Frequently Asked Questions
General Admissions Questions
Application Procedures and Instructions
Letters of Recommendation
LL.M. Program—General Questions
General Admissions Questions
What are the eligibility requirements for applying to the LL.M. Program?
To be eligible for admission to the LL.M. Program, applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master’s degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree by correspondence course work or distance learning are not eligible for admission. If you have questions about whether your degree qualifies you to apply for the LL.M., you should ask us prior to applying by sending an email to email@example.com.
For more information on eligibility and standards please see our Eligibility and Admission Standards page.
When will a decision be made on my application?
Early Review applicants are notified by the end of December. All other admission decisions, including Early Review applications that were deferred to the regular cycle, are made on a rolling basis. 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. If you have not yet heard from us, you should not worry as it most likely means that the Committee simply has not yet reviewed your application. We strive to give every candidate an answer by the end of April.
How will I be notified of the decision for my application?
We send all admission decisions by email. Offers of admission are sent in writing also, via courier. Please make sure that you provide us with a valid email address and a physical address for the courier delivery (we do not deliver admission materials to post office boxes), and that you update that information as necessary. Many companies have put up firewalls and email messages get returned to us. Therefore, we recommend that you use a personal email account (such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo) or speak with your employer’s IT department to make sure that messages from Columbia Law School will not be blocked. All decisions are mailed from firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the most important component of my application?
The Admissions Committee takes into consideration all components of an application when making a decision on an application, and there is not one individual aspect that is more important than the others. Typically, decisions are based on review of the file as a whole, considering the applicant’s academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, professional experience and goals, and the personal statement.
I missed the application deadline of December 15, 2015. Can I still apply for the 2016-2017 program?
No. Prospective applicants should check back in September 2016 for the application to the 2017-2018 program.
Can I download the application form from your website?
No. All applicants must submit an online application through LSAC.
I will complete my first law degree next spring. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. However, we strongly encourage applicants to obtain at least one year of full-time, post-law school work experience prior to applying to the program, as experience greatly enhances an applicant's profile and is a contributing factor in admission decisions. All but a few of our current LL.M. students have worked for at least one year prior to enrolling in the program (with most having several years of work experience). Please note that students in their final year of law school in their home countries are not eligible to apply through the Early Review Program.
Does applying through the Early Review Program increase my chances of admission?
The advantage of applying early is that you will have a decision by late December. Your chances of admission are the same whether you apply early or through the regular cycle. We encourage early applications for those who feel they have compiled their strongest possible application by November 3.
I was rejected through the Early Review Program. Can I reapply through the regular admission cycle?
No. If you wish to reapply, you may do so the following academic year (2017-2018).
I am in my final year of law school in my country. Can I apply through the Early Review Program?
No. Applicants who are in their final year of law school must apply through the regular admission cycle. We need at least your fall semester grades for your last year of law studies in order to fairly evaluate your application.
I was not admitted to the LL.M. program last year, but would like to reapply this year. How should I proceed?
If you applied for admissions in the most recent application cycle (2015-2016), you will need to complete Columbia Law School’s online LL.M. Application through LSAC (using the same LSAC number with which you originally applied for admission), pay the application and CAS report fees, submit one additional Letter of Recommendation through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, and submit any updated or additional transcripts, if applicable.
Reapplicants who were not originally granted admission are not eligible for the Early Review Program. The reapplication deadline is December 15, 2015. Complete reapplication instruction can be found here.
I would like to reapply, but my previous application was prior to the 2014-2015 application year. How should I proceed?
If you applied prior to the 2014-2015 academic year, you must submit an entirely new online application and new transcripts, TOEFL scores, and letters of recommendation through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.
I plan to visit New York and Columbia. Can I schedule an interview or meeting with the Dean, Director, or Assistant Director of Graduate Legal Studies, or someone else in your office?
Applicants are welcome to visit the Law School and our office; we will be happy to meet you and informally answer your questions, and will give you a brochure so that you can take a self-guided tour of the Law School. Regrettably, due to the large number of applications we receive every year, we are unable to interview prospective students. For more information, including information on visiting classes, please see Visiting Columbia Law School. All information regarding our programs is also available on our website, so most of your questions should be answered herein.
