Master of Studies in Law in Taxation

Frequently Asked Questions

Why the MSL in Tax?

Why should I choose the Master of Studies in Law in Taxation at NYU Law?

For over 70 years, NYU's Graduate Tax Program has produced the best and the brightest tax practitioners, academics and government leaders, nationally and internationally. The NYU Graduate Tax Program is widely viewed as the preeminent program of its kind. NYU Law has been ranked #1 in the area of Taxation by US News & World Report since 1992, the year the rankings began.

Our tax faculty takes pride in learning from and with our students. We are fortunate that our location in New York City gives us access to the nation’s leading tax practitioners, many of whom teach evening courses. We also offer an online Executive LLM in Taxation program for attorneys and an online MSL in Taxation program for experienced CPAs and economists. These programs allow tax professionals around the world to access our course offerings online.

The MSL in Tax offers you the opportunity to custom design a program that fits your professional objectives and works with your busy schedule.

Am I eligible to apply?

Candidates for the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) in Taxation at New York University School of Law must hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited US college or university, and must either hold an accredited master’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, finance, or taxation; or be a licensed US Certified Public Accountant in good standing. Additionally, a candidate must possess a minimum of three years of professional experience working in substantive areas related to federal, state, or local tax issues.

Candidates who hold neither a master’s degree nor a CPA license, but who hold a certification similar to a CPA, and who can demonstrate that they possess more professional experience in substantive tax issues than the required 3-year minimum, are also eligible to apply. If admitted, any candidate who does not hold a master’s degree prior to the start of the MSL program (regardless of whether he or she is a CPA) will be required to complete a total of 30 credits in order to receive the MSL in Taxation from NYU.

Candidates with a US or foreign law degree (JD, LLB, LLM, etc.) are not eligible for the MSL but may consider our degrees for lawyers.

If you are not sure if you meet the requirements, please contact us: We look forward to hearing from you.

Program Structure

What is the degree format?

The degree is part-time and completely online. Students can attend the program while living in any of the states that permit distance-learning education

What is “Online Learning”?

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 typical 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 course 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.

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.


What is the typical course load?

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 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.

Are there pre-requisites?

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.

How do exams work?

Most of our courses feature "in-class" exams, which are timed exams which are overseen by a proctor An "in-class" exam can be taken 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.

What is the final project?

Students have the opportunity to work on a final project based on their area of interest from one of several different tax subject areas (e.g., business taxation, international taxation, estate planning or tax controversy). This project offers students an opportunity to apply their learning in an applied and valuable context with advisement from faculty and leading practitioners.

What credentials will I receive as a graduate?

Graduates receive an NYU Master of Studies in Law in Taxation degree.

Application Process

What is the first step in the application process?

All applicants must submit the online application and $85 application fee (including the required electronic attachments) on or before the deadline.

Applications are reviewed only after all required materials are received. Given the short interval between the application deadline and the start of each semester, applicants are strongly advised to request transcripts and recommendation letters well in advance of the deadline. No guarantees can be made concerning applications or application materials submitted after the respective deadline; such applications may be returned unprocessed.

What are the admission criteria?

Admission to the MSL in Taxation is selective and is based on a combination of prior academic performance and professional experience. Those offered admission will have accomplished academic backgrounds, strong letters of recommendation, and significant substantive experience working with tax issues. Prospective students must demonstrate professional achievement and career advancement.

Admission to the MSL does not guarantee or ensure admission to the JD. Graduates of the MSL program who wish to pursue the JD degree must apply and be admitted through the regular JD admissions process. If admitted, no advanced standing for academic work completed pursuant to the MSL degree will be awarded toward the JD degree.

When is the application deadline?

Prospective students are encouraged to apply only once during an annual cycle (September to June) and must choose to apply for entry in either Spring 2020 or Fall 2020.

·         Spring 2020 Entry Date:  November 1, 2019

·         Fall 2020 Entry Date:  June 1, 2020

Do I have to take the GMAT, GRE, or LSAT?

No, we do not require any of these entrance tests when applying to our program. That said, as most of our students already possess a Master’s degree, many students have likely already taken the GMAT or GRE exam. Applicants who hold a CPA license are required to submit a PDF copy of their CPA certificate with their online application.

Do I need to take an English Language Proficiency Test?

An English language proficiency test is required for all applicants whose bachelor’s degree was not taught in English, or for applicants whose degree program was taught in English but whose degree-granting institution is located in a country where English is not the primary language. Such applicants must submit an official score result from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the Application Instructions (PDF: 339.25 KB) for more information.

Program Cost

What is the program fee?

For a complete schedule of fees, please visit the Bursar's website.

Most students already have a laptop or desktop computer with which to view streaming class videos. Students may want to see if their system meets our system requirements.

Is financial aid available?

Most US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal student loans. Private student loans are available to US citizens or permanent residents. Some private lenders may also lend to international students as well.

Can I transfer credits to the MSL from another school?

At the discretion of the Vice Dean, a candidate for the M.S.L. degree may be allowed to transfer up to four credits 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 has not received credit (or will not in the future receive credit) for these courses toward any other completed 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. note that the law school and other institutions may calculate credit hours differently, e.g., some schools may be allowed to take into account exam time and other activities in calculating a credit hour, while the law school is held to a (often stricter) standard of 700 minutes of class time per credit hour not including exams or other activities.

We encourage you to review the information on the NYU Law Financial Aid website and contact the Office of Student Financial Services with any questions on financial aid loans.

Contacts for Additional Information

All applicants should contact Graduate Admissions.

Many of an MSL student’s questions can be directed to the Graduate Tax Office.

Registration information, exam schedules, and other academic policies can be obtained from the Office of Academic Services.

The Law School’s Technology Office helps with technical support for our online programs.

Information about paying for your education, including obtaining student loans and the NYU Bursar’s Office, can be found from the law school’s Office of Student Financial Services. Note that some funding options, such as LRAP, do not apply to part-time programs such as the MSL.

The Office of Student Affairs oversees requests for a leave of absence.