Master in the Study of Law (MSL) Academic Rules
(approved 11/15/12; amended 3/21/13)
Note: These rules are amended from time to time. Check with the Office of the Registrar or the Associate Dean’s Office for the latest version. Not all of the academic policies are contained in these rules. Additional academic policies and procedures may be found in the Student Policy Manual and on the homepages of the various programs of the Law School.
MSL-AR101. Responsibilities and Applications
These Academic Rules apply to students in the Master in the Study of Law (MSL) program. Copies of the Rules will be available in the Registrar’s Office and Library and on the Hamline University Web Site. Questions concerning the application of the Rules should be addressed to the Dean or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Requests for exceptions to the requirements of these Rules must be presented in writing to the Dean or to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (see MS-AR111).
MSL-AR102. Requirements for Admission
A) General Requirements
All applicants must have earned a Bachelor’s Degree from an appropriately accredited college or university prior to matriculation and have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average which indicates probability of success in law study. In addition to the more traditional forms of testing and undergraduate grades, the MSL Admissions Committee may give special consideration to motivation, personal experience, maturity, and the ability to articulate one’s particular interest in, and affinity for, the study of law. All applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the English language satisfactory to the Admissions Committee. If the applicant’s primary language is not English, the applicant must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or similar comprehension test.
B) Previously Disqualified Students
A student dismissed because of academic deficiency will not be eligible to apply for readmission.
A) Course Add
Students may add a course within the first week of classes.
B) Course Drop
If a student drops a course after the drop-add period, a “W” will be recorded on his or her transcript. A student cannot drop any course after the course’s last class session for the semester or term.
MSL-AR104. Course Loads and Program Completion
Students must complete the MSL program within 60 months from commencement of their MSL studies. In no event may a student exceed 17 credits per semester, 10 credits per summer term, or 4 credits per January term. In fall, spring, and summer terms, an MSL student is considered full-time when enrolled in 6 or more credits per term; and considered part-time when enrolled in 3-5.9 credits per term. In January term, an MSL student is considered full-time when enrolled in 2 or more credits per term; and considered part-time when enrolled in 1-1.9 credits per term.
MSL-AR105. Grading System
MSL students are subject to the same grading system detailed in Law-AR105, except that MSL students are graded separately as a cohort within any given course and instructors retain discretion to use a different form of final grade assessment for MSL students then used for JD or LL.M. students in the same course.
Comment to MSL-AR105
Law-AR105 reads as follows:
A) Grade Accountability
The final grade in each course or seminar offered at the School of Law shall be based at least in part upon one or more of the following forms of written accountability, selected at the discretion of the instructor: a written examination conducted at the end of the course or seminar, written examinations or written exercises given at other times during the course or seminar, or a substantial research paper. The final grade in any course or seminar offered in the law school may be based in part upon such factors as class attendance, class discussion, participation in activities of a professional nature related to the subject matter of the course or seminar, or oral examination, provided that the instructor has announced at the beginning of the course or seminar the factors upon which his or her final evaluation of the students in the course will be based.
B) Grading Process
By the beginning of each semester or term, the instructor will make students reasonably aware of how the final grade for each course will be calculated.
All written examinations at Hamline University School of Law should be graded anonymously.
Each student shall identify him or herself by exam number (not his or her name or student ID number) for any exam graded anonymously.
The administration of the exam will be governed by the Code of Conduct and administrative procedures established by the Dean’s Office and the Registrar’s Office.
All examinations identified by exam number shall be read and graded by the instructor by number.
To maintain grading anonymity in courses involving exams graded by number, instructors shall abide by the following procedures:
Whenever an examination forms any part of a student’s final course grade, the instructor shall submit examination grades to the Registrar’s Office by number.
Whenever a student’s final course grade will be based on factors in addition to one or more examinations identified by number, the instructor shall work with the Registrar’s Office to assure anonymity pending the computation of the final course grade. Normally, the Registrar’s Office will correlate grades for these other factors with each examination number, and either the Registrar’s Office will then calculate the final course grade based upon the instructor’s assessment formula, or the Registrar’s Office will give the instructor adequate information to compute the final grade without violating anonymity.
If the instructor prefers to know the students’ identities before incorporating assessment factors other than anonymously-graded examinations, the instructor can do so under strict limitations. Once a student’s identity is revealed, the instructor can only move the student’s grade up (and not down) by one gradation (e.g., from a “C+” to “B-“).
Once final grades are submitted, they cannot be changed unless a clerical error has occurred.
A student who does not take a scheduled examination will receive a grade of “F” for that examination, unless properly excused. In addition, any student who does not turn in a required paper on the scheduled date will receive a grade of “F” for that paper, unless properly excused. Failure to meet any course requirement can be the basis for a final grade of “F” in the class, unless properly excused.
