Frequently Asked Questions
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 LLM degree also offers certificate programs in Environmental and Energy Law, Business Law, and IP, Science and Technology Law for students who wish to further refine their research and career focus. Learn More
How long is Duke’s LLM degree?
Most students complete the LLM degree in one academic year, which begins in mid-August and ends in mid-May. Students are welcome to extend the LLM program by one or two semesters, however. Extending the LLM program allows students to broaden their understanding of U.S. law, as well as add a larger number of advanced, specialized, and interdisciplinary courses. It also provides students the opportunity for an internship in the United States in the summer between academic years. Students seeking to meet the course requirements of the New York bar and fulfill the Skills Competency Requirement (SCR) at the same time can use the additional semester or two to add practice-based experiential courses that fulfill the SCR. Students who receive support from their government to study for two years can take more courses in their areas of expertise, as well as take more courses in other graduate and professional schools at Duke, including the Fuqua School of Business, Nicolas School of Environment, and Sanford School of Public Policy.
Can Americans apply to the LLM program?
Yes. Eligibility for admission to the Duke LLM program is not based on citizenship but rather location of previous legal studies.
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. Learn More
Do I need a law degree to apply to the LLM program?
Yes. Ordinarily, applicants must hold a degree in law from an accredited institution outside the United States. Applicants who intend to sit for a U.S. bar exam following graduation should be aware that some state bars assess applicants’ eligibility by reviewing their pre-LLM legal education for legal education equivalency and length of time of study. Rules for admission of attorneys who studied law in a country other than the U.S. can be found at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.
What are Duke Law School's English language test requirements?
Because Duke LLM students take most of their courses with JD students and are graded on the same scale, LLM applicants must have good English language skills.
To assess English language skills, Duke accepts either TOEFL or IELTS scores but prefers to review the TOEFL. Waivers of the TOEFL or IELTS requirement are granted only for applicants for whom English is their first language or who have studied for three years or longer in a degree-granting program taught in English at a university in a country in which English is an official language. To request a waiver, please include with your application a statement describing why you believe you are eligible. Please note that applicants who receive a TOEFL or IELTS waiver will not receive extra time on Duke Law exams that allow extra time for eligible LLM students.
Duke’s minimum TOEFL score requirement is 100 and minimum IELTS score requirement is 7.0 and test scores should be no more than two years old from the date of application. All aspects of applications are closely reviewed, however. Applicants whose scores are below 100 or 7.0 but whose academic background and experience are otherwise strong may explain in their personal statement why they think their test score does not reflect their English language ability.
Duke reviews all scores in all categories from all TOEFL or IELTS tests reported. It does not accept the TOEFL MyBest Score or the new Essentials score reports. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on TOEFL and IELTS testing, we will also accept official scores from the TOEFL Special Home Edition and ITP Plus test, as well as the IELTS Indicator test.
Does Duke accept the TOEFL MyBest Score or Essentials reports?
No, we do not accept the MyBest Score nor the Essentials reports. Duke reviews all scores in all categories from all TOEFLS or IELTS tests reported in the two-year period. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on TOEFL and IELTS testing, we will also accept official scores from the TOEFL Special Home Edition and ITP Plus test, as well as the IELTS Indicator test.
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 web page. 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.
How do I apply?
You can apply via LSAC or complete and submit a mail-in application to us to
Duke Law School
210 Science Drive
Durham, NC, 27708-0365
Do you grant application fee waivers?
The application fee is waived for individuals applying directly to Duke Law via mail-in application.
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 email@example.com. Adequate notice is necessary.
What is your LLM application deadline?
February 1. 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 all completed materials 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 December. 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?
Applicants are welcome to reapply utilizing either the LSAC application website or by submitting application materials directly to the International Admissions office.
To learn more about applying to the LLM program for foreign law graduates visit this page.
How many credits does it take to complete the LLM degree?
