LL.M. English Pathway Program


The Washington College of Law and the English Language and Training Academy (ELTA) at American University offer a unique opportunity for students interested in improving their English skills prior to their LL.M. coursework. The LL.M. Pathway Program is a one-semester program designed to assist international students in gaining the requisite English proficiency to be successful in their LL.M. studies.

Program eligibility and application

Applicants to our LL.M. programs who are otherwise admissible but who do not meet our minimum requirement of English proficiency scores may be evaluated for enrollment in the LL.M. Pathway Program.  Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A first degree in law from a foreign law school with equivalent standards to ABA-accredited U.S. law schools
  • Sufficient academic and professional rigor for a post-graduate degree, through letters of recommendation and personal statement
  • Minimum TOEFL score of 75 or minimum IELTS score of 6.0
  • A completed LL.M. program application with supporting documents submitted before the application deadline


Students in the LLM Pathway Program will spend one semester at ELTA and enroll in four (4) courses. Upon successful completion of the Pathway Program with a grade of "B" or better in all four courses, students will automatically progress into their chosen LLM program at WCL without retaking the TOEFL or IELTS.

While enrolled at ELTA, students will take three mandatory, non-credit English courses at level 6:  Writing and Grammar, Academic Discussion, and Reading and Vocabulary. Additionally, they will take one for-credit elective seminar on current global issues, such a International Peace and Security, or Economic Policy. These courses are designed to build on students' existing English proficiency and introduce them to subject matter relevant to the LL.M. program.

Students may choose to apply the 4 credits they earn during the LL.M. Pathway towards the LL.M. degree in which they will enroll following the Pathway Program. The academic advisor of their chosen LL.M. program will advise students interested in this option accordingly.

Course Descriptions

Writing and Grammar (0 credits): This course develops students' academic writing skills with a particular focus on how to write research papers and graduate-level research proposals. Students build on their previous essay writing skills, incorporating complex grammatical structures and using different rhetorical styles to increase the sophistication of their writing. Students engage in all aspects of the writing process, including peer review, while paying close attention to the norms of academic integrity and the issue of plagiarism as they research and document their work.

Academic Discussion (0 credits): This course prepares students to be engaged and ready for graduate-level lectures and discussions. Students improve listening and speaking skills, pronunciation, vocabulary, note-taking, presentation skills, and critical thinking.

Reading and Vocabulary (0 credits): Students develop their critical thinking skills, academic reading skills, and advanced academic vocabulary by close reading and analyzing academic texts across a diverse array of disciplines as well as scholarly articles and a novel. In addition to writing analytical responses to the texts, students apply a range of learning strategies and research skills, participate in debates, lead classroom presentations and discussions, and often work collaboratively.

Below are electives offered in previous semesters, for a full list of electives please visit this page. Note that individual semester offerings change every year.

International Peace and Security (4 credits: This course introduces students to the major concepts and issues currently shaping the fields of international security and international peace and conflict studies. Students explore a variety of contemporary security issues and challenges to peace, the main strategies for responding to conflicts, and how to recognize and critique the assumptions upon which these strategies rest. Topics include classic security concerns ranging from causes of violent conflicts to terrorism, as well as a broad range of extended challenges to human security including environmental, health, gender, and resource security.

Economic Policy (4 credits): This course covers key topics in economic policy, including globalization, foreign direct investment, economic integration, foreign exchange markets, the international monetary system, and the global capital markets. The seminar is augmented with lectures by guest speakers and site visits to Washington, DC institutions and corporations.

For more information about the LL.M. Pathway Program, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at llm@wcl.american.edu