Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for Admission

What are the basic admissions requirements?
International applicants for the LL.M. program must hold an undergraduate or graduate law degree (LL.B., LL.M., etc.) from a foreign institution, and have an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score if English is not their primary language. American LL.M. applicants must hold a J.D. degree from an accredited U.S. law school. J.S.D. applicants must meet the same requirements as LL.M. applicants AND hold an LL.M. degree from Berkeley Law or another law school with a comparable program.  The LL.M. degree may be from a US school or international. See a list of minimum degree requirements by country

I don't hold a law degree, but I took courses in law and/or have work experience in law.  May I apply?
No, applicants to the LL.M. program must hold a law degree equivalent to a J.D. or LL.B. J.S.D. applicants must hold an LL.M. degree.

I already hold an LL.M. from another US university.  May I still apply to Berkeley Law's LL.M. program?
No, we cannot accept LL.M. applications from applicants who have already earned an LL.M. from a US university.  If you wish to study at Berkeley Law, you may consider applying for the J.S.D. program instead.

What is the minimum GPA requirement for applicants?
Berkeley Law does not have a specific minimum GPA requirement for LL.M. applicants.  Anyone who meets the above basic requirements may apply.

Is there a work requirement?
No.  Although work experience may be a positive factor in an application, it is not required.

When is the application deadline?
Applications for both LL.M. tracks must be submitted/postmarked by January 10, 11:59PM Pacific Time.  This includes the online application form as well as all other materials such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal essay, etc.  The online application can take quite some time to complete and submit, so applicants are strongly encouraged to begin early.  Applications for the J.S.D. program must be submitted by February 1, 11:59PM Pacific Time.  Please note that we review professional track applications as they are complete and will send decisions within two weeks of completion. 

Is the application deadline strictly enforced?
Yes. Late applications will not be accepted.

How much is the application fee and how do I pay it?
The application fee is $80.00 (U.S.), non-refundable. Pay online using a credit card when you submit your application electronically through the LSAC web site.

Can I have the application fee waived?
Only a limited number of application fee waivers will be granted, based on financial need. To request a fee waiver, please submit a written request for a waiver to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.

Must I apply online through the LSAC website?
Yes, we require that all applicants apply online via LSAC unless there is an extenuating circumstance such as complete lack of internet service.  Applicants must register for and use LSAC's Document Assembly Service; the International Transcripts Authentication and Evaluation Service is recommended but not required for foreign applicants.

I am still in school finishing my first law degree. Am I eligible for admission?
As long as you will have completed your degree by the time you would begin your LL.M. studies at Berkeley Law, you may be considered for conditional admission.  You must submit academic records of all law coursework completed at the time you apply; if admitted, you will be required to submit final transcripts showing your degree was awarded before starting your first semester at Berkeley Law.

Do you require the LSAT or GRE?
No.  The only exam required to apply for the LL.M. program is the TOEFL or IELTS, if English is not your primary language.

When will admissions decisions be made?
Decisions are made in August - December for the professional track and March - April for the LL.M. traditional track and the J.S.D. program.  Professional track applicants will be notified of their admission status on a rolling basis, within two weeks of completion. We encourage professional track applicants to complete their application as quickly as possible because there are more admission offers available earlier in the cycle; applicants who submit their application materials early have a competitive advantage.  Admissions decisions for the traditional track LL.M. and the J.S.D. program are made at the same time, not on a rolling basis.

How will I learn if I've been admitted?
All admission decisions are sent by e-mail to the primary e-mail address listed on the application form.  Please add our e-mail address, llm@law.berkeley.edu, to your address book to prevent messages from being filtered as spam.  If you are admitted, you will also receive a hard copy of your admission letter by mail.

Can I request an early or expedited admission decision?
We unfortunately cannot provide any early or expedited decisions.  Professional track applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so applicants can expect to receive a decision within two weeks of their application being complete.  All traditional track LL.M. and J.S.D. applications are reviewed at the same time, after the application deadline.

How can I check my application status?
Applicants can check their application status here.  Because we process a very large number of applications each year, we ask that you do not telephone to inquire about your application status.  If we discover critical information is missing from your file, we will contact you. To expedite such a notification, please make sure that you keep us updated with your current e-mail address.

