Application Process for the General LL.M. Program

Degree Requirements

To earn the LL.M. degree, students must successfully complete 24 credit hours of post-J.D. coursework, 12 of which must be taken at Southwestern. Courses previously taken for credit for a J.D. or equivalent degree will not be counted toward the LL.M. degree. The particular courses each candidate undertakes will depend on the individual’s chosen area of concentration.

Internationally educated students will be required to take Introduction to American Law, Legal Process and Institutions. There is no written thesis required to qualify for the LL.M. degree.

Students may attend on either a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students will usually complete their coursework in one year and part-time students will usually complete the program in two years, but all are required to complete all coursework for the LL.M. within four years.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the LL.M. Program is highly selective. A Juris Doctor (J.D.) or equivalent degree is required. A candidate applying from the United States must have completed the J.D. degree at a law school that is both ABA-approved and a member of the Association of American Law Schools. A law degree earned outside the United States must be from a university accredited in the country in which it is located, or the candidate must be admitted to practice before the highest court in that country.

When reviewing candidates for the LL.M. Program, the Admissions Committee considers:

  • academic record in law school and undergraduate school
  • potential for distinguished performance in and contribution to the program professional experience and accomplishments
  • letters of recommendation
  • quality of Personal Statement

The objective of the admissions policy is to fill each class with the best students from an applicant pool consistent with the high-quality standards of the program and the diversity of Southwestern. Successful candidates have generally graduated in the top halves of their law school classes.

Application Process

  1. Application for Admission

    The same application form is used for entry into the program for either the Fall or Spring semester. The application is available in electronic form here. Although online applications are preferred, a printed application form (PDF in sidebar) may be submitted. 

    Additional documentation not submitted electronically with the application may be sent to:

    General LL.M. Program Office
    Southwestern Law School
    3050 Wilshire Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90010
    Phone: 213-738-5707
    Fax: 213-738-6899

    All materials (including letters of recommendation) must be clearly identified with the applicant’s full name and LSAC account number.

  2. Application Fee

    A nonrefundable $60 check or money order (in U.S. funds) made payable to Southwestern Law School must be submitted with the admissions application form or with the Certification Letter if applying online. The canceled check will serve as the receipt. Applicants may pay the fee using a credit card if applying online through LSAC and selecting the Electronic Payment Option or by contacting the LL.M. Program Office directly.

  3. Personal Statement

    The applicant's personal statement should describe the motivation for pursuing an LL.M. degree, as well as relevant life experiences, accomplishments, special interests, personal qualities and career objectives that would be helpful to the Admissions Committee in making its decision. The personal statement should be 2-3 pages in length, typed and double-spaced.

  4. Letters of Recommendation

    At least two letters of recommendation should be submitted on behalf of the applicant by persons (other than relatives) who are familiar with the applicant's academic and professional abilities and potential. Letters may be submitted directly to the law school.

  5. Current Resume/Curriculum Vitae

    A current resume that lists all academic and professional credentials and work experience is required.

  6. Official Transcripts

    Official, sealed transcripts are required from all law schools attended (or currently attending) and all colleges and universities at which a degree was completed. Transcripts should show the degrees earned, dates awarded and class rank. For U.S. law school graduates, class rank must be indicated on the transcript, or separately from the law school registrar.

  7. Foreign Applicants: English Proficiency

    Because the program requires a professional level of English language proficiency, applicants whose primary language is not English or whose education has been in a language other than English must demonstrate English proficiency on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Students taking the TOEFL must achieve a minimum score of 90 on the ibt or 577 on the paper-based test. Students taking the IELTS must achieve a minimum score of 6.5. More information on TOEFL is available online at and more information on the IELTS is available online at

  8. Foreign Applicants: Credentials Evaluation

    The applicant must submit foreign academic transcripts for analysis by a credentials evaluation service (see partial list of providers below). A degree equivalency statement with an assessment of grade point average should be requested.

  9. Grading System for International LL.M. Students

    International LL.M. students whose law degree is from outside the U.S. or Canada may choose from one of two grading systems: letter-based grading system (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F) or non-letter grading system (high honors, honors, high pass, pass and fail). The non-letter grading system can only be used for students who do not intend to take a U.S. Bar Exam.

    Students who intend to use the education received from this program to qualify to sit for the California State Bar Examination must be graded using the same criteria and letter-based grading system as is used for J.D. students. Students who choose the letter-based system must attain a cumulative 2.33 (C+) grade point average to earn the LL.M. degree. Students who successfully complete the 24 units but whose cumulative grade point average is less than 2.33 will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

    For more information contact:

    Global Services Associates, Inc.
    409 N. Pacific Coast Highway #393
    Redondo Beach, CA 90277
    Tel & Fax: (310) 828-5709 |

    International Education Research Foundation
    P.O. Box 3665
    Culver City, CA 90231-3665
    Tel: (310) 258-9451 | Fax: (310) 342-7086 |

    LSAC LL.M. Credential Assembly Service
    662 Penn Street Box 8511
    Newtown, PA 18940-8511
    Tel: (215) 968-1315 | Fax: (215) 504-1456 |

    World Education Services
    Bowling Green Station
    P.O. Box 5087
    New York, NY 10274-5087
    Tel: (212) 966-6311 | Fax: (212) 739-6100 |

  10. Law Degree Requirement

    A foreign-educated applicant’s degree(s) must be from a university accredited in the country in which it is located or the applicant must be admitted to practice before the highest court in that country. Applicants educated in the United States must have a degree from an ABA-accredited law school.

  11. Application Deadlines

    LL.M. applicants are encouraged to apply by June 1 for the Fall Semester and November 1 for the Spring Semester. Applications submitted after those dates will be considered on an individual basis.

Admission to the Bar in the United States

Each state sets its own criteria for qualification for the bar. Students who earn the LL.M. degree or Certificate of Completion may be eligible to take certain state bar examinations. Please be sure to contact the jurisdiction or state in which you wish to take the bar examination to determine their eligibility requirements to sit for the examination. Information about the California State Bar Examination can be found at