All application components must be submitted electronically through the online application and LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
We urge you to familiarize yourself with LSAC's requirements for the submission of official documents through the Credential Assembly Service, including the length of time they estimate for processing those documents. We will not accept any application materials by mail should you miss a deadline with LSAC. No exceptions will be made. Any application materials or supporting documents we receive by mail (or email) will be discarded.
You must submit an application fee of U.S. $85 with your application. This fee is nonrefundable and will not be credited against your tuition. The fee must be paid by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) before you can submit your online application through LSAC.
- Personal Statement
Your Personal Statement should describe your background, academic and research interests, and professional goals. You should prepare this statement without assistance from others. The format of the statement should not exceed three double-spaced pages using a 12-point font with standard margins. We will not accept a résumé or curriculum vitae in place of the statement.
- Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
You must submit a résumé or curriculum vitae for consideration as part of your application.
- Dissertation Proposal and Bibliography
Your dissertation proposal must be written in English and be in the range of 2,500 words (ten double-spaced pages), with a meaningful working title. In addition to the ten page proposal, you must include a two-page bibliography at the end of your proposal (for a total of twelve pages) that lists relevant works that proved significant in the formulation of your thinking about your project.
The substance of the proposal should:
- Demonstrate the originality of the research project, taking into account existing work and scholarly directions;
- Indicate the importance of the project within your larger field of study;
- Indicate the building blocks or units of consideration that you expect to create as organizational and structural controls in the development of the dissertation, and the methodologies that you expect to employ; and
- Acknowledge whatever problems or difficulties you foresee in formulating and completing the project. (Every project has its difficulties, and part of every good scholar’s equipment is a clear awareness of them.)
In sum, the application should convey your current level of mastery and control for an effort that will demand a great deal of time, independent research, and further study.
The size of the document you upload cannot exceed 2MB. If your proposal is in a format that exceeds the 2MB requirement, we recommend you reformat it so that it does not exceed the size limit.
- Scholarly Writing Sample
Your writing sample must be originally written in English; translations of works originally written in another language do not qualify.
The size of the document you upload cannot exceed 2MB. If your writing sample is in a format that exceeds the 2MB requirement, we recommend you reformat it so that it does not exceed the size limit.
- Application for Financial Assistance (Optional)
Tuition and fees are waived for J.S.D. candidates in residence. J.S.D. candidates are required to remain in residence for one year, and may request to remain in residence an additional year (immediately following the first year of residence).
In many cases, based on financial need, we are also able to offer J.S.D. candidates a small grant to help defray living costs during the first year in residence. Candidates who wish to be considered for a living expenses grant must complete this financial aid section in its entirety so that the Admissions Committee can best determine the financial aid package to award you should you be granted admission.
Because our financial aid funds are limited and our grants, when offered, will not cover the full extent of living costs in New York City, applicants who will require financial assistance to attend Columbia Law School should also seek assistance from other sources.
If you do not submit an application for financial assistance with your application for admission, you will not be considered for financial aid, even if you request it after the admission deadline. If you think you may need financial assistance you must complete the Financial Aid section of the online application. If you later decide you do not need financial assistance, you may withdraw your financial aid application by sending an email to [email protected].
It is your obligation to notify the Office of Graduate Legal Studies should other funds become available to you, within seven (7) days of learning of such an award. Since Columbia Law School offers financial assistance mostly on the basis of need, the Law School reserves the right to reduce the amount of any financial aid it has awarded if other funds become available to you.
- Transcripts and Diplomas
You must submit an official transcript and, where applicable, a diploma or proof of degree from all postsecondary (university level) institutions you have attended, whether or not you earned a degree. If you are unable to submit original documents to LSAC, you may submit certified copies. If the originals are not in English, you must submit an official, certified translation of each document in addition to the original document. If you are in school at the time you submit your application, submit your most recent transcript, and send an updated one to LSAC once your fall grades are available.
We strongly prefer but do not require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service; it is up to you whether you select the evaluation service.