How are applications evaluated?
Applications are reviewed holistically.  The review committee will consider every part of each application, including grades, universities attended, English language exam scores, the Personal Statement, C.V., professional experience, letters of recommendation, and achievements in nonacademic activities or public service.

How competitive is admission?
Admission to our programs is quite competitive.  We receive over 1,500 applications for the LL.M. programs each year, and candidacy for the J.S.D. program is extremely selective.

How many students are in each program?
We typically enroll 175-185 students in the traditional track, and over 200 in the professional track.  There is no specific number of students in the J.S.D. program; only the most qualified and committed applicants are admitted.

If I am admitted, may I defer for one or more years?
If you are admitted, you may request deferral for one year only.  Deferrals are not automatically granted but reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  They are generally only granted in the case of an extreme unforeseen circumstance.

English Proficiency Exams

What is the minimum accepted TOEFL/IELTS score?
The minimum score required for admission is:
100 on the TOEFL internet based test (IBT), or
600 on the TOEFL paper based test (PBT), or
7.0 on the IELTS
There is no minimum subscore per section; the overall score should meet or exceed our minimum requirement.

How do I submit my TOEFL or IELTS score?
TOEFL or IELTS score reports should be sent to LSAC for processing through their Credential Assembly Service.  LSAC's institution code for the TOEFL is 8395.  For more information, click here.

Can I waive the English Proficiency Requirement?
You are eligible for a TOEFL waiver if either of the following criteria apply:
1. You have attended a US university for full time study for a minimum of one academic year with a 3.0/B average or higher, or
2. You earned a degree from a foreign university in which the sole language of instruction is English, or
3. Your native language is English.
These criteria must be verified by your official academic records.  Click here
for more information.

My TOEFL/IELTS score is below the minimum required, can I still apply? 
If your TOEFL score is close to our minimum and your application is otherwise strong, we may consider you for conditional admission and, in rare cases, give you the opportunity to take the TOEFL/IELTS again to attain an acceptable score. 

I'm a US or Canadian citizen; do I need to request an English Language Requirement Waiver?
Yes.  Since most of our applicants are international, we do not assume English proficiency for any applicant, regardless of citizenship.  Please request an English Language Requirement waiver by answering yes to the question under that section on our application form and specifying that you are a native speaker.

Transcripts

My transcripts and/or recommendations are not in English. Do I need to have them translated?
Yes. While all official academic records must be issued in their original language, if they are not in English they must be accompanied by English translations. If the institution does not offer English translation, it is the applicant's responsibility to make sure an English translation is sent to LSAC.  The translation may be done by anyone as long as it is a literal translation, and need not be certified.  Click here for more information.

How should my transcripts be submitted?
Transcripts must be sent directly to LSAC from the appropriate issuing institution, and applicants must use LSAC's Transcript Request Form, which will be available at the completion of your LLM Credential Assembly Service registration.  All official documents must be received by LSAC in a sealed institution envelope.

My university will not send academic records directly, can I send them myself?
If your university has a policy against sending academic records to other institutions, please contact LSAC’s Help Desk at 215-968-1393 or e-mail support@LSAC.org to find out how they can be submitted.

Letters of Recommendation

Do both letters have to be from law professors?
It is preferable that both letters come from your law professors. However, if you have been out of school for five or more years, a professional reference from one current or former employers is appropriate, in addition to a letter from a law professor.  Ultimately, it is up to each applicant to select the recommenders that will best represent them.

Can I submit more than two letters of recommendation?
Applicants may submit one additional academic or professional letter if they wish to do so, for a maximum total of three letters.

How should letters of recommendation be submitted?
They should be sent directly to LSAC accompanied by the required recommendation form.  Click here for more information.

Personal Statement and C.V.

How long should the Personal Statement be?
Your Personal Statement should be limited to three pages of double-spaced text.

Is the three page limit strict?
We do ask that you keep your Personal Statement to no more than three pages, double-spaced.  However, if you go a few words over the limit your application will not be automatically rejected.

Are there any formatting requirements for the Personal Statement or C.V.?
There are no specific formatting requirements, such as margins or font size, but we ask that you ensure that your documents are easily readable.

