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Admission Requirements

English Proficiency

All applicants must submit a TOEFL or IELTS or seek a waiver. Applicants seeking to waive the English language requirement, should do so by submitting a request form.

In addition to the program-specific requirements below, please review our English  Proficiency requirements that apply to all graduate programs.

Successful participation in any of Penn Law’s programs, including the Summer Program, requires a high level of English proficiency. Most course-work at Penn Law centers on a Socratic dialogue between the instructor and members of the class. Consequently, a student should be able to understand rapid, idiomatic English as spoken in class and in seminar discussions. Students must be able to express thoughts clearly in both spoken and written English and must read the language with ease. The quantity and quality of academic work required at Penn Law cannot be accomplished without prior mastery of the English language.

Students must achieve such language proficiency prior to enrollment. Admitted students who feel the need to refresh English skills, however, may want to enroll in the optional summer program, English as a Second Language (ESL). This optional course provides English language training and a U.S. cultural orientation with the goal of better preparing you for academic success in your law courses. Especially recommended for LLM students who have not previously studied or lived extensively in the US and/or for LLM students who have any concerns at all about their ability to communicate effectively in English.

LLM applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. (Individual language assessments, conducted in person or by telephone, may also be required at the Law School’s discretion.)

Note: Penn Law does not have a minimum score requirement. In general, we look for a TOEFL score of at least 250 (CBT)/ 600 (WBT) /100 (IBT) or IELTS score of 7. However, a lower score does not automatically preclude an applicant from consideration for Penn Law’s LLM program. Applicants whose test score(s) falls below the targets set forth above, should feel free to highlight any specific issues in the personal statement portion of their application they feel might strengthen their application in this regard, such as time spent in English language environments, coursework done in English, English language publications, etc. It is also recommended that applicants with scores lower than those set forth above, submit at least one recommendation that addresses, at least in part their English language ability.

Both the TOEFL and IELTS tests are administered at testing centers throughout the world. Applicants to the LLM or LLCM programs should plan on taking one of them no later than January of year in which they propose to enroll at Penn Law.

Application forms and further information for the TOEFL and IELTS tests may be obtained online at and

In cases where it is apparent that the TOEFL or IELTS test is unnecessary, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs may waive the requirement.  To request a waiver, please fill out our online request form.

Even if you are a native English speaker, you must submit a score or seek a waiver.

LLM Program

Applicants to the LLM program generally must hold a JD or LLB degree, or the equivalent from a law school that, if in the United States, is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of the American Law Schools, or, if outside the United States, has comparable standing.

Penn Law’s LLM class is made up of legal professionals from around the world with a range of legal experience including recent LLB graduates.  Currently enrolled LLB students (or the equivalent) who are expecting to graduate in the spring are welcome to apply. Applicants should be aware that a number of factors are considered when reviewing each applicant, including academic achievement and professional experience. Applicants who can demonstrate a history of strong academic and relevant professional experience have a better chance of being accepted.

The Graduate Programs Admissions Committee can, in some circumstances, admit students to the LLM program that do not already hold a law degree. Typically, such students will hold a graduate degree in a related field, will have already embarked on an academic or professional career, and/or are licensed to practice law in their home jurisdiction.  The applicants must be able to show how legal training is important to the advancement of their career and/or their scholarly work and that they have sufficient legal training to be able to be successful in the program.

Holders of an American JD may also apply to Penn Law’s LLM Program, but they should explain in their application why the Penn Law LLM Program makes sense in light of the three years of education at an American law school they have already received.   Specifically, they must:           

  • demonstrate a level of academic achievement comparable to that of applicants accepted into Penn Law’s JD program;             
  • set forth in their application why they wish to attend a program of study designed for lawyers trained outside of the United States.

LLCM Program

While many of our LLCM students come from our population of Penn Law LLM alumni, we welcome applicants from other LLM programs.

SJD Program

The SJD is the highest law degree offered by the University of Pennsylvania.  All applicants must have already earned an LLM, JD, or equivalent degree from Penn Law or another, comparable institution.  All applicants must have a well-stated scholarly agenda, with an area of research and appropriate research methodology clearly outlined. Candidates must also provide copies of their scholarly work published in the English language. Learn more about SJD requirements.


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