Mainland Europe is home to many of the world’s top law schools, which, each year, draw thousands of international students to the continent. These students are often attracted not only by the prestige of some of the world’s oldest universities, but also the cultural charms of the continent, not to mention its political and economic institutions.
In terms of LL.M. programs in Europe, there are a number of larger, high-profile law schools that cater to a huge range of international students. To meet the needs of these students, these law schools offer great general LL.M. programs, or a range of specialized LL.M. programs. See LLM GUIDE’s Top 20 List of General LL.M. Programs in Europe.
In contrast, there are a number of law schools in Europe that run more specialized, niche LL.M. programs, focused on specific subjects, such as human rights law or finance law. While these programs may be smaller than the larger offerings from other schools, they are all high-quality and designed for students who have more specific interests and needs. And they are all offered by some of the best law schools in Europe.
See below for the Top 10 Special Focus LL.M. programs in Europe.
The Geneva Academy is renowned across the globe for providing excellent education in humanitarian and human rights law. It offers an array of LL.M.s: in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law; Transitional Justice Law; and International Law in Armed Conflict. It’s location in the Swiss city means that graduates do not need to venture very far to network with or work for the most important human rights organizations, such as the United Nations.View School Profile
The College of Europe in Belgium is one of the continent’s finest for legal studies that lead on to successful careers in international affairs. The school’s LL.M. is respected among global law firms and institutions that are close by: The College of Europe, in the beautiful medieval city of Bruges, is just an hour away from Brussels, Europe’s de facto capital city, home to the European parliament, council and commission. The course covers European law in-depth, teaching in both English and French.View School Profile
Freie Universität Berlin stands out for its superior faculty and reputation for research excellence. The law school is a member of the German Ministry of Education and Research’s “excellence cluster.” Located in the German capital city, Berlin, students at FU Berlin have access to top law firms and a vibrant social scene. FU Berlin also uses blended learning, meaning classes can be taken partly online, providing participants with flexibility as they balance their work and other commitments. The school’s Master of Business, Competition and Regulatory Law focuses on business and competition law, and looks at energy and telecommunication law as well.View School Profile
WIPO runs an LL.M. in Intellectual Property. The field is fast-evolving, thanks to technological innovation, and this course could be one way to stay ahead of the curve of change. The nine-month program combines distance learning with an in-class residency session, meaning you can earn a top-class law degree without putting your career on pause, and forgoing a salary. It also means that the student body is incredibly diverse. To date, students from 88 counties have come through the course. Turin itself is a joint initiative between the International Training Centre, top European universities and United Nations organizations. The networking opportunities are therefore extensive.View School Profile
Those students aiming to study human rights law in Europe could do a lot worse than studying at UNICRI—the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. The UN-affiliated institution, in cooperation with Costa Rica’s University for Peace, offers an LL.M. in Transnational Crime and Justice that looks at topics in international law, humanitarian law, criminal law and procedure, and other areas of human rights law.View School Profile
What makes the ILF Institute truly unique is that it teaches law from a global rather than a European perspective. The LL.M. Finance course uses cross-disciplinary learning, drawing on law, business and economics. Being based in Frankfurt, one of Europe’s leading financial centers that is home to the European Central Bank and the German Bundesbank, means the school actively uses senior financiers and bankers, as well as leading international lawyers, to teach its courses.View School Profile
Established in 1927, Graduate Institute Geneva is one of the oldest institutions in Europe focusing on international relations. That heritage makes it a great choice for master’s students interested in studying international law. Fortunately, IHEID offers an LL.M. in International Law, where students can focus on learning about the core foundations of international legal systems. The program also offers several specialized streams, such as International Environmental Law and Governance; International Economic Law; and Human Rights, Migration and International Humanitarian Law, where students can tailor their studies to their interests.View School Profile
Saarland University’s Europa-Institut was founded in 1951 with the intention of exploring issues in European integration. The institution has leveraged this background in the development of its LL.M. in European and International Law program, which can be pursued in either English or German. With Brexit impending, graduates from this LL.M. may be in high demand in the future.View School Profile
Stressing pan-European connections, the European Master in Law and Economics (EMLE) was founded in 1990 at the Universities of Ghent, Paris IX, Oxford and Rotterdam; the list of partners has steadily increased to 12, including Hamburg University. The program explores the connection of law and economics from a European perspective. Students who begin the EMLE program at the University of Hamburg can pursue the second semester of the program at one of the partner universities.View School Profile
For those interested in studying international dispute settlement, Geneva, home to many international organizations including the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization, is a great place to be. The MIDS program—an LL.M. in International Dispute Settlement—is offered through a partnership between the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. It covers a wide range of topics in private and public international law.View School Profile
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