Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions relating to the LLM degree for international lawyers. For information about other LLM programs at Duke Law, please see our JD/LLM, Law and Entrepreneurship LLM, and Master's of Judicial Studies web sites.


General Questions

Application Procedures and Requirements

Degree Requirements and Studying at Duke

Living in Durham

Employment and Bar Admission

Does Duke Law School offer specialized LLM degrees?

Yes. The general LLM introduces students to U.S. law and legal process, but also allows them to select from courses in areas of interest to them. Duke is particularly known for its business, intellectual property, public and international, and environmental law curriculum. The general LL.M. degree also has a certificate program – the Certificate in Environmental Law for students who complete certain environmental law course requirements. For more information, see /internat/certificate

Can Americans apply to the LLM program?

The Duke LLM program for foreign law graduates is available only to applicants who have completed their law studies in a non-American university or comparable institution.

What is the JD/LLM program?

The JD/LLM Program in International and Comparative Law is designed for students to study for both the JD degree and the LLM degree at the same time. This is a dual degree program that differs from the LLM program for foreign lawyers and uses a different application form. To learn more about applying to the JD/LLM Program in International and Comparative Law visit /internat/comparative

Do I need a law degree to apply to the LLM program?

Applicants ordinarily hold a first degree in law from an accredited institution outside the United States. The law degree should be the equivalent of the JD or LLB degree and cannot be from a correspondence or distance learning program. Applicants who intend to sit for the New York bar exam following graduation should be aware of the requirements of legal education before applying to take the New York bar exam.  Rules for admission of attorneys who studied law in a country other than the U.S. can be found at the New York State Board of Law Examiners' web site at http://www.nybarexam.org/court.htm

Do you require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?

A TOEFL score of 600 on the paper-based test, 100 on the Internet-based test (or 250 on the computer-based test) is the minimum normally required for admission. If the score is slightly less than the minimum required, other factors may be taken into consideration. Duke's TOEFL institution code is 5156 and our department code is 03. Applicants who have received a university degree in the United States or from an institution where the language of instruction is English may request a waiver from this requirement. To request a TOEFL requirement waiver, include with your application a short statement supporting why you feel you are proficient in English. Please note that students who are admitted with a TOEFL waiver are not allowed extra time on exams because of English language issues.  The granting of extra time because of English language issues is governed by several additional factors, but a TOEFL waiver is an absolute bar. It is therefore not in applicants’ best interests to request a TOEFL waiver unless they are fluent in English.

You can get more information on how to register for the TOEFL by visiting the official TOEFL website.

Do you accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score instead of the TOEFL score?

We would prefer that applicants submit TOEFL exam results. However, we may consider applicants who submit an IELTS Overall Band Score of 7.5 or higher

How much does it cost to attend Duke Law School?

Duke Law School's tuition is set each year in February. The current year's tuition and expenses are listed on the Estimated Budget webpage. Tuition is generally comparable to other private universities in the United States, but the cost of living in Durham is considerably lower than that of larger U.S. cities.

Do you offer scholarships?

Duke Law School awards some tuition scholarships to a limited number of students each year. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send us a letter stating so along with your application for admission. For more information please visit our Financial Assistance information. Applicants are encouraged to investigate other sources of support, such as government or employer grants and loans, early in the application process. Non-U.S. citizens may be able to apply for a student loan, but it must be co-signed by a U.S. citizen. For a list of some organizations that offer scholarships, click here.

Application Procedures and Requirements

How do I request an application?

You can apply via LSAC or complete and submit an application form from our website and send it to us by mail to:

Duke Law School
International Admissions
Box 90365
210 Science Drive
Durham, NC, 27708-0365

Do you grant application fee waivers?

According to Duke Law School's application policies, we do not waive the application fee.

Do you require interviews for admission?

Interviews are not required, but we are happy to have applicants visit us at Duke Law School. Anyone interested in knowing more about Duke and the LLM program may schedule an appointment by contacting the Office of International Studies at (919) 613-7033 or at international@law.duke.edu. Adequate notice is necessary.

What is your LLM application deadline?

January 20, 2014. You may send in your application any time before the deadline. Late applications will be accepted, subject to space availability. If you cannot submit all the required application documents before the deadline, send in the materials that you do have before the deadline. Your application will be initially reviewed, but a final decision will not be made until your application is complete.

When are admission decisions made?

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis beginning in January. A rolling basis means that applications are considered until the class is full.

Are deferrals granted?

It is possible to defer admission to the next academic year if absolutely necessary, but we usually do not allow students to defer more than one year.

How do I reapply if I was not accepted?

For re-application, please send us by January 20, 2014, a new application form and personal statement, an updated resume, $70 re-application fee, a new TOEFL score (if better than the score in your previous application), additional transcripts (if applicable) and optional additional recommendation letters. This can also be accomplished via the LSAC application website.

To learn more about applying to the LLM program for foreign law graduates

Visit: /internat/appProcedure.

Degree Requirements and Studying at Duke

How many credits does it take to complete the LLM degree?

