Deciding to attend an LLM program – and for that matter, any graduate degree program – is a major commitment, and one that should only be taken following due consideration. In reflection of this, we have assembled the most frequently asked questions by our applicants, as expressed in emails, phone calls and interviews. We hope they help inform your decision!

General Admissions Questions

We look for students with strong academic backgrounds and evidence that the candidate can perform well in a rigorous academic program. In addition to transcripts and letters of recommendation, the application also asks for a personal statement and curriculum vitae (CV). All applicants, unless otherwise exempted, are required to submit either a TOEFL or an IELTS exam report. Because students are expected to participate fully in classroom discussions, a high level of English proficiency is critical. All promising candidates receive a telephone or Skype interview with the Director and/or the Assistant Director.

We accept applications online through LSAC. Serious candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible as the application assembly and review process can be lengthy. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

Program Start Dates
American Law August only
Banking and Financial Law August, January
Intellectual Property August only
Executive LLM in International Business Law August, January, May
Graduate Tax Program August, January, May
Legal English Certificate Program August

Program Is Work Experience Required?
American Law Preferred, not required
Banking and Financial Law Preferred, not required
Intellectual Property Preferred, not required
Executive LLM in International Business Law 3+ years experience
Graduate Tax Program Preferred, not required
Legal English Certificate Program Preferred, not required
Estate Planning Certificate Preferred, not required
Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance Preferred, not required
Certificate in International Business Law Preferred, not required

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis once the Graduate and International Programs Office receives all required materials (transcripts, recommendation letters, proof of English proficiency, personal statement, CV, and financial documentation). Depending on at which stage you submit your application, it can take up to several weeks for our office to receive and review all of your application materials and issue an admissions decision. If you require an expedited decision please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

Promising candidates are contacted to schedule a phone or Skype interview with the Director and/or Assistant Director. The interview is a chance for you to tell us more about your background, interests in the program, and career goals. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have. In the happy event that a candidate will otherwise be in the Boston area, or is able to travel to Boston prior to admission, we will be delighted to schedule an in-person interview in lieu of a phone interview and provide a tour of BU Law.

The Program Director and/or Assistant/Associate Directors determine which applicants will be offered admission, in conjunction with the Admissions Committee, based on the applicant’s complete record. As such, grades and academic credentials, work experience, letters of recommendation, awards, language ability, test results, and interviews will all be considered when evaluating an applicant.

You are welcome to apply to more than one program. In order to be considered for more than one program please notify us via email which programs you would like to be considered for after you have submitted all of your materials via LSAC. You need not resubmit all of your application materials. Any materials already submitted to BU Law via LSAC, such as transcripts, will be available for consideration. However, candidates must still ensure their application is complete and that all other materials requested by our office are received or have already been submitted. Please note that you must fulfill all of the admissions requirements in order to be considered for admission.

All the most up to date tuition and fee information for all of our programs can be found here.

Application fee waivers are provided to graduates of BU Law’s partner institutions, the full list of which can be found here. Applicants not from these institutions should direct application fee waiver questions to bullm@bu.edu.

The School of Law acknowledges a small number of LLM applicants who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement through the LLM Scholars Program These awards come in the form of partial tuition waivers. Please note that full tuition scholarships are not available and students must secure their own funding sources to cover the cost of tuition and fees. To learn more about your financial options, contact the Boston University School of Law Financial Aid Office at bulawaid@bu.edu. Applicants for our certificate programs and the Graduate Tax Program’s online option are not eligible for scholarship awards at this time.

The full details about the Credential Assembly Service can be found here.

Every effort is made to notify applicants in a timely manner about the decision on his or her application. Given the expected volume of applications it may take several weeks from the time your application is complete to evaluate it and render a decision. Notification of your admissions decision will be made via email. Please note that we cannot communicate admissions decisions over the phone, but you are welcome to contact our office to inquire about the status of your application.

If you are admitted into the program, 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.

For foreign-educated applicants, 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, we will gather your completed file and send it 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 send incoming students course information and other registration materials in anticipation of the beginning of the semester.

