Students stand in a group in the lobby of Jerome Greene Hall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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

When does the program begin? Can I start in January?
The program is a full-time, one-year program beginning in August only.

Can I do the program online?
You cannot do the LL.M. Program online. However, you may be interested in our Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law, which is taught partly online and partly in residence. 

Can I work during the LL.M. Program?
LL.M. students may not accept or continue off-campus employment during the academic year. Students who wish to work usually find part-time work on Columbia’s campus. Due to visa regulations, students on a student visa can only work on campus.

How much does the LL.M. Program cost?
The cost of the LL.M. Program varies from year to year. Total expenses for 2019–2029 can be found on the Tuition and Financial Aid page.

Does the Columbia School offer on-campus housing?
Yes. Columbia Law students are eligible for a wide range of university housing, including Law School-only buildings like Lenfest and Lionsgate and University Apartment Housing buildings from all 10 of the university's graduate and professional degree programs. Detailed housing information to admitted students is available in the spring.  

How do I get a student visa?
The International Students and Scholars Office administers immigration services for all international students. You can obtain general information on immigration procedures and requirements by visiting their website. We provide additional information on the visa application to admitted students in the spring. 

Does completing the 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, including New York, do allow foreign law graduates to sit for the bar exam, they typically require at least three years of legal study (not including the LL.M. degree). 

If you are a lawyer with a foreign law degree who intends 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, character, fitness, and other qualifications are required for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. You can find 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 LL.M. accept transfer credits?
No. The Law School does not accept transfer credits for the LL.M. Program, including credits earned in any other degree or non-degree program at Columbia. In order to obtain the LL.M. degree, you must earn 24 points of academic credit and complete the LL.M. Writing Project Requirement. 


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

I missed the application deadline of December 18, 2020. Can I still apply for the 2021–2022 program?
No. Check back in September 2020 for the application to the 2022–2023 program. 

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

Do I need to wait for LSAC to process my transcripts, letters of recommendation, and TOEFL scores before I can submit my online application?
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. 

LSAC told me that my documents will not be processed by the December 18, 2020 deadline. Will my application still be considered? 
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. 

Does applying through the Early Review Program increase my chances of admission?
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.  

Are applications submitted on my behalf by educational consultants or third-party advisers accepted?
You must submit all materials directly through LSAC, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the following exceptions: 

  • The U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies: IIE, LASPAU, and AMIDEAST.
  • The Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF).
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). 

If you submit your application through one of the aforementioned organizations, you will be required to attest to the accuracy and authenticity of all information and documents.

We will not report on an applicant’s status to anyone other than the applicant.

Will Columbia confirm that my application was received?  
Yes, we will send you an email confirmation that includes a link to our online Application Status page. We will also notify you when your application is deemed complete. In order to be sensitive to all cultures and identities, we address official application correspondence to your first and last name.

Can I apply to both the LL.M. Program and the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law Program?
In addition to the LL.M. Program, Columbia Law School offers the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law Program.

If you wish to be considered for both the LL.M. and the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law programs, you may apply by completing both applications separately or by completing the LL.M. Program application only. If you complete only the LL.M. Program application, you must indicate in the “Columbia Applications” section of the LL.M. Program application that you are applying to both programs and provide an additional personal statement specific to the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law. You are only required to pay one application fee. Please note, however, that you cannot apply to the LL.M. Program through the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law online application; you must apply to the LL.M. Program through the LL.M. Program online application.

If you apply to both programs, you may receive one admission decision before the other, as admission decisions are made independently by separate offices. If you are admitted to both, you must select one; enrollment in both degree programs is not possible.

Important Note About TOEFL Waiver Requests: If you apply to both the LL.M. and Executive LL.M. programs and are requesting a TOEFL waiver, you must request a waiver from each program’s office of admission; a single TOEFL waiver cannot be applied to both programs. 

Representatives of both the LL.M. Program and the Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law Program will be happy to speak with you to discuss your options throughout the application process.


Do you have any tips for the personal statement?

Your personal statement should describe your background, academic interests, the program of study you wish to follow, and your reasons for pursuing that program. Because you are also submitting a résumé or CV, your personal statement should not simply be a restatement of that information.

