Butler library at dusk with a pink sunset

Application Process

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

Admissions Process Overview

Columbia Law School strives to admit individuals who are committed to academic and professional excellence and who, through their prior experience, recommendations, and academic history, demonstrate the qualities and skills necessary for rigorous intellectual engagement. Admission decisions are based not only on your potential but also on your demonstrated motivation and self-discipline. For example, how have you:

  • Forged your values and achieved your prior goals? 
  • Chosen to commit your time, energies, and talents? 
  • Made use of your opportunities? 

Those who review your application will also be your advisers at Columbia. This dual role is a win-win for you: You benefit from our experience as academic counselors and our combined decades of knowledge about the LL.M. experience throughout your LL.M. journey.

Diversity of all kinds deeply enriches the Columbia student body. Our admissions process welcomes applicants of all backgrounds and professional and life experiences. Learn more about the process below. 


For additional questions about eligibility, email [email protected].

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. 

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.