Indigenous Law Certificate Program

The distinctive mission of the Indigenous Law Certificate Program is to prepare students to practice indigenous law by providing rigorous and comprehensive training in indigenous law, policy, and practice. The certificate requirements are designed to provide law students with the specialized knowledge and skills to effectively identify and address indigenous law issues, represent Indian nations, and appreciate these nations’ unique legal and governance systems.

The certificate program consists of 13 credits, 7 credits of required courses and 6 credits of elective courses; an advanced research paper in indigenous law; and a four-credit clinical requirement, which students fulfill by participating either in the Clinic or an approved externship.

Students are eligible for admission to the certificate program after successfully completing all required first-year courses. Admission to the program is confirmed through submission of a written application. Students must maintain a 2.7 cumulative grade point average or higher in courses counted toward the certificate.

Required Courses Credits
Federal Law & Indian Tribes (LAW 635B) 3
At least two from the list below:
  • Gaming Law (LAW 635F - 2 Credits)
  • American Indian Children and the Law (LAW 635D - 2 Credits)
  • Tribal Law (LAW 635E - 2 Credits)
  • Additional Faculty Approved Seminars
The following two courses are strongly recommended:
Elective Courses Credits
Administrative Law (LAW 532) 3
Federal Jurisdiction (LAW 579G) 3
Other elective courses from which students may choose include:
Elective Courses Credits
Criminal Procedure: Investigation (LAW 616B) 3
Family Law: Marriage and Divorce (LAW 541E) 3
Secured Transactions (LAW 501E) 3
Trusts and Estates (LAW 501D) 3

Professionally Related Graduate Courses
Students may count up to three credit hours of graduate-level courses from other colleges at Michigan State University, if approved by the Director of the Indigenous Law Program, who determines that such a course is appropriate for the student's course of study and that there is no comparable class offered at the law college.

Clinical Requirement
The primary option for fulfilling this requirement is participation in the Indian Law Clinic at MSU College of Law. Students engage in a variety of projects, including: legislative and policy work for tribal governments, significant legal research and writing assistance for tribal judiciaries and drafting and revising tribal codes. Subject to the Director's approval, students also may satisfy the clinical requirement by completing a three-credit internship or externship with a tribal government (legal department, court or government office), a state or federal governmental unit that focuses on Indian Law issues or a non-profit or non-governmental organization involved in Indian Law issues.

Research Paper in Indigenous Law
Students are required to complete a substantial research paper on a topic relating to indigenous law issues. The topic must be approved by the Director of the Program, and the paper must meet the law school’s upper-level writing requirements (ULWR), whether or not it is actually used to satisfy the ULWR. ULWR standards may be found on the web at:

For more information, contact:

Professor Kathryn E. Fort

The Law College continuously examines the curriculum to identify the skill sets that the course of study at MSU College of Law should emphasize. Any certificate may be subject to enhanced requirements. Contact the above faculty members to confirm certificate requirements.