Formatting requirements:

  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point font
  • Standard margins
  • No more than three pages

Do LL.M. students receive financial aid?
Yes. Columbia Law School has a robust financial aid program to support LL.M. candidates. We award financial assistance primarily on the basis of financial need, and the majority of our financial aid is designated for applicants for whom repaying the full cost of the program would pose a significant financial burden. We also have resources for fellowships and scholarships. 

How do I apply for financial aid?
If you wish to be considered for financial aid, you must complete the Application for Financial Assistance section of the online LL.M. application. It contains a short series of questions about your personal finances and outside resources. 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.

Should I complete the financial aid portion of the application even if I am not completely sure I will need assistance?
Yes. You can always decline a loan or scholarship offer by emailing [email protected].

What information does Columbia require in the application?
Provide as much detail as possible so we can assess your ability to finance your Columbia education. Include any financial resources from persons or other entities who have offered to help support your studies (e.g., employers, scholarship organizations, family, banks).

You must answer every question on this application. If the question is not applicable to you, please respond with “Not Applicable” or “N/A.” Applications that are only partially completed may not be considered.

For any answers that require a dollar amount to be entered, enter the amount of money available to you (or that you anticipate will be available to you) in the appropriate boxes in U.S. dollars (excluding decimal places or punctuation). For example, two thousand dollars should be entered as 2000 (not 2,000 or 2.000). If you have no money available in a specific category, enter 0.

If you do not complete this section of the application, you will not be considered for financial assistance. 

When is the Application for Financial Assistance due? 
The application is due on the same date as the full LL.M. application: December 18, 2020.

I am an international student. Am I still eligible for financial aid through Columbia Law School?
Yes. The financial aid application process is the same for all students. 

Does the fact that I am applying for financial aid affect my chances for admission?
No. All admission decisions are made separately from financial aid decisions.

I will need financial aid in order to study at Columbia Law School. Can I count on the Law School’s financial support if I am admitted?
No. Because our financial aid funds are limited, applicants who will require financial assistance to attend Columbia Law School should also seek assistance from other sources. Awards are generally in the form of partial waivers of tuition and, in some cases, loans.  Full waivers of tuition are almost never granted.

I just received a scholarship from an outside funding agency. Do I need to notify the Office of Graduate Legal Studies?
Yes. You must notify us of any funds you know you will be receiving or you anticipate receiving for your studies at Columbia. Because our financial aid funds are limited—and so that we can offer assistance to as many candidates as possible—we reserve the right to reduce our award to any student who receives outside funding. If you are awarded an outside scholarship after submitting your application for financial assistance, you must notify us within seven days of receiving the award. 


How do I apply for awards and fellowships?
Columbia Law School has a robust financial aid program to support LL.M. candidates. However, funds are limited, and we are not able to meet the needs of all admitted applicants.

Please review our fellowships and scholarships to apply for awards.


Do I need to submit transcripts and diplomas for all my post-secondary education?
Yes. 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. This includes foreign exchange programs, non-law programs, and programs or courses in which you are currently enrolled. If you are unable to submit original documents to LSAC, you may submit certified copies. 

How should I submit transcripts and diplomas?
Follow LSAC’s instructions for submission of transcripts and diplomas as stated on the LSAC website. LSAC requires all transcripts to be sent from the issuing institution with an institution stamp across the sealed flap. 

If you completed a foreign exchange program, the transcript for that program must be sent from the school where you studied, not your home university.

Do the application deadlines (November 1 for Early Review 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?
Early Review: Your documents should be submitted to LSAC far in advance of the November 1 deadline. This way, LSAC has time to process your full CAS report and forward it to us during the Early Review period. Check with LSAC directly for its current estimated processing times to determine when to send your documents.

Regular admission: Your documents should be postmarked to LSAC no later than December 18. 

If I am still in school, do I have to send an updated transcript to LSAC once I complete the semester?
Yes. If you are in school while you submit your application, submit your most recent transcript, then send an updated transcript to LSAC once your current semester grades are available.

Do I need to include an explanation of the grading system in my country with my transcripts?
No. If your school provides one, you can submit it with your transcripts. Otherwise, we rely on our experience evaluating transcripts from countries around the world.

Do you require LSAC’s International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service?
We strongly prefer but do not require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service.

I completed a degree that was not in English. Can I submit an unofficial translation of this transcript?
No. If the originals are not in English, you must submit an official, certified translation of each document in addition to the original document. (Although LSAC accepts translations completed by the applicant, Columbia Law School does not.)

