LL.M. Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Program and Academic Details


Tuition and Fees

Program and Academic Details

What is the Legal English Certificate Program?
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 lead to the Legal English Certificate and then admits students to an LL.M. program at BU Law.

How does the LECP help me improve my English proficiency and my ability to succeed in an LL.M. program?
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.

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

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

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

How will my progress in English proficiency be assessed in the LECP?
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 LL.M. programs. These assessments include: an initial admission assessment (i.e., the test scores submitted with an application); an institutional TOEFL administered after arrival in Boston; written assessments from all course instructors during the fall and spring semesters; an institutional TOEFL administered at the end of the spring semester; and assessments done as part of the pre-LL.M. summer program.

Is the Pre-LL.M. program for credit? Does it count towards any LL.M. degree requirements?
While the six-week Pre-LL.M. 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 LL.M. degree requirements.

What if my English proficiency at the end of the two semester of the Certificate year is not sufficient for entry into LL.M. studies?
Students enrolled in the Two-Year LL.M. track will complete the six week Pre-LL.M. 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 CELOP's Speaking and Listening for Legal English Students, a three-week long course that takes place before the six-week Pre-LL.M. program. In rare cases, should a student be found to require further immersive instruction in English before matriculating full-time into an LL.M. program, he or she may be offered a three-semester LL.M. option in order to provide them an additional semester of immersion in the English language.

This appears to be a new program. Does Boston University have experience offering Legal English?
BU is one of the leading centers for Legal English instruction in the U.S. 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-LL.M. program, which forms part of the Two-Year LL.M. track. For the past thirteen years, BU Law and CELOP have run the Summer Legal Institute in London, England, offering 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.

Can I choose electives as part of the Legal English Certificate Program?
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 U.S. legal concepts, and as such there are no elective courses.

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

What is the size of the class?
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.

Will I be taking courses with J.D. students in the LECP?
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 (LL.M.) year, students will primarily take courses alongside J.D. students, as do all LL.M. students at Boston University.

What is the grading scale? How will my performance be assessed?
During the first semester, all courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. Written assessments of a student's performance are provided in all these courses, detailing their progress and identifying areas where further improvement is necessary. The second semester, consisting mainly of Law courses, is 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).

What if I am not interested in doing an LL.M.-can I complete just the Legal English Certificate Program?
Yes. Candidates who just wish to improve their Legal English fluency but are not eligible or interested in attending one of BU's LL.M. 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 LL.M. program.

Who might benefit from the certificate-only track?
This stream may be attractive to 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 U.S. law and legal vocabulary and concepts, and immerse themselves in U.S. legal culture.

I am interested in the Certificate-only program. Are the curricula the same for the Certificate-only and the Two-Year Track?
While the curricula are largely identical, there are two significant differences. For the Certificate-only track, as these students are not seeking admission into any of BU Law's LL.M. programs, these 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-LL.M. Course. Regardless of the track chosen, successful completion will result in the Legal English Certificate from Boston University School of Law.

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How do I apply to the LECP?
Applications to the LECP may be submitted through either the BU online application or through LSAC. Applicants who wish to apply only to LECP (who do not intend on completing an LL.M. program after LECP), who do not hold a first degree in law must apply through the BU online application.

What is the LL.M. Credential Assembly Service, and should I register for it?
We strongly recommend that international applicants register with the LL.M. 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 U.S. LL.M. programs, and sends reports to participating LL.M. 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 (U.S.) 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 at www.llm.lsac.org. We ask that students who do register email us their 8-digit LSAC account number.

I have a J.D. degree or equivalent from an English-language legal program. May I apply to this program?
No. Applicants who have obtained a University degree offered in English are not eligible for admission.

I do not have a law degree. May I apply to the LECP?
Applicants who apply to the Two-Year track of the LECP leading to admission to one of BU Law's LL.M. programs must also meet our standards for LL.M. admission; as such, a law degree is required of those applicants (except in the case of the Executive LL.M. in International Business Law program). Applicants to the Certificate-only track of the LECP need not have a first degree in law.

May I apply both to the Certificate-only track of the LECP, as well as the Two-Year LL.M. track?
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 LL.M. track. Applicants to the Two-Year LL.M. track, if they are not also given provisional admission to the LL.M. program to which they have applied, may be (but are not guaranteed to be) offered admission into the Certificate-only program.

Do I have to submit a TOEFL or other test of English proficiency to be considered for the LECP?
Yes. Applicants will not be considered for admission without submitting a TOEFL, IELTS or ILEC examination as part of their completed application.

What TOEFL or other test scores do I need for admission?
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 LL.M. 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
  • ILEC: 'narrow fail' or better

Are interviews required?
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 15-30 minutes.

How are decisions made regarding applications for admission?
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 LL.M. track, their completed applications will be considered jointly by the admissions staff for the LECP as well as representatives of the LL.M. program to which they are applying.

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

What does 'provisional admission' into an LL.M. program mean?
Students who have been accepted into the Two-Year LL.M. track have received provisional admission into the LL.M. 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 LL.M.

If I have been admitted, what happens next?
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 $500 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.

I applied to the Two-Year LL.M. track but was admitted to the Certificate-only track. May I still apply for admission to one of BU Law's LL.M. programs?
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 LL.M. programs. Students may still be considered for admission into an LL.M. program during a future admissions cycle, but will have to reapply to the LL.M. 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 LL.M. program.

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Tuition and Fees

What is the cost of the LECP?
The tuition for both the non-LL.M. (certificate only) track, as well as the first year of the Two-Year LL.M. track has been set at $46,097 plus any applicable fees, pending final University approval. Students will also pay tuition for the six week CELOP course ($4,200) or six week and three week Pre-Course ($5,200), depending on their proficiency, in the summer following the LECP. Students in the Two-Year LL.M. track pay the prevalent rate for the LL.M. program to which they have been accepted in their second year.

Are there different credits weights for the two tracks? What is the number of credits that must be completed for both?
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.

I am in the Two-Year LL.M. track. Is the pre-LL.M. program offered through CELOP included in tuition?
No. Neither the six week Pre-LL.M. program, nor the three week Pre-Course (if applicable), are included in the cost of tuition for students who are completing the Two-Year LL.M. 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 eligble to receive the Legal English Certificate.

Is financial aid available?
There is no financial aid or scholarships available for the LECP. Students who go on to enroll in LL.M. studies are eligible for all forms of financial aid and scholarships open to LL.M. students.

For further information, please contact us at bullm@bu.edu.

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