LLM Degree Requirements

The International Legal Studies LL.M. program is designed to meet the growing demand for lawyers trained in global legal issues.  The program's flexible structure enables students to shape a course of study that fits their personal goals and interests.

American University Washington College of LawTo earn the LLM degree, students must complete:

  • At least 24 credit hours with a grade point average of 2.0 or better. Students can complete the degree in either two or three semesters. The Immigration and Naturalization Service requires that students studying under an F1 or J1 visa maintain full-time enrollment (8 credits) during the normal academic year (fall and spring semesters). Students may choose an area of specialization in which 12 of the 24 credits are designated towards a specific concentration. More information on areas of specialization.

  • Required Courses: During their first semester, graduates of non-common law programs are required to take American Legal Institutions, a two-part class that covers substantive U.S. law (2 credits) and Legal Research and Writing (2 credits).  These courses introduce students to the U.S. legal system and U.S. legal writing.

  • LLM Graduation Requirement: To qualify for graduation, all LLM candidates must either complete the Practical Skills Graduation Track or Research Graduation Track.
    • Research Track: LLM candidates in the Research Track must complete 2 research papers that demonstrate a high degree of skill in legal scholarship and writing.  These papers may be written for a WCL course or through an independent study writing project under the supervision of a WCL faculty member.  Papers must be at least 20 pages long.  The research papers completed for the Legal Research and Writing component of American Legal Institutions (LAW-580-002) constitute one of the required research papers. If a student chooses to specialize there may be additional requirements for the specialization. Students should speak to their academic advisor about the specialization requirements.
    • Practical Skills Track: LLM candidates in the Practical Skills Track must complete a legal externship for academic credit during their studies. Students will also have to complete 1 research paper. The research papers completed for the Legal Research and Writing component of American Legal Institutions (LAW-580-002) constitute one of the required research papers. If a student chooses to specialize there may be additional requirements for the specialization. Students should speak to their academic advisor about the specialization requirements.
    • NOTE: International students may not register for an externship until the second semester of the LLM program and must choose the Practical Skills Track by the end of the add/drop period in their final semester.

      Students are automatically placed in the Research Track and may change their graduation track at any time before the end of the add/drop period during their final semester. A graduation track can only be changed once. In order to switch to the Practical Skills Track, students must submit a completed LL.M. Externship Contract to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). For more detailed information about each graduation track, please view the LLM Graduation Requirement policies.

  • English for Lawyers: Students with a TOEFL score below 580 (237 CBT and 93 IBT) are required to take English for Lawyers, though it is recommended for all students who wish to improve their English skills.  This non-credit course is taught in conjunction with LAW 580-002 (Legal Research and Writing).  The two courses share the same content base and complement each other with coordinated writing assignments.  The English for Lawyers course is designed to enhance students' English language proficiency in a U.S. legal context.  This course has been instrumental in enabling students with limited English-language experience to maximize their educational experience at WCL. More information on English for Lawyers.