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, nor does a degree earned through correspondence coursework or distance learning.
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.
We do not have quotas by country or area of practice. Our process seeks candidates with the strongest credentials representing diverse backgrounds, areas of the world, and legal practice.
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.)
Work 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. Experience gives you a better sense of what you want from your LL.M. experience and enhances your ability to participate in classroom and extracurricular activities.
Candidates in the final year of their first law degree will only be accepted 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. Columbia Law School has the highest Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) minimum for a reason: We want you to engage and perform at a level commensurate with your native English speaking peers both in and out of the classroom.
The application for the 2023-2024 is open now!
Once you are ready to apply, submit the following materials through Columbia’s LL.M. Program application on LSAC.org:
- Personal Statement
- Application fee of $85 (nonrefundable and not credited to your tuition if admitted)
- Fellowship application essays (if applicable)
- All post-secondary transcripts and diplomas
- Statement of rank (if official transcripts from your first law degree do not include your class rank)
- Two letters of recommendation (preferably one from a law professor and one from a work supervisor)
- TOEFL scores (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.) Please note that throughout the application process the Admissions Committee reserves the right to request additional information for any applicant, including requiring a TOEFL score for an applicant who may be eligible for an automatic waiver.
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. We do not accept amended personal statements, résumés, or fellowship applications. All supporting materials, such as TOEFL scores, letters of recommendations, and letters of recommendation, must be sent through LSAC. We are not able to accept these documents sent directly to our office.
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!