Columbia University School of Law

The information on this page was provided by the law school.


Official Guide to LLM, Master’s, and Certificate Programs

435 West 116th Street, New York, NY 10027, United States

Introduction

Cherry blossom trees bloom above a courtyard, where students study and socialize

Renowned for its intellectual rigor and high professional standards, Columbia Law School is steadfastly committed to providing the best legal education in the country. For those who already hold a first degree in law (or higher), Columbia Law School offers three graduate degree programs:

Additionally, Columbia offers the Special Student Program for attorneys who wish to further their legal education without pursuing a degree

Law School Enrollment

  • Total law school enrollment: 1,600 (approximate)
  • Total LLM enrollment: 310 (approximate) in both the LLM and Executive LLM Programs
  • Full-time: All LLM Program students
  • Part-time: None
  • Hybrid (Full- and Part-time): All Executive LLM Program students

Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University’s Morningside campus is located in the Morningside Heights section of upper Manhattan. With the adjacent bustle of Broadway and Wall Street just a short subway ride away, Columbia offers an active campus life within an exciting international capital.

Columbia Law students benefit in innumerable ways from their immersion in the vibrancy of one of the world’s most important cities. As the world’s center of law practice, New York provides a vast living laboratory for students’ personal and professional growth. Living and studying in New York, students find their intellectual assumptions and cultural preferences examined and challenged as never before. They see legal theories tested and validated in the halls of the United Nations, in the offices of human rights organizations, and in the conference rooms of leading corporations. The world’s most accomplished litigators, corporate lawyers, judges, legal scholars, human rights advocates, and international political figures are part of the fabric and daily life of the city, and many are familiar figures at Columbia Law School as adjunct teachers, visiting scholars, and lecturers. The Law School actively encourages students to delve into the surrounding metropolis and contribute their talents to the city through internships, clinics, pro bono work, and community service.

Beyond the study and practice of law, New York City offers unparalleled opportunities for personal growth, enrichment, and just plain fun. This is a city of mind-boggling scope and variety, where more than 80 languages are spoken and where an Italian deli, an Ethiopian restaurant, and a Chinese noodle shop share the same block. It is a city with hundreds of museums, art galleries, and theaters. Music lovers can choose from formal venues such as Lincoln Center to clubs in Greenwich Village to improvisational jazz in Central Park. For sports enthusiasts, whether athletes or fans, the city provides an exciting array of opportunities for exercise, competition, and enjoyment.

Arthur W. Diamond Law Library

The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library is the second largest academic law library in the United States, including strong collections in international, foreign, and corporate law.

Information Technology

Columbia Law School provides rich computing resources and a robust network of wired and wireless classrooms and public spaces. A knowledgeable team of IT professionals provides support for student research and educational needs. For more information, visit Columbia Law School’s Information Technology website.

Master of Laws (LLM Program)

Students smile in a classroom settingFor over 100 years, Columbia’s LLM Program has embraced an interdisciplinary approach to legal studies, offering a broad curriculum across legal and other disciplines that demands and deepens analytical thought. Each year, Columbia Law School enrolls approximately 300 full-time LLM students from more than 50 jurisdictions, with experience spanning all areas of the legal profession — including academia, the judiciary, public service, civil rights and human rights advocacy, NGOs, international organizations, and start-ups. The LLM Program provides an opportunity for our students to specialize in fields not fully covered in their previous law work. This remarkable community of individuals, when embraced by the Law School’s long-standing commitment to excellence, makes Columbia an especially dynamic and vibrant community in which to study law. Our graduate students are a vital component of the Law School community. They are active in many cocurricular activities — including the student senate, journals, moot courts, and student organizations — and organize and speak at conferences, workshops, and colloquia on current legal issues.

Columbia offers a general LLM degree, giving students much freedom to select their courses from the Law School’s incredibly rich curriculum. The key to a satisfying and enriching LLM experience is student choice. A Columbia LLM degree can comprise a wide variety of subjects or have a more narrow focus; in the LLM Program, there are no study “tracks.” We help our students design an individual program of study to meet their academic and professional goals — whether to broaden their general preparation; specialize in a particular field; or expand their knowledge to new areas of law. The courses and seminars open to LLM students are generally those open to JD students in their second and third years. Additionally, all LLM candidates, except those who hold a JD from a U.S. law school, are required to take an introductory course on the common law and the American legal system and a course on legal research and writing offered uniquely for them during the month of August.

