Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law

525 South Main Street
Ada, OH 45810
United States


LL.M. facts

  • Tuition 39,470

  • Duration 10 months

  • Intakes August

  • Minimum TOEFL 80

  • Minimum IELTS 6.5

Full Profile

The Program

Class of 2012

Class of 2012

The LL.M. in Democratic Governance and Rule of Law is a unique degree program designed for young lawyers from transitional democracies who have a commitment to public service. It is highly focused on providing the tools for building sustainable legal and democratic institutions, requiring the majority of its coursework, including the study of comparative constitutional and administrative law, the American legal system, and corruption and its effect on free markets and governance. Students are required to write a significant paper analyzing and proposing a solution to a governance problem in their home country as a capstone project.

The program seeks a small class of 12-16 students who are lawyers engaged in public service in their home countries. Celebrating ten years since the founding of the program, ONU has more than 150 alumni in 45 countries. From Africa to Eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union, Asia and the Caribbean, the students have brought their diverse backgrounds and experiences to Ohio to share and learn. With scholarship support for most of the students, the program seeks to provide an opportunity for those not able to afford study abroad. In return, the program requires a two-year commitment to public service upon graduation.

Unlike many international LL.M. programs in the United States, students are required to successfully complete seven mandatory courses, including their capstone seminar course. These courses provide an integrated, rigorous approach to enhancing the skills necessary for promoting democratic governance and reinforcing the rule of law in transitional democracies.

Closely interwoven into the curriculum are specialized weekend programs with international experts and field study experiences at every level of government and courts, including in Washington, D.C. Highlighting the program are opportunities for extended private meetings and discussions with a range of senior judges, government officials, members of the media and NGO leaders. These activities all support the program’s goal of providing young reform-minded lawyers a new set of skills to continue their efforts when they return home with their LL.M. degree.

The University

Ohio Northern University

Ohio Northern University

Founded in 1871, Ohio Northern University is a small, private institution located in the village of Ada in northwest Ohio. A private university offering a diverse, dynamic and unique learning community, the school provides rigorous professional programs in partnership with the arts and sciences. Its 3,100 students study for graduate and undergraduate degrees in five colleges: Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Business Administration, Pharmacy, and Law.

The Law School

Claude W. Pettit College of Law

Claude W. Pettit College of Law

The College of Law, established in 1885, is the second oldest law school in Ohio. It has enjoyed a rich and distinguished history, with many outstanding graduates achieving success as lawyers, judges, scholars, and public officials. The college consists of a diverse team of scholars, teachers, and administrators working together to enhance the students' education and transition into the profession through small classes and personal attention. Its long commitment to training lawyers for public service is being continued and expanded through its international LL.M. program.

The Faculty

The faculty and administrators of the LL.M. program have outstanding academic credentials, teaching experience in a variety of cultures, and a range of experiences with democracy and governance programs in transitional democracies. Key figures in the program include:

Professor Karen Hall is the Director of the LL.M. Program and teaches Introduction to the Rule of Law: The American Context and the Rule of Law Seminar. Prior to joining ONU, Professor Hall served for ten years with the U.S. Department of State in its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.  While there, she directed the development and management of State Department assistance to the criminal justice system in Afghanistan as part of the overall U.S. foreign assistance initiative.  Professor Hall developed programs dealing with institutional development, access to justice, protection of women’s rights, and legal education.  She spent 2006-2008 living at the Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan directly managing the State Department’s criminal justice and corrections programs.  Professor Hall earned multiple Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards from the State Department for her work.  She earned her B.A. in Russian from Brigham Young University, M.A. in Security Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Professor Emeritus Howard N Fenton III is the Director of ONU's Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law, and was the founding Director of the LL.M. Program. He currently teaches Comparative Administrative Law and the Rule of Law Seminar. He received both his B.S. and J.D. with honors from the University of Texas. He has more than 30 years of experience in administrative and legislative law as well as public international and international trade law. For the past 17 years, he has consulted on law reform in developing democracies, focusing on reforms in administrative law and procedure, the legislative process, and public participation and awareness. He has authored numerous materials on law reform and served as chief of party for the USAID funded Rule of Law Project in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 2001-02, and currently serves as an advisor to the Parliament of Georgia.

Professor Jean-Marie Kamatali joined the College of Law in 2008. He is an Assistant Professor of Law and teaches International Human Rights Law, International Law of NGOs, Legal Issues in Transitional Democracies, and Consumer Protection. He holds a law degree from the National University of Rwanda, an M.A. in international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in law from Karl Franzens University-Graz in Austria. He has taught at Notre Dame Law School and different universities in the U.S., Africa and Europe. He was dean of the law school at the National University of Rwanda from 1998-2002 and contributed significantly to the legal and institutional rebuilding of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. He has worked as consultant for numerous international organizations and has published multiple articles and book chapters in Africa, Europe and United States.

Professor Bruce Frohnen joined the College of Law in 2008 as Visiting Associate Professor and was named Professor of Law in 2012. He teaches Comparative Constitutional Law in the LL.M. Program. Prior to joining the ONU faculty, he served as a visiting scholar with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a legislative aide to United States Senator Spencer Abraham, and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund Inc. His co-edited volume, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, was the subject of a front-page article in The New York Times. His two most recent volumes, The American Nation: Primary Sources and Rethinking Rights (edited with Kenneth Grasso), were named Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. His articles have appeared in journals including the George Washington Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, and the American Journal of Jurisprudence. His research interests focus on the nature, development, and prospects for constitutionalism and human rights given changing views regarding the nature of human community and the person. He holds a J.D. from the Emory University School of Law and a Ph.D. in government from Cornell University.

