Current Students

Learn what to expect from our courses and certificate program

Certificate requirements

Students are welcome to take only one course or as many as desired. You must satisfactorily complete twelve credits from the prescribed mix of IFLR online courses to earn either a "Certificate in International Food Law" or a "Certificate in United States Food Law." Students may earn both certificates if desired. Three credits (typically one course) may be applied toward both certificates. Courses may be taken in any order you choose. Click here to read more about certificate requirements. 

Time commitment

Courses are not taught in real time so you do not need to log on at a specific time to listen to a lecture; you can participate at a time that fits your schedule. Plan on an average of nine to 12 hours for participation, reading and assignments, per week for each course.   Of course, you can spend more time if you desire.

Course selection

We recommend that you take International Food Laws and Regulations (FSC 810) early in your certificate. However, it is perfectly fine to take courses in any order you wish, especially if you have an immediate need for a specific course's content for a project at work. Those interested in issues involving the SPS and TBT Agreements may want to consider the Codex Alimentarius (FSC 816). Keep in mind that not every course is offered every semester. Consult the scheduling table here to plan your selection.

Recommended course load

We recommend one course per semester if you are working full time, but the choice is yours. Your choice may depend upon your employment, work load, travel schedule, and family responsibilities.  Several students have taken two courses in one semester while working, but at the end of the semester they have confessed that they would not recommend it.

Schedule of course offerings

Courses are offered in the spring, summer and fall semesters. Some courses are offered only once per year.  Please consult the schedule of course offerings by semester.  If the minimum number of students per course is not met, the course may be cancelled for that semester.

Enrollment deadlines

Students may enroll in Spring 2018 courses starting May 2, 2017. Students may enroll in Summer 2018 courses starting March 26, 2018. Future open enrollment dates will be posted on MSU's full academic calendar when they become available (scroll down to "other important dates"). You may also use our advisor's helpful cheat sheet of important dates to mark your calendar.

Semester start and end dates

Fall semester 2017 begins on August 30, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017. Spring semester 2018 begins on January 8, 2018 and ends on May 4, 2018. Summer semester 2018 begins on May 14, 2018 and ends on August 16, 2018. MSU's full academic calendar is posted here. You may also use our advisor's helpful cheat sheet of important dates to mark your calendar.

Books and course material

Enrolled MSU students do not need to purchase books or special software.  All course material and recommended Internet links are provided online through the course or are accessible through the MSU Libraries electronic resources. MSU students will also be assigned an MSU email account, which is separate from the course email that is used for corresponding with the instructors, the course manager or fellow students.


If you are new to MSU, you will receive an APID (Personal Identification Number, starting with the letter "A") and PAN (4-digit Personal Access Number) upon enrollment in your first course through MSU Lifelong Education. Please click here to activate your NetID and MSU email. Your NetID will form the first part of your new MSU email address, and both are necessary for accessing your course in D2L and your student account in STUINFO. 

MSU email

MSU will only send email to your MSU email account, they will not send to your work or other preferred email account. Check email regularly to read important messages and notifications. Certain communications may be time-sensitive. You may check your MSU email here. You may forward your email to your preferred account, but check to be sure that your messages are not being filtered as span or junk.

Note that your MSU email is separate from the messages you will receive through "Course Email" within the D2L course portal. Instructors communicate with students within the D2L course portal, so do not email questions to your instructor outside the course if you would like a timely response.

Desire2Learn online learning platform

Michigan State University uses the Desire2Learn portal for online education. This platform allows professors to post readings, pre-recorded lectures, hold online discussions, administer online tests and quizzes, and provide real-time feedback to students. Many additional resources such as links to food law websites, blogs and journals will also be available through your course portal. Enrolled students may access the online D2L Help resource, or call toll-free at 884-678-6200 (North America and Hawaii), 24 hours/day, seven days/week.

MSU online library access

As a student of Michigan State University, you will have online access to MSU's 14 campus libraries.  A tremendous number of electronic resources (books, journals, magazines, etc.) are available online. When you have a moment, check out World Food Regulation Review (click here for instructions on how to access). Once you are enrolled, and before your course starts, is the best time to check out these resources. As the term progresses, you will find yourself busier and may not have the time to learn how to access these valuable resources. 