Successful completion of a prerequisite with a grade of “D-” or better is required in order to remain in the course for which the prerequisite was required.
C) Numerical Grade Equivalents
A is computed as 4.0
A- is computed as 3.75
B+ is computed as 3.5
B is computed as 3.0
B- is computed as 2.75
C+ is computed as 2.5
C is computed as 2.0
C- is computed as 1.75
D+ is computed as 1.5
D is computed as 1.0
D- is computed as 0.75
F is computed as 0.0
D) Incomplete Grades
Incomplete grades are issued by instructors only in exceptional cases. All incomplete grades must be removed by the deadline set by the instructor but in no event later than the end of the following academic semester. Failure to remove the grade by the appropriate deadline will result in the grade being changed to an “F.” For purposes of this provision, a summer session of academic or other work is not considered to be an academic semester.
E) Retaking Courses
When a student retakes a course for any reason, including because the student received an “F” in a required course, as a condition of an exception to an academic dismissal, or as a condition of readmission following academic dismissal, both grades will appear on the transcript and both grades will be calculated into the student’s cumulative grade point average. For purposes of meeting graduation requirements, credit will be awarded only once, but both grades will appear on the transcript. In special circumstances and for compelling reasons, the Dean may, upon the recommendation of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Admissions Committee, grant an exception and permit a student to retake a course and have the new grade, but not the old grade, calculated into the student’s cumulative grade point average. Both grades will appear on the transcript. Students who fail a required course must retake the course in order to meet graduation requirements.
F) Make‑up Examinations
A student shall not be excused from taking any examination on the date regularly scheduled except due to extremely exigent circumstances, for which documentary evidence may be required. Permission for taking a make-up examination must first be obtained from the Assistant Dean for Student and Multicultural Affairs or his/her designee. This rule also applies to any anonymously-graded, non-final exam that counts towards the final course grade, so long as written notice of the exam date(s) (by syllabus, online posting, or otherwise) is provided by the first day of the course or the final day to drop the course, whichever is earlier. If approval is granted, the student shall be required to take a make‑up examination within two weeks from the date regularly scheduled for the examination.
“Extremely exigent circumstances” does not include the following circumstances:
1. conflict with weddings, receptions, or similar special events;
2. conflict with travel plans or reservations;
3. conflict with employment plans, opportunities, or obligations;
4. examinations scheduled on sequential days or two examinations scheduled on the same day;
5. permission of the instructor alone.
Students with disabilities who may require some type of reasonable accommodation, including an exam accommodation, should contact the Assistant Dean for Student and Multicultural Affairs and make a formal request for accommodation to the University Disability Services Office
MSL-AR106. Academic Standing, Probation and Disqualification
A) Academic Standing
To maintain good academic standing, students must have at least a 2.000 cumulative grade point average.
A student whose cumulative grade point average is below 2.000 at the end of a semester will be placed on academic probation. A probationary student has one semester to raise his or her cumulative grade point average to at least 2.000. An academic semester does not include a summer or January term.
C) Academic Dismissal
A student will be subject to dismissal in any of the following circumstances:
Failing to achieve a cumulative 2.000 grade point average after completing the probationary semester. An academic semester does not include a summer or January term.
Failing to complete the MSL degree requirements within 60 months.
MSL-AR107. Withdrawals from the MSL Program and Leaves of Absence
A) Withdrawals from MSL Program
To withdrawal from the MSL program, a student must file a withdrawal application with the Registrar’s Office. Mere failure to attend classes or unofficial communication of withdrawal to faculty members does not constitute withdrawal. The official withdrawal presumes that the student will not be returning to his or her MSL studies at Hamline. Should the student later choose to return, that student can do so only by reapplication to the MSL Admissions Committee.
B) Leaves of Absence
Any student wishing to leave the MSL program temporarily but intending to return in a later term (including a semester, January term, or summer term), must make application to the Registrar’s Office for a leave of absence. Unless the leave of absence provides to the contrary, the student will be eligible to return at the commencement of one of the six following terms. If a student does not return from leave at the commencement of one of the six following terms, he or she can gain admission only by reapplication to the MSL Admissions Committee.
Students are subject to the attendance policy detailed in Law-AR108. The program of instruction at Hamline Law is based on an active and informed exchange between instructor and student and between student and student. Regular, prepared class attendance helps develop skills essential to effective legal studies. Regular and punctual class attendance and adequate preparation are required. The right to take an examination in any class may be withdrawn if a student has not been attending classes regularly. Also, a student may be dismissed or suspended from this school for excessive absences.
