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How Do I Earn an LL.M. in International Law?

By Renee Booker
Updated May 17, 2024
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The requirements for practicing law differ from one country to the next. In most countries, a student must first complete a law school curriculum and then pass a test in order to be licensed to practice law. For students who wish to continue their education, or gain additional knowledge in an area of specialty within the law, the LL.M., or Masters of Law, is an internationally recognized option. In order to earn an LL.M. in international law, a student must first obtain a juris doctorate degree, become licensed to practice law, and then complete an additional year of studies culminating in an LL.M. in international law.

While many degree programs are specific to a particular country, the LL.M. is a degree that is quite similar throughout the world. LL.M. programs are offered in hundreds of countries throughout the world, from South Africa to Chile, and from the United States to China. In addition, the requirements for acceptance into an LL.M. program as well as the requirements for completion of an LL.M. degree are virtually the same throughout the world.

A candidate for an LL.M. in international law must first obtain a law degree. Clearly, many students who seek an LL.M. in international law plan to work in foreign countries and may even apply to an LL.M. program outside of his or her country of origin. Because of this, most LL.M. programs have a committee that evaluates applications from foreign students to assure that they meet the law degree requirement. As a rule, the student must have completed the required education in his or her country of origin, not necessarily the equivalent in the country of application.

A potential LL.M. student must also be a licensed attorney. Again, the licensing requirement applies to the country of origin, not the country of application. For example, if a student from Spain wishes to complete an LL.M. in international law program at a law school in the United States, he or she must have completed law school in Spain and be licensed to practice law in Spain. Fluency in the language of the country where the student plans to attend school is also essential and will typically be tested prior to acceptance into the program.

Not all law schools offer an LL.M. in international law. The LL.M. is an opportunity to specialize in a specific area of the law beyond what the student learned in law school. If international law is the intended area of specialty, then the student should find a law school that offers an LL.M. with a focus on international law. A student will spend the equivalent of one year in an LL.M. program before being conferred an LL.M. in international law degree.

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