The LLM is a full-time one-year degree that must be completed in residence at Duke. Candidates for the LLM degree must complete a minimum of 21 credit hours in law by the end of the academic year but may take more credits if they wish. Course offerings can be found at /curriculum/. The fall course schedule will be available at the end of April or in early May.

Are there required courses or other requirements?

LLM students are required to take the Distinctive Aspects of U.S. Law course, and those without extensive experience studying in English are required to take Legal Analysis, Research and Writing for International Students. These are the only required courses. Students are also required to produce a substantial piece of writing, which is usually satisfied by taking a seminar course or pursuing an independent research project supervised by a faculty member.

Can I take courses in other departments at Duke University?

You need 21 credits in law courses to earn an LLM degree. In addition, you also may take classes anywhere in the university. Cross-listed courses may also be included in satisfying the 21 law credits requirement. Cross-listed courses are inter-disciplinary courses offered by the Law School and other schools or departments, such as The Fuqua School of Business and the Sanford School of Public Policy.

How do students select and register for courses?

Course selection is done during orientation. During the orientation, faculty members provide information about classes. In addition, every student will meet with a faculty member or administrator who will offer advice on courses. There is also an add/drop period of time during which students can usually make changes after attending their choice of classes. New students should therefore not worry about selection of courses before arriving at Duke. There will be ample time to seek advice during orientation week. Registration for second semester courses takes place later in the first semester.

What if I have an academic or personal problem while I am a student at Duke?

The Law School International Studies Office has a staff of 4 professionals who are dedicated to assisting international students. The School’s goal is to provide an outstanding education in a supportive, congenial environment. The “open door” policy allows students easy access to staff members. The University’s International House is also available year-round to offer a variety of services to all international students.

Are credits earned from other U.S. law schools transferable to the LLM degree at Duke?

No. Duke Law School does not accept transfer credits in the LLM program.

 

Living in Durham

Do I need to have a car in Durham?

It is desirable to have a car while living in Durham. Many students buy used cars fairly inexpensively (sometimes from graduating students) or lease cars. If you decide not to buy a car, it is recommended that you live on campus or very close to campus (see "A Guide to Life at Duke by the 2014 LLM Class" for recommendations about housing). There is good bus service around the campus, but less reliable bus service off campus.

Is there good childcare in Durham?

Durham is a friendly place for children. Many of our LLM and JD students bring their young children with them to Durham and have been very pleased with the local childcare and schools. You may contact international@law.duke.edu to be put in touch with a current student with young children.

What about housing at Duke?

Though limited on-campus housing is available to graduate/professional students, the International Studies office strongly encourages you to consider off-campus housing. Durham has many attractive apartment complexes and other housing options close to the University at competitive rates. They are usually not furnished, but furniture can be rented or bought for a reasonable cost. Some of these complexes are described at "Guide to Life at Duke by the 2013 LLM Class."

What is special about Duke’s location?

Duke is located in a beautiful forested setting, midway between the ocean and the mountains. The quality of life is exceptional– the cost of living is very reasonable; the climate is moderate; amenities such as good restaurants and shopping are available in the Triangle formed by Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill; the area has more PhD’s than almost any other part of the U.S. but retains a distinctive flavor. Duke students take advantage of the many chances to use the excellent golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, basketball courts and more.

Employment and Bar Admission

Is it possible to get a part-time job while studying at Duke?

Students with F1 or J1 visas may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during regular semesters and up to 40 hours per week during holidays and vacations. Students interested in engaging in on-campus employment have ordinarily worked as research or library assistants.

Can I sit for a Bar Exam after obtaining my law degree at Duke?

Each individual U.S. state sets its own standards for admission of attorneys. Some states accept an LLM degree as qualification to take a bar exam. Most Duke LLM graduates who choose to take the bar exam sit for the New York Bar Exam. You should review the requirements for any state in which you might want to practice. The American Bar Association's "Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements" is linked from the following webpage: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/home.html

What about the new requirements for the NY Bar for 2012-13 and beyond?

The Duke LLM degree will qualify applicants to sit for the NY Bar, even with the new requirements. Applicants must of course meet the Bar’s requirements for their first degree in law and should carefully review the NY Bar requirements for eligibility. Students who wish to sit for the NY Bar may take 24 credits during the LLM degree as required by the Bar. The NY Bar requirements of an introductory course in US law and a legal writing course are met by the two required courses for the LLM degree. A course in in ethics is available to LLM students, and applicants can satisfy the 6 required credits in subjects tested on the Bar exam by choosing among many Duke Law courses that have been pre-approved by the Court of Appeals of New York.

Can I work in the United States after finishing my law degree at Duke?

Students with F-1 or J-1 visas may stay up to one year in the United States after receiving their degree for optional practical or academic training. Some graduates extend their stay with the support of their employers.

Do Duke LLM students receive help in looking for a job?

The Career & Professional Development Center and the Office of International Studies offer assistance with LLM students' job search. A staff member is dedicated to advising LLM students. For detailed information see LLM Career Support.