Key Facts About the LLM Degree

  • What does LLM stand for?
    LLM is derived from Legum Magister, which means master of laws in Latin.
  • What courses comprise the LLM curriculum?
    The LLM curriculum varies depending on the program. Many programs provide a broad curriculum in American law, international law, and comparative law. Others provide more specialized courses in subfields such as taxation, intellectual property, human rights law, or international environmental law. Some programs incorporate required courses; some do not.
  • How long does it take to earn an LLM degree?
    Typically, the LLM is a one-year course of full-time study or two years of part-time study. It can range from 22 to 28 or more credit hours.
  • Do applicants have to take the LSAT to apply for an LLM program?
    The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is not required for LLM admission. Many schools do require applicants to submit an English proficiency exam (TOEFL®/IELTS™) score.
  • How does an LLM degree differ from a JD degree?
    The LLM is an advanced academic degree in law (as opposed to a professional degree in law, such as the Juris Doctor, or JD). Because the LLM is a graduate degree, one must first obtain a degree in law as a prerequisite for the LLM. The Juris Doctor is the basic law degree necessary to practice law in the US. No previous law degree is required for a JD.
  • Do applicants have to have a JD before applying to an LLM program?
    US-educated applicants must have a JD degree before applying to an LLM program. Internationally educated applicants do not have to have a JD before applying to an LLM program, but must have a first degree in law from their country of origin.
  • Do all law schools offer LLM programs?
    Not all law schools offer LLM programs, and some schools offer programs for domestic students only. Check with individual law schools for information about policies affecting students from countries outside the United States.
  • Can internationally educated applicants with an LLM degree take the bar exam?
    Each of the 50 states in the US sets its own criteria for bar admission in that state. Earning the LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to sit for the bar exam in every state or to practice law in every state. Most states in fact have very strict limitations on non-US lawyers' eligibility to take their bar exam. International lawyers are responsible for contacting the appropriate state's board of law examiners directly to obtain specific information. The website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners links to an alphabetical listing by state of US bar admission offices.
  • Is financial assistance available for international students pursuing an LLM degree in the US?
    Non-US citizens are not eligible for federal or state funding for study in the United States. However, some law schools may offer full or partial scholarships to international students. Check each school's website for more information. Some universities may offer graduate teaching assistantships. International students are advised to contact various employers, government agencies, foundations, and organizations within their own country to inquire whether any scholarship or grant aid is available for studying outside of their country.

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