LL.M. Degree Requirements and Rules
To earn the LL.M. degree, candidates must:
- 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) 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,
- 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.
- Complete the LL.M. Writing Project requirement.
See LL.M. Writing Project Requirement and Supervised Research at left.
- Earn a grade point average (GPA) of 2.67 (B-) or better, or a preponderance of B-or-better grades.
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. 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.
The academic program of all candidates for graduate degrees are subject to the approval of the Dean of Graduate Legal Studies.
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. Degree application forms are available through The Office of Registration Services.
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. 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.
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.
Academic Rules, Policies, and Procedures
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Class Attendance and Preparation
LL.M. candidates are expected to attend and be prepared for all classes, beginning with the first meeting of IAL. Adequate preparation of assignments and informed participation in class discussion are expected of every student. The quality of a student’s preparation and of the in-class discussion participation 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 other courses in which he or she is registered, and many instructors factor absences into the final grade if a student has more than two or three unexcused absences. If a student has excessive absences in a course, academic credit cannot be earned and a final grade of Failure may be recorded.
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Instruction and Research in Other Schools
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).
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, she must do 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.
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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. If a candidate fails an examination and is given permission to repeat it, 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. LL.M. candidates who fail more than one course offering may not graduate and their candidacy will terminate automatically. 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.
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Calculating Your Grade Point Average (GPA)
While Columbia Law School and Columbia University do not officially note your GPA on your transcript or other official University records, LL.M. students must achieve a minimum 2.67 GPA, or a preponderance of B or better grades, in order to earn the LL.M. degree. Below is the metric the Law School uses to calculate students’ GPAs; you should use this and only this metric when calculating yours (not another you may find online, for example).
To calculate your GPA:
Multiply the point value by the number of points of credit the course is worth. E.g., in the case of an A- in American Contract Law, a 4-point course, multiply 3.67 by 4, for a total of 14.68.
Add the total of the multiplied values.
Divide that total by the total number of points of credit (not including Credit/Fail courses).
Credit/Fail courses (such as IAL and LRW) and courses taken outside the Law School are not included in the GPA calculation.
Introduction to American Law
Legal Research and Writing
International Financial Transactions
S. Negotiation Workshop
American Contract Law
Total (not including CR/F courses)
- Follow the instructions above for calculating your GPA.
- Divide the sum of the total values by the total number of points of credit: 68.36 / 20 = 3.418.
- Your GPA is 3.42 (rounding up to the nearest 1/100th).
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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 Lionmail 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 Graduate Legal Studies, Registration Services, your professors, or Student Services (especially regarding graduation).