Program and Academic Details

Developed jointly with BU Law and the Boston University Center for English Language and Orientation Programs, or “CELOP”, the Legal English Certificate Program (LECP) is a two-semester 25-credit program of full-time residential instruction designed primarily for international practitioners who need to improve their general English skills and legal English proficiency. It offers two tracks, one leading to the Legal English Certificate only, and the other which leads to the Legal English Certificate and then admits students to an LLM program at BU Law.

The LECP provides intensive instruction in English communication and Legal English, with a graduated, foundational exposure to American legal culture, vocabulary, concepts, and law school studies. The fall semester consists primarily of language courses with an emphasis on enhancing basic English language proficiency as well as their first law course, Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture, designed specifically for the LECP. In the spring, students will transition to law-focused courses, which will introduce them to foundational legal concepts and law school culture (including the Socratic method) with content focused on legal writing, legal discourse, presentations, negotiation, and overall communications skills.

This track is a one-year program that leads only to the Certificate, designed for foreign professionals (including non-lawyers) who do not plan on pursuing LLM studies, including spouses and partners of LLM students and other graduate students at BU and in the Boston area.

In this track, the LECP forms the first year of a two-year LLM program, designed for international LLM candidates who do not meet the English-language admissions requirements for full-time LLM studies. Students in this track are admitted to the LECP and provisionally admitted to the LLM program to which they have applied, pending successful completion of the Certificate requirements.

Applicants who are accepted into the Two-Year LLM track receive provisional acceptance into one of BU Law’s LLM programs: American Law; Banking and Financial Law; the Executive LLM program; the Graduate Tax Program; or the Intellectual Property LLM. Students must successfully complete the LECP during their fall and spring semester, as well as CELOP’s six week or nine week Pre-LLM Program during the summer. Upon satisfying these requirements, Two-Year LLM track students would then join the LLM program into which they have been admitted.

The LECP has been specifically designed to include multiple milestones and assessment points that allow instructors and BU Law to monitor student progress and to evaluate whether students have sufficiently mastered the English communication skills needed for success in BU Law’s LLM programs. These assessments include: an initial admission assessment (i.e., the test scores submitted with an application); written assessments from all course instructors during the fall and spring semesters; and assessments done as part of the pre-LLM summer program.

While the six-week Pre-LLM Program is a required component of the LECP, neither this course, nor the three-week Speaking and Listening for Legal English Students, are for credit. Neither count towards LLM degree requirements.

Students enrolled in the Two-Year LLM track will complete the six week Pre-LLM program in the summer following the Certificate year. Should a student be deemed to require further remedial instruction, he or she will be enrolled in additional remedial courses before the six-week Pre-LLM program. In rare cases, should a student be found to require further immersive instruction in English before matriculating full-time into an LLM program, he or she may be offered a three-semester LLM option in order to provide them an additional semester of immersion in the English language.

BU is one of the leading centers for Legal English instruction in the US. BU Law and CELOP have nearly two decades of experience collaborating together in providing Legal English instruction. Each summer CELOP offers a six-week Pre-LLM program, which forms part of the Two-Year LLM track. For thirteen years, BU Law and CELOP have run the Summer Legal Institute in London, England, a three-week program in “Legal English and Transnational Legal Practice: Drafting and Negotiating International Commercial Agreements”. BU Law, CELOP, and Cambridge University Press/TransLegal have also partnered together to create the Program for Legal English Academic Development (PLEAD) provided to individuals, law firms, and law schools throughout the world.

No. The curriculum for the LECP has been carefully designed to provide a graduated, immersive, and holistic approach to expanding students’ English skills, legal English proficiency and their knowledge of foundational US legal concepts, and as such there are no elective courses.

No. This is a full-time, residential program. It cannot be taken part-time or through any form of distance learning.

As this is a new program we cannot predict class size, but as is standard in our legal English courses, we have capped enrollment to ensure an attractive faculty-to-student ratio with a great deal of personalized assessment so that each student may receive the individualized instruction and attention he or she needs in order to succeed.

No. The curriculum for the LECP has been specially-designed for participants in this program, and only LECP students will be enrolled in those courses. In the second (LLM) year, students will primarily take courses alongside JD students, as do all LLM students at Boston University.

All courses are graded on BU Law’s conventional letter grading scale, ranging from a low of ‘F’ (fail, GPA of 0) to a high of ‘A’ (excellent, GPA of 4).

Yes. Candidates who just wish to improve their Legal English fluency but are not eligible or interested in attending one of BU’s LLM programs may apply for admission to only the LECP. Upon completion they will be awarded the same certificate as LECP participants who continue onto an LLM program.

Examples include foreign professionals, including non-lawyers, such as the spouses and partners of students enrolled in a BU or other graduate program; or professionals seeking to improve their English-language proficiency, expand their knowledge of US law and legal vocabulary and concepts, and immerse themselves in US legal culture.

While the curricula are largely identical, there are two significant differences. As they are not seeking admission into any of BU Law’s LLM programs, Certificate-only track students will not be enrolled in the Academic Skills for U.S. Law Studies, but will take an Independent Study instead, in which they will write papers examining comparative law issues. In addition, they will not take the six- or nine-week Pre-LLM Course. Regardless of the track chosen, successful completion will result in the Legal English Certificate from Boston University School of Law.


