LL.M. Degree (Academic Year)

A candidate for the LL.M. degree completes a program of resident study consisting of 21 units (international students) or 20 units (students who already have a US law degree).  Students tailor the program to meet their individual needs, taking into account educational background and career objectives. Aside from the required courses described below, LL.M. students may select law courses as they see fit to fulfill their unit requirements, with the exception of a few that are part of the J.D. curriculum, such as 1L skills and clinics. For details on specific course restrictions, e-mail the Advanced Degree Programs Office.


Academic year candidates have the option of undertaking one of two different tracks:

1. Coursework Track:

The LL.M coursework track offers students the opportunity to take a variety of courses.  Students may choose to survey the American Law system or focus on a single area of interest. Students satisfy unit requirements by enrolling in law school courses and seminars.  Required courses include: Introduction to U.S. Law (1 unit), Fundamentals of U.S. Law (2 units), and Legal Writing & Research (2 units).

2. Thesis Track:

The LL.M. thesis track offers the opportunity to write a substantial research and writing project called a thesis. This track is appropriate for students considering academic or government careers, or those interested in researching in depth a particular subject. Thesis track students are associated with a member of the law faculty who will serve as an adviser.

Thesis track students complete 12 units of law school courses to be approved by the student's thesis adviser, as well as 8 units of independent study units with the adviser. In addition, international students must complete Intro to U.S. Law and Fundamentals of U.S. Law (3 units total).


Required Courses for International Students:

  • Introduction to U.S. Law (one unit; begins one week before Fall semester)

Students study the sources of U.S. law and the structure of the U.S. court system.  Students also learn the fundamentals of the case method of legal education.  This course is for credit and requires a comprehensive final examination.

  • Fundamentals of U.S. Law (two units; Fall semester)

This course discusses in further detail case law analysis and statutory construction, and explains how cases progress through the American court system.  The course will also explore judicial review,federalism, separation of powers, and the practical and political limitations of these concepts.  Students then use case analysis skills to examine landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases.  This course is graded and requires a comprehensive final examination.

  • Legal Writing & Research (two units; Spring semester, coursework track students only)

In this class, each student researches and writes a 15 to 20 page research memorandum addressing a compelling issue in contemporary law.  Through this writing exercise students learn predictive legal reasoning.  Students also complete other, shorter assignments throughout the term, including an introduction to Bluebook citation.  Research instruction is integrated into the writing assignments, and includes mainly on-line but also a few traditional book-based resources.  Students receive extensive written comments and attend one-on-one conferences on their papers.  This course is graded.

See the Courses page for more information about courses offered at Berkeley Law.


Environmental Law Certificate of Specialization for LL.M. Students

LL.M. students may now undertake a specialization in environmental law. This specialized curricular program ensures students develop a broad background in fundamental areas of law while receiving advanced training in environmental law. Students who meet the requirements are awarded a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law at graduation.

For further information, see the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) website.

Admission Requirements

Please see our Admissions page for information on admission requirements.



An admitted international student will normally come to the United States on an F-1 student visa or a J-1 exchange visitor visa. After you have been accepted and submitted your deposit, you will need to verify your funding for the academic year by returning a completed Confirmation of Financial Resources form to the Berkeley International Office. Once this form has been processed, you will receive a "Certificate of Eligibility" (I-20 or DS 2019) document to present at a U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa.


See the Future Academic Calendar for the academic year timeline.

To Apply

Applications are now being accepted!  The deadline to apply is December 1.  Apply now...