Courses & Requirements


The LL.M. in International Legal Studies Program (ILSP LL.M.) requires a total of 24 credit hours of coursework. The curriculum is flexible and allows students to choose any courses from among over 100 courses offered throughout the year.

Overview of courses offered in the International Legal Studies Program

Areas of Specializations

ILSP LL.M candidates may choose to specialize in one of the areas listed below. To receive a Certificate of Specialization along with the LL.M. degree, students must successfully complete 12 credits hours in the area of specialization out of the required 24 credits hours. Certain courses count towards more than one area of specialization.

Students do not have to declare a specialization in advance-- a specialization is optional and students can pursue this option any time after commencement of the LL.M. program.

We offer the following specializations:

International Environmental Law

Sample courses: International Environmental Law; International Energy Law; Comparative Environmental Law; Climate Change and the Law; Environmental Law (U.S. law); Animal and Wildlife; Trade and Environment; International Business and Environment.


Sample courses: International Commercial Arbitration; International ADR: Global Sovereign Disputes Practicum; Bilateral Investment Treaty Arbitration; Alternative Dispute Resolution.

International Investment Law

Sample courses: International Investment Law; International ADR: Global Sovereign Disputes Practicum; Bilateral Investment Treaty Arbitration; Advanced Research Seminar on International Investment and Commercial Law.

International Criminal Law

Sample courses: International Criminal Law; Human Rights Law; International Humanitarian Law; Responses of International Law to Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-based Violence; Human Rights and Terrorism; International and Transitional Justice.

International Trade Law and Policy

Sample courses: International Trade Law I; International Trade Law II; U.S. Trade Regime; U.S. Remedies; U.S. Sanctions and Export Controls; International Rule Making and Dispute Settlement - WTO, WIPO and the Multilateral System International Investment Law

International Business Law

Sample courses: International Business Transactions; International Sales of Goods; International Business Negotiations


Sample courses: Human Rights, Strategic Litigation of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Terrorism, Human Rights and Environment

LL.M. Degree Requirements

Course Requirements:

  • Award of the LL.M. degree in International Legal Studies requires successful completion of 24 credit hours.
  • Non-common law trained students are required to take American Legal Institutions (LAW-580-001; 2 credits) and LL.M. Legal Research and Writing (LAW-580L-002; 2 credits) in the first semester.
  • LL.M. students can complete up to 6 credit hours of the required 24 credits through independent research and writing under the supervision of a faculty member, externships, and non-law classes at other schools at American University.

Graduation Tracks:

To graduate from the ILSP LL.M., students have to meet the following graduation requirements:

  • Research Track: LL.M. students are automatically in the research track. They must successfully complete at least two research papers that demonstrate a high degree of skill in legal scholarship and writing. Students can write the required papers in connection with a class, or through independent research and writing projects under faculty supervision.


  • Practical Skills Track: LL.M. candidates must register for and successfully complete an externship for credit, and write one research paper.
  • Each research paper must contain at least 3,500 words. The memo written for the LL.M. Legal Research and Writing course (LAW-580L-002) counts as one of the required papers.


The LL.M. degree can be completed full-time (two or three regular semesters), or part-time (up to 5 years, as long as no visa restrictions apply). Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa must be enrolled full-time and take at least 8 credits each semester, except for the last semester when they can take a reduced course load for 1-7 credits.

New York Bar Track

With careful planning, foreign-educated law students can meet the LL.M. degree requirements, the Certificate of Specialization requirements (if they choose to pursue a specialization), and the New York bar eligibility requirements at the same time.

Of the 24 credit hours required to earn the ILSP LL.M., 12 credits must be in the subject matters required by the New York bar.

New York Bar Courses include:

Required (6 credits)

  • LAW-580-001: American Legal Institutions (2 credits; offered Fall & Spring)
  • LAW-580L-002: LL.M. Legal Research & Writing (2 credits; offered Fall o& Spring), and
  • LAW-550: Legal Ethics (2 credits; offered Spring & Summer)

Plus 6 credits selected among the following courses:

  • LAW-581-001: U.S. Business Law (3 credits; offered Spring)
  • LAW-504-002: U.S. Contracts Law (3 credits; offered Fall)
  • LAW-503-001: U.S. Constitutional Law (3 credits; offered Spring)
  • LAW-507-001: U.S. Criminal Law (3 credits; offered Fall)
  • LAW-636: Family Law (3 credits; offered Fall & Spring)
  • Subject to prior approval, LL.M. students may register for Evidence (LAW-633), Secured Transactions (LAW-840), and Wills, Trusts and Estates (LAW-697)

LL.M. candidates interested in taking the New York bar exam must complete the degree within 2 years of beginning the LL.M. program, and may only enroll in a maximum of 4 credits in the summer.

More information about New York Bar Exam requirements is available here. Please see also our general information on the Bar Exam here.