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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Prospective Executive LL.M. students can find answers to common questions below.


Click on a topic to jump to that section. Looking for more information? You can always email the Office of Graduate Degree Programs at [email protected].

When does the program begin?
Online courses begin in mid-March and the summer residency period at Columbia Law School begins in late May. Visit the Executive LL.M. Program page for a detailed schedule.

Can I work during the Executive LL.M. program?
We expect students to continue with their regular work obligations during the online portions of the program. Because the summer residency is an intensive period, maintaining regular work obligations is ill-advised. Also, if you study on the F-1 visa, employment in the U.S. is restricted. 

How much time can I expect to spend studying for the online courses?
You should expect to spend approximately 20 hours per week on coursework in addition to attending live lectures.

How much does the Executive LL.M. Program cost?
Information on tuition and fees, as well as an estimated cost of attendance for the entire program, can be found on the Tuition and Fees page. 

Is Financial Aid Available for Executive LL.M. Students?
Financial aid from Columbia is not available for the Executive LL.M. program. See Tuition and Fees for information on other financing options.

I am a U.S. JD or LL.M. graduate. Can I apply for the Executive LL.M.?
Yes, applicants with a U.S. law degree are eligible for the Executive LL.M.. 

How do I get a student visa?
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) administers immigration services for all international students. Visit their website for general information on immigration procedures and requirements. If you are admitted to the program, we will provide you with additional information on the visa application. 

What are the methods of evaluation and grading?
LL.M. students are generally graded on a scale and curve (A-B-C-F). Coursework may be evaluated on the basis of final exams, research papers, or final projects. 

What is the most important element of my application?
We take all parts of an application into consideration when making a decision for admission, and there is not one individual aspect that is more important than the others. 

Typically, decisions are based on a holistic review of your professional experience and goals, academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. 

Do you have any tips for the personal statement?
This is an opportunity for you to tell your story and tie the components of your application together. It is also a chance to show the admissions committee how well you write in English. You should prepare this statement without assistance from others. We will not accept a résumé or curriculum vitae in place of the statement.

Formatting requirements:

  • Three pages maximum
  • 12-point font
  • Standard margins

Do the application deadlines (October 1 for Early Decision and December 18 for regular admission) also apply to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service? Does Columbia have to receive my official LSAC report by those dates?
Yes. You should submit all documents, including transcripts, to LSAC by those deadlines.

My school does not rank degree candidates. What should I do?
This is optional and not required.

I completed an M.A. and a B.A. in addition to my LL.B. degree. Do I need to submit all of my transcripts or just those for the LL.B.?
You need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary (university-level) education completed, including unfinished degree programs, semesters/years abroad, and single university courses. This rule applies even if the M.A. or B.A. program was not related to law.

I began a degree program but did not complete it. Do I need to submit transcripts for the unfinished program?
Yes, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework, whether or not you completed the program or earned a degree.

I completed a single university course outside of a degree program. Do I need to submit transcripts with the grade from that one course?
Yes, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework undertaken, even if it is just one course.

Do I need to include an explanation of the grading system in my country with my transcripts?
No. If your school provides one, however, you can submit it with your transcripts.

Do you require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service provided by LSAC?

I completed a degree that was not in English. Can I submit an unofficial translation of this transcript?
No. If your institution does not provide official English translations, you must have the documents translated by an official, certified translator. We do not accept translations completed by the applicant.

Can letters of recommendation be emailed or faxed directly to Columbia?
No. All letters must be submitted through LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. Please confirm the process of submitting your letters of recommendation with your recommenders. All letters that are mistakenly sent directly to the Office of Graduate Degree Programs rather than to LSAC will be discarded. 

Can I submit more than two letters of recommendation?
We urge you to submit only two letters of recommendation. In very rare circumstances, applicants may feel they have a compelling reason to submit an additional letter of recommendation. If you feel you fall into this category and would like to submit a third letter, your reasons should be obvious to the admissions committee and you should give a detailed explanation in the “Recommenders” section of the online application. 

Note: Your application will be considered complete once two letters have been submitted to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service.

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
We require two original letters of recommendation. They should come from academic or work associates; personal/friend references are not permitted. If you have received a degree in the past five years, you must provide at least one academic reference. If you have been out of school for more than five years, you should still provide one academic reference if it is in your best interest. Otherwise, letters should come from professional associates. 

Your recommender should know you well and be able to candidly evaluate your work and academic potential. They should describe their relationship to you, the duration of your relationship, and as many specifics regarding your experience as possible (for example, a former instructor might name the course that you took with them, your performance in the class, your ranking against other students taught, etc.).

What is the preferred format for submitting letters of recommendation?
Your recommenders must submit their letters of recommendation directly to LSAC, either electronically via LSAC’s Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs) or by mail.

If your recommender uses the E-LOR system, be sure they include a work email address and contact information in their letter.

If your recommender sends the letter by mail, it must be written on official letterhead and addressed to the Office of Graduate Degree Programs. If your recommender is unable to print the letter on official letterhead, ask them to include an explanation as to why they are unable to do so. 

In the “Recommenders” section of the Columbia Law School online Executive LL.M. Application, you must also include a work email address for each recommender so we can contact them with questions. We cannot accept generic email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail for recommenders. If you submit a generic email address, we will request that you submit an official work email address before the committee reviews your application. If your recommender does not have an official work email address, you must explain on the online application why that is the case.

What if my recommender cannot write in English?
Submit certified translations together with the original letters. We reserve the right to disqualify letters written or translated, in part or whole, by the applicant.