While the mandatory orientation takes place in late August, students are strongly encouraged to arrive in early August to secure housing and get settled. Students who attend a summer Legal English Program at CELOP, which begins in early July, will need to arrive in late June.

Entering foreign law students are strongly encouraged to attend CELOP’s summer Legal English class. While the CELOP program is a language class—not a law cass—it helps prepare students for their upcoming studies by familiarizing them with the language and materials of American law. It also exposes students to basic doctrine, thereby easing their adjustment to their substantive classes. Students who attend report that they begin law school with much more confidence and gain more from their fall semester studies and after having taken the summer program. Another benefit is that students get a head start settling into their new environments in Boston—by making friends early, exploring Boston, taking care of logistical matters—before the demands of law studies begin. On occasion, students may be admitted to a program on the condition that they attend CELOP’s Legal English class or some other intensive English program at CELOP.

While unsuccessful applications are not subject to appeal, you may reapply for admission. If you do so within one calendar year from your previous application you need not resubmit all materials. You will be required to pay the application fee and submit a new online application, updated resume, and personal statement. We also advise strongly that you submit updated letters of recommendation. You need not resubmit your transcripts and test scores, provided your test scores are less than two years old. Please note that reapplication is unlikely to increase your chances for admission unless you are submitting an application that is qualitatively stronger than your previous application (i.e., showing evidence of increased language proficiency, increased professional responsibilities or experience, additional coursework, etc.).

Applying With LSAC

International applicants must 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). Applicants can register for this service onlineWe do not accept application materials submitted in the mail or via email.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

We must receive satisfactory proof of your English proficiency in the form of an official TOEFL or IELTS score report, submitted via the LSAC LLM Credential Assembly Service.

If you are taking the TOEFL exam, we require a minimum score of 100 for the internet-based test. The scores on each of the individual sections should be a minimum of 25. If taking the IELTS exam, you must achieve a minimum of 7.0.

If you are interested in the Legal English Certificate or Two Year LLM Program, we require a minimum score of 85 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or a score of 5.5 or higher on the IELTS exam.

Candidates who receive a score below the required minimum on all English proficiency exams are still encouraged to apply to the program since we utilize a holistic approach when reviewing applications.

You may be exempted from the English proficiency requirement if (1) English is your native language; or (2) 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.

Applicants who do not automatically qualify for an English proficiency waiver may ask us to waive the English Proficiency Test Score requirement if they have completed at least three (3) years of post-secondary education in a country where the language of instruction and only official language are English. English waiver requests are considered on a case by case basis. To formally apply for a TOEFL waiver, please complete the English Proficiency Exam Waiver Request Form. Please upload the document to your LSAC application in the attachment section.

Proficiency in English is a significant factor in our admissions decisions. Our minimum scores are guidelines for the lowest level of English proficiency required to succeed in our programs, and most admitted LLM applicants have substantially higher scores than that. If your scores fall below our minimums but are otherwise qualified, you may still apply, but we may ask you to re-take the exam for our review or attend one of our summer Legal English programs.  Please also note that we utilize a holistic approach when reviewing applications and that no one aspect of an application, such as an English proficiency score, will preclude you from admission.

Applicants are occasionally admitted to the program on the condition that they fulfill other requirements in order to improve their English skills or meet our test score minimums. We may accept an applicant provisionally on the condition that he or she successfully complete BU’s summer program in Legal English at CELOP or submit other proof of testing or intensive ESL course completion. For information on CELOP, please visit CELOP’s website.

American Law Program

The LLM in American Law Program is designed for foreign jurists who seek to learn American substantive law and receive an in-depth understanding of America’s legal institutions, traditions, and culture. The degree is especially attractive to lawyers who expect to interact with American-trained attorneys on international transactions which implicate American law and legal institutions. This includes lawyers who represent clients with interests in the United States or American clients with interests in their home countries—essentially any lawyer who expects to participate in today’s increasingly global legal market. Lawyers trained in a civil law system, as in many European countries, not only benefit from learning American substantive law, but they also receive important grounding in the case law method and legal reasoning process which characterizes the common law tradition. This is a new and eye-opening experience to many foreign-trained lawyers. Increasingly, a master of laws degree from an American law school is seen as an important credential for professional advancement in many foreign countries.