The LLM requires a minimum of 24 credit hours in law. Students are welcome to take more than 24 law credits and also take courses in other departments and graduate schools at Duke. Candidates for the LLM degree normally complete the degree in one academic year but may extend their studies for one or two more semesters if they wish. Courses offered for the past few years by Duke Law School can be found here. Not all courses will be offered every year, and new courses are added frequently. The Law School’s preliminary course schedule for the fall semester is generally available at the end of April or in early May, with the full fall semester plus tentative spring semester offerings available by mid-July.
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?
As long as you have a plan to complete 24 credits in Law School courses, you also may take courses in other graduate departments and professional schools of Duke University. Cross-listed courses (courses listed both as a Law School and other department’s course) count toward satisfying the 24 credits in law requirement.
Can LLM students study remotely or part-time?
No. The LLM program at Duke University is intended to be a full-time residential program.
How do students select and register for courses?
Course selection is done during orientation. During orientation, faculty members provide information about courses. 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 during which students can make changes after attending their choice of courses. New students should therefore not worry about selection of courses before arriving at Duke. There will be ample time to seek advice during orientation. 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 seven professionals who are dedicated to assisting international students. The School’s goal is to provide an outstanding education in a supportive, congenial environment. This “open door” policy allows students easy access to staff members. The University’s International House is also available 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.
What about housing at Duke?
All Duke graduate students live off campus. Most of them choose to live in one of the many apartment complexes close to the campus that are rented primarily to Duke students. These apartments are spacious and have attractive amenities, and the rent amounts are usually less expensive than rents in larger cities. Most apartments are usually not furnished, but furniture can be rented or bought for a reasonable cost. Some students rent houses to share with roommates. Unless you intend to buy a car, you should choose housing close to Duke University and the Law School.
Do I need to have a car in Durham?
While some students find it desirable to have a car in order to explore more broadly, there is good bus service to campus for students living in areas relatively close to campus. Many apartments are within walking or bicycling distance of the Law School. Students who buy cars usually find inexpensive used cars (sometimes buying them directly from graduating students) or lease cars. In addition to free public and Duke-run bus transportation, taxis, Uber and Lyft operate in the area.
Is there good childcare in Durham?
Durham is a friendly place for children and families. Many of our LLM and JD students bring their young children with them to Durham and have been pleased with the local childcare and schools. You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with a current student with young children. For more information for students with families, please see here.
What is special about Duke’s location?
Duke’s campus is one of the most beautiful in the country, if not the world. It is close to the thriving city of Durham, with its high-tech start-ups and good restaurants, but also close to forests and open space. Durham itself is almost the mid-point of the U.S. East Coast, with an excellent airport that has non-stop flights to most major U.S. cities as well as London, Paris, and other international locations. It is a few hours’ drive to the Atlantic Ocean or the mountains. Duke students especially enjoy the campus and area’s excellent hiking trails, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, basketball courts and more. The quality of life is exceptional and the cost of living reasonable; the climate is moderate; and the area has more PhDs than almost any other part of the U.S. These are some of the reasons the Duke area is consistently considered one of the best places to live in the U.S., and why Duke LLM students tell us they truly enjoy their time at Duke. To learn more about Durham, click here.
Is it possible to work while studying at Duke?
In order to take full advantage of everything that the LLM degree offers, both academic and social, students are advised against undertaking significant work-related obligations. However, students with F-1 or J-1 visas may work up to 20 hours per week during regular semesters and up to 40 hours per week during semester breaks in campus-based positions Students interested in engaging in on-campus employment have typically worked as research or library assistants.
Does the Duke LLM allow me to sit for a U.S. Bar Exam?
The Duke LLM degree will allow you to sit for bar exams in a number of states, most notably New York but also California, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, and Washington, assuming your prior legal education and your course of study at Duke meet the requirements set forth by the Bar Examiners of that state. You can read about the specific requirements in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Most Duke LLM graduates who choose to take a bar exam in the United States sit for the New York Bar Exam.
I want to sit for the New York Bar Exam after my LLM from Duke. What should I do now?
