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What is SILLC?

SILLC (Summer Institute on Law, Language & Culture) is a 3.5 week preparatory course for students interested in getting a “preview” of the LLM experience in the United States. The program provides participants with a “head start” on common law doctrines, U.S. legal writing, legal English, and the U.S. legal system. Through lectures, visits to local courts and law firms, and small group practice, students learn important skills such as briefing a case, structuring a legal argument, and learning how to use proper citation. Because of its small size (approximately 30 students), SILLC also provides an excellent opportunity for students to get to know each other well, create lifelong friendships, and expand their professional network.

Who is SILLC for?

SILLC is a preparatory course for students pursuing law degrees outside the United States, practicing lawyers, or legal scholars seeking an introduction to U.S. law and legal education. It is especially useful for those who wish to attend a law school in the United States to pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) degree. Therefore, Institute participants are generally practicing attorneys, judges or prosecutors with law degrees obtained outside the U.S.

This course is generally not a good fit for high school and college students considering pursuing a J.D. degree. Applicants who fall into this latter category should instead consider Duke Law School’s Summer Institute on Law and Policy.

I am an incoming Duke Law LLM. Must I apply to SILLC or am I automatically enrolled?

Unless otherwise noted in your admision email from Duke Law, incoming LLM students must separately apply to the SILLC program.

I am a U.S. citizen. Can I apply to SILLC?

Yes. Your citizenship status is irrelevant. What matters is your legal education to date – SILLC is best suited for law students and attorneys whose primary law degree was obtained outside the United States. If you are unsure whether you would qualify for SILLC, please contact Isik Cotten at and make sure to submit your CV or U.S.-style resume as part of your inquiry.

I have a U.S. law degree. Is SILLC a good fit for me?

Since SILLC is specifically designed to help students to prepare for a successful U.S. law school experience or other U.S. legal endeavors and assist them to improve their legal English, it may not be a suitable program for you. Instead, you may wish to explore the other excellent summer institutes offered by Duke Law School, i.e. Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law or the Summer Institute on Law and Policy, which may be a better fit. You are also welcome to send your resume to for a preliminary review, if you are considering applying to SILLC, but are not sure if it is the best option for you.

Will I get academic credit for SILLC?

SILLC is not a credit- or degree-bearing program; participants receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

What is the admission criteria?

SILLC requires a baseline competency in English, a solid academic record, and a commitment to completing all parts of the program. All applications are reviewed holistically, and we encourage all interested applicants to apply.

Do I need a minimum TOEFL/IELTS?

While there are no specific requirements for English language proficiency to be eligible for SILLC, applicants are asked to provide either their TOEFL or IELTS score or a short description of their English language experience/education on the application form.

Upon admission to the program, however, you will be asked to provide your TOEFL or IELTS score as a requirement of your U.S. visa application process.

Can I apply for a scholarship or request a discount on tuition fee?

At this time we are not able to offer scholarships or tuition discounts to SILLC participants.

Will I get a refund if I decide not to attend SILLC after paying my fees?

Please refer to the SILLC Refund Policy here.

What kind of U.S. visa do I need to attend SILLC?

  • Duke Law LLMs: If you have been admitted to Duke Law School and will matriculate in the LLM program after SILLC, your F-1 or J-1 international student visa will also cover the period of SILLC.
  • Duke Law visiting scholars: If you are coming to Duke Law School as a visiting scholar, you will need to apply for a J-1 research visa, which is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals to participate in work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs in the U.S.
  • Non-Duke participants: If you are not affiliated with Duke, you will join SILLC as a visiting scholar and therefore need to obtain a short-term J-1 visa.  If you will start an LLM program at another U.S. law school immediately following SILLC, you may be able to use your international student visa from the law school where you will attend the LLM program.  Please contact us at for more information.

Will Duke help me with the visa application process?

Yes. The University Visa Services office will assist you with your F-1 or J-1 U.S. visa application. See above for different visa types for different categories of SILLC participants.

Am I required to get health insurance for the duration of SILLC?

Yes. Information about health insurance requirements will be provided to participants as part of the admission process.

Is housing provided?

No. Students must make their own housing arrangements, but participants will be provided with a number of resources about housing options in Durham to assist them with their search.

Can I complete SILLC online?

No. SILLC is a 100% in-person program that takes place on Duke University’s campus in Durham, North Carolina, U.S.

When are classes held? What should I expect in terms of time commitment?

The classes are from Monday through Friday, usually from 9:00 am to early afternoon. In addition to lectures and tutorials, the program also includes small group discussions, field trips to local courts and law firms, as well as various extracurricular activities.

Can I see the course schedule?

A detailed syllabus is made available to institute participants at the beginning of the program. If you would like to see a sample course schedule, you are welcome to send an email to


For more information, please contact:

Ms. Isik Cotten
Summer Institute on Law, Language, & Culture
Duke University School of Law
210 Science Drive
Box 90365
Durham, NC 27708-0365 USA
Telephone: 919.613.7130
Fax: 919.681.6550