The Office of Graduate Legal Studies advisers work closely with our faculty and other administrative departments to ensure that each LLM student’s year at Columbia is rich and rewarding — both personally and intellectually. We provide individual support to LLM students throughout every step of their law school experience. Through our comprehensive orientation program, we offer LLM students strong support in transitioning to life in New York City as well as adjusting to the teaching methods and systems of an American educational institution. Socially, we emphasize building a cohort among our students by hosting frequent academic and social events so that they can connect from day one of the program, network with one another, and build lifelong friendships.

Columbia is a place where students interact with unrivaled faculty and highly accomplished students, work very hard, are treated exceptionally well, and obtain a degree that represents the best that U.S. legal education can offer.

Admission Standards, Application Procedure, and Application Components

LLM Program applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master’s degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree by correspondence coursework or distance learning are not eligible for admission. Strong preference is given to applicants who have had at least one year of work experience after earning their first law degree. As the LLM is a full-time program of study, students are not permitted to maintain full-time, off-campus employment while enrolled in the program.

  • Online application available: September 18, 2020
  • Application deadline: December 18, 2020
  • Application fee: $85
  • Letters of recommendation: 2 required, preferably 1 from a law school professor and 1 from a work supervisor
  • Transcripts: required for all postsecondary institutions attended, whether or not you earned a degree
  • TOEFL minimum requirement: 105 (26 minimum on reading and listening sections and 24 minimum on speaking and writing sections)
  • Tuition and mandatory fees: $78,671 for the 2020-2021 academic year

Financial Aid

Columbia Law School has a robust financial aid program to support candidates in the LLM Program. At the same time, our funds are limited, and we are not able to fund all admitted applicants. As such, we expect that applicants will share in the cost of the LLM Program and will actively seek other sources of funding for their studies throughout the application process. We urge applicants who will require any level of financial assistance to begin seeking independent sources of funding as soon as they begin contemplating an LLM degree abroad, as some external sources of funding (such as Fulbright) may require you to apply up to a year in advance of applying to an LLM program.

Financial assistance for the LLM Program at Columbia, when awarded, may consist of partial waivers of tuition, institutional loans, or a combination of the two. We rarely grant full waivers of tuition. 

Housing

The Law School has University-managed apartments for enrolled LLM students, and most LLMs choose to live on campus or in the neighborhood surrounding campus. Housing options include dormitory rooms, studio apartments, one- and two-bedroom apartments, and apartment shares (two or three students in each apartment). Most but not all of these units are furnished. For students who wish to live off campus, the University maintains an office that assists students in obtaining housing in buildings owned and operated by landlords other than Columbia.

Student Services and Organizations

Students descend a staircase that leads into a courtyardLLM student life at Columbia Law is enriched by our numerous cocurricular activities and organizations. Our academic centers and programs host weekly lectures, roundtable discussions, and conferences, and also serve as catalysts for scholarly work and student involvement on issues and activities in the law. Our 14 student law journals are among the leading scholarly publications in their fields. With over 70 student organizations, ranging from professional interest organizations to social organizations, almost all of our students are active in at least one group. Beyond the walls of the Law School, our students also participate in the many University-wide groups, events, and intramural sports teams.

Career Services

Through its global network, Columbia Law provides LLM students with exceptional and exclusive opportunities for internships, fellowships, and postgraduate careers. Our alumni work in areas as diverse as private law firms, the judiciary, nonprofit organizations, startup companies, universities, and government agencies. Columbia LLM students will find an array of comprehensive and individualized services enabling them to pursue fulfilling careers in both the private and public sectors. Whether you are about to graduate or are a seasoned alumnus considering a new career path, Columbia Law School’s Office of Career Services and Professional Development (OCS), Social Justice Initiatives (SJI), and Office of Judicial Clerkships (OJC) are ready to help you explore and prepare for the myriad opportunities available.

LLM Blog

For firsthand accounts of life as an LLM student — the next best thing to being here! — we encourage you to read our blog, The Columbia LL.M. Experience

Contact Information

The Graduate Legal Studies website and our LLM Program brochure contain detailed information on the LLM Program and the admissions process. For questions not answered therein, please contact us.

Phone: 212.854.2655
Email: gls@law.columbia.edu

Executive Master of Laws in Global Business Law (Executive LLM Program)

The Columbia Executive Master of Laws (LLM) in Global Business Law is an agile and ambitious program for accomplished lawyers with sophisticated international practice experience.

The intensive program, completed in only six months, is designed to minimize time away from home and work with a combination of online and in-person classes.

At Columbia Law School, what we teach is informed by what’s happening in the world. The forces changing global business require expert legal professionals as innovative as the products and services offered by their clients.

Learn from the world’s top corporate law faculty in small classes, gain an expert foundation in U.S. business law, and acquire the professional skills you need to stay nimble and innovative.

