Prospective Students

Degree Requirements

  • 24 credits of coursework (14 credits in approved Intellectual Property courses)
  • Research Track: Intellectual Property Writing Seminar and completion of a 30 page research paper
  • Practical Skills Track: Externship in relevant business, firm, or government office
  • More information 

LL.M.


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American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) offers a unique Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in Intellectual Property through one of the world’s leading centers for the study of intellectual property and information law. Applications are now being accepted for Information Justice Fellowships – a merit scholarship, internship and mentoring program for outstanding candidates.

Outstanding applicants may qualify for the Information Justice Fellowship, which includes tuition support for up to half of the required credits, as well as mentoring and the opportunity to organize an event relevant to one's area of specialization.  

Why American University is right for you

American University Washington College of Law is perennially recognized as among the top places in the world to study intellectual property law. The program builds on AUWCL's other major strengths, including international law, public interest law and clinical legal education.  

Extensive Curriculum

AUWCL’s intellectual property curriculum is one of the largest in the country – with over 30 intellectual property and related courses. Classes are offered day and night, all year long – giving students the flexibility to tailor their schedule to other commitments.  

Dynamic Programs and Student Body

AUWCL is home to the path-breaking Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP), an academic and research center promoting the public interest in intellectual property policy debates around the world. PIJIP hosts the U.S. affiliate of Creative Commons, engages in public impact research projects, brings together scholars and practitioners for < ahref="http://pijip.org/events">public events and seminars, and publishes the infojustice.org news and analysis blog. AUWCL students frequently work with PIJIP as interns. 

Supervised Externship Program

Among the many advantages of studying law in Washington, D.C. is the opportunity to integrate practical experience with academic study of the law. AUWCL’s acclaimed Supervised Externship Program provides students the opportunity to receive academic credit for substantive legal work combined with a specialized seminar reflecting on their experience. Over 100 government and non-profit intellectual property, communications and sports law offices or organizations participate in the externship program. See WCL IP externship Employers.

Location, Location, Location 

AUWCL's new Tenley Campus affords students the opportunity to study in a modern state-of-the-art 8 ½ acre campus, situated in a bustling, historic neighborhood with easy metro access to downtown Washington D.C. -- a global center of intellectual property policymaking and legal practice. 

Global Alumni Network and Employment Opportunities

Students gain access to one of the largest alumni networks of intellectual property practitioners in the world. AUWCL alumni are partners in nearly all of the top 50 IP firms in the DC area, include dozens of IP specialist judges – including the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals -- and serve in IP-focused careers in scores of Federal administrative agencies. See the full list of employers of AUWCL IP students and alumni

Active Student Organziations

AUWCL law students run myriad organizations focusing on intellectual property and related topics. The Intellectual Property Law Society keeps students informed and connected through a weekly digest of activities and employment announcements and organizes events and speakers series; the IP Brief gives students the opportunity to edit and publish both short and full length articles, including as a first year or LL.M. student; the Communications Law Society, Sports & Entertainment Law Society and Fashion Law Society provide opportunities for students to join specialized networks in those fields; The Moot Court Honor Society supports participation in the Giles Southerland Rich Memorial and Saul Lefkowitz moot court competitions; The American University Law Review publishes an annual volume reviewing the jurisprudence of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the International Law Review publishes an annual focus issue on international intellectual property law; the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law is an annual co-sponsor of the IP-Gender Symposium.

Career and Academic Counseling 

Over a dozen AUWCL faculty members participate in the Intellectual Property, Communications, Media and Sports Law Faculty Practice Group, which links students to faculty advisors. Practice Group faculty make themselves available to students for individual career and academic counseling and work with the Office of Professional and Career Development to sponsor workshops and events explaining career paths. Each Spring the Practice Group supports a Career Coaching and Speed Networking event with area alumni. 

Internationally Renowned Faculty

Washington College of Law has one of the largest intellectual property faculties in the world. Over a dozen full time professors teach a comprehensive range of intellectual property and related courses. Full time faculty teach each of the core subjects of Patent, Copyright, Trademark, Trade Secrets and Cyberlaw. Students also learn from over a dozen senior practitioners from the World Intellectual Property Organization, World Trade Organization and leading global intellectual property law firms and visiting scholars.   

LL.M. Program Requirements 

Credit Requirements

AUWCL offers an ABA-approved LL.M. degree in Intellectual property law. Award of the degree requires:

  • At least 24 credit hours (26 for NY Bar Exam eligibility) with a grade point average of 2.0 or better. Candidates normally complete the degree as a full time student in one calendar year (including summer), but can be completed in two full time semesters on an accelerated schedule. Candidates studying under an F1 or J1 visa must maintain full-time enrollment (8 credits) during the normal academic year (fall and spring semesters) and can pursue 6 or 7 credits in the summer.
  • 14 credits in approved intellectual property and information law courses, including at least one Foundational IP course (Copyright, Patent, Trademark, Trade Secrets, IP in Cyberspace).
  • 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.

NY Bar Requirements

Foreign-trained lawyers who wish to take the NY bar exam must complete Legal Research and Writing, American Legal Institutions, Legal Ethics, and 2 courses in subjects tested on the bar exam (listed below). Completing the NY Bar requirements and the LL.M. in IP requirements requires a total of 26 credits, which is recommended to be taken over a full calendar year (including 7 summer credits) to manage the work load.

Required Bar Courses:

  • American Legal Institutions (2 credits; offered Fall or Spring)
  • Legal Research & Writing (2 credits; offered Fall or Spring)
  • Legal Ethics (2 credits; offered Spring or Summer)

 At least 6 credits from the following approved courses:

  • U.S. Business Law (3 credits; offered Fall or Spring)
  • U.S. Contracts Law (4 credits; offered Spring)
  • U.S. Constitutional Law (3 credits; offered Fall)
  • U.S. Criminal Law (3 credits; offered Fall)

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 can be found at https://www.wcl.american.edu/ilsp/efl.cfm

Research or Practical Skills Focus

LL.M. candidates must elect either a Practical Skills Track or Research Track for their degree. Research candidates are required to take the IP Writing Seminar offered in the Fall of each year and complete a 30-page thesis on a topic of their choosing. Practical Skills candidates complete an externship through Washington College of Law's acclaimed Supervised Externship Program. Practical Skills candidates must take at least one writing seminar, which may include the IP Writing Seminar or, for foreign trained lawyers from non-common law backgrounds -- Legal Research & Writing (2 credits; offered Fall or Spring).

Flexible Specializations

Upon approval of the LL.M. Director, candidates may obtain a certificate of specialization in any topic in which the student takes at least one course taught by a full time AUWCL faculty member plus one additional related course and a substantial writing product. Specializations may include, for example: 

  • Copyright
  • Patent
  • Trademark
  • Trade Secrets
  • International Intellectual Property
  • IP and Antitrust
  • Communications and Media
  • Cyberlaw
  • Food and Drug
  • Sports Law

Information Justice Fellowships

Outstanding applicants may be selected for an Information Justice Fellowship. This merit scholarship program provides a tuition support scholarship for up to half of the required credits of the LL.M degree, an opportunity to work with PIJIP on a public interest research project or event, and individualized mentorship from an assigned faculty member.

Summer Sessions in Washington and Geneva

Each summer, LL.M students can earn up to 7 classroom credits toward their specialization through courses offered in PIJIP’s three-week Intellectual Property Summer Sessions  in Washington D.C. or Geneva, Switzerland. 

Individualized Faculty and Alumni Mentoring

LL.M students are integrated into the academic advising programs of the Intellectual Property, Communications, Media and Sports Law Faculty Practice Group