Application Instructions

Simplified information on the J.S.D. admissions timeline and application checklist can be found below.  To see the full and detailed instructions, which can also be viewed as a part of the application through LSAC.org, follow this link:  J.S.D. Application Instructions

2020 J.S.D. Admissions Timeline  

August 2019  J.S.D. Application available
 Dec 21, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020  Winter recess (University closed)
 February 1, 2020  Deadline to apply online and postmark application materials
 March – April  Admissions decisions finalized, applicants notified
 August 14, 2020*  J.S.D. Orientation
 August 17, 2020*  Fall semester law school classes begin

*dates tentative

For a more detailed J.S.D. program timeline, please see the Current Academic Calendar.


J.S.D. Application Checklist

A complete J.S.D. application should include the following:

  1. Application formsubmitted online via LSAC by February 1, 2020
  2. $80 application fee – pay by credit card while submitting online application
  3. Curriculum vitae (c.v.) or résumé – upload to online application
  4. Personal Statement – upload to online application
  5. Dissertation Proposal Summary – upload to online application
  6. Writing Sample – upload to online application
  7. Official academic records – see below for submission instructions
  8. TOEFL/IELTS score – request that the score report be sent to LSAC. If requesting an English Language Proficiency waiver, check the “Yes” button under the English Requirement section of the online application.
  9. Two letters of recommendation (one from your faculty advisor) – see below for submission instructions
  10. Faculty Advisor Agreement Form – faculty advisor should submit directly, instructions found on form

Applications and supporting materials must be submitted/postmarked by the following deadlines:

  • February 1, 2020 for the 2020-2023 J.S.D. program

We strongly advise applicants to register for the LLM Credential Assembly Service well in advance of the application deadline.  LSAC recommends applicants register at least four to six weeks before their first application deadline. It takes approximately two weeks to process a US transcript or letter of recommendation from the time it is received by LSAC. Transcripts from non-US institutions may take longer. Although Berkeley Law’s deadline to postmark materials is January 10, it is recommended to have materials sent as early as possible to allow sufficient time for processing.

Applicants will not be considered for admission until all required application materials are received by Berkeley Law’s Advanced Degree Programs Office. All applications and supporting documents become the property of Berkeley Law and will not be returned. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all items are submitted before the deadline.

All questions regarding deposits, fees or refunds should be directed to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.


Official Academic Records (Transcripts)

Applicants must submit official academic records showing graded course work, dates of enrollment and award of degree(s). A copy of the actual degree or state examination for all university and law school study is also required, if this information is not included on the transcript.

Current Berkeley Law LL.M. Students: Your prior academic records will be sent by LSAC through an electronic LLM CAS report. You should also send a digital copy of your fall grades to llm@law.berkeley.edu as soon as they are available; your application will not be completed until we receive these grades. If you did not apply for the LL.M. program through LSAC please write to llm@law.berkeley.edu and request assistance with adding your previous academic records to the new application.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates who applied for the LL.M. program within the past five years: Your prior academic records should still be on file with LSAC and sent through an electronic LLM CAS report. You will also need to request that a transcript for your LL.M. degree be sent to the Advanced Degree Programs Office. If you did not apply for the LL.M. program through LSAC please write to llm@law.berkeley.edu and request assistance with adding your previous academic records to the new application.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates – class of 2013 or later who did not apply for the LL.M. program wtihin the past five years: Our admissions process became paperless in 2012, so we should still have your academic records on file. After you submit the application online, please write to llm@law.berkeley.edu and request that we add your previous academic records to the new application. You will also need to request that a transcript for your LL.M. degree be sent to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates – before 2013: Either have your prior academic records sent to LSAC’s LLM CAS, or contact the Office of the Registrar to request that it copy the transcripts in your student file that were submitted as part of your LL.M. application. You will also need to request that a transcript for your LL.M. degree be sent to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.

Non-Berkeley LL.M. Students or Graduates: Submit your academic records to LSAC’s LLM CAS. These records 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 CAS registration. All official documents must be received by LSAC in a sealed institution envelope. Documents sent by the applicant or without the Transcript Request Form will not be accepted. Transcripts received by LSAC become its property and cannot be returned to the applicant or the issuing institution. If the institution offers to print transcripts in either the native language or in English, order both to be sent to LSAC. 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. Students currently enrolled in an LL.M. program should also send a digital copy of your fall grades to llm@law.berkeley.edu as soon as they are available; your application will not be completed until we receive these grades.

For more information on sending academic records to LSAC’s LLM CAS, go to www.lsac.org/LLM/Applying/LLM-requesting-transcripts.asp

TOEFL/IELTS

Berkeley Law requires Official Score Reports of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) before admitting an applicant whose primary language is not English. Applicants whose primary language is English should submit a waiver request as instructed below.

TOEFL

The minimum score required is 100 on the internet-based TOEFL, or 600 on the paper-based test. There is no subscore requirement.  Information about test dates and registration procedures is available at most universities and US consulates and on the TOEFL website at www.toefl.org.

TOEFL scores that are more than two years old at the time of application cannot be considered; applicants must retake the test to submit a more recent score. Applicants should register for the TOEFL in time to ensure that the Official Score Report will be sent by the application deadline.