- Statement of Rank
If your official transcripts do not include your class rank, you must include a separate statement of rank issued by your University. If your University does not provide official class rankings, you must include a statement from your University that students are not provided with an official class rank upon graduation. Either statement should be sent to LSAC and included in your official CAS report. If your school refuses to issue a statement that they do not rank candidates, please contact the Office of Graduate Legal Studies by email ([email protected]) prior to submitting your application.
- Letters of Recommendation
We require two original letters of recommendation from your law school professors, employers, supervisors, or other persons qualified to appraise your academic potential for doctoral level research and writing. At least one letter should come from a law school professor. “To Whom It May Concern” letters (which tend to be very general), letters from family friends, and letters from prominent persons who have not taught you or supervised your work are not helpful. If your recommenders cannot write in English, please 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.
Letters of recommendation must be written by the recommender on official letterhead and addressed to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies. They may do so either electronically via LSAC’s new Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs) or by mail to LSAC. If your recommender uses the new E-LOR system, be sure they include a work e-mail address and contact information in their letter, so we can contact them if we have any questions about the letter or to verify the authenticity of the letter. If your recommender sends the letter by mail, it must be written on official letterhead and addressed to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies. If your recommenders are unable to print the letters on official letterhead, ask them to include an explanation as to why they are unable to do so.
In the “Recommenders” section of this online application, you must also include a work email address for each recommender so we can contact her/him should we have questions about the letter or your candidacy (please note that we cannot accept generic email addresses such as gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail addresses for recommenders. If you submit a generic email address, we will request that you submit an official work email address before the Committee will review your application.
While we prefer to receive only two letters, occasionally, J.S.D. candidates will have good reason to submit additional letters which speak to the applicant’s ability to conduct doctoral level research and writing. If you are submitting additional letters, they must be submitted through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service by the application deadline. Please note, however, that your application will be considered complete as soon as we have received two letters in your CAS report from LSAC.
- TOEFL Scores
All applicants except those who earned their first law degree entirely in English in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL iBT or the paper-based TOEFL and the Test of Written English (TWE) by our admission deadline (February 1, 2019). If you successfully completed an English language taught (not research-based) LL.M. program in an English speaking country within the last two years, you may request a waiver of the TOEFL by sending an email to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies at [email protected]. We do not accept the IELTS or any other exam in place of the TOEFL. The minimum scores required for admission are:
* TOEFL iBT: 105 overall score, with 26 on Reading and Listening sections and 24 on the Speaking and Writing sections;
* Paper-based TOEFL: 620 overall score, with 59/60 on the Structure/Writing and Reading sections, 60/61 on the Listening section, and 5.0 on the TWE.
If your scores fall below these levels, your chances of admission could be adversely impacted even if other factors in your application are strong. You must decide whether to repeat the test based on how far below these scores your results fall; we cannot make this decision for you.
You should register for and take the TOEFL no later than the February 1, 2019 application deadline. TOEFL scores are valid for a maximum of two years from our application deadline (so you must have taken the TOEFL exam on or after February 1, 2019 for the scores to be considered in this application cycle). If your scores are lower than our minimum requirements, and you decide to retake the TOEFL after February 1, 2019, we cannot guarantee that the Committee will consider your late scores (and those scores must still be submitted through LSAC).
We will not accept scores sent directly to us from ETS; you must submit them to LSAC for inclusion in your CAS report. All score reports we receive directly from ETS will be discarded.
Waivers of the TOEFL requirement are rarely granted and are granted at the sole discretion of the Office of Graduate Legal Studies. Therefore, if you are planning to request a waiver, you should assume the request will be denied and make arrangements to take the test by the application deadline. Requests for waivers on the grounds that you have run out of time to take the exam or work primarily in the English language will not be granted. Waiver requests should be sent in writing by email to the Office of Graduate Legal studies ([email protected]) and should include a detailed description of why you think you qualify for a waiver. In your waiver request, if you have ever previously taken the TOEFL, you should also include your prior TOEFL score(s) and the date(s) taken. If you are granted a waiver, you must upload your waiver approval email to the “Attachments” section of this application. Waiver requests sent after February 1, 2019 will be automatically denied.
Once submitted, all application materials become the property of LSAC and/or the Office of Graduate Legal Studies and as such will not be returned to you under any circumstances.