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Schools with Master of Laws (LLM) Programs: How to Choose

U.S. law school graduates and foreign law students who want to study specialized areas of U.S. law can pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. LL.M. programs are offered at many law schools around the country.

Law school is expensive, and competition for law school graduates in the workforce can be fierce. Making sure students get a high-quality education can make the difference between getting a good job or getting a job in law at all.

Top Ten Master of Laws Schools

All the following schools are among the 2016 top-ranked law schools by U.S. News & World Report, and tuition rates are based on the 2016-2017 school year:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2016-2017)*
Columbia University New York, NY private, not-for-profit $63,048
Duke University Durham, NC private, not-for-profit $68,484
Harvard University Cambridge, MA private, not-for-profit $59,550
New York University New York, NY private, not-for-profit $59,558
Stanford University Stanford, CA private, not-for-profit $56,079
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA public $54,913 (includes fees)
University of Chicago Chicago, IL private, not-for-profit $59,541
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA private, not-for-profit $57,242
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA public $56,300 (residents, includes fees), $59,300 (nonresidents, includes fees)
Yale University New Haven, CT private, not-for-profit $57,615

Sources: *School websites

School Selection Criteria

The Master of Laws (LL.M.) is a commonly offered postgraduate degree. Since LL.M. programs differ considerably in their structure and offerings, students have several factors to keep in mind when choosing a program.

  • Some programs are specifically aimed at lawyers who trained outside the U.S., so make sure the curriculum includes what you're looking for to meet your education goals.
  • Students who need more one-on-one attention would benefit from schools that limit class size for an LL.M. program.
  • Students interested in international relations in law can get valuable training and experience with a program that includes a study abroad option.
  • Available scholarship opportunities are an important factor to consider for students who need financial aid.

Master of Laws

This 1- to 2-year graduate program of study is for those who have completed a J.D. or a foreign law degree. The LL.M. program can be focused on a specific subject, such as constitutional law or business law, or it can be tailored to the interest of the student. Some available courses include environmental law, international arbitration, corporate reorganization, animal law and antitrust law.

The top law schools in the U.S. all offer LL.M. degrees. Though these schools are a mix of public and private schools, tuition rates vary only slightly, so students need to think about what's most important in their school and program, such as scholarships and class sizes, to decide on the best option for them.

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