The Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree at Cornell Law School is a one-year program designed for practicing attorneys and recent law school graduates who have earned a first degree in law outside the United States. Through the LL.M. program, students increase their understanding of American legal principles and can further develop a legal specialization.
Why Cornell Law
The General LL.M. program allows you to tailor your own course of study based on your individual academic and career objectives while experiencing American law school culture. We typically enroll between 85 to 100 students from a pool of approximately 1,000 applicants. The Graduate Legal Studies Office can help you design a program of study from more than 120 courses and seminars, including first-year courses, advanced electives, or courses designed specifically for LL.M. students.
Cornell Law LL.M. students are fully integrated into the academic and student life of the Law School. Our LL.M.s can enroll in courses with J.D. students and participate in virtually all student organizations. LL.M. students also have their own student organization that plans and schedules programs and events specifically designed for GLS students. Outside of the law school, you can enjoy the advantages of the large Cornell University campus located in Ithaca, part of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.
You are welcome to visit us if you are in the area. Arrangements can be made for a student-guided tour, class visit, and meeting with a counselor. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks prior to arrival.
Applicants include experienced lawyers, in-house counsel, judges, government officials, and recent law school graduates. The program is highly selective and admission is based on a holistic review of the entire application including prior academic performance, recommendations, and work experience.
To be considered for admission to the General LL.M. program, students must have:
- Earned a first degree of law outside the United States.
- Proficiency in English as demonstrated by all aspects of the application including the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) unless you meet the English proficiency requirement outlined below. We do not accept IELTS.
English proficiency requirement
If English is your native language or you have completed at least one year of higher education study at an English-speaking institution located in a country where English is an official language, you are not required to take the TOEFL.
If your native language is not English, you must submit a TOEFL score. The official score report must be received prior to the applicable deadline for an application to be considered.
The TOEFL is offered frequently throughout the world. TOEFL score reports must be sent to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) LL.M. Credential Assembly Service. You must have the Educational Testing Service send your TOEFL score to the LSAC using the institution code number 8395.
Information on testing and an application form can be obtained from:
The Educational Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08541, U.S.A.
+1 (609) 921-9000
How to Apply
Application Deadline: December 15, 2016
All applications must be submitted through the
Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). A complete application contains the following:
The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Law School Report including
- official certification of each degree you have earned
- two letters of recommendation through LSAC’s Letter of Recommendation Service
- official TOEFL score if proficiency in English is not met as described above
The completed Cornell Law School LL.M. Application form and supporting documents including
- statement of interest
- character & fitness addendum (if required)
- optional addendum
Payment of the nonrefundable $80 USD application fee.
All applications are due by December 15 allowing our committee to release decisions by March. To be considered for a scholarship award, all application materials must be received by this date. Applications received after December 15 will be reviewed on a space-available basis. Complete application instructions can be found in the Cornell Law LL.M. Application available through LSAC.
The LL.M. Credential Assembly Service simplifies the application process by centralizing the collection of application materials and distributing them in an electronic report to all ABA-approved law schools to which you apply. LSAC has provided a Checklist for the LLM Application Process on its website.
Unexpected delays do happen. We strongly advise that you register with LSAC four to six weeks before the December 15 application deadline, and ensure that application materials are received by LSAC at least two weeks before the deadline.
If you are denied admission, you may reapply to Cornell Law in a subsequent year. The Admissions Committee will review your entire application, but will also focus on any significant changes since your prior application.
To re-apply for admission, you should submit new versions of the following:
- statement of interest
- letters of recommendation
- updated transcripts
- application fee
LL.M. Academic InformationDegree Requirements
The General LL.M. program requires the completion of 20 credits during two semesters of full-time study. Degree requirements include:
- Completion of the two-credit Introduction to the American Legal System course;
- One three-credit seminar with a substantial writing component that satisfies the writing requirement. This can be substituted with a three-credit paper supervised by a faculty member or a five-credit Master's thesis; and
- An additional 15 credits fulfilled by choosing courses from the Law School's extensive curriculum, including most first-year and upper-level courses. You can also take courses in other divisions of the university.
Those planning to sit for the New York Bar exam must complete 24 credits of in classroom law school coursework, which must include a professional responsibility course, a legal research, writing and analysis course, and core subjects covered by the New York State bar exam and the New York Law Exam. Full details regarding the New York State Bar Requirements can be found on the Registrar's webpage. These requirements are subject to change each academic year. Students who are interested in taking the New York State Bar Examination should submit an Online Request for Foreign Evaluation of Academic Credentials as soon as possible.
LL.M. candidates are evaluated on a four-tier scale:
- High Honors (HH) - appropriate for A+ to A course work
- Honors (H) - appropriate for A- to B+ course work
- Satisfactory (S) - appropriate for B to C- course work
- Unsatisfactory (U) - appropriate for D+ or lower course work
There is no faculty policy regulating the proportion of HH, H, S, and U grades that faculty may give to LL.M. students. Merit points are currently not assigned to HH, H, S, and U grades.
Effective for the 2017-18 academic year LL.M. candidates may, after consultation with the Assistant Dean for Graduate Legal Studies, elect to be graded on the J.D. scale and curve. This election applies to the entire academic year and must be made by notifying the Registrar within the first four weeks of the date Fall semester classes begin.
Transferring to J.D.
Only current Cornell Law School LL.M. students may apply to transfer to the J.D. program at Cornell Law. Your transfer application must be received by J.D. Admissions office by April 1st. The transfer procedures and requirements are similar to those applied to J.D. students at other law schools who seek to transfer into the Cornell Law J.D. program. Complete requirements may be found on the J.D. Admissions webpage.
If you are accepted into the J.D. program as a transfer student, you will be eligible to apply up to 24 credits obtained in pursuit of your LL.M. degree toward your J.D. degree requirements. However, you will lose your eligibility to receive your pending LL.M. degree. You must complete at least four semesters at Cornell while enrolled as a J.D. student.
Typically, financial assistance from the Law School is not available to students transferring from the school's LL.M. program to our J.D. program. However, in extraordinary circumstances, the Admissions Committee may make exceptions to this policy.
Special Student Status
Current GLS students who wish to continue to take courses during the next academic year after completing their Cornell LL.M. degree requirements must apply to the Assistant Dean for Graduate Legal Studies by April 1.
Requests must include:
- a brief statement of your plans for the next academic year, including your reasons for continuing with coursework
- a copy of your Cornell Law School transcript
You will be notified of acceptance by May 1.
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