Essential Information

Essential information about the LL.M. program.

To earn the LL.M. degree, candidates must:

  1. Earn 24 points of academic credit (and a minimum of 11 credits per term).
    Academic point credit is earned by satisfactory completion of a course, seminar or other academic activity with a grade of C or better, or with a grade of CR in courses or activities permitting or requiring grading on a credit/fail (CR/F) or pass/fail (P/F) scale, such as Introduction to American Law (IAL) and Legal Research and Writing (LRW). Of the 24 points of academic credit required for the degree,
  1. Satisfactorily complete IAL and LRW,
    except those who have earned a J.D. from a U.S. law school or those who opt out of the courses pursuant to the program’s rules for opting out.
  2. Complete the LL.M. Writing Project requirement.
  3. Complete the LL.M. Experiential Study Requirement.
  4. Earn a grade point average (GPA) of 2.67 (B-) or better, or a preponderance of B-or-better grades.
    Grades earned in courses taken outside of the Law School, either in another division of Columbia University or as part of the CLS/NYU Law Exchange, as well as Law School courses graded on a CR/F or P/F basis, will not be factored into either calculation. If an LL.M. candidate fails more than one course or seminar, the student's candidacy will be terminated automatically and the student will not earn the degree.

Dates for award of the LL.M. degree fall in May, October, and February. LL.M. candidates who expect to receive the degree in May must file a degree application by December 1. The deadline to apply for the October degree is August 1, and November 15 for the February degree. Students who do not complete the requirements for the degree are responsible for applying for the next degree conferral date. More information on degree applications is available through The Office of Registration Services.

No LL.M. candidacy will be extended or renewed beyond the second award date subsequent to the termination of the candidate’s period of residence, i.e., February for candidates going out of residence in May. Of course, every candidate registered for the LL.M. degree is strongly urged to complete all work in time to receive the degree in May of the year of residence.

The due date for completion of all fall semester work for LL.M. candidates is normally the last day of the final exam period, unless the instructor assigns an earlier due date. LL.M. candidates who receive a grade of incomplete (IN) in the fall semester must complete and submit the work by April 1. The due date for completion of all spring semester work is the last day of spring classes, unless the instructor specifies an earlier due date. October degree candidates must complete and submit all work by September 1, and February degree candidates must complete and submit all work by December 31.

The LL.M. Program is a full-time, academic year (August-May) program. LL.M. students must take a minimum of 11 points per term to be in full-time status at the Law School (the Law School’s minimum credit point requirement replaces the requirement set by the University). Because of the full-time residency requirement, degree candidates are not permitted to accept or continue employment during the LL.M. Program.

LL.M. students may take a maximum of 15 points per term (fall and spring). In rare circumstances, a student may have a compelling reason to take 16 credit points in one term. In such instances, the student must obtain approval from the Office of Graduate Degree Programs by completing a Petition Form before the end of the Add/Drop period for that term.

While LL.M. candidates are not admitted on a part-time basis, an exception to this rule may be made for students who for family reasons (i.e., the care of children or elderly parents) may spread their studies over a three-semester period, taking eight points per term. A disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the student is charged tuition on a per-credit basis instead of a per-semester basis, thus resulting in a greater overall tuition charge than if obtained in a single academic year. Moreover, this option is only available to students who do not require a student visa to study at Columbia, as the total credit points fall below the University’s minimum requirement to qualify as a full-time student for visa purposes. LL.M. students seeking such an accommodation must submit a formal written petition to the Office of Graduate Degree Programs.

Adequate preparation of assignments and informed participation in class discussion are expected of every LL.M. student, beginning with the first meetings of IAL and LRW. The quality of a student’s preparation, and of the participation in class discussion, may be considered by the instructor, without special notice, in determining the student’s grade in the course. 

Regular attendance is expected of every student at all meetings of the courses in which he or she is registered. Regular attendance is generally defined as 80% of class sessions, although some faculty may establish stricter attendance requirements. Students who fail to meet this requirement may be held accountable through a lowered grade or, in extreme cases, through exclusion from the examination.