Applications to the LECP must be submitted through LSAC.

We strongly recommend that international applicants register with the LLM Credential Assembly Service provided by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). This service collects and authenticates the academic records and TOEFL scores of international lawyers who are applying for admission to US LLM programs, and sends reports to participating LLM programs to which these lawyers have applied. Because applicants will need to obtain only one set of official academic transcripts in order to make them available for all applications to participating law schools, the service should save them time and money. Students therefore do not need to send additional, original transcripts from each of their schools to Boston University School of Law; LSAC will send us all of their records in one package. The registration fee of $185 (US) includes five reports to law schools. (Additional reports can be ordered at an additional fee.) We encourage international applicants to register for this service online. We ask that students who do register email us their eight-digit LSAC account number.

No. Applicants who have obtained a University degree offered in English are not eligible for admission.

Applicants who apply to the two-year track of the LECP leading to admission to one of BU Law’s LLM programs must also meet our standards for LLM admission; as such, a law degree is required of those applicants (except in the case of the Executive LLM in International Business Law program). Applicants to the Certificate-only track of the LECP need not have a first degree in law.

No, but there is no reason to. An applicant applying for the Certificate-only track will not be considered for admission into the Two-Year LLM track. Applicants to the Two-Year LLM track, if they are not also given provisional admission to the LLM program to which they have applied, may be (but are not guaranteed to be) offered admission into the Certificate-only program.

Yes. Applicants will not be considered for admission without submitting a TOEFL or IELTS examination as part of their completed application.

The minimum English proficiency scores for admission into LECP are as follows:

  • TOEFL: a score of 85 or higher on the iTOEFL (compared to 100 required for regular LLM admission); 550 or higher on the paper based TOEFL; or 200 or greater on the computer based exam.
  • IELTS: a score of 5.5 or higher

All promising candidates for both tracks of the LECP will be interviewed, via phone or Skype, as part of the application process. After your application has been received by BU Law and has been confirmed as complete, we will contact you to schedule an interview. These typically will last 15 to 30 minutes.

For applicants applying to the certificate-only track of the LECP, their completed applications will be considered by the admissions staff for the LECP. For applicants applying to the Two-Year LLM track, their completed applications will be considered jointly by the admissions staff for the LECP as well as representatives of the LLM program to which they are applying.

The LECP is designed for students who, except for English proficiency, are otherwise qualified for admission into one of BU Law’s LLM programs and these applicants are held to the same admissions standards and other requirements as our traditional LLM applicants. Students applying to the Two-Year track are evaluated by both the staff of the LECP as well as the LLM program to which they have applied. Successful applicants are then granted admission into the LECP and given provisional admission into the LLM program that they have indicated on their application.

Students who have been accepted into the Two-Year LLM track have received provisional admission into the LLM program to which they have applied, meaning that upon successful completion of the first year (i.e., the certificate year) of the LECP they automatically are enrolled in the LLM.

If you are admitted into the LECP we ask that you inform us of your intention to attend BU Law by the date specified in your acceptance letter. Extensions may be granted at the Director’s discretion. Upon confirming your decision to attend BU Law, we require a $750 deposit to secure your place in the class. Once we receive your deposit, we will begin processing your visa documents. We cannot process your immigration documents unless we have received the necessary financial documentation. These include a bank statement or letter and a sponsorship certification form, if necessary. When your financial documentation is complete, your completed file will be sent to the school’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), which will issue your official Form I-20. Once complete, your Form I-20 will be sent to you via FedEx along with an email confirmation that the document has been sent. This process typically takes around four weeks. Later in the summer, we will send you course information and other registration materials in anticipation of your arrival in Boston.

In rare cases, an applicant will be admitted into the Certificate-only year of the LECP but is not offered provisional admission into one of BU’s LLM programs. Students may still be considered for admission into an LLM program during a future admissions cycle, but will have to reapply to the LLM program directly. Under those circumstances, successful completion of the LECP will not by itself improve an applicant’s chances of later being admitted into an LLM program.

Tuition and Fees

The tuition for both the non-LLM (certificate only) track, as well as the first year of the Two-Year LLM track is the same as the cost of full-time LLM study, plus any applicable fees. See that cost here. Students will also pay tuition for the six week CELOP course and/or the six week Pre-Course, depending on their proficiency, in the summer following the LECP. Students in the Two-Year LLM track pay the prevailing rate for the LLM program to which they have been accepted in their second year.

While there are some slight differences in structure between the two tracks, explained in more detail on this website, both are full-time, 25-credit programs.

No. Neither the six week Pre-LLM program, nor the three week Pre-Course (if applicable), are included in the cost of tuition for students who are completing the Two-Year LLM track. Successful completion of either the six week course, or the six week and three week Pre-Course are, however, required for completion of the LECP. Under no circumstances will students be allowed to “opt out” of these programs and still be eligible to receive the Legal English Certificate.

No financial aid or scholarships are generally available for the LECP. Students who go on to enroll in LLM studies are eligible for all forms of financial aid and scholarships open to LLM students.

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