Office of Graduate Legal Studies, 435 West 116th Street, MC 4036, New York, NY 10027, USA
Phone: 212.854.2655 | Website: www.law.columbia.edu/admissions/graduate-legal-studies
Renowned for its intellectual rigor and high professional standards, Columbia Law School remains steadfastly committed to providing the best legal education in the country. Columbia embraces an interdisciplinary approach to legal studies, offering a broad curriculum across legal and other disciplines that demands and deepens analytical thought. Our areas of study include environmental law, civil procedure and dispute resolution, corporate and securities law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, criminal law, administrative law, public policy, human rights, gender and sexuality law, health care and the law, history and philosophy of law, and racial, economic, and social justice.
Law School Enrollment
- Total law school enrollment: 1,600 (approximate)
- Total LLM enrollment: 275 (approximate)
- Full time: all
- Part time: none
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.
New York City attracts a certain type of person—one who is curious, adventurous, and open to new challenges and experiences. Columbia Law School abounds with this type of individual—students and teachers who are independent, energetic, open-minded, and eager to be nourished by the variety of life in the world’s greatest city.
Arthur W. Diamond Law Library
The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library offers one of the finest collections of legal materials in the United States, including a strong collection in comparative and international law.
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.
The Law School has a limited number of university-managed apartments and dormitories for use by students enrolled in its graduate program, all of which are allocated by lottery. Housing available to students enrolled in the graduate program includes 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.
Master of Laws (LLM Program)
The LLM Program is a one-year, full-time program beginning in the fall semester. It is an opportunity for our students to specialize in fields not fully covered in their previous law work. Every year the Law School enrolls approximately 275 graduate 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 private practice. 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; 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 acquire knowledge of the American legal system, international law, or other legal systems. With the exception of some clinical offerings, the courses and seminars open to LLM students are generally those open to JD students in the second and third years. Additionally, all LLM candidates, except those who hold a JD from a US 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.
Admission Standards, Application Procedure, and Application Components
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 15, 2018
- Application deadline: November 1, 2018 (early review); December 18, 2018 (regular cycle)
- 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: $73,231 for the 2018–2019 academic year
The Law School has limited funds for financial assistance for graduate legal studies. Financial assistance is given in the form of partial waivers of tuition primarily on the basis of financial need. These awards generally cover only a portion of the total amount required for tuition and living expenses. Recipients of financial assistance use the awards toward their studies or research as LLM candidates; they generally are not required to render service to the university or to the donor of the award, but are expected to devote their time to their own work. There is no general restriction, as a condition of the awards, on publications, study, or research, but recipients are expected to focus their work on the subjects they emphasize in their applications.
Because of the limited funding available for assistance and the high cost of attending law school in the United States, prospective applicants are encouraged to begin seeking other sources of funds before commencing the application process.
Please visit our LLM/JSD Admissions website for complete information on the LLM program and the application process. For questions not answered therein, contact us at
Student Services and Organizations
Student life at Columbia Law School is enriched by our numerous centers and programs, student journals, and student organizations. Centers 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. Additionally, our students participate in the many university-wide groups, events, and intramural sports teams.
Through its global network, Columbia Law School provides students with exceptional and exclusive opportunities for internships, fellowships, and postgraduate careers. Our alumni work in areas as diverse as private law firms, judicial chambers, nonprofit organizations, startup companies, university classrooms, and government agencies. Columbia Law School 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 Social Justice Initiatives and Office of Career Services are ready to help you explore and prepare for the myriad opportunities available.
Our Graduate Legal Studies (GLS) Program consists of the master of laws (LLM) and the doctor of the science of law (JSD) degree programs, as well as the Special Student program for attorneys who wish to continue their legal education without pursuing a degree. These programs are administered by the Office of Graduate Legal Studies.
The Office of Graduate Legal Studies works closely with our faculty and other administrative departments to ensure that each student’s year at Columbia is as rich and rewarding—both personally and intellectually—as possible. We provide individual support to LLM students throughout every step of their law school experience, from application to degree conferral. In addition, 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 graduate students by hosting frequent academic and social events so that our students can network with one another and form relationships.
The result of these features of the Graduate Legal Studies Program is that 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 US legal education can offer.