation:  Administrative Law, Basic Income Taxation, Business Enterprises, Constitutional Law II, Criminal Procedure: Investigation, Evidence, Payment Systems, Sales and Leases, Secured Transactions, Trusts and Estates.

In addition to the courses above, the following are also required for graduation:

**Effective with the Fall 2015 Entering J.D. Class.

Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR)

In view of the fact that lawyers and other members of the legal profession are commonly called upon to communicate their expertise in writing, an upper level writing requirement (the ULWR) assures that every student who graduates from this law school will have had the experience of researching, analyzing and writing about legal issues on a more sophisticated and in-depth level than is generally possible during the first year of law school.

The benefits of the ULWR are twofold. Each College student will not only acquire enhanced research, analytical and writing skills, but also will produce a paper that may be used as a writing sample for job interviews and/or that may improve the student's credentials if the paper is published in a law review or bar journal.

Detailed information regarding the ULWR can be found in the MSU Law Student Handbook.

Professional Skills Requirement

Students who enter MSU Law between Fall 2008 - Spring 2016  are required, for graduation, to complete at least one upper-level course that includes instruction in trial and appellate advocacy, alternative methods of dispute resolution, counseling, interviewing, negotiating, problem solving, factual investigation, organization and management of legal work, or drafting. Such instruction must engage each student in skills performances that are assessed by the instructor, including feedback. The skills component must receive weight in the final grade for each course that is at least equivalent to one credit hour (e.g., 50% in a two credit hour course, or 25% in a four credit hour course.)

Experiential Learning Requirement

Effective with the Fall 2016 entering class, each student must satisfactorily complete at least one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours. According to ABA Standards, "(a)n experiential course must be a simulation course, a law clinic, or a field placement. To satisfy this requirement, a course must be primarily experiential in nature and must: (i) integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, and engage students in performance of one or more of the professional skills identified in [the Standards]; (ii) develop the concepts underlying the professional skills being taught; (iii) provide multiple opportunities for performance; and (iv) provide opportunities for self-evaluation." 

Updated April 29, 2016

Updated February 28, 2017