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, allowing each student to choose any courses among the 100+ courses offered throughout the year.

Overview of courses offered in the International Legal Studies Program:

Fall 2018 Courses | Spring 2019 Courses


ILSP LL.M candidates may choose to specialize in one of the six areas listed below. To receive a Certificate of Specialization combined 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 Business Law
    Sample courses: International Business Transactions; International Sales of Goods; International Business Negotiations; U.S. Business Law; Legal Drafting: International Contracts.

  • International Trade and Investment
    Sample courses: International Trade Law I; International Trade Law II; U.S. Trade Regime; International Investment Law; U.S. Sanctions and Export Controls

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

  • International Environmental Law
    Sample courses: International Environmental Law; International Energy Law; Comparative Environmental Law; Climate Change and the Law; Environmental Law (U.S. law).

  • International Human Rights
    Sample courses:
    Human Rights Law; International Humanitarian Law; International Business and Human Rights; Human Rights and Terrorism Seminar; Strategic Litigation in International Human Rights.

  • Gender and International Law
    Sample courses:
    Gender, International and Comparative Law; Advanced Legal Writing: Gender and Law; Gender, Cultural Differences and International Human Rights; Responses of International Law to Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-based Violence.

LL.M. Degree Requirements

Award of the LL.M. degree in International Legal Studies requires 24 credit hours from the designated list of classes with a grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better.

Course requirements:

There is no prescribed coursework; students are free to customize the curriculum of 100+ course offerings to their own interests and career goals.

Non-common law trained students however are required to take American Legal Institutions (LAW-580-001; 2 credits) and Legal Research and Writing (LAW-580-002; 2 credits) in the first semester.

LL.M. candidates can complete up to 6 credit hours of the 24 credits required through independent research and writing under the supervision of a faculty member, externships, and non-law classes at other schools at American University.

Writing Requirements:

There exist two options to comply with the LL.M. writing requirement:

  • Research Track: LL.M. candidates are automatically in the research track. They must successfully complete two research papers that demonstrate a high degree of skill in legal scholarship and writing. The papers can be written in connection with a class, or through independent research and writing.

  • Practical Skills Track: LL.M. candidates must register for and successfully complete an externship for credit, as well as write one research paper.

Each research paper must contain at least 3,500 words. The memo written for the Legal Research and Writing course (LAW-580-002) counts as one of these papers.

Full-time or part-time:

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 in at least 8 credits during the fall and the spring, except for the last semester when students 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 LL.M. degree in International Legal Studies, 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-580-002: Legal Research & Writing (2 credits; offered Fall o& Spring), and

  • LAW-550: Legal Ethics (2 credits; offered Spring & Summer)

Plus 6 credits from 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)

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 summer credits.

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