LLM Application Prerequisites
Academic and Professional Requirements
The Penn LLM program is a one-year course of study that is designed for foreign-trained lawyers who would like to become familiar with aspects of US law. Applicants to the LLM program generally must hold a law degree such as a JD, LLB or equivalent.
Penn Law’s LLM class is made up of legal professionals from around the world with a range of legal experience including recent law graduates. Currently enrolled as 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, including academic achievement and professional experience. Applicants who can demonstrate both 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.
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 here.
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 dialogue between the instructor and members of the class. Consequently, students 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.
Penn Law does not grant conditional admission to applicants with insufficient English language skills and all applicants must have achieved the language proficiency noted above by the time their application is submitted. Admitted students who feel the need to refresh English skills, however, may want to enroll in the English as a Second Language course offered which begins in July. Information on this course is provided to admitted students. Prospective applicants who may need more substantial English language instruction prior to applying may wish to consider the courses offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s English Language Programs. These are described at www.sas.upenn.edu/elp.
Note: Penn Law does not have a minimum score requirement. In general, we look for a TOEFL score of at least 100 or IELTS score of 7.5. We also look at the breakdown for listening, speaking, writing and reading to ensure that all indicate a high level of English proficiency. However, a lower score in one area or overall 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, work 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 should plan on taking one of them no later than November of year before which they propose to enroll at Penn Law.
Applicants who wish to supplement their standardized English test scores may use an interview service, “InitialView”. These interviews are not required and the applicant bears the cost. For further information and to schedule an interview, please contact InitialView directly at www.initialview.com. Please note that this is in addition to submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score and not a substitute for either.
Individual language assessment, conducted in person or by telephone, may also be required at the Law School’s discretion.)
Even if you are a native English speaker, you must submit a score or seek a waiver. Failure to do so will delay the review of your application.