Study LLM in USA: Complete Course Guide for International Students

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    Komal Yadav

    Study Abroad Expert

    LLM (Master of Law) in USA is offered in various specialized fields like taxation, commercial law, social justice, human rights, environmental law, criminology and others. It is a 9 months to 1-year course available as a residential program in most of the universities. Some institutes also offer it as a distance-learning program. International students are required to have a 3-year bachelors degree in law is required to apply for LLM in USA. 

    • LLM is offered in more than 200 colleges of the USA.
    • Enrollment of students in the Master of Law program in the USA increased from 13,667 in 2016 to 19,819 in 2019. 
    Law enrollment in USA

    Why Study LLM in USA?

    Following are some of the reasons that attract the study abroad aspirants towards LLM in USA: 

    • With career opportunities like Diplomat or Policy advisor, the law graduates learn to negotiate treaties and maintain international relations.
    • On 1st January 2019, American Bar Association (ABA) shared the report of steady growth in the number of active lawyers i.e. 12.4% (highest since 2010).
    • USA legal studies focus on the Socratic method of teaching to improve the argumentative dialogue among the students which is an important skill for lawyers.
    • Through the academic year, the students get opportunities to work on pro bono cases due to high requirements in legal clinics of USA.
    • The legal profession in the USA warmly welcomes female lawyers. In 2019, there was a hike of 5% (as compared to the last 10 years) in numbers of female lawyers practising in legal clinics.
    • Law firms in the USA celebrate diversity. Only 20% of minorities were working as an associate lawyer in 2009 whereas in 2018 the number raised to 24%. 
    • International graduates can practice law without any kind of discrimination in these law firms.
    • Entry-level salaries in the legal firms range between 58,000 USD and 70,000 USD.

    Top Universities offering LLM in USA

    According to QS News Ranking, following are the top 10 universities in the USA offering LLM or Master of Law program: 

    QS Ranking 2020 University School Specialization Total Program Fees Brochure
    1 Harvard University Harvard Law School LLM; 1 year 65,875 USD Brochure
    4 Yale University Yale Law School LLM; 1 year 43,300 USD Brochure
    5 Stanford University Stanford Law School Law, Science & Technology; Corporate Governance & Practise;  etc; 9 months 62,175 USD Brochure
    7 University of California, Berkeley University of California, Berkeley Law Tradition & Thesis Track; 9 months 63,362 USD Brochure
    8 University of Columbia Columbia Law School LLM; 1 year 72,360 USD Brochure
    9 New York University (NYU) NYU Law Competition, Innovation & Information Law; Corporation Law; Taxation etc.  66,036 USD Brochure
    11 University of Chicago University of Chicago Law School LLM; 1 year 66,651 USD Brochure
    18 Georgetown University Georgetown University Law Centre Taxation; Securities & Financial Regulation; National Security Law, etc; 1 year 62,244 USD Brochure
    26 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) UCLA Law LLM; 9 months 66,571 USD Brochure
    29 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Michigan Law LLM; 9 year 64,526 USD Brochure

    Course Curriculum of LLM in USA

    LLM in USA is an abbreviation of Legum Megistar (a Latin word) which means Master of Law. Students are required to complete at least 24 units while studying in the USA. Approximately 18 units consist of academic courses and rest can be completed by attending seminars or submitting a project, depending upon the university. 

    Following are some of the common courses taught in LLM in USA: 

    • Fundamentals of US Law
    • Legal Research & Writing
    • Constitutional Law, Regulations and Public Policy
    • Criminal Justice
    • Legal History and Legal Theory
    • Litigation and Dispute Resolution
    • Social Justice and Human Rights

    Admission Process for LLM in USA 

    In the law schools of USA, the students get the opportunity to work as pro bono and get acquainted with the legal issues. A JD, LLB or bachelors degree in law is required for admission in LLM in this country. 

    How to Apply: Most of the law schools have their own portal for accepting applications. Students should send their transcripts for evaluation to LSAC’s LLM CAS 3 to 5 weeks before applying so that the agency could complete the evaluation on time and forward it to university. All the other documents must be directly submitted to the university’s address either via post or mail. 

    When to Apply: Application deadline in USA universities for LLM mostly lies in the month of December. Some colleges have rolling admission policy.

    Eligibility for LLM in USA Admission

    • Juris Doctor (JD) from an ABA-approved US Law School or first degree (JD, LLB or equivalent) from a foreign law school
    • Minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale or 83% at bachelors level (varies with the university)
    • Minimum 2 to 2 years of work experience (depends upon university)
    • Proof of English proficiency

    Documents Required for LLM in USA Admission

    • Transcripts of 10th, 12th and bachelors degree
    • Evaluation of foreign transcripts by LSAC’s LLM Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
    • Minimum 2 letters of recommendations
    • Essays based on the questions asked by the university
    • Curriculum Vitae (CV)

    English Proficiency Requirement for International Students

    Proof of English proficiency is required for admission of international students belonging to non-English speaking countries. Minimum score requirement for most of the top-ranking universities of USA are given below: 

    • TOEFL (iBT): 100
    • IELTS: 7.0

    Visa Requirements for International Students 

    The USA has different types of visa. F1 is used for those who want to pursue academics in universities in the USA. The US student visa is issued post submission of the following documents:  

    • University Acceptance Letter
    • Migration, provisional, character and birth certificates
    • Original I-20 signed and approved by both the university authority and candidate
    • GRE scorecard and proof of language proficiency
    • 2 letters of recommendation; Resume; Statement of purpose
    • Financial Proof: Last 6-month’s bank transaction and balance certificate; Sponsorship letter from sponsor and relationship certificate with sponsor
    • Assets valuation
    • SEVIS Fee receipt

    Once these documents have been submitted, the applicant will be invited for an interview process. Visa will be issued only if the applicant has cleared their visa interview.

