Who is the program suited for?
The LLM in Intellectual Property Law Program is suitable for domestic and foreign-trained lawyers who seek the credential of a specialized degree in one of the most dynamic fields of legal practice—intellectual property law. Foreign-trained lawyers who already have strong academic and professional backgrounds in intellectual property benefit from learning the American perspective on IP doctrine and practice. Candidates who hold a first degree in law from a foreign country are strongly encouraged to apply to the LLM in American Law Program and pursue the program’s Intellectual Property Concentration. Science or technical backgrounds are not required and candidates without this prior training are encouraged to apply.
Who is eligible to apply?
Candidates to the LLM in Intellectual Property Law Program must hold a first degree in law, or its equivalent, from an ABA-accredited law school or a comparably recognized law school or law faculty outside the United States. Admission is highly competitive and depends to a great extent on the demonstration of outstanding ability in previous law studies. Prior work experience in the intellectual property field is strongly recommended, though not required.
How large is the program?
The program is extremely limited in size. Historically, the class size has been five or fewer students. In some years, the program has had only one student or no participants at all.
When should I apply?
Serious candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible in the fall. The application deadline is April 15.
What are the exceptions to the TOEFL requirement?
You may be exempted from the TOEFL requirement if
- English is your native language; or
- You received your first degree in law from a college or university in a country where both the language of instruction and the native language is English. This also applies to US citizens and US permanent residents.
Should I apply if my TOEFL score is below 250/600/100?
Proficiency in English is a significant factor in our admissions decisions. A minimum total score of 250 with 25 in each subscore on the computer-based TOEFL; a minimum total score of 600 on the paper-based TOEFL; or a minimum total score of 100 on the internet-based TOEFL, with subscores of 25 (reading), 25 (listening), 25 (writing) and 25 (speaking) are generally required and most admitted LLM applicants have substantially higher scores. If you scored below 250/600/100 on TOEFL, but are otherwise qualified, you may still apply, but we may ask you to re-take TOEFL. In that case, we will hold off on making an admissions decision until we receive a higher score.
Can I be admitted conditionally if I scored below 250/600/100 on TOEFL?
Yes, students are occasionally admitted to the program on the condition that they attend and successfully complete BU’s summer program in Legal English at CELOP. Conditional acceptance will be considered for those students who have already demonstrated proficiency in English but who stand to benefit from additional, formal intensive training prior to commencing their law studies. This condition may be required for students who scored below 250/600/100 as well as for students who scored above 250/600/100 but still need improvement. Students who do not demonstrate strong English skills at the time of their application will not be admitted on a conditional basis.
Is work experience required?
No. Work experience in the intellectual property field is strongly favored, but not required. While most students come to the program with some work experience—and while work experience is often a positive factor in admissions decisions—some students attend the program immediately after their law studies.
Can I begin the program in the spring?
No. All LLM in Intellectual Property Law students begin the program in the fall semester.
What are students' classroom experiences like?
Unlike many other LLM programs, where courses are generally taught by adjunct faculty and where students take classes exclusively with other LLMs, the students in the Intellectual Property Law Program take classes with JD students and are generally taught by full-time faculty. They are expected to participate in these classes like other students, which means taking part in the “Socratic” teaching method. This teaching method involves an interactive dialogue with the professor who questions students about the case materials (instead of “lecturing” the students about the topic). In this way, our foreign-trained LLM students learn first-hand what it’s like to be trained as an American lawyer.
At BU Law, class size ranges from under 20 students (in seminars, for example), to 75 or 80 students—with most classes having about 35 to 50 students in attendance. It would not be uncommon, for example, for between three and ten LLM students to attend a class with 35 or 40 JD students. Overall, BU Law has one of the lowest faculty/student ratios of any law school its size.
What's the difference between a class and a seminar?
In seminars, students generally discuss readings in a small group setting. All seminars are limited enrollment, usually with fewer than 25 students. Instead of taking an examination, students write one or more research papers for the class. LLMs should realize that seminars require active participation and solid writing skills.
Is there a writing requirement?
While there is no thesis requirement, all students must participate in a spring semester Intellectual Property Workshop Seminar in which they write weekly reaction papers to scholarly works-in-progress. Foreign-trained lawyers must also take a fall semester Legal Research and Writing Seminar, unless otherwise waived.
What are exams like?
Exams take place at the end of each semester, in December and May. The exams are written, not oral. They usually last three to four hours. Occasionally, classes have “take-home” exams. LLM students take the same exams as JD students, though they are graded separately from the JD’s and are not compared to JDs for grading purposes. Foreign-trained LLM students receive an extra hour to take their in-class exams.
What kind of support do the LLMs receive?
The Graduate and International Programs Office has an unwavering commitment to helping ensure the best experience for every student. LLMs receive dedicated academic guidance and counseling from the director and assistant director, who are also always available to help students with any issues or problems that arise, whether personal or academic. LLMs have access to JD “Teaching Assistants” in many of their classes to help them understand the materials and answer questions; each Research and Writing seminar has an upper-class JD student who serves as a “Tutor” for the LLM students; and OGIP has on retainer “Writing Coaches” and “Citation Coaches” to support student in their academic (seminar) papers. LLMs also have the support of a full-time career counselor assigned to work with them on their job searches and to guide them through any bar-application questions or issues they may encounter.
What social activities take place?
LLM students not only learn a tremendous amount of law but they have enriching personal experiences—and a huge amount of fun! The Graduate and International Programs Office organizes frequent receptions and gatherings where students can interact with each other and other members of the law school community. Together, we explore Boston and New England—taking trips up Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire; going to Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox games; taking in theater, music and shows; and dining out in any of Boston’s myriad restaurants. As full members of the BU Law community, LLM students also partake in numerous non-classroom learning opportunities, such as faculty presentations, speakers’ series and court-watching trips; as well as social and extracurricular events with the JD students. LLM students are welcome to join BU Law’s numerous student organizations.
Can I work during my studies?
Visa regulations limit international students to working only on-campus, for no more than twenty hours per week. There are no teaching assistant positions available at BU Law, though students can work as research assistants for professors, depending upon the needs of individual faculty members. Studying law at BU Law is a full-time commitment.