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Application Process

Your journey toward earning the LL.M. degree starts here.

Admissions Process Overview

Columbia Law School offers a general LL.M. degree, giving you the freedom to select your courses from an incredibly vast curriculum, and further specialize in your current field, transition to a new practice area, or use the program year as one of exploration.

To be eligible for admission, you must hold a first degree in law (generally defined as the degree which qualifies you to practice law in your jurisdiction). A degree in a field other than law generally does not suffice for admission.

International lawyers who intend to reside and practice law in the United States permanently should apply for the J.D. degree, the first degree in law, rather than the LL.M. Completion of an LL.M. degree at Columbia Law School does not guarantee admission to the J.D. Program. 

How We Decide

Holistic review. No one factor on your application is more important than another; we approach each application individually and holistically and carefully review each component. 

Academic strength is essential. Columbia is first and foremost an academic institution. We look for factors in your application that indicate that you will be able to keep up with the academic discourse at Columbia, including your prior academic transcripts and letters of recommendation. (This does not mean you should worry about a mistake you made during your first law degree; in fact, what you have learned from your mistakes is helpful to our process.)

Professional experience matters. Most LL.M. students have several years of work experience when they enroll, and we strongly encourage applicants to obtain at least one year of full-time, post-law school work experience prior to applying. Professional experience gives you a better sense of what you want from your LL.M. degree and enhances your ability to participate in classroom and extracurricular activities. 

Candidates in the final year of their first law degree will only be admitted under exceptional circumstances. If you are in this category, your personal statement must demonstrate that admission to the program would enable you to realize an immediate and specific career objective you otherwise could not obtain if you waited at least one additional year.

English language skills are essential. As lawyers, you are advocates first and foremost. We want you to engage and perform at a level commensurate with your native English speaking peers both in and out of the classroom.

Application Components

Given the volume of requests we received to submit a late application and our change to an earlier deadline this year, we will be reopening our applications to the Executive LL.M. and LL.M. programs. The application will open at 12:00am (NY time) on December 14 close at 11:59pm (NY time) December 21.

Once you are ready to apply, submit the following materials through Columbia’s LL.M. Program application on LSAC.org:

  • Personal Statement
  • Résumé
  • Application fee of $85 (nonrefundable and not credited to your tuition if admitted)
  • Fellowship application essays (if applicable)
  • All post-secondary transcripts and diplomas
  • Two letters of recommendation (preferably one from a law professor and one from a work supervisor)
  • English standardized test score (required for all applicants, except those who are automatically waived and those who receive a waiver; only the internet-based/ Home Edition TOEFL (iBT) or the Academic Version of the IELTS will be accepted)

Provide as much information as possible on the online application and submit it only once you feel it is complete to the best of your ability. Once your application is submitted, we will accept changes only to your personal information (such as your mailing address, email address, or telephone number). If any of your personal information changes after you submit your application, email g[email protected] as soon as possible. All supporting materials, such as English standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, must be sent through LSAC.  

If you are reapplying to the program, please visit the Reapplication Process page.

For more application information, read below and visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. We look forward to receiving your materials!

Below, please find frequently asked questions concerning the deadline. 

Given the volume of requests we received to submit a late application and our change to an earlier deadline this year, we will be reopening our applications to the Executive LL.M. and LL.M. programs. The application will open at 12:00am (NY time) on December 14 close at 11:59pm (NY time) December 21. 

Application instructions:

  • Submit LSAC’s online application by December 1.
  • Postmark all application materials for the CAS report, including supporting documents, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, to LSAC by December 1.
  • If you are required to submit a TOEFL score, take the TOEFL test no later than December 1. See our Frequently Asked Questions page for detailed guidelines.

Because of delays in mail systems and in the added time it may take to obtain and send transcripts and other educational records, we strongly encourage applicants to submit their supporting materials by November 15 to allow for additional processing time.

No. All materials must be submitted by the deadline to LSAC.


No. Submit your online application as soon as you have completed it. LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) will forward a copy of these documents to us in a report that will automatically attach itself to your application. 


Yes. Our application deadline is a postmark deadline. This means that your online application must be submitted and your transcripts and letters of recommendation posted by mail to LSAC by December 1, 2023. We account for delays in processing. 


No. LSAC automatically sends your CAS report to our office once it is complete.