Are applications submitted on my behalf by educational consultants or third-party advisors accepted?
With the exception of applications from Fulbright or other scholarship organizations, we do not accept applications submitted by third-party educational advisors or consultants. Such applications do not in any way enhance your chances for admission to Graduate Legal Studies at Columbia Law School. In fact, unless they are submitted through Fulbright or another scholarship organization, they may hinder your chances or render your application incomplete, as we have no way of verifying that the application is indeed your work. We will not report on an applicant’s status to anyone other than the applicant.
I am waiting to hear about my admission decision. Can I speak to a member of the Admissions Committee about my application?
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the Admissions Committee to speak with individual applicants about their applications. In the rare case that the Admissions Committee feels that they need information beyond what is included in your application, they will contact you directly.
I applied and was not offered admission. Can I receive feedback from the Admissions Committee on why I was rejected?
Unfortunately, no. Because of the high volume of applications we receive, it is not logistically possible for us to provide feedback on individual applications. Admission to our program is extremely competitive; we receive nearly 2,000 applications for approximately 260 places in the class. In most cases in which we deny admission to an applicant, we cannot point to one specific factor which led to the decision. Typically, we base our decisions on a review of the file as a whole, considering the applicant’s academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, professional experience and goals, and the personal statement.
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Application Procedures and Instructions
Application Procedure for LL.M. Admissions:
Applications for admission to our 2016-2017 LL.M. program and all supporting documents must be submitted through LSAC.
For additional information on applying through LSAC and other services LSAC offers, please visit the LSAC website. Columbia's online application through LSAC will be available in mid-September. Until then, applicants are encouraged to begin gathering (and submitting) their supporting documents for their LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Report.
I'm having technical problems with my online application. Who should I contact for help?
Contact LSAC, as they host the online application.
How do I request an application fee waiver?
The $85 application fee is rarely waived, and only waived in extenuating circumstances. If you would like to request an application fee waiver, send a detailed email to email@example.com outlining your reasons for requesting the waiver.
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How do I apply for Financial Aid?
The Application for Financial Assistance is an optional section within the LL.M. application. If you wish to be considered for financial aid, you must complete the Financial Aid section of the 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. If you complete this section and later decide you do not need financial assistance, you may withdraw your financial aid application by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 international students as it is for American students.
I saw a sponsored grant on your website for which I wish to be considered. How do I apply for it?
Only the Appel, Jagdish Bhagwati, and Human Rights Fellowships require separate applications (see Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid). All admitted applicants who apply for financial assistance will be considered automatically for all other fellowship awards.
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.
What is the deadline to submit the Application for Financial Assistance to Columbia Law School?
November 3, 2015 for Early Review applicants and December 15, 2015 for regular review applicants. Applicants for admission who do not fully complete the Financial Aid section of the online application will not be considered for an award, even if they request assistance after the deadline.
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, as we cannot guarantee an award. You should seek alternative funding (in the form of loans or scholarships) through outside sources if your ability to complete an LL.M. program is dependent on funding. 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.
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What are the minimum TOEFL requirements for admission to the LL.M. Program?
The minimum score for the TOEFL iBT is: 105 overall score, with 26 on Reading and Listening and 24 on the Speaking and Writing sections. For the paper-based TOEFL, the minimum score is: 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 I apply for Early Review, do I need to take the TOEFL test by November 3 as well?
Your test date should be well in advance of the November 3 deadline so that your scores appear in your LSAC CAS report by November 3. If your TOEFL scores are not in your CAS report by November 3, we will automatically defer your application for review as part of the regular admission cycle.
By what date must I take the TOEFL test to be considered for admission for 2016-2017?
If you are applying through the regular admission cycle, December 15, 2015. We recognize that score reports will not arrive by that date, but all applicants should take the exam no later than December 15. Applicants should therefore schedule their exams as early as possible.
I retook the TOEFL after the application deadline and got a higher score. Can I submit it LSAC to include in my application?
While we cannot guarantee that it will be considered with the rest of your 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.
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 2016-2017 LL.M. Program, you must have taken the TOEFL no earlier than December 15, 2013.
Can I have ETS send a copy of TOEFL score report directly to Columbia?
No. All scores must be submitted through LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS). All score reports and any other application materials we receive from ETS and by mail will be discarded.
