Please visit our Admissions FAQ for more details about admission to the American Law Program.
What are BU Law’s academic strengths?
Boston University School of Law is consistently recognized as one of America’s premier law schools. Boston University School of Law’s faculty is consistently ranked among the finest teaching faculty in America, according to Princeton Review’s guide. The School’s academic strengths cover all substantive areas of law. Our Intellectual Property Program has recently been recognized as among the top in America. The School’s strengths in corporate, business, financial, banking, and tax law are renowned. The faculty is known not only for its scholarship, but also for its accessibility to students and commitment to teaching. LLM students, because they are integrated into the JD classes, experience this academic excellence first-hand.
What are the program's academic requirements?
Students must complete 24 credits in two semesters of full-time study. This generally means that they take between 3 and 5 classes each term. Students need a cumulative weighted grade point average of C+ (2.30) to receive the degree. All students must take “Introduction to the American Legal System” and a seminar in Legal Research and Writing in the fall semester. All students also participate in a graduate colloquium in the spring term called “Topics in American Law.” The introductory course gives an overview of the main substantive areas of American Law—such as contracts, constitutional law, civil procedure—and teaches the methods of legal reasoning and analysis that characterize America’s common law tradition (students are evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis in this introductory course). The legal research and writing seminar teaches students how to find and use legal resources and how to write legal memoranda, contracts and other documents in an American legal style. Students learn the latest computerized legal research methods (and receive legal research software). The colloquium is a series of faculty presentation on timely topics in American law, such as on the “Governance of the Internet” or on “US National Security.” Beyond these requirements, students are free to design their own study plans, choosing classes and seminars according to their own personal and professional interests. Each of the students benefit from frequent and close contact with the Director of the Graduate and International Programs Office in designing his/her individual course of study.
What are students' classroom experiences like?
Our foreign LLMs experience an American legal education in the true sense. Unlike many other LLM Programs, where courses are generally taught by adjunct faculty and where students exclusively take classes with other, often foreign LLMs, the students in the American Law Program may 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). Students not only learn the substance of American law, but they also learn what it is like to be trained as an American lawyer. This perspective is invaluable for any foreign attorney who expects to interact with American-trained lawyers in his/her career.
At BU Law, class size ranges from under twenty students (in seminars, for example), to 75 or 80 students—with most classes having about 35–50 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 have limited enrollment, usually with fewer than 25 students. Instead of taking an examination, students write one or more research papers for the class. LLMs are free to enroll in seminars, though they should realize that seminars require active participation and solid writing skills.
Can I specialize my studies?
Yes. The program’s flexibility allows students to specialize their studies in virtually any area of substantive law by selecting classes in specific areas. Students can also pursue formal “concentrations” in either of three important fields: Intellectual Property, International Business Practice, and Tax. Students who complete one of these concentrations will receive official certification that they specialized their studies as part of their American law degree.
What's the difference between the American Law and the Banking and Financial Law LLM Programs at BU Law?
LLM In American Law students are integrated into the JD curriculum and therefore have the flexibility to take courses in virtually any area of law. Banking and Financial Law LLM students, on the other hand, study more focused and narrow topics in banking and financial law—many of which are required for the program’s degree—and do so with other LLM students, not with the school’s JD students. LLM In American Law students can, if they wish, cross-register in classes through the Banking and Financial Law Program, on a limited basis and subject to space availability.
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 3 to 4 hours. Occasionally, classes have “take-home” exams. LLM students take the same exams as JD students, though they are graded separately from the JDs and are not compared to JDs for grading purposes. They are given 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 Associate Director, who are also always available to help students with any issues or problems that arise, whether personal or academic. LLMs also have the support of a full-time career counselor assigned to work with them on their job searches.
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—apple picking in the countryside during the fall; going to 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, as well as elect a non-voting representative to the Student Government Association (SGA).
What are the University's sports and recreational facilities like?
Boston University offers vast and comprehensive opportunities for fitness, recreation, and sporting events. All LLM students are able to take advantage of those opportunities through classes, club, and intramural sports, and the use of BU’s many facilities, including the Fitness and Recreation Center. Past LLM students have participated in classes ranging from aerobics, yoga, and weight training to sailing, ice skating, dance, and martial arts. Many have also created their own teams to participate in club sports with students from across the University community, such as soccer or golf. The LLM in American Law Class has even held its own LLM Invitational Golf Tournament, in which students, faculty, staff, and friends participated! Additionally, the campus’ location along the banks of the Charles River allows students easy access to one of America’s most celebrated and picturesque recreational paths, popular for running, biking, rollerblading, or just going for a leisurely stroll.
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 and many students realize that there is scarce time to work.
Can I work for a professor as a research assistant?