Executive Experience and Support

Work with a dedicated career management team to develop your professional network and plan. Our Leadership and Management  series rounds out the Executive LL.M. experience and will provide you with competencies necessary to thrive in the evolving practice of global business law.

Your transition to campus should be stress free. We help with airport transportation, course materials, meals, and housing.

A Columbia education is more than just the degree. Through its global network, Columbia Law provides LLM students with exceptional and exclusive opportunities for career advancement.

2021 Program Dates

  • March 22 - May 14, 2021: Introduction to American Law and American Contract Law (Online)
  • May May 24 - 25, 2021: Summer Residency Orientation
  • May 26 - Aug 10, 2021: Summer Residency (check our website for the curriculum and course list)
  • August 30 - September 24, 2021: Professional Responsibility in Global Business Law (Online)

Admission Standards, Application Procedure, and Application Components

  • Online application available: June 1, 2020

  • Application deadline: Early Decision — October 1, 2020 (Guaranteed decision by November 1); Regular Admission — December 18, 2020

  • Application fee: $85 USD

  • Letters of recommendation: Two (2) original letters of recommendation required

  • Transcripts: Required for all postsecondary institutions attended, whether or not you earned a degree

  • TOEFL minimum requirement: Overall score of 105 (26 minimum on reading and listening sections and 24 minimum on speaking and writing sections)

  • Tuition and mandatory fees: $79,252 for the 2021 program (fees are approximate and will be finalized in March 2021)

Financial Aid

While Financial Aid from Columbia is not available for the Executive LLM Program, there may be external sources of funding available. Please see our website for a list of possible funding options.

Housing

Executive LLM students have a variety of housing options from which they may choose, including a limited number of furnished on-campus studio and one-bedroom apartments in Columbia’s Butler Hall; on- and off-campus apartment sublets; and short-term corporate housing.

Contact Information

The Executive LLM in Global Business Law website contains detailed information on the Executive LLM Program and the admissions process. For any other questions, please contact us.

Email: ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu

Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD Program)

The Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) Program provides opportunity and encouragement for distinguished scholarship through advanced seminars and colloquia, facilities for independent research, and the advice and guidance of members of the Faculty of Law.

The JSD degree is awarded to persons who have completed an approved program of study, research and writing with distinction. To earn the degree, candidates are required to submit a dissertation and to pass an oral defense of the dissertation within six years of enrollment in the program. The dissertation can take the form of a unified work or a set of three articles with a unifying essay. Doctoral candidates are provided workspace at the Law School during their period of residence at Columbia.

Admission Standards, Application Procedure, and Application Components

To be eligible for admission to the JSD program, applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master’s degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree earned by correspondence course work or distance learning are not eligible.

Admission to candidacy for the JSD degree is normally restricted to applicants who desire a career in law teaching and who can present evidence of impressive achievement in undergraduate law study or in subsequent scholarly or professional activities, with special emphasis on demonstrated capacity for effective legal research and writing. Applicants with experience in government service or law practice before admission are eligible for admission; those who have already begun a career in teaching law are generally preferred. As substantial experience beyond earning a first law degree is generally seen as a prerequisite for this degree, applications from very recent law school graduates are discouraged. Applicants from the United States and international jurisdictions are given equal consideration in the admissions process. Applicants completing or having completed the LL.M. at Columbia and outside applicants are given equal consideration.

  • Online application available: September 15, 2020
  • Application deadline: February 1, 2021
  • Application fee: $85
  • Letters of recommendation: 2 required
  • Transcripts: required for all postsecondary institutions attended, whether or not you earned a degree
  • TOEFL minimum requirement: 105 (26 minimum on reading and listening sections and 24 minimum on speaking and writing sections)
  • Tuition and mandatory fees: Waived for JSD students while in residence at Columbia

Financial Aid

Tuition and mandatory fees are waived for JSD candidates in residence. In some cases, based on financial need, we are also able to offer JSD candidates a small grant to help defray living costs during the first year in residence. Applicants who will require financial assistance to pursue a JSD at  Columbia Law School should also seek assistance from other sources, as our grants do not cover the full cost of living in New York City.

Housing

The Law School has University-managed apartments for enrolled JSD students, which are allocated by lottery. Housing options include dormitory rooms, studio apartments, one- and two-bedroom apartments, and apartment shares (two or three students in each apartment). Most but not all of these units are furnished. For students who wish to live off campus, the University maintains an office that assists students in obtaining housing in buildings owned and operated by landlords other than Columbia.

Contact Information

The Graduate Legal Studies website contains detailed information on the JSD Program and the admissions process. For questions not answered therein, please contact us.

Phone: 212.854.2655
Email: gls@law.columbia.edu