What information should be included in the Personal Statement?
The Personal Statement should describe your legal interests, the particular area of study you intend to undertake as a law student, the reasons you wish to study at Berkeley Law, and your professional plans or goals following completion of your degree.  Since the Advanced Degree Programs Committee does not grant interviews, you may also use the statement to describe aspects of yourself that are not apparent from your other application materials.

How should the Personal Statement and C.V. be submitted?
The Personal Statement and C.V. should be uploaded to the Attachments section of the online application.

Finances

How much is tuition?
For the traditional track LL.M. program, tuition and fees for the 2014-2015 Academic Year are estimated to be $52,985. Professional track LL.M. fees are the same as the traditional track, with approximately half being due each summer semester.  Please note that precise fee levels change each year, and are subject to change at any time.  Discounted tuition for California residents is not available for the LL.M. program.  For the J.S.D. program, in-state tuition is approximately $16,150 while out-of-state tuition is approximately $31,250 for 2013-2014.  Click here for more about tuition and fees.

How much money should I budget for living expenses while studying at UC Berkeley?
Based on self-reported student costs, you should plan to spend a minimum of $1,500 per month on living expenses. The Berkeley International Office recommends adding $583 per month for an accompanying spouse, and $333 per month for each dependent child accompanying the student. These amounts are in addition to student tuition and fees. Click here for more about living expenses in Berkeley.

Does Berkeley Law offer financial aid?
Financial aid funds are extremely limited, and only partial scholarships (in the form of tuition waivers) can be offered to a few outstanding LL.M. students each year. Financial aid through the Advanced Degree Programs Office is not currently available to J.S.D. students, although FAFSA-eligible students may qualify for certain loans and scholarships. Click here to find out what aid is available.

Can LL.M. students work during the program?
Most campus jobs are work study positions limited to undergraduates, so LL.M. students who wish to work usually try to find research assistant positions within the law school.  Students may contact faculty members directly to inquire, or check the Boalt Bulletin Board.  Because the professional track is so intensive, we strongly advise that these students do not work during the program. LL.M. students are not eligible for fee remission under any circumstances.

Does Berkeley Law require a deposit from admitted students? 
If admitted, you will be asked to submit a nonrefundable $1,000 deposit to reserve your place in the incoming class. Applicants who are admitted to both tracks may transfer their deposit from one to the other without penalty. The deposit will be credited toward your first term tuition fee. All other questions regarding deposits, fees or refunds should be directed to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.

Academics

Is it possible to specialize within the LL.M. program?
The LL.M. degree at UC Berkeley School of Law is generalized, although students may select classes according to particular areas of interest. Traditional track students can earn Certificates of Specialization in Energy & Clean TechnologyBusiness LawEnvironmental Law, Law & Technology, or International Law.  Professional track students can earn a Certificate of Specialization in Business Law or Law & Technology (IP).

Are there restrictions on courses that LL.M. students in the traditional track may take?
With a few exceptions, LL.M. students in the traditional track may take any law courses they wish to fulfill their unit requirements.  For details on specific course restrictions, e-mail the Advanced Degree Programs Office at LLM@law.berkeley.edu.

Can LL.M. students participate in clinics?
There are two clinics in which traditional track LL.M. students can participate: the International Human Rights Clinic and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. LL.M. students participate in these clinics in their Spring semester; applications are due in October of the preceding Fall semester.  Both LL.M. students and J.D. students apply to these clinics, with admission being offered only to those students with the strongest applications. There are no openings in the clinics reserved for LL.M. students. The clinic admission process gives particular weight to evidence of excellent legal research and English writing ability. We will provide more information on clinics at orientation.

Does the LL.M. program qualify graduates for the California or New York bar exam?
The traditional track can qualify graduates to take the California or New York bar exam.  The professional track can qualify graduates to take the California bar exam.  Students should be sure to select courses that will allow them to take the bar exam of their choice, and it is each candidate's responsibility to confirm that their law degree(s) will satisfy the states' bar admission requirements.  Specific advice will be available to students at orientation.