    Cost of Studying LLM in USA 

    Total cost of studying abroad for any program depends upon the university’s tuition fees, cost of living of the area where university is located and lifestyle of a student. Thus, it can be divided into three categories: Pre-arrival Cost, Tuition Fees and Cost of Living. 

    Pre-arrival Cost

    This is a one-time expense incurred while applying for a university. It includes visa application fees, registration fees of tests required to study in USA and LSAC’s CAS fees.  

    Type of Expense Cost (USD)
    Application Fees 80 – 100
    USA Student Visa Fees 160
    IELTS Fees 185-190
    TOEFL Fees 160-250
    LSAC CAS Fees 195

    Tuition Cost of LLM in USA

    USA has been an expensive country to sustain a livelihood. International students who wish to pursue LLM in USA can get a superficial idea from the table given below about the tuition fees across universities.

    Tuition Fees

    Cost of Living in USA

    The major contributor to the cost of living for an international student is housing in the USA. On-campus housing is obviously more convenient than off-campus accommodation but most of the universities have only limited space available. Other costs include meal plans, transportation and health insurance. 

    Type of Accommodation Average Monthly Expenses (in USD)
    Accommodation On-Campus: 1000;
    Off-Campus: 600 -800
    Meals 120-160
    Transportation 100 – 300
    Personal Expenditures 300 – 600
    Health Insurance 450 – 700
    Total 1,570 – 2,813

    Scholarships for LLM in USA

    Due to high tuition fees, the international students opt for scholarships in the USA to waive off the cost. Though LLM in the USA is a 9-10months course program, the students require scholarships for easy completion of course. The commonly availed scholarship in USA  and its amount is given below 

    University Scholarship Offered Amount (in USD)
    Harvard University Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Full tuition fees; living expenses; travel allowance
    Stanford University Fulbright scholarship Tuition fees and travel allowance
    New York University  Hauser Global Scholars Program $25,000
    University of California, Berkeley Fulbright Scholarship $20,000 to $40,000
    Columbia University Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship Full or partial tuition fee
    Georgetown University  General Merit Scholarships Vary
    University of California, Los Angeles  UCLA Law Distinguished Scholars Program Partial tuition fees

    Details on more scholarships available for international students in the USA can be found here

    Job Prospects for LLM in USA 

    The graduates of LLM from the USA can try for Optional Practical Training (OPT). At least 6 months before completion of the degree, the LLM students should apply for this training. The maximum duration for OPT is 12 months.

    The job can be on a contractual basis, paid or unpaid. After completion of the OPT, graduates can apply for an H1B visa to start working under a US employer. Every year 65000 H1B visas are being issued for the foreign nationals.

    You are required to pass the Bar examination of the state in which you are interested to practise as a lawyer. Most of the states, including New York and California, allows students to take this examination even with a foreign degree in law.

    However, approximately 23 states of the USA have this rule that only those students will be allowed to sit for Bar exam who have a degree from ABA-approved law school. Thus, pursuing LLM in USA becomes necessary for international students with a foreign bachelors degree in law to practise in these states. 

    Two of the most prominent jobs in USA available for graduates having a degree in LLM are: 

    • Associate Attorney: Average salary is 94,000 USD per annum.
    • Attorney Lawyer: Average salary is 113,000 USD per annum

    Other than the USA, there is a high demand for law graduates in Canada. The job markets for law graduates in Canada are not only concentrated on the law firms but can also work as legal advisors in banking as well as administrative sectors.


    Ques. What are some of the best universities offering LLM in USA?

    Ans. Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, New York University School of Law, University of California Berkeley and Columbia University are some of the top universities offering LLM in USA.

    Ques. Can I do LLM in USA after LLB in India?

    Ans. Many universities of USA accept students having a 3-year bachelors degree in law. However, some of the universities give preference to applicants having a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. So, you must check the eligibility criteria of college/university you wish to apply for.

    Ques. What is the cost of LLM in USA for Indian students?

    Ans. Total tuition fees of universities offering LLM in USA is between 62,000 USD to 71,000 USD. This is equivalent to 47,00,000 INR – 54,00,000 INR. Also, the living cost in USA for international students is approximately 15,000 USD per annum.

    Ques. What are the job opportunities available after pursuing LLM in USA?

    Ans. You can work as an associate attorney and attorney lawyer after completion of LLM in USA. The average salary earned by the graduates is 96,200 USD per annum.

    Ques. How much time does it takes to complete LLM in USA?

    Ans. LLM in USA can be completed within 9 months to 1 year from top ranking universities.