Program Details

The information below is specific to our in-person Animal Law MSL Program. For details regarding our online MSL, go here.

Program Length and Curriculum

The Animal Law MSL degree requires 27 credit hours to complete. Program requirements can be completed in as few as two semesters. U.S. students have a total of two and a half years to complete the degree. Under U.S. Homeland Security regulations, international students must ordinarily complete the degree within 18 months and contact the International Students and Scholars Office well in advance if an extension is needed. Students begin their studies in the Fall term and take an Introduction to U.S. Legal Studies course, which is offered in an online format that both precedes and runs into the beginning of the Fall semester.

Check out our full catalogue of animal law course offerings and review the courses that will be offered in a given year. Animal Law MSL students are eligible to take all of our courses with the exception of our animal law clinics. If a specific area of interest is not represented, a student may design an individual research project under the supervision of a faculty member or a reading group with fellow students.

Degree Requirements

To obtain the Animal Law MSL degree, students must earn a minimum of 27 credits. All MSL students are graded on a “credit / no credit” basis. As such, they do not receive letter grades (e.g., A, B+, C-, etc.) on assignments or for their work in any of their courses. However, they may receive an “HR,” or Honors, designation for courses in which they have earned a B+ or higher.

Of the required 27 credits, 2 must be applied to the Emerging Topics in Animal Law courses in the Fall and in the Spring (1 credit in the Fall and 1 credit in the Spring). Students must also take an Introduction to US Legal Studies course, which both precedes and runs into the beginning of the Fall semester. Finally, at least 19 of the 27 total credits must be come from the animal law curriculum. Note that the Emerging Topics in Animal Law courses (2 credits total), Introduction to US Legal Studies (1 credit), and Animals in the Law (3 credits) all count toward this 19-credit requirement. Students may dedicate up to 8 credits from non-animal law courses to the Animal Law MSL degree.

Course Load/Timing

In addition to the requirements listed above, MSL students must register for a minimum of 5 credits each semester, except for the summer term and the student’s final term if fewer than 5 credits are needed to complete the degree. If a U.S. student wishes to take fewer than 5 credits in any semester that is not the summer term or their final semester, they must request permission to “underload” from the Animal Law Program Director. Note that a student must be registered for at least 5 credits each term to be considered a full-time student. Being less than a full-time student may impact a student’s ability to defer federal loan repayments, so students should plan accordingly.

Academic Calendar

The law school is on the semester system, with 13 weeks of classes and two weeks of exams in each semester. The Fall semester usually begins the week before Labor Day and ends the second or third week of December; please note that students must take an Introduction to U.S. Legal Studies course, which begins two weeks before the normal Fall start date. The Spring semester begins in early January and ends in May, with a one-week spring break in March. For specific dates, see the school’s academic calendar here.

Additional Information

For more information, please contact Animal Law Admissions at or 503-768-6895.