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 General 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 approximately 100 students from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. The Graduate Legal Studies Office can help you design a program of study from more than 170 courses and seminars, including first-year courses, advanced electives, clinical offerings, or courses designed specifically for LL.M. students.
Cornell Law General 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.
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, applicants must have:
- Earned a first degree of law outside the United States prior to the start of the program.
- Proficiency in English as demonstrated by all aspects of the application and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS), if required.
We accept both the internet-based (iBT) TOEFL and IELTS test scores. If submitting a TOEFL score you must request that the Educational Testing Service send your official score report(s) to LSAC using the institution code number 8395. For IELTS, you must request that your official IELTS score report(s) be sent to the LSAC Credential Assembly Service for electronic download using the IELTS system. A high level of English proficiency is needed to complete the General LL.M. program. While all applications will be reviewed regardless of ESL scores, successful applicants typically have a minimum TOEFL overall score of 100 or a minimum IELTS overall band score of 7.0.
Applicants should plan to take either test prior to December. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid only if dated within two years of the program's application deadline.
- is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (except Quebec).
- at the time you enroll at Cornell, you will have studied in full-time status for at least two academic years within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, or with English language instruction in Canada or South Africa. Even if English was the language of instruction at your school, if you did not study in one of these countries you are not exempt from the requirement. You must submit a transcript that shows you attended college in one of the approved locations, and that your academic program was at least two years in length.
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How to Apply
Application Deadline: December 15, 2020
All applications must be submitted through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). A complete application file 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 or IELTS score
The completed Cornell Law School LL.M. Application form and supporting documents including
- statement of interest
- résumé or curriculum vitae
- character & fitness addendum (if required)
- optional addendum
- payment of the nonrefundable $80 USD application fee
All applications are due by December 15 allowing our Admissions 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. Documents must be submitted in their original language; documents in languages other than English must be accompanied by a certified translation.
The 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 at least six weeks before the December 15 application deadline, and ensure that application materials are received by LSAC at least four 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:
- résumé or curriculum vitae
- statement of interest
- letters of recommendation
- updated transcripts
- application fee
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 or Principles of American Legal Writing. 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 Cornell 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.
General 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.
General LL.M. students may, after consultation with the Assistant Dean for Graduate Legal Studies, elect to be graded on the J.D. letter grade 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.
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 1. 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 Cornell Law School is not available to students transferring from the school's LL.M. program to the 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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