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.
“The relatively small size of the school and the classes, and the connections formed there have had a longstanding effect on me.”
Fouad Debs LL.M. '19
How to Apply
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 the Law School Admission Council (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.
The English language proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant meets at least one of these criteria:
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 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.
If you meet the criteria, you may request a waiver by uploading an addendum to your online application with the appropriate documentation. Waiver requests are reviewed with complete applications only.
All applications must be received by December 15 and decisions are typically released by March.
Applications received after December 15 will be reviewed on a space-available basis.
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)
Payment of the nonrefundable $80 USD application fee
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.
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.
Tuition for the 2021–22 academic year is US$71,522. Total expenses, including tuition, are estimated to be US$93,236. See an overview of the estimated cost of attendance below, which includes tuition, living expenses, books and supplies, and university fees.
2021–22 Estimated Cost of Attendance
Student Activity Fee
Books and Supplies
General LL.M applicants wishing to be considered for financial aid should indicate their interest on their admissions application.
We provide a limited number of financial awards to General LL.M. candidates based on merit.
All of your application materials must be received by December 15 to be considered for an award.
For applicants who are U.S. citizens or residents, you may qualify for federal student loans. For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office. If ineligible for federal financial aid, applicants needing loan funds may apply for a private student loan. Most loans will require a U.S. cosigner with significant credit history. Prodigy Finance and MPower are lenders that do not require a cosigner. Cornell Law School cannot assist in securing a student loan.
General LL.M. students can apply for the following Cornell Law School post-graduate fellowships and summer legal internships with government agencies (including courts) or nonprofit organizations outside of the United States, if available during the academic year.
Berger International and Comparative Legal Studies Summer Fellowships give students an opportunity to engage international law practitioners and researchers, and to build collaborative partnerships with public, non-profit and non-governmental agencies addressing critical issues in relevant areas of international law such as human rights, international criminal law, and international trade law. Application instructions will be posted by the International Programs Office during the spring semester.
The Furman Family Fellowship provides an annual grant to support an internship at the Supreme Court of Israel. Application instructions will be posted by the International Programs Office during the spring semester.
The International Court of Justice Judicial Fellows Program offers recent law school graduates the opportunity to clerk for ten months at the Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Cornell nominates one or more students for this position each year and provides a fellowship to support students selected by the Court. Application instructions will be posted by the Office of Public Service.
The Robert and Barbara Kent Fellowship at the Southern African Institute of Policy and Research is awarded to a law student who will spend two months working in the corporate law firm of Musa Dhudia & Co. The fellow will receive housing while in Lusaka, Zambia and a stipend to cover living costs. Application instructions will be posted by the International Programs Office during the spring semester.
Tuition and university charges will be processed through the University Bursar. You should receive your first bill in mid-July, and it will be due in early August. Financial aid offered by Cornell Law School will show as pending aid on that bill. If you apply for a private loan before July 1, that amount will also be reflected on your bill.
All refunds should be picked up at the Bursar Office located at Day Hall. If you have signed up for direct deposit your refund will be direct deposited into your account. We recommend direct deposit whenever possible.
General LL.M. students at Cornell Law have the freedom to design and customize a program of study that best suits individual academic goals.
Visa information: The Office of Global Learning has detailed information about applying for visas and preparing for life at Cornell. After receiving admission to our General LL.M. program, the Office of Graduate Legal Studies will provide you with more information on how to begin the visa process, including submitting proof of financial support and coordinating the I-20.
Re-applicants, Deferred Admission, Transfer Students, and Special Student Status
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
Deferral of admissions decisions is rarely granted. If an admitted applicant wishes to defer, they must email a petition detailing the deferral request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only current Cornell Law School General LL.M. students may apply to transfer to the J.D. program at Cornell Law. Your transfer application must be received by the 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.
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 Graduate Legal Studies office by April 1.
Requests must include:
A brief statement of your plans for the next academic year, including your reasons for continuing with coursework