LLM in Comparative Law (for international law school graduates)

Key Program Features

For over 40 years, the LLM in Comparative Law program has provided international law school graduates with the opportunity to design a program that specifically suits their academic interests and professional goals. The program offers candidates maximum flexibility in selecting courses from a contemporary and dynamic curriculum, and is ideal for attorneys, judges, professors and other graduates of international law schools. Please note that the program name is not meant to suggest that students must study comparative law. Rather, the program name reflects the international character of our students and the various legal systems they come from.

  • Courses for this program may be selected from many subject areas, including Business and Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, and Taxation
  • Combining fundamental courses in U.S. Law with the opportunity to select from a broad variety of electives allows candidates to develop a highly personalized LLM program
  • Studying alongside JD and LLM students from the U.S. and around the world prepares LLM candidates to deal effectively with U.S. attorneys on questions of common interest, and to gain a comprehensive understanding of the law and policy in a wide array of subjects

Lucy Lund speaking in a student Interview Video

Academic Concentrations

The School of Law is pleased to offer specialized Concentration areas within the LLM in Comparative Law. After enrolling in the LLM program, candidates have the option of pursuing a Concentration in one of the following areas: Business and Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Environmental and Energy Law, Intellectual Property, International Law and Taxation.

These concentrations highlight curricular strengths, offering a selection of courses taught by leading scholars and expert practitioners. Students can work with the Director to help shape their education or enhance their career prospects by meeting the specific requirements for earning a Certificate of Concentration and corresponding transcript notation. Students who believe they have earned a Concentration will submit an Application for a Concentration near the end of their program. Please be aware that the election or pursuit of a Concentration area does not afford registration priority. While pursuing one of the Concentrations listed above is an available option, LLM in Comparative Law candidates are not required to pursue a Concentration.

Specialized Support for International Attorneys

We recognize that studying law in the United States can present unique challenges for internationally educated attorneys. To assist our students with this transition, the School of Law offers:

  • A special LLM student orientation program featuring an Introduction to U.S. Legal Education Workshop, which includes courses designed to provide international attorneys with the foundational skills needed to begin their study of law in the United States
  • Special coverage of topics include "Sources of Law and Case Briefing," "Exam Writing Skills" and "Introduction to the Socratic Method"
  • Personalized, individual academic advising and course selection appointments with the Director
  • Academic success services and language-based exam accommodations for eligible students

Program Timeline

  • Students may begin the program in the Fall or Spring term
  • Full-time and part-time options are available (students with F-1 visas must attend full-time)
  • Full-time students are expected to complete the program in 1 academic year. Part-time students may take up to 3 years. All foreign-educated attorneys on F-1 student visas are expected to complete the program in 1 year. A student's visa cannot be extended to provide additional time for the student to complete the program, absent compelling academic or medical reasons consistent with U.S. visa regulations.
  • Coursework is offered in both the day and evening to accommodate different student needs

Degree Requirements

  • A candidate for this LLM degree must successfully complete 25 credit hours of appropriate coursework.
  • Required courses comprise 4 of the 25 credits:
    • Introduction to U.S. Law (2 credits): This course provides a comprehensive overview of the U.S. legal system and comparatively introduces approaches to law, lawyering and legal processes
    • Legal Writing and Research for LLM in Comparative Law Candidates (2 credits): Students learn the research and writing techniques used by practicing U.S. attorneys, including training on both the Lexis and Westlaw electronic legal research systems
  • Two of the 25 credits must fulfill a written work requirement, which may be satisfied through successful completion of a designated written work course
  • Remaining credits may be chosen from our extensive upper-division elective offerings
  • Full details of the degree requirements may be found in the School of Law Academic Rules in the Student Handbook
  • General admission requirements (including class rank and English proficiency) can be found on our Application Checklist page

English Language Requirement

  • Applicants are required to establish English competency through successful completion of an English language test (TOEFL or IELTS) in the event that: [1] the applicant's native language is not English, or [2] the applicant graduated from an international law school. The minimum suggested TOEFL score is 93 (583 paper-based), and the minimum suggested academic IELTS score is 7.0
  • Comparative Law candidates whose native language is not English, and who submit a TOEFL/IELTS score as part of their application materials, are eligible to receive extra time on examinations and the use of a translating dictionary. Please note that language-based exam accommodations are only available for exams administered by USD School of Law and do not extend to third party exams, such as bar exams administered by state bar authorities.
  • The minimum grade point average required for the LLM in Comparative Law is a 2.0, while the minimum grade point average required for all other LLM programs is a 2.5. This distinction was created as an accommodation for non-native English speakers and for those who have limited experience with the common law system.

Visa Information, LLM Tuition, Fees and Scholarships

Bar Exam Information

  • The LLM in Comparative Law is not designed to prepare international law school graduates to sit for a bar exam in the United States. Candidates who plan to take a U.S. bar exam may wish to consider our JD program. However, some graduates of the USD LLM in Comparative Law program have taken bar exams in the U.S. with successful results
  • Information about the State Bar of California may be obtained at www.calbar.ca.gov. The State Bar of California requires that international LLM students be graded on the same grading scale as JD students, and the University of San Diego School of Law follows this practice
  • For information about the New York Bar examination, please visit http://www.nybarexam.org/
  • Information about the bar examination in other jurisdictions may be obtained by referring to individual state bar associations
  • Please note that bar admission does not guarantee eligibility for employment in the U.S.

Career Advancement

  • Candidates work closely with the Director to design a program that fulfills not only the degree requirements, but also the candidate's professional goals
  • Our Career and Professional Development office offers individualized career counseling appointments, as well as many other resources ranging from networking events to résumé writing workshops to information about specific job opportunities
  • Students are invited to participate in internationally renowned job fairs designed specifically for international attorneys who are LLM candidates
  • Alumni of this program are employed in numerous legal fields in the United States and around the world, including as judges, government officials, and attorneys working in business and corporate law, taxation law, commercial and banking law and international law
  • Student visa regulations permit LLM candidates to gain additional practical experience by completing "Optional Practical Training," which allows students to find a placement with a U.S. law firm or agency for up to 12 months after finishing the degree