If accepted to the LL.M. program, would I automatically be admitted to the J.S.D. program after completing the LL.M.?
Candidacy for the J.S.D. degree is very restricted, and does not follow automatically from admission to the LL.M. program. It is open only to those who have completed the requirements for the LL.M. degree and are engaged in or planning careers in academic or other work that emphasizes legal scholarship.  Click here for more about the J.S.D. program.

I have already begun an LL.M. program at another US university, can I transfer credits earned to Berkeley Law?
No, we cannot accept any transfer credits.

Can I transfer to the J.D. program from the LL.M. program ?
No.  LL.M. students cannot transfer to the J.D. program. LL.M. students can, however, apply for admission to the J.D. program.

Are any part-time or distance learning programs available?
We currently do not offer any part-time or distance learning programs.

Can I begin the traditional track in the spring?
No, traditional track students may only begin in fall.

 

Career Development

What are the realities of a U.S. job search for a traditional track LL.M. student?

Foreign-trained LL.M. students are encouraged to pursue graduate study at Berkeley Law for intellectual growth, exposure to the U.S. legal system, and career advancement. Long-term job opportunities for foreign attorneys in the U.S. are limited. Most frequently reported sources of employment are self-initiated contact with employers or through the International Student Interview Program (ISIP) at NYU. Bar admission requirements vary from state to state. For more information on bar admission requirements, see the American Bar Association's "Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements."

If I am enrolled in the professional track, what are my prospects for finding work in the U.S. either between semesters or after graduation?

The professional track enables foreign-trained attorneys to temporarily leave their practices for shortened periods of intense study and then continue law practice in their home nation between semesters and after receiving their degrees.  It is not designed for international students who are looking for legal employment in the U.S. In addition to the extremely competitive nature of the U.S. legal job market particularly for foreign-trained attorneys, the unique structure of the professional track  – combined with the legal restrictions imposed under U.S. immigration law – make it highly unlikely that students in this track will be able to work in the U.S. on a permanent or even a temporary basis.  

For example, professional track students do not qualify for F-1 Optional Practical Training that normally allows an international student to work in the U.S. for up to twelve months upon graduation. As a result, to be able to work in the U.S., you will be required to obtain a “non-immigrant work visa” which would require a U.S. legal employer’s sponsorship. Such sponsorship is extremely rare for LL.M. students.  However, if your ability to legally enter (and remain) here in the U.S. is not typical (i.e., if it is not based on having an international student visa) – or, if you have strong basis for believing that a U.S. legal employer will sponsor you for a “non-immigrant work visa”, you should contact Minji Kim (mjkim@law.berkeley.edu) in our Career Development Office, who can provide you with a more in-depth analysis of your job prospects and assist with your job search.     

What are some job search tips for students enrolled in the traditional track?

  • Timeline: your job-search will most likely involve a year-round effort and may extend beyond the end of the LL.M. program.

  • Know what you want - an internship, fellowship, or associate position.

  • Be aware of visa regulations for Academic Training and Optional Practical Training.

  • Visit UC Berkeley's International Office, in person at the I-House or online

What are good job search strategies?

  • Networking.

  • Targeted mail campaign.

  • Responding to advertised positions in the CDO job database.

  • Notifying previous contacts of one's current academic endeavors and employment goals.

  • Seeking referrals from faculty, alumni, and other students.

How do I make contacts?

  • Ask a CDO attorney-counselor for possible contacts.

  • Speak with a professor who is knowledgeable on your interest of practice.

  • Talk to program speakers and guests after an event.

  • Check with your own Embassy, Consulate, and/or Chamber of Commerce here in the U.S.

How do I change my CV to a resume and write a cover letter?

  • The CDO website contains guides to both resume and cover letter writing, accessible via the Guides and Webcasts webpage (see Job Search Skills section).

  • To the extent possible, be sure to change your transcripts and degree translations into a format that a U.S. employer can understand.

  • A CDO attorney-counselor can review your documents and give advice.

What about interviewing?

  • Review the CDO website resources on interviewing skills.

  • Schedule a "mock interview" with a CDO attorney-counselor.

When can I expect to obtain job offers?

The market for foreign graduate students is not seasonal, but can ebb and flow through out the year. Job search, therefore, is a year round effort. Some students may obtain offers after fall interviews, others in the spring, and yet others even after completing their program at Boalt.