What are the minimum TOEFL requirements for admission to the Executive LL.M. Program?
Minimum scores on the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: 105 overall score, with a minimum of 26 on Reading and Listening and a minimum of 24 on the Speaking and Writing sections. Or minimum scores on the TOEFL ITP Plus for China: 627 overall score, with a minimum of 61 on each section. We will also review the Vericant interview. 

What date should I take the TOEFL by?
To be considered for 2023 admission, you must take the TOEFL test by December 18, 2022 (although we recognize that score reports will not arrive by that date).

I retook the TOEFL after the application deadline and got a higher score. Can I submit it to LSAC to include in my application?
All TOEFL scores sent to LSAC will be included with your application and will be available for review by the admissions committee. However, we will not hold your application while awaiting your new scores. If you decide to retake the test after December 18, 2022, we cannot guarantee that an update will be considered with the rest of your application. 

How recent do my TOEFL scores need to be?
Your most recent TOEFL score must be from no more than two years before the application deadline. For the 2023 Executive LL.M. Program, you must have taken the TOEFL no earlier than December 18, 2020.

Can I have ETS send a copy of TOEFL score report directly to Columbia?
No. All scores must be submitted through LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. All score reports and any other application materials we receive from ETS and by mail will be discarded. 

I completed my first degree in law in my native language, but completed an advanced degree in English and/or work entirely in English. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?
Columbia requires all applicants, except those who are automatically waived and those who receive a waiver, to submit valid TOEFL exam scores. The TOEFL is automatically waived for applicants who earned their first law degree entirely in English in a country where English is the official language. Anyone who does not meet the criteria for an automatic TOEFL waiver but nonetheless still wishes to request one must do so by submitting our TOEFL Waiver Request Form before December 18, 2022.

Do you accept the IELTS test or other English proficiency exams?
No. We only accept the TOEFL. 

How do I apply for a TOEFL waiver?
To request a TOEFL waiver, you must complete the TOEFL Waiver Request Form by December 18, 2022. All waivers are granted at the sole discretion of the Admissions Committee.

I plan to visit New York and Columbia. Can I schedule an interview or meeting with the Dean, Director of the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law, or someone else in your office?
We do not routinely formally interview prospective Executive LL.M. students. Applicants and prospective students are welcome to contact the the Office of Graduate Degree Programs. On-campus visits are currently unavailable because of COVID-19 safety measures. For more information, see Visit and Contact Us.

I am waiting to hear about my admission decision. Can I speak to a member of the Office of Graduate Degree Programs about my application?
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the Office of Graduate Degree Programs to speak with individual applicants about their applications. In the rare case the Admissions Committee feels more information is needed beyond what is included in your application, we will contact you directly.

How will I receive my admissions decision?
We send all admission decisions by email. Please be sure to provide us with a valid, up-to-date email.

Does this program accept transfer credits?
No, Columbia Law School does not accept transfer credits for the Executive LL.M. Program, including credits earned in any other degree or non-degree program at Columbia. Also, Executive LL.M. students may not transfer into Columbia Law School's J.D. program.

How do I apply for the Executive LL.M. and the traditional, full-year LL.M at the same time?
You can apply for consideration for both programs using the Dual Application for the LLM and ELLM, although you can only enroll in one. You are only required to pay one application fee.

Applying to both programs does not affect your ability to be admitted to either. Decisions are made independently by different offices. Therefore, you may receive one admission decision before the other. If you are admitted to both programs, you must choose only one to accept. 

All dual applicants will have a decision by February 1st. Admitted candidates are required to notify us of your intent to matriculate by February 15th.

Contact the Office of Graduate Degree Programs

I'm having technical problems with my online application. Who should I contact for help?
Contact LSAC.

How do I request an application fee waiver?
The $85 application fee is rarely waived, and then only in extenuating circumstances. If you would like to request an application fee waiver, send a detailed email to [email protected] outlining your reasons for the request.

Are applications submitted on my behalf by educational consultants or third-party advisers accepted?
With the exception of applications from Fulbright or other scholarship organizations, we do not accept applications submitted by third-party educational advisers or consultants. Such applications do not in any way enhance your chances for admission to the Executive LL.M. at Columbia Law School. In fact, unless they are submitted through Fulbright or another scholarship organization, they may hinder your chances or render your application incomplete, as we have no way of verifying that the application is indeed your work. We will not report on an applicant’s status to anyone other than the applicant.

Does completing the Executive LL.M. degree make me eligible to take a bar examination? 
No. Most states will require a J.D. degree from a U.S. law school in order to sit for the bar exam.  

When states do allow foreign law graduates to sit for the bar exam, including in New York, they have specific requirements that must be met for eligibility. The Executive LL.M. does not by itself qualify graduates to take the NY State Bar Exam, but students may be eligible to take other state bar exams. 

If you are a lawyer with a foreign law degree and intend to sit for the bar exam after graduation, you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of the bar exam you wish to take.

In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. You can determine the requirements for any given jurisdiction in which you intend to seek admission by contacting the relevant agencies (contact information is available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners).

Does the Law School offer housing?
There are a number of housing options for students during the summer residency, including campus housing sublets, off-campus sublets, and short-term corporate rentals. 

Campus Apartment Sublets
Students may sublet an apartment in University-owned housing. More information can be found on the Columbia Residential site.

Off-Campus Sublets
University Housing offers assistance finding off-campus housing for the summer. Please visit their site for more information.

Short-Term Corporate Housing
Short-term corporate housing is available in New York City, but is often very expensive. Several companies that provide such housing include:
Furnished Quarters
Weichert Corporate Housing

Contact Us

Office of Graduate Degree Programs