International Law Students

Should I Get an LLM? FAQs From International Law Students

The LLM, or Master of Laws, is an internationally recognized postgraduate law degree sought by those wishing to specialize in a particular area of the law. Students who received a JD in the U.S. may opt for an LLM in order to further specialize in a certain field of law. Students who received their JD-equivalent internationally may seek an LLM to become more familiar with American law. Depending on the state, completing an LLM may make an internationally-educated student eligible to apply to take the bar in that state.

Should I Get an LLM? FAQs From International Law Students

How Do You Apply To A LLM Program?

Just like JD admissions, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website is the portal for submitting LLM applications to law schools in the US. You’ll need to submit your application materials to the website first. Then, you can apply to different programs and monitor your status. No entrance exam is needed for this application, like the traditional LSAT or GRE needed for JD applicants. (Note, however, some schools may require TOEFL scores of non-native English speakers.)

What Application Materials Are Required to Apply for an LLM?

As a general rule you’ll need to submit academic transcripts and proof that you earned your first degree in law, along with a personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency. Different schools may require additional materials, so be sure you check the requirements well in advance of submitting your applications. If your transcript or letters of recommendation are not written in English, you may need to pay a third-party service to have them translated.

How Can You Demonstrate English Proficiency for an LLM?

To be accepted to an LLM program at an American school, you’ll need to demonstrate English proficiency. Some international students submit their scores on the TOEFL or IELTS. Other students may obtain a waiver by submitting evidence of their English ability. A typical waiver application may include English educational experience, work experience, or scholarly work in English. Keep in mind that international students will be in the same classes, taking the same tests, and graded on the same curve as their native-English speaking classmates. These proficiency requirements are to make sure that you can not only keep up with the pace of a demanding class but that you can succeed in it.

Can an International Student Get Financial Aid for an LLM?

Each school has a different timeline for processing and reviewing LLM applications. However, the admission decision isn’t necessarily the end of the process for international students! Many LLM programs offer merit-based scholarships for LLM students in order to attract the best talent.  As a general rule, international citizens are not eligible for federal government funding (which is how most JD law students fund their studies) so you may need to great creative and work with individual schools to find a way to finance your education. Research your target schools to learn more about how they handle financial aid.

An LLM is a great way for international students to gain expertise in American law. Use our guidance above to achieve your goals!

What is the benefit of an LLM for an international student?

You’ll need to consider whether you’re interested in the degree or whether you also want to sit for the bar exam. You’ll also need to consider how to finance your one or two-year LLM program. Whether it’s ultimately worth getting an LLM is a very personal and individualized decision. You’ll need to consider your short and long-term career goals.

As mentioned earlier, an LLM degree can make you eligible to sit for the bar exam in certain US states. Having a US license to practice law will allow you to either stay in that state and build a career here or take that degree back to your home country and leverage it for more opportunities there. Many international companies seek out attorneys who are educated in the US to enhance the value they bring to the firm and their ability to interact and handle international matters and clients. Whether the benefits outweigh the costs of moving, tuition and the time necessary to dedicate the program is up to you!


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