The MSL in Taxation is a part-time degree program which is completed entirely online. Most experienced professionals have likely undertaken some online courses during their careers, but may not have undertaken a formal academic program in an online setting.
How long does it take to complete the program?
The maximum length of time one can take to complete the MSL degree is five years. Most students find they are able to complete the 30-credit program in three to four years, depending on how many credits they enroll in each semester. See below for more information on the award of advanced standing or transfer credits from prior academic coursework. Some students are able to finish after only two years of part-time study. Students must enroll in at least one credit in each fall or spring semester, though they may request a leave of absence for one or two semesters for any reason. Students may take summer session courses to hasten the completion of their studies, but are not required to do so. Taking a leave of absence does not extend the period of study and does incur a fee for maintaining matriculation.
Students in the MSL program study online on a part-time basis and may register for up to six credits each semester. (We often cap registration at five credits, so please contact Nick.Robertson@nyu.edu if you wish to register for six credits per semester.) Each class is typically between one and three credits, with most online classes being two credit hours. Most of our practicing part-time LLM students find that two or three credits per semester is a manageable course load. As they progress, some students take four to six credit hours per semester, after they have become re-accustomed to being back in school, developed new study habits for online learning, and become used to the fast pace of NYU’s tax classes.
Online classes are recorded versions of our on campus course offerings, which feature faculty lecturing and interacting with students. Many classes meet in two hour blocks, and we generally split these classes in videos of approximately 50-60 minutes each, though a few class videos may be 75 or 110 minutes in length. Students are not required to watch an entire class video in a single sitting, and may instead watch class videos in shorter segments of 20 or 40 minutes, as their schedule allows. Students may watch videos as many times as they like during the semester. Each class typically requires you to complete assignments and readings ahead of time. For a typicaly two-credit class, expect to spend 2 hours a week watching class videos and 4-5 hours a week preparing for that class. We teach using the problem method, which explores the tax code through a discussion of commonly encountered scenarios. After completing the problems, students watch the corresponding class, which typically discusses the problem sets. At the end of the semester, an exam is given. Shortly after an exam is held, access to the videos ends. Videos are streamed and require continuous access to the internet to view. Videos can be watched on mobile devices, but cannot be downloaded.
We do require students to meet attendance deadlines for each course. Typically, a full semester course will require students to have watched 40% of the class videos by around halfway through the semester, and 80% of the videos near to the end of the semester. For 1 credit courses or summer courses, which are taught on an abbreviated schedule, we typically only have a single attendance deadline. Details about attendance deadlines are posted on each course website.
Our courses are designed for practicing tax professionals, so when a prerequisite is listed, we generally will not waive it based on any work experience or based on a non-law school course. Courses which feature numbers in the title are meant to be taken in order, e.g.., International Tax 1, International Tax 2, and International Tax 3. Many of our part-time students have tax experience, but find that our courses cover a broad range of topics in great depth, often touching upon areas which with they are unfamiliar. We understand that many students in the MSL program may have taken significant prior tax coursework, though we may not be able to waive prerequisites in many cases. If admitted to the MSL program, please contact us to discuss.
One exception to our rule about prerequisites is that we automatically waive the prerequisite of “Income Taxation”, which is listed on many tax courses. We assume that everyone coming to the program has had some exposure to tax in an academic environment already, and if not, upon admission to the program we can recommend resources to cover the basics.
Most of our courses feature "in-class" exams, which are timed exams which are overseen by a proctor. Somewhat contrarily, an "in-class" exam can be taken either on campus at NYU, remotely (online) in a home or office, or at another law school. More information about these options can be found here. The exams often feature objective questions, requiring you to give a short answer or to answer multiple choice questions. Some exam questions may ask for more narrative answers. In a more narrative exam answer, faculty may be looking for you to read a complex fact pattern and address questions about the legal issues therein. Exams often ask you to analyze the facts and circumstances of ambiguous or novel situations in light of the law you have learned in class. In a law school setting, exams are graded anonymously. Thus, once an exam has been given, students may not discuss the exam with other students or with the faculty. Students shouldn’t mention anything to the professor or in their exam answer which might reveal their identity. Exam dates are not flexible and may not be postponed for work or travel conflicts. MSL in Taxation students do not receive letter grades in their courses; instead they are graded on a High Pass/Pass/Fail basis.
Information on financing is available from the Office of Student Financial Services.
Registration, Tuition, and Fees
Registration occurs prior to the start of each semester, and students have a limited amount of time to adjust their schedule. Tuition charges are incurred upon registration, and the student is responsible to pay the balance due unless the charge is dropped within the refund period. In the Fall 2016 semester, tuition is $2,482 per credit. Registration fees are $517 for the first credit taken and $45 for each additional credit. A technology use fee of approximately $105 is also assessed each semester. Admitted students will be provided detailed information about registration and our refund schedules. A two credit class taken in the fall of 2016 would cost approx. $5,631 in tuition and fees, excluding books, late fees, etc.
Books and materials range in cost—typically students spend a few hundred dollars initially on the 8 volumes of code and regulations and a few casebooks, with costs being lower therafter. Many courses rely on primary sources rather than textbooks. Most students already have a laptop or desktop computer with which to view streaming class videos. Students may want to evaluate their system to see if it is time for an upgrade or not.
Advanced Standing and Transfer Credits
The MSL in Taxation requires 30 credits of coursework. Students who have previously completed a Master's degree may receive 6 credits of advanced standing and can thus complete the degree in only 24 credits.
Students who have taken Master's level coursework which did not lead to a completed degree, may instead (or additionally) seek the award of up to four transfer credits from another school within NYU or another educational institution. It is possible to earn both six credits of advanced standing and four credits of transfer credit, though this would require having earned one Master's degree and having completed four credits towards a second (uncompleted) Master's degree. There are restrictions on the credits we will accept. At the outset, please note that we define a credit as 700 minutes of instruction, not including time spent examining. Credits earned at another institution may not transfer at the same value into the MSL degree, if the credits are approved.
At the discretion of the Vice Dean, a candidate for the MSL. degree may be allowed to transfer credit for courses taken at another institution if: (1) the courses were taken at the graduate level at an accredited college or university in either taxation or a related discipline; (2) the courses were taken after the candidate received his or her last earned degree; (3) the courses were completed with a grade point average of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale); and (4) the candidate received no credit for these courses toward any other degree. Grades from courses taken at another institution or other divisions of NYU are not used in computing grade point averages.
Subject to the foregoing limitations, transfer credit can be obtained for work done either before or after a student's initial matriculation at the Law School, so long as the credits fit within the five year period of study. The student should consult with the Graduate Tax Program about his or her plans before registering for the course in order to see if the course will be approved for transfer credit.
Our part-time tax degree and certificate programs permit students to complete some or all of the requirements via online instruction. Many students who are taking our online classes are New York State residents, while others study from within other states or other countries. States and countries regulate the educational activity which occurs within their borders, including online study. While NYU is able to offer online courses to residents of most states, there are several states where we cannot, or where restrictions are in place.