Many Duke LLM graduates choose to take the New York Bar Exam. Duke's curriculum is specifically designed to allow you to take the New York Bar, assuming your previous legal education meets some basic requirements such as the appropriate length of time of study. These rules, which govern admission to practice rather than the eligibility to take the bar exam itself, require practical experience or practical legal education. For more information on the experiential requirement, please review the guidance from the New York Court of Appeals.
- Online Form: The first step in the application process is to establish eligibility. Students must complete the online Foreign Evaluation Form, a critical component of the New York bar application, as soon as possible. This form is free and can be completed online in less than an hour. After you have completed the form, you should begin collecting the supporting documentation necessary to substantiate the information in the form.
- Supporting Documentation: Please note that for students needing the LLM degree to qualify to sit for the bar exam, the New York Board of Law Examiners (“NYBOLE”) requires that all supporting documentation be submitted no later than six months prior to the first date of the application period of the examination you plan to take. For students planning to take the July administration, all necessary documents must be received by NYBOLE no later than October 1. We strongly suggest that you submit your documents well before that date, however, because it takes the NYBOLE between 3-6 weeks to notify applicants of any missing documents.
- 50-Hour Pro Bono Requirement: All LLM students will have to certify completion of 50 hours of qualifying pro bono legal service before applying for admission to practice. More information about this requirement can be found from the NY Court of Appeals Bar Admission Requirements website. Duke Law School is committed to helping LLM students find opportunities to fulfill the 50-hour requirement prior to admission to the New York State Bar. Many LLM students participate in pro bono opportunities throughout the academic year, as well as during Fall and Spring breaks. Students will receive additional information about fulfilling the pro bono requirement upon arrival at Duke Law School.
- Uniform Bar Exam: New York has adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). To learn about the UBE and its New York supplement, the New York Law Exam (which is administered separately and can be taken online either before or after the UBE), please see here.
- Course requirements: See here for courses meeting the New York Bar requirements. Students will be counseled by International Studies Staff during orientation about specific course requirements.
What is required for eligibility for the California Bar exam after my LLM from Duke?
There are two different pathways for foreign-educated LLM students to become eligible to sit for the California Bar Exam.
Practicing Attorneys: The first pathway is only available to students who are already practicing lawyers in their home country. These students are qualified to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education. The student will need to obtain a certificate of good standing from their home country jurisdiction. Additionally, students who were born in another country or do not otherwise qualify for a U.S. Social Security number, must request a U.S. Social Security number exemption during the online registration application process.
Non-practicing Attorneys: If the student is not admitted in their home jurisdiction, the student must first complete a year of legal education in the U.S. at an ABA-accredited law school for a minimum of 20 credits to be eligible to sit for the CA bar exam. The 20 credits must include at least one course in four separate subjects tested on the CA bar exam for no less than a total of 12 credit hours. One of the four courses must be a course on Professional Responsibility. Students with a qualifying first degree in law seeking to sit for the CA bar examination must:
- Complete the Registration as a Foreign-Educated General Applicant Not Admitted to the Practice of Law in Any United States or Foreign Jurisdiction Form with the required registration fee; and
- Submit an evaluated law degree equivalency report and Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the CA Bar Examiners. A list of Credential Evaluation Services approved by the CA Bar Examiners is provided for your convenience.
For more detailed information, please review requirements for Applying to the CA Bar as a Foreign-Educated Applicant.
Does Duke Law School offer externships for LLM students?
Duke Law School is pleased to offer LLM students an opportunity to experience lawyering in the “real world” by placing students directly in attorneys’ offices in government, non-profit/NGOs, the judiciary, and occasionally in-house at companies. During the second semester of the LLM, students are eligible to participate in these integrated internships, which require concurrent enrollment in a course covering the subject matter related to the work being performed at the host organization. For example, if you are working in a tech start-up and dealing with IP issues, you would need to take an IP course that is thematically similar to the legal issues you will encounter in your work placement. Students will receive more information about applying for and securing externships upon arrival at Duke Law School.
Can I work in the United States after finishing my law degree at Duke?
Students with F-1 or J-1 visas may stay in the United States for optional practical or academic training after receiving their degree. 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 (CPDC) 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.