The LLM in American Law Class of 2015 consisted of 99 students from more than 30 countries. One of the program’s benefits is its limited size—all the students get to know each other and the Director works with each individual student closely throughout the year on academic planning issues or any other matter of concern.

Executive LLM Admissions


The program is open to JD holders from US law schools and graduates of international law programs. The Executive LLM is designed to provide students with the specialized instruction they need in international business law as taught from a US perspective. Some of the courses offered in the program—namely Contracts and Corporations—are either a required part of a standard JD curriculum or have been taken by many JD holders. As such, you may be required, or choose, to opt out of one or both of these course as detailed above.


The program is open to JD holders from US law schools and graduates of international law programs. The Executive LLM is designed to provide students with the specialized instruction they need in international business law as taught from a US perspective. Some of the courses offered in the program—namely Contracts and Corporations—are either a required part of a standard JD curriculum or have been taken by many JD holders. As such, you may be required, or choose, to opt out of one or both of these course as detailed above.

While the program is designed for practicing international lawyers, we occasionally admit highly qualified candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent but do not have a law degree. Such candidates will typically have considerable work experience in a quasi-legal or related field (for example, contract management, risk management/compliance, etc.), strong academic credentials and work history that demonstrates their ability to succeed in, and contribute to, the Executive LLM Program. All such candidates must complete the regular Executive LLM online application (via LSAC) for consideration, and will be expected to address their suitability for the program in their personal statement. Admission to the degree program is not granted to applicants who do not hold a college degree, as this is a Master of Laws-granting program. Under no circumstances will the Admissions Office convey an opinion on a candidate’s credentials prior to, or in lieu of, a formal application.

Candidates enrolled in the Executive LLM Program will be considered part-time students and are not eligible for sponsorship under the F-1 student visa classification. We anticipate that all program participants will enter the US in visitor status, or with a visa waiver, in order to participate in the residential periods. Upon acceptance, each student will be sent further information, a letter of acceptance into the program, and a letter of invitation for presentation to the US Consulate and/or US port of entry official which will request a visitor visa or status.

For more information on how to obtain a visitor visa and on the Visa Waiver Program, please visit: http://www.bu.edu/isso/immigration-status/immigration-overview/visitor-classifications/.

Visitor visa status does not permit full-time study. Your participation in the residential period, while intensive, does not constitute full-time student status nor should you describe yourself as a “student” coming to “study at Boston University” as this will likely cause confusion at the Consulate or port of entry. While we do not expect any participants to encounter any difficulties, there is no guarantee in an individual case that a consular or immigration official will issue a visitor visa or permit entry to the US in visitor status.

For candidates undertaking the residency in Budapest, Hungary, similar rules apply: you are expected to be allowed entry into Hungary as visitors. Information on entry into the US and/or Hungary will be provided by the Executive LLM Program in advance, along with appropriate documentation from BU Law.

English Learning and BU Law LLM Programs

The Boston University Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) offers a number of intensive language courses, including a six-week pre-LLM “Legal English” program for international students who have been admitted to an LLM program. We encourage all LLM candidates who received their first degrees in law from countries other than the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom to seek early preparation for their studies by attending a CELOP summer program. CELOP also offers programs in the fall which may be taken on a part-time basis (see Three-Semester LLM/CELOP Program below). In certain cases, we may offer full-time admission on the condition that the applicant successfully complete one of the CELOP summer programs before fall enrollment. Students should be aware that participation in a CELOP program will increase their expenses. For more information on CELOP programs, visit CELOP.

Prospective students with impressive qualifications but who lack the required level of English language proficiency to begin their LLM studies on a full-time basis may be eligible for BU Law’s three-semester “Extended LLM” option. Under this arrangement, students begin their LLM studies with the six-week summer Pre-LLM Legal English Program at CELOP. The fall semester then consists of additional legal English and academic skills classes through BU Law’s Legal English Certificate Program (LECP), plus two or three LLM classes, as determined by the LLM program. In the spring, students pursue their LLM studies on a full-time basis. They complete the remainder of their 24 credits during the following fall semester.