Professor Bryan H. Ward serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law. He joined the ONU Law faculty in 1999 and teaches International Criminal Law and Terrorism and Criminal Law in the LL.M. Program. He received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. in Political Science/International Relations from Ohio State University, where he was a graduate instructor for 11 quarters. He writes in the areas of criminal sentencing and criminal procedure. Professor Ward also frequently gives continuing legal education presentations in the areas of legal ethics and professionalism as well as legal issues affecting churches and other non-profit organizations. He was member of the 2008 Fellows Class of the Ohio State Bar Foundation and also served for two terms on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on the Certification of Attorneys as Specialists.

Entry Requirements

Ohio Northern is seeking highly qualified lawyers from across the globe with a strong commitment to advancing democratic principles and rule of law to share in our LL.M. experience. While our focus is on lawyers from transitional democracies, we also welcome lawyers from developed democracies who share the commitment to the rule of law and would like to advance their understanding and qualifications for international democracy and governance reform.

Admission is open to lawyers, preferably with a minimum of two to five years experience in the public or non-profit (NGO) sectors, or working on governance and rule of law issues. For those applicants who are not native English speakers, or who have not received a significant portion of their education in English, an IBT TOEFL of 80 or higher is required, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher required.

Additional criteria include a recognized law degree, admission to the bar, and recommendations (including those from employers, and U.S. foreign aid offices and contractors). The personal statement from the applicant will also be weighed heavily. A personal interview, either in person with one of our faculty and staff, or by telephone, may be required to fully consider an applicant.

Application Procedure

LLM Suite

LLM Suite

Interested applicants can apply directly by e-mail to the LL.M. Program with the required application materials. We also accept applications via the Law School Admission Council application system. Lawyers are invited to e-mail a C.V. to llm@onu.edu for assessment of qualification and competitiveness for tuition grants prior to applying.

Required application materials include:

1. Application form.

2. An official TOEFL or IELTS report sent directly to Ohio Northern University College of Law (or indication of substantial study in English).

3. A 300 word essay describing your interest in public service, rule of law and democratic governance.

4. 3 Letters of Recommendation

5. An Employer Statement

6. Personal or telephone interview

Tuition and Fees

Congratulation Graduates

Congratulation Graduates

The primary goal of the ONU international LL.M. program is to provide young lawyers from transitional countries who are committed to public service with the benefits of a study program not otherwise available to them for financial reasons. To help achieve this goal, there are a limited number of full and partial tuition scholarships available for applicants. These students must demonstrate that they have financial resources available to cover the additional costs of the program as a condition for final admission.

Tuition and other required living expenses for the 2017-18 academic year are:

Tuition $37,980
Individual Costs  
   Campus Housing $9,000
   Meals $3,000
   Books $2,500
   Health Insurance $1,500
   Personal Expenses $2,000
Total Individual Costs (estimate) $19,000


Financial Aid

The University recognizes that lawyers committed to public service most often lack the financial resources for advanced international study. We are committed to providing significant financial support for our most qualified students.

Highly qualified international attorneys whose experience demonstrates a commitment to public service who are accepted to the LL.M. program may receive up to a full tuition award. There are also a limited number of partial tuition scholarships available for well-qualified international attorneys. The program encourages all applicants to seek financial support from their governments and other organizations with available resources.

The program is also open to a limited number of young lawyers from the United States and other developed democracies to study and live with the international students. These positions generally do not include financial support from the university, although the program will facilitate financial aid from other sources.




Ada, Ohio is a quaint Midwestern town of around 6,000 people. Where the big event is the annual September Harvest & Herb Festival, and with the coffee shop on the corner across from the local drugstore, the local movie theatre still charging only $4 a ticket, and college pizza parlors, bars, and Chinese and Mexican restaurants, Ada blends the spirit of small town America and college life. The grain elevators and the railroad running through the center of town speak of one dimension, the university with its five colleges and new facilities make a strong statement about another aspect of the American heartland. Studying in an international program in this small town setting allows a focus and interaction with faculty and fellow students that builds an educational foundation unmatched in urban environments.


Campus Housing

Campus Housing

The LL.M students will reside in campus apartments. Two LL.M students will share a fully furnished, air conditioned, two bedroom apartment with a shared bathroom, living room and fully equipped kitchen. The apartments also include a desktop computer for each student, Internet service, cable television, and local telephone service. All of these services, and the rest of their utilities, are provided through the university. University facilities include a number of dining venues and a state of the art fitness and sports facility available to the students. The park-like campus includes a 2.5 mile (4 km) running path and numerous playing fields.

Student Life

The university and law school are the focus of student activity at Ohio Northern. International peer advisors for the LL.M. students, consisting of second and third year J.D. students with an international orientation help facilitate the transition to life at the university. Numerous student organizations both at the law school and university level offer many opportunities for meeting and engaging with students and faculty. These include a range of multi-cultural and religious organizations. The many musical, literary and cultural events sponsored by the university provide a range of stimulating activities. Regularly scheduled trips to surrounding larger communities offer opportunities for shopping and socializing as well.

Programs at ONU Law


10 months
  • Admission is open to lawyers with at least two years of experience in the public or nonprofit (NGO) sector, including the judiciary and academia, working on governance and rule of law issues.

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ONU LLM Application Deadline Extended To 8 June! Apply Today! >more

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