Note:  Students enrolling in a course as a "workshop" student will have full access to course materials along with public resources available through the D2L course portal, however, they will not have access to any restricted resources through the MSU Libraries.  


Each instructor organizes his or her course differently. Most assignments are written assignments, which vary in length from one paragraph, one to two pages, or occasionally a longer written assignment such as a term paper, term project or final examination.  Quizzes may also be given.  You may also be asked to comment or respond to someone else’s comment in the written discussion forum contained in the weekly lesson.

Submitting assignments

You will upload your assignments directly to an assignment folder located within the course (similar to an email attachment).  Assignments may also be typed in the body of a course message.  Most students prefer to type the assignment in a Word or Excel document and then upload the file to the course assignment drop box.

Course pacing

A new module is posted each week and the assignment is due the following week. Certain modules may last more than a week or additional time may be given in the module for an assignment.  Once the module is open online it will remain online for the duration of the semester in case you need to refer back to the information.

Flexibility for late assignments

Since most of our students are working food industry professionals, we realize that with workloads, traveling for business, vacations, and commitments at home there will be occasions that students will not have assignments turned in on time.  You need only contact the instructor or course manager to request an extension. Please contact them before the assignment due date. All assignments must be turned in two weeks prior to the end of the grading period at the very latest.

Incomplete course work

A deferred grade or I-Incomplete grade may be requested by the student. The student should submit an "Agreement for Completion of (I) Incomplete" form prior to the end of the course.  The student will provide an anticipated completion date and plan of action, to be approved at the discretion of the Institute for Food Laws and Regulations. To qualify for an incomplete, a student must: 1) have completed 8-12 weeks of the semester but cannot complete the semester and/or take the final exam for a compelling reason; 2) be passing the course; and 3) in the instructor's opinion, be able to complete the course without repeating the course.  The required work must be completed, and a grade must be reported to the Office of the Registrar, no later than the middle of the student's next semester in attendance (summer session excluded) if that semester is within one calendar year following receipt of the I-Incomplete.

Time limit for completing your certificate

There is no time limit for completing the 12 credits required to receive a certificate.  You may take one course each semester and receive your certificate in 18 months to two years, or you may take one course each year and receive your certificate in four years – the choice is yours. 

Note for students who may wish to transfer course credits towards a master's degree:  MSU master’s degree programs have a required time limit for completion (usually five years).  


A numerical system is used for the final grade - with 4.0 being the highest.  A written explanation of the grading system may be found under “the numerical system”.  The lead instructor for each course assigns a number of points or a percentage for each module’s assignment as it counts toward the final grade.  An explanation of the grading system is in the syllabus of each course.

GPA requirement

The Lifelong Education Rules of Enrollment apply to all students in this enrollment classification. The Coordinator of Lifelong Education Student Affairs will monitor students’ academic progress each semester to ensure that once nine or more credits have been attempted, a cumulative grade-point average 3.00 for Graduate Lifelong Education Students, has been achieved. Failure to maintain the appropriate GPA standard may result in removal from Lifelong Education status. Note: This applies to all students whether they are taking a few unrelated courses or are interested in a college-level certificate program.

Transfer course credits to a master's degree

In order to transfer course credits from the MSU Lifelong Education Program to a graduate degree program at MSU, you must receive a 3.0 or higher final grade in the course. A maximum of nine credits may be transferred into an MSU graduate program. Most graduate degree programs have a completion requirement of five years.

Computer requirements

Most people with a computer and internet access should be equipped to take this online program. Prospectives students can read more about the common set of tools listed at the Desire2Learn, Computer Technical Requirements and Systems Check:


It is recommended that students also have Word or Google Docs, and virus detection and repair software. As with all computing situations involving the Internet or other file sharing, MSU recommends that you practice safe computing -- install and use virus detection and repair software and back up your work regularly.

Connectivity requirements

Most students like to download a copy of the module readings onto their computer or print a copy and take it with them to read at the coffee shop, home, or while traveling.  Of course, you will need to be online to access the URL links within a module.

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