Students pay CELOP tuition for the pre-LLM summer program (EN026). They pay full-time law school tuition for the first (fall) and second (spring) semesters. During the third semester, students may register for a full-time course of study or, if eligible, a part-time course of study. Students are eligible to enroll on a part-time basis if they can complete their degree requirements through less than a full-time program of study (i.e., less than ten credits) by the end of that semester, and they have advanced authorization from the ISSO. To apply directly to this program option, applicants must submit all of the required documents and:

  • Select the Extended LLM option in the “Program Information” question; and,
  • Explain in your personal statement why you are best suited for this enrollment option.

LLM candidates with impressive qualifications who require significant English training prior to enrolling in an LLM program should apply to our Two-Year LLM Program. Students spend the first year enrolled in BU Law’s Legal English Certificate Program (LECP), which provides intensive instruction in English communication and legal English, as well as a graduated and foundational exposure to American legal culture, vocabulary, concepts and law school studies, including academic skills. After completing the LECP, they attend the pre-LLM summer Legal English program and then enter the one-year BU Law LLM program to which they have been admitted. The Legal English Certificate Program is also available on a “certificate-only” basis, appropriate for foreign professionals – including non-lawyers – who seek only a legal English training credential, with no plans to pursue LLM studies.

To apply directly to the Two-Year LLM Program, applicants must submit all of the required application materials and select “Two Year LLM Program (w/LECP)” as the answer to question 1 on the application form. Applicants will then indicate their preferred LLM program, in which he or she intends to enroll in their 2nd year, by answering question 1a.

To apply directly to the Legal English Certificate Program (the “certificate-only track”), applicants must submit all of the documents listed above and select “Legal English Certificate Program (LECP)” as the answer to question 1 on the application form.

After Your LLM

Graduates of BU’s LLM programs and former exchange students who do not qualify for advanced standing in one of BU’s LLM programs may continue their studies at BU Law as Special Visiting Students. This option is available for one or two semesters of study. To apply, complete the Special Visiting Student Application and submit the International Student Data Form and supporting financial documents, as well as a copy of your passport identification page, as described in the application. Details on tuition are included in the application.

It is generally expected that international students enrolled in LLM programs in the United States will return to their home countries after they complete their studies. Most states in the United States will allow only individuals who have earned a Juris Doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association to take their bar examinations. However, New York, Massachusetts, and a few other states do allow some foreign-trained lawyers from abroad who have received LLM degrees from Boston University to take bar examinations. Each of the fifty states of the United States has its own criteria and procedures for admitting lawyers to practice, and these criteria and procedures change from time to time. It is essential that a foreign-trained lawyer who wishes to practice in this country directly contact the lawyer-licensing authority in the state or jurisdiction in which he or she expects to be located. Individuals can also request a copy of the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements from:

The National Conference of Bar Examiners
ABA Order Fulfillment Department
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Phone 312-988-5522

Bar admissions information is also available from the American Bar Association.

Students enrolled in the American Law, Banking and Financial Law, Intellectual Property and Taxation LLM programs may apply to the JD program as transfer students during the spring semester of their LLM year and—if they are admitted—may satisfy up to one-third of their JD credits through their LLM coursework consistent with American Bar Association standards. This means they may be able to complete the JD program with two additional years of study. Transfer students who matriculate into the JD program need to complete all the requirements of the JD program. Transfer applicants need to take the LSAT and will be judged in comparison to all other JD transfer candidates. Candidates should not expect preferential treatment by the JD Admissions Committee simply by virtue of attending the LLM program at BU Law. Admission is not guaranteed. For fall semester transfer candidates, application forms and fees are due to the Office of JD Admissions by June 1 and completed files with all supporting documentation are due by August 1. LLM students may take the LSAT as late as June for fall enrollment.