I completed my first degree in law in my native language, but completed an advanced degree in English. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?
Yes. You are exempt from taking the TOEFL exam if you completed your first degree in law at a school where the language of instruction was entirely in English in an English-speaking country.
I work entirely in English. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?
Yes. In order to be exempt from taking the TOEFL exam, you must have completed your first degree in law at a school where the language of instruction was entirely in English in an English-speaking country.
Do you accept the IELTS test or other English proficiency exams?
No. All applicants who have not completed their first degree in law entirely in English in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Visit www.toefl.org for more information. IELTS or other English proficiency exams are not accepted.
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Letters of Recommendation
Can letters of recommendation be emailed or faxed directly to Columbia?
No. All letters must be submitted through LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
Please confirm the process of submitting your letters of recommendation with your recommenders. All letters that are mistakenly sent directly to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies rather than to LSAC will be discarded.
To whom should my letters of recommendation be addressed?
Letters should be addressed to the Office of Graduate Legal Studies.
Can I submit more than two letters of recommendation?
We urge you to submit only two letters of recommendation. Part of compiling a strong application for admission is determining which two recommenders are best able to evaluate your ability to pursue and succeed in graduate legal studies. In very rare circumstances, applicants may feel they have a compelling reason to submit an additional letter of recommendation. If you feel you fall into this category and would like to submit a third letter, your reasons should be obvious to the Admissions Committee and 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.
Who should I ask to 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 beyond internships during law school. Letters from important people who have not taught you or supervised your work are not helpful. It is most important that your recommender know you well and be able to candidly evaluate your work and academic potential.
Is there any particular format in which you prefer letters of recommendation be sent?
Your recommenders must submit their letters of recommendation directly to LSAC. They may do so either electronically via LSAC’s new Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs) or by mail to LSAC. If your recommender uses the new E-LOR system, be sure they include a work e-mail address and contact information in their letter, so we can contact them if we have any questions about the letter or to verify the authenticity of the letter. 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 her to include an explanation as to why she is unable to do so.
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 her/him should we have questions about the letter or your candidacy (please note that we cannot accept generic email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail addresses for recommenders. If you submit a generic email address, we will request that you submit an official work email address before the Committee will review your application. If your recommender does not have an official work email address, you must explain on the online application why s/he does not have one). If your recommenders cannot write in English, please 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.
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Do the application deadlines (November 3 for Early Review and December 15 for regular admission) apply to my LSAC CAS reports as well? Must Columbia receive my official LSAC report by those dates?
If you are applying for Early Review, your documents should be submitted to LSAC as far in advance of the November 3 deadline as possible. If your CAS report is not complete by November 3, your application will be deferred to the regular admission cycle. For regular admission, your documents should be postmarked to LSAC no later than December 15. You should check with LSAC directly for their current estimated processing times to determine when to send your documents if you are applying for Early Review.
My school does not rank degree candidates. What should I do?
Provide a statement from your school stating that it does not rank candidates and send the statement to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS) as a part of your trancripts.
I completed an M.A. and a B.A. in addition to my LL.B. degree. Do I need to submit all of my transcripts, or just those for the LL.B.?
You need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary education completed, whether or not you earned a degree at a particular school. This rule applies even if the M.A. or B.A. program was not related to law.
I began a degree program but did not complete it. Do I need to submit transcripts for the unfinished program?
You need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework, whether or not you completed the program or earned a degree.
I completed a semester or year abroad at another university. Do I need to submit transcripts from that school as well?
Yes, unless the grades are noted on your regular law school transcript, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary education completed, whether or not you earned a degree at a particular school.
I completed a single university course outside of a degree program. Do I need to submit transcripts with the grade from that one course?
Yes, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework undertaken, even if it is just one course.
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 have much experience evaluating transcripts from countries around the world, and are familiar with foreign countries’ grading systems, so do not require you to write an explanation of your country’s grading system.
Do you require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service provided by LSAC?
We strongly prefer but do not require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service; it is up to you whether you select the evaluation service.
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LL.M. Program—General Questions
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 part-time?
No. The program is a full-time, one-year program beginning in August only.
Can I do the program online?
No. We do not offer an online LL.M. program.
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 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 2015-2016 can be found on the Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid page.
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