Do I need to submit a statement of rank?
If your official transcripts for your first law degree do not include your class rank, you must include a separate statement of rank issued by your university in your official CAS report.

My school does not rank degree candidates. What should I do?
Send a statement from your school stating that it does not rank candidates to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service as part of your transcripts. If your school refuses to issue a statement that they do not rank candidates, notify us via email at [email protected] before submitting your application.


Who should write my letters of recommendation?
We prefer that you have at least one letter from a law professor who taught you in class and one from a work supervisor if you have work experience other than internships during law school.

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.).

Do not submit letters from prominent persons who have not taught you or supervised your work or family and friends. 

Can I submit more than two letters of recommendation?
Yes, although we urge you to submit only two letters of recommendation. If you feel you have a compelling reason to submit an additional letter of recommendation, you should give a detailed explanation in the “Recommenders” section of the online application. Nevertheless, your application will be considered complete once two letters have been submitted to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.

Can letters of recommendation be emailed or faxed directly to Columbia?
No. All letters must be submitted through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. All letters that are mistakenly sent directly to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies rather than to LSAC will be discarded.

How should my recommenders submit their letters?
Your recommenders can submit their letters either electronically, via LSAC’s new Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs), or by mail to LSAC. 

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

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 recommender is unable to print the letter on official letterhead, ask them to include an explanation.

In the “Recommenders” section of the Columbia Law School online LL.M. Application, you must also include a work email address for each recommender so we can contact them should we have questions about the letter or your candidacy. We cannot accept personal email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail for recommenders. If your recommender does not have an official work email address, you must explain on the online application why they do not.

What if my recommenders 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.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?
All applicants except those who earned their first law degree entirely in English in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL.

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

What are the minimum TOEFL requirements for admission to the LL.M. Program?
TOEFL iBT: 105 overall score, with 26 on Reading and Listening 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.

If I apply for early review, do I need to take the TOEFL test by November 1?
Your test date should be well in advance of the November 1 deadline. This way, LSAC has time to process your full CAS report and forward it to us during the Early Review period. If you do not take your TOEFL test by November 1, we will automatically defer your application for review as part of the regular admission cycle.

If I apply for regular admission, by what date do I need to take the TOEFL test?
December 18, 2020, 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, 2020, 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 2020–2021 LL.M. Program, you must have taken the TOEFL no earlier than December 18, 2017.

Do you accept MyBest scores (the highest section scores from all valid test dates)? 
No. You must submit the total scores from each individual test date. 

Can I have ETS send a copy of my 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. 

My first degree in law was in my native language, but I also completed an advanced degree in English and/or work entirely in English. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?
Yes. You are only exempt from taking the TOEFL exam if you completed your first degree in law in an English-speaking country at a school taught entirely in English. 

Do you grant TOEFL waivers?
TOEFL waivers are generally only granted for applicants who demonstrate advanced proficiency in English (because they grew up with English as their native language or completed an undergraduate degree entirely in English).

Waivers are never granted for applicants who are unable to achieve the minimum TOEFL score or who are requesting a conditional offer of admission. Waivers are also never granted for applicants who have run out of time to take the exam or who work primarily in English. 

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. 

How do I request a TOEFL waiver?
Email [email protected] with a copy of your résumé/CV and a detailed description of why you think you qualify for a waiver. If you are granted a waiver, you must upload your waiver approval email to the “attachments” section of your application. Waiver requests sent after December 18, 2020, will be automatically denied.


How will the application be evaluated?
The admissions committee takes all components of an application into consideration when making a decision on an application. There is not one individual aspect that is more important than the others. Typically, decisions are based on the applicant’s academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, professional experience and goals, and personal statement.   

I applied and was not offered admission. Can I receive feedback from the admissions committee on why I was rejected?
No. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, it is not logistically possible for us to provide feedback on individual applications. It is also nearly impossible to point to one specific factor that led to the decision as we evaluate applications holistically. 


Can I schedule an interview with your office?
We are unable to interview prospective students. However, applicants are welcome to visit the Law School and our office. Learn more.

Office of Graduate Legal Studies

We provide individual support to each LL.M. and J.S.D. student throughout every step of their Law School experience, from application to degree conferral, and we keep in close touch with our broad network of alumni.