LLM in U.S. Law (for international law school graduates)

Key Program Features

For over 45 years, the LLM in U.S. 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, professors, and other graduates of international law schools. 

  • 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 U.S. Law program. After enrolling in the 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 work with an academic advisor to help shape their education or enhance career prospects by meeting the requirements for earning a Certificate of Concentration and corresponding transcript notation. Students who believe they have earned a Concentration submit an Application for a Concentration near the end of their program. While pursuing one of the Concentrations listed above is an option, LLM in U.S. 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 Orientation Week featuring workshops 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 "Academic Integrity"
  • Personalized, individual academic advising and course selection appointments 
  • Study aids and resources available through the Legal Research Center (law library)
  • 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 students with F-1 student visas are expected to complete the program in 1 year. Absent compelling academic or medical reasons consistent with U.S. immigration regulations, a student's visa cannot be extended to provide additional time to complete the program.
  • 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 (2 credits): Students learn research and writing techniques used by practicing U.S. attorneys, including training on Lexis and Westlaw electronic legal research systems
  • Two of the 25 credits must fulfill an additional written work requirement, which can be satisfied through a designated writing course
  • Remaining credits may be chosen from our extensive 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 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
  • U.S. 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 needed to maintain good standing LLM in U.S. 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 U.S. 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 LLM in U.S. 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 an academic advisor 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 judges, government officials, and attorneys working in business and corporate law, taxation, 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