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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.

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 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.

Students must achieve language proficiency prior to enrollment. Admitted students who would like to refresh English skills, may enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) during the summer. 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. It is especially recommended for LLM students who have not previously studied or lived extensively in the US. 

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 100 (IBT)/600 (PBT) or IELTS score of 7.  We also look to the breakdown of the score to ensure satisfactory level of proficiency in the reading, writing, listening and speaking.   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 November of the application year.

Application forms and further information for the TOEFL and IELTS tests may be obtained online at www.toefl.org and www.ielts.org.

In cases where it is apparent that the TOEFL or IELTS test is unnecessary, the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs may waive the requirement.

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

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