Faculty members do occasionally need the help of research assistants. Research assistants are law students (JDs or LLMs) who help conduct research for faculty members’ scholarly projects, such as books or articles. These students are paid nominal amounts (not enough to cover one’s living expenses in Boston); they generally work for no more than 8 or 10 hours a week in this capacity. The availability of these kinds of opportunities depends entirely on the scholarly needs of individual faculty members. When a professor needs a research assistant, he or she will often make an announcement in class or perhaps send out an email. The selection of research assistants does not take place until school begins. Please understand, however, that LLM students who have worked as research assistants in the past have done so in the spring semester—after they have completed the program’s Legal Research and Writing Seminar in the fall term.
What can my spouse do in Boston? How can I find childcare services?
Boston University School of Law students who are here with their families can use the services provided by the Boston University Office of Family Resources. Their mission is to help students with families create a better work-life balance. Their website offers information on babysitting services, local schools, and early childhood learning centers. If you will be in Boston with your family, please visit http://www.bu.edu/family/.
What do students do after they complete the program?
The program is designed for students to return to their home countries, with the enhanced professional credential of a graduate law degree from one of America’s premier law schools, and with a marketable knowledge base of US law. It is not intended to be a preparatory program leading to the practice of law in the United States. The majority of students secure employment back in their home countries—or elsewhere outside the US. They frequently find work in international law firms or in corporations with international business. Each January, the school participates in the International Student Interview Program (ISIP) at New York University, where students take part in interviews with prospective employers, for limited-term internships or permanent positions. Many LLMs find opportunities through this event.
Under current student visa regulations, LLM graduates may stay in America for a limited period of practical training after graduation. Securing an internship in America after the program is possible, but these positions are limited. Many American Law students participate in the program’s post-graduation internship program, which places students in law-related settings during the Optional Practical Training periods.
Can graduates practice law in the US after getting the LLM?
To practice law in the US, you need to pass a state bar exam for the state in which you intend to practice. Each of the fifty states has its own criteria and procedures for admitting lawyers to practice; and achieving the LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to apply for admission to take the bar examination in every state or to practice law in every state. Most states in fact have very strict limitations on foreign lawyers’ eligibility to take their bar exam. Students are responsible for contacting the state bar examiners in those states in which they are interested in taking the bar examination to determine their eligibility.
A number of LLMs do qualify to take the New York Bar Examination each year after completing their studies at BU Law. They study in Boston during the months of June and July through a “bar-preparation program” offered by a private company. The exam is given twice a year—at the end of July and in February.
Do I get any formal career advice or support?
Absolutely. BU Law’s LLM Professional Development Office is staffed by an Associate Director and a career advisor exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of LLM students. Students have complete access to career development resources, as well as the school’s alumni network, to assist them in their job searches, whether in the US or overseas. This includes resume and cover letter assistance, interview preparation, and job search strategy development.
Transfer to the JD Program
Can I transfer to the JD Program?
Yes, students enrolled in the LLM in American Law Program may apply to the JD program as transfer students and—if they are admitted—may receive up to one-third of their JD credits from their LLM studies, consistent with American Bar Association standards. This means they may be able to complete the JD program with two additional years of study.
Do I have to take the LSAT?
Yes, transfer candidates must take the LSAT. LLM students may take the LSAT as late as June for fall enrollment.
What are the admissions standards for LLM transfer students?
The JD Admission Committee will look closely at your academic performance during the LLM year, including strong recommendation letters from BU Law faculty members. Your LSAT scores will be considered in the context of your academic performance at BU Law and in light of the school’s median scores. Candidates should not expect to receive preferential treatment by the JD Admissions Committee simply by virtue of attending the LLM program at BU Law. Transfer candidates will be evaluated in comparison to all transfer applicants and admission is not at all guaranteed.
What courses will I receive credit for as a transfer student?
American Law LLM students are eligible to receive credit for law school classes taken during the LLM year that are otherwise open to JD students. Credit will not be given for the class, Introduction to the American Legal System.
When can I apply to transfer?
You may enter the JD program in the fall or spring semester. For fall semester transfer candidates, please consult the JD Transfer Admissions website for a link to the online application and the most up to date information about deadlines and required materials. For spring enrollment, please contact the JD Admissions Office for a paper application and information about deadlines. Matriculated students must complete all JD program requirements within five years of beginning their LLM studies. Generally, this means students must enroll in the JD program within two years of beginning their LLM studies. For example, students who begin their LLM studies in fall 2019 may enter the JD program in fall 2020, in which case they would apply in spring 2020; or they can enter the JD program in fall 2021, in which case they would apply in spring 2021.
What would I need to take as a JD student?
Transfer students need to complete all the requirements of the JD program. This includes all first-year courses not otherwise taken during the LLM program, Professional Responsibility, and the upper-class writing requirement. Transferees would need to take the second semester of the first year writing program (including Moot Court) if they took the single semester LLM Legal Research and Writing seminar. If not, they would take the entire first-year writing program.
How do I get JD transfer application forms?
Transfer application forms and application instructions are available at the Office of JD Admissions.