What Do I Need to Apply for an LL.M. Program?

What Do I Need to Apply for an LL.M. Program?

A list of the typical requirements you’ll need to meet and materials you’ll need to submit when applying for an LL.M.

Below is a list of some general requirements that you’ll need to meet and materials you’ll need to submit when you apply for an LL.M.

Requirements vary widely by school, though, so check with the law schools to see what exactly you’ll need!

A law degree (very important)

The most important part of your application to an LL.M. program is your degree. Specifically, almost all law schools require that you hold a professional law degree, such as a JD or an LL.B. (an undergraduate bachelor's degree in law, common in the United Kingdom) to gain acceptance to an LL.M. program.

For some European or British schools, these requirements are not quite as strict. These schools require students to either hold a degree in law, or to hold another degree along with work experience in the legal field. For example, the University of Reading requires that students without a law degree show their capacity for advanced legal study through either work experience or a strong academic record. Maastricht University requires students without a law degree to take an entrance exam. And King's College London considers students without a law degree, if they hold a similar degree (such as a Graduate Law Diploma) plus three years of work experience.

Some American schools also require that students hold certain degrees in order to pursue specific LL.M. specializations. For example, Temple University requires that students applying to the LL.M. in taxation either have completed a course pertaining to taxation at law school, or have relevant work experience. Students who don't meet these requirements must take an intro-level taxation course when they enroll in the LL.M. program.

Other American schools, such as the University of California—Berkeley and Harvard University, won't consider applicants who already hold an LL.M. from another law school in the United States.

Language proficiency (very important)

If you're applying to a law school in the English-speaking world, it's essential that you can prove your English-speaking skills. Schools in the United States and the United Kingdom require non-native English speakers to submit TOEFL results (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS results (International English Language Testing System). The minimum required scores vary from school to school, but across the board, students are expected to have achieved a high level of proficiency in English. For example, Berkeley's minimum TOEFL score is 100 for the Internet test, 600 for the paper-based test, or 7.0 on the IELTS. Even schools outside the English-speaking world sometimes require English proficiency if they offer programs in English. For example, Maastricht requires applicants who are not native English speakers to take the IELTS test with a minimum score of 6.5, or the TOEFL with a minimum score of 575 on paper or 90 on the Internet.

Law school transcript (important)

All LL.M. programs require that you submit your law school transcript as part of your application, and most schools place a heavy emphasis on your law school performance when considering whether to admit you into an LL.M. program. Some UK schools have a minimum honors requirement, such as King's College London, which requires an undergraduate law degree with 2:1 honors. Many American schools don't have specific requirements, but some state that law school grades are one of the most significant parts of an LL.M. application.

Letters of recommendation (important)

Most LL.M. programs will ask you to submit letters of recommendations as part of the application. The specifications will depend on the school, with many requiring two or three. Schools also have various requirements about who should write your letters, many will require at least one letter from a law professor who you studied under, while some also prefer that you have a letter from a recent work or internship supervisor.

Work and research experience (potentially important)

Although most schools don't require work or research experience, many schools will examine your out-of-school experience when you apply for an LL.M. Some schools, such as Columbia University, give strong preference to students who have worked for at least a year after obtaining their J.D., and rarely admit students who have just finished law school. Other schools, such as the University of Oklahoma, state that they prefer students to obtain experience outside of the classroom before applying for their LL.M.

Writing skills (helpful)

Almost all schools require you to submit a personal statement and/or writing sample along with your transcript, resume and English test scores (if applicable). Showcasing your writing skills through the statement and writing sample will definitely bolster your LL.M. application.


Image: moppet65535 / Flickr (cropped)

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