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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, 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.


Application Components

The application for the 2021-2022 Program will be available in September.

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)
  • Application for Financial Assistance, if applicable (If you do not complete the financial aid section of the LL.M. application, you will not be considered for financial aid, even if you request it after the application deadline.)
  • 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 (taken it no earlier than December 18, 2018), if applicable*

*submitted through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS

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

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 [email protected] as soon as possible. We do not accept amended personal statements, résumés, or fellowship applications.

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

Learn more about the early and regular decision process.

If Columbia Law School is your first choice and you would like a decision by the end of the calendar year, we encourage you to apply early! Make sure that all your application materials are ready and prepared to the best of your ability.

The following candidates are not eligible for this program:

  • Applicants in the final year of their first law degree.
  • Reapplicants who were not originally granted admission.

Deadline for all application materials: November 1, 2020. 

Early Review Program application instructions:

  • Submit your online LSAC application by November 1, 2020. Specify that you wish to be considered for early review by answering “yes” to the Early Review question in the “Application Deadlines” section of the application.
  • Submit your transcripts, TOEFL scores, and letters of recommendation to LSAC at least one week before the November 1 deadline. This gives LSAC enough time to process your full Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report and forward it to us during the Early Review period.

If you do not meet the above criteria, and/or if you have not taken the TOEFL by November 1, 2019, we will automatically defer your application for consideration as part of the regular admission cycle. 

By the end of December, applicants will either be admitted, rejected, or deferred to the regular admission cycle. If you are admitted through the Early Review Program, you will not be required to withdraw your applications to other LL.M. programs. However, you must notify us by April 1, 2020, of your intention to matriculate.

Admission decisions are sent by email from [email protected]. Offers of admission are also sent in writing by courier. Please provide us with a valid email address (preferably a personal one) and a physical address for the delivery (we do not deliver admission materials to post office boxes).

    Deadline for all application materials: December 18, 2020 

    Application instructions:

    • Submit LSAC’s online application by December 18.
    • Postmark all application materials for the CAS report, including supporting documents, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, to LSAC by December 18.
    • If you are required to submit a TOEFL score, take the TOEFL test no later than December 18. See our Frequently Asked Questions page for detailed guidelines.

    Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis, in most cases no later than late April. 

    Rolling admissions means that we evaluate applications randomly; the date you submitted your application often has no bearing on when you will receive a decision. Some candidates will receive a decision in early January, others in late April. (If you submit your application well before the December 18 deadline, for example, you will not necessarily receive an earlier decision.) 

    If you are admitted, you must notify us by April 1, 2020, of your intention to matriculate.

    Admission decisions are sent by email from [email protected]. Offers of admission are also sent in writing by courier. Please provide us with a valid email address (preferably a personal one) and a physical address for the delivery (we do not deliver admission materials to post office boxes).


    No. Check back in September 2020 for the application to the 2022–2023 program. 


    No, and no exceptions will be made. Any late application materials or supporting documents we receive by mail (or email) will be discarded.


    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 18, 2020. We account for delays in processing. 


    No. This program only guarantees a decision by late December. We encourage early applications for those who feel they have compiled their strongest possible application by November 1.