While there are no joint degrees at the LL.M. degree level, LL.M. students are permitted to register for up to six points of graduate level courses in other departments of the University when such work is deemed appropriate and relevant to their academic programs, and subject to the following limitations:

  • Credits earned in foreign language courses, even if offered by the Law School or listed on the law school’s curriculum schedule, do not count toward the 24 points required to earn the LL.M. degree.
  • The LL.M. Writing Project requirement cannot be fulfilled in courses taken outside of the Law School.
  • All courses taken outside the Law School must be graded on the A-B-C-F scale. Grades lower than C will not be accepted for credit toward the LL.M.
  • The number of academic credits awarded for courses taken at another school or division of Columbia is limited to the actual number of hours a class meets per week, irrespective of the number of credits listed in that school’s catalogue (e.g., a three-credit course which meets for two hours each week yields two credits, not three).  An exception to this rule occurs when the other school assigns fewer credits than the number of hours the course meets each week; in that case, the student will earn the number of credits assigned to that course by the school (e.g., a two-credit course which meets for three hours each week yields two credits, not three).
  • Grades earned in courses taken outside Columbia Law School,either in another division of Columbia University or as part of the CLS/NYU Law Exchange, will not be factored into honors GPA calculations.

If a student chooses to take a course at a school outside Columbia University in the absence of an agreement between that school and Columbia, the student does so with the understanding that payment for such a course will not be deducted from any tuition owed to Columbia University, nor will any credits earned at the other institution supplant any of the credits required for the Columbia University degree.

Visit the Columbia University website for a listing of other Columbia University schools and for a complete directory of classes.

LL.M. candidates are subject to the same examination rules as J.D. candidates. See Academic Procedures for complete rules, including rules for rescheduling exams due to conflicts.

The performance of LL.M. candidates in courses, seminars, and research papers is indicated by the letters A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C and F, unless the course is designed to be graded on a CR/F or P/F scale. Information on grading practices can be found here.  A candidate failing a single course or seminar may obtain credit: (i) by reexamination, but he or she will not receive a grade higher than C the second time, and the transcript will include a notation that this grade is the result of re-examination; or (ii) by successful completion of a substitute offering, in which case the failing grade will remain on the candidate’s record.  To qualify for the degree, LL.M. candidates must earn a grade point average of 2.67 (B-) or better, or a preponderance of B or better grades, and may not fail more than one course or seminar. Grades earned in courses taken outside of the Law School, either in another division of Columbia University or as part of the CLS/NYU Law Exchange, will not be factored into either calculation. LL.M. candidates who fail more than one course offering may not graduate and their candidacy will terminate automatically.

LL.M. candidates who complete a minimum of 15 letter graded points in courses taken at Columbia Law School are eligible for academic honors.

J-term courses do not count toward the 11 credit minimum for the spring term, and do not count against the 15 credit maximum for the spring term.  If you register for a J-term course, you are still required to take an additional 11 credits in the spring, at a minimum (and will therefore earn 12 credits, at a minimum, in the spring). J-term course credits count toward 24 required for the NY Bar.

Any course listed in the online curriculum guide whose course number begins with “EL” is only available to Executive LL.M. students, and these courses do not count towards the LL.M. degree.  LL.M. students are not permitted to register for Executive LL.M. courses.

Columbia Law School and Columbia University use email as a primary means of communicating with students. As students, you are responsible for all messages sent to your Columbia email account, and all messages sent there will be considered received and read by you. We understand the volume of email messages can become overwhelming. To cut down on confusion, when sending messages, be sure the subject line always clearly reflects the message’s content. Likewise, never ignore messages from the Office of Graduate Degree Programs, Registration Services, your professors, or Student Services (especially regarding graduation).

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An enrollment/academic certification is an official document provided by the University Registrar verifying dates of attendance, award of degree, and student status (full-time or part-time) by term. It is typically requested for health insurance, visa, employment and credit verification purposes, or by a third-party financial sponsor (such as a loan or scholarship organization). There is no fee for this service. Please visit the Academic Certification section of the University Registrar website for more information.

Employers and insurers who wish to verify enrollment or degree completion of a student/alumnus should follow the instructions on the Third Party Ordering section of the University Registrar website.