LSAC has arranged to receive TOEFL scores electronically; to have your TOEFL score report sent to LSAC, place an order to their institution code 8395.

IELTS

The minimum score required is 7 on a 9 point scale (overall score) on the Academic Modules. There is no subscore requirement. To register for the IELTS, consult the IELTS website at http://ielts.org to locate the office of the test center where you plan to take the test.

LSAC has arranged to receive IELTS scores electronically; to have your IELTS score report sent to LSAC, you MUST indicate before or at the time of your exam that your score be forwarded to LSAC for electronic download.

For more information on submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score report to LSAC’s LLM CAS, go to www.lsac.org/LLM/Applying/English-proficiency.asp.

English Language Requirement Waiver Requests

You are eligible for an English Language Requirement Waiver if any 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 have earned a degree from a foreign university in which the sole language of instruction is English, OR
  3. You are a native English speaker.

To request a waiver via our online application, check the “Yes” button for Question 1 under English Requirement and choose the appropriate reason from the drop down options.  If your waiver is based on education in English, you must submit official academic records through LSAC to verify your eligibility. Once your request has been processed you will receive an e-mail notifying you whether your TOEFL waiver request has been granted.  Please do not contact the Advanced Degree Programs Office in advance of applying if you meet the criteria above; requesting the waiver through the application will suffice.

Personal Statement

One written essay is required of all applicants.  The Personal Statement should describe your legal interests, 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 application.  The Personal Statement should be written without assistance from others, and should be limited to three pages of double-spaced text.

C.V. (Curriculum Vitae)

The Curriculum Vitae should provide a synopsis of your educational and academic background and skills.  This summary should include professional experience, research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations, and other relevant details.

The Personal Statement and Curriculum Vitae must be uploaded to the attachments section of the online application.  Please DO NOT also send a paper copy of these documents.

Dissertation Proposal Summary

Applicants should submit a brief (one page, double-spaced) summary of the specific research project they would like to work on while at Berkeley Law. Please note that we are requesting a short synopsis, not a full proposal.

Writing Sample

We require that J.S.D. applicants submit a significant piece of writing, which displays the candidate’s analytical and expositional skills on a legal policy or similar topic. Suitable pieces or writing include an LL.M. thesis (or portion thereof), an article written in conjunction with a class, or a similar item.  There is no formal length requirement for the writing sample; it should be substantial enough to display the analytical and expositional skills relevant to scholarly work.

Letters of Recommendation

Berkeley Law requires two letters of recommendation. If you have already secured a Berkeley Law faculty advisor, one letter should be from them.  It is preferable that the other letter comes from one of your law professors.  If you have been out of school for five or more years, professional references from a current or former employer is appropriate, in addition to the letter from your faculty supervisor or law professor.

There are two ways to submit letters of recommendation – either to LSAC’s LLM CAS or directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office.

Current Berkeley Law LL.M. Students: Your letters of recommendation may be submitted to LSAC’s LLM CAS OR sent directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office as described below.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates who applied for the LL.M. program within the past five years: Your letters of recommendation may be submitted to LSAC’s LLM CAS OR sent directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office as described below.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates – class of 2013 or later who did not apply for the LL.M. program wtihin the past five years: Your letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office as described below.

Berkeley Law LL.M. Graduates before 2013: If your academic records are being sent to LSAC’s LLM CAS, your Letters of Recommendation may also be submitted to LSAC OR sent directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office; if you are requesting copies of the transcripts in your student file, your Letters of Recommendation should be sent directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office as described below.

Non-Berkeley Law LL.M. Students or Graduates: Submit your Letters of Recommendation to LSAC’s LLM CAS as described below.

To send Letters of Recommendation to LSAC – 1) Log in to your LLM CAS account and click on Letters of Recommendation. 2) Add your recommenders’ names and contact information. 3) Assign the appropriate letters to each school using the letter ID number. 4) An email will be sent to each or your recommenders requesting them to complete and upload a letter for you, or you may print the required recommender forms to provide to your recommenders if they prefer to submit a letter by paper.

The LSAC Letter of Recommendation Form must accompany each letter submitted to LSAC.  Letters without a form will be returned to the sender.  Letters processed by LSAC become their property and cannot be returned or copied.

For more information on submitting letters of recommendation to LSAC’s LLM CAS, go to www.LSAC.org/LLM/Applying/LLM-letters-of-recommendation.asp.

To send Letters of Recommendation to the Advanced Degree Programs Office – The Letter of Recommendation Waiver Form (also found in the Forms section of the online application) includes submission instructions.  If you choose to waive your right to inspect your letters, sign the form and provide to your recommenders. By agreeing to waive your right to inspect the letters, your recommenders are free to write candidly; as a result, letters with enclosed waiver forms are generally viewed with greater credibility than those without waivers.  Your recommenders may submit their letters directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office, or they may return them to you in a sealed envelope for forwarding.

Faculty Advisor Agreement Form

Click here to download the Faculty Advisor Agreement Form. Your prospective faculty advisor must sign this form, acknowledging his/her understanding of J.S.D. program requirements and his/her role as adviser, and confirming his/her commitment to working with you for the duration of the program, if admission is granted. The form should be submitted directly to the Advanced Degree Programs Office by the faculty member. Instructions are included on the form.