Classroom experience is: 1) an exploration of knowledge; 2) a development of skills; 3) an examination of professional attitudes. These are critical components of a quality legal education. Hamline University School of Law pursues quality legal education as a duty to its students, as a duty to the profession, as a duty to future clients of its students, and as a duty to society. For these reasons the Attendance Policy is established.
A continuing record will be kept of each student’s absences and late arrivals, but no daily reporting of attendance need be made.
Excessive Absences - Effect of
Students are required to attend class regularly in a punctual and prepared manner. Instructors will report promptly to the Registrar’s Office the names of students whose accumulated absences are in their opinion excessive. It is an honor code violation to falsely sign an attendance sheet for a student not present in class. It is an honor code violation to sign in for a class that was not attended in substantial part.
Individual instructors may make these requirements more specific when they deem it necessary for a particular course. Examples of courses where more specific requirements would be appropriate include skills courses and clinical courses. Instructors who do so must communicate that information in writing to their students at the beginning of the course.
If there is a conflict between attendance at a hearing required by a course and another class, the conflict shall be resolved in favor of the hearing. This rule shall not be interpreted to extend beyond hearings in court or before an administrative body. The student who misses a class because of the hearing has the right and duty to make suitable arrangements to cover the materials of that class, if the absence is not to be counted. In addition, observance of a major religious holiday (e.g. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Good Friday) shall not be deemed absence for purposes of this policy.
Any instructor may request that a student be removed from the course if the student fails to meet the attendance standard or the instructor’s particular attendance requirements. Such request should be directed to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The student shall be notified of the instructor’s request and will be afforded an opportunity to present reasons why the student should not be removed from the course. The decision whether to withdraw the student from the course will be made by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in consultation with the instructor for the course. Withdrawal from the course for failure to meet the attendance requirement shall result in a “W” on the student’s transcript for the course.
Lateness will be dealt with in the discretion of the instructor involved. Persistent or frequent lateness may be the basis for reduction of the grade awarded in a course. Instructors will notify their classes at the beginning of the term of their policies regarding lateness, under AR-105. Instructors should seek to avoid holding students past the scheduled class period. Students should not be penalized for lateness reasonably necessitated by such holding over.
Unpreparedness means an obvious want of minimal preparation of assigned materials for class recitation or discussion. Persistent or repeated unpreparedness may be the basis for reduction of the grade awarded in a course, under AR‑105. Provided, however, that wherever possible, students should be given an opportunity to redeem prior unsatisfactory performance. Distinguished class recitation or discussion may be the basis for increasing the grade awarded in a course, under AR-105.
The making of a false statement to an instructor or other school official with respect to any of the foregoing matters, or initialing an attendance form for another, constitute violations of Section 3.01 of the Code of Conduct of the most serious order.
MSL-AR109. Graduation Requirements
Completion of required courses.
Completion of 30 semester credits.
Cumulative grade point average of 2.000 or above.
Completion of all requirements within 60 months.
MSL-AR110. Transfer Credits from Other Institutions
No transfer credit will be accepted toward the MSL degree without approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Only grades of 2.000 on a 4.000 point scale, or its equivalent or above, will receive credit transferring into the MSL program. Grades for transfer credit courses will be recorded on the student’s transcript, but will not be calculated into the student’s grade point average. All students must complete at least 15 credits in residence at Hamline Law. No more than 15 credits earned in another degree or certificate program may be applied toward the MSL degree, except that Hamline JD students who do not complete their JD degree may apply all credits earned at Hamline Law toward the MSL degree.
A student who wishes to take courses at other law or graduate schools for credit must seek approval in advance from the Dean’s Office.
MSL-AR111. Exceptions to the Rules
The Dean or his/her designee will have authority to grant exceptions to the requirements of these rules for a good cause upon such conditions and in such circumstances as he or she deems appropriate. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs also has the authority to grant exceptions to MSL-AR103 and MSL-AR104. No exception may be granted for Academic Rules that are required by Hamline Law’s accrediting bodies. The Dean will report promptly in writing to the faculty on all exceptions he or she has granted to the requirements of these rules. All requests for exceptions to these rules must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
The Dean will grant an exception to MSL-AR106 (Probation and Disqualification) only in the most unusual circumstances when such circumstances are found by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs applicable to any request for an exception to such rule. In addition to demonstrating unusual circumstances that justify an exception, a student seeking an exception to MSL-AR106 must demonstrate that the circumstances which resulted in any disqualification have been removed or addressed and that there is substantial reason to believe that the student now is capable of successful performance in law school. Students seeking exceptions to enforcement of MSL-AR106 should present their case to the Associate Dean.
MSL-AR112. Code of Conduct
Students are subject to the Code of Conduct detailed in Law-AR114.