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Columbia Law School Admission Process

by Chetna Vasishth

Columbia Law School is one of the most reputed and oldest institutions of learning in America. It is an ivy league and has illustrious alumni. It is consistently ranked as the top 4 law schools in the world by law school rankings.

  1. Who is eligible to apply for admission to the LLM program at the Law School?


  1. To be eligible for admission to the LL.M. Program, applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master’s degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree by correspondence course work or distance learning are not eligible for admission. As the LL.M. is a full-time program of study, students are not permitted to accept off-campus employment while enrolled in the program.


  1. M. candidates are required to earn 24 points of academic credit and complete an LL.M. Writing Project. While LL.M. candidates are not required to submit a thesis, they can write up to eight points of independent research toward the 24 points required for the degree—sufficient to produce publishable work if they are so inclined. Moreover, they can earn up to six points of academic credit toward the degree in graduate courses taken in other faculties of the university.

Applications for admission and all supporting documents have to be submitted through LSAC.  The LSAC Credential Assembly Service is required by the law school. The Law School does not require but prefers the International Authentication and Evaluation service to be purchased.


  1. What is the selection process for the LLM program at the Law School?

      Personal Statement

  • The Personal Statement should describe the applicant’s background, academic interests, the program of study that they wish to follow and the reasons to do so.
  • The format of the statement should not exceed three double-spaced pages using a 12-point font with standard margins.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae will not be accepted in place of the statement.
  • The personal statement must be prepared without assistance from others.

     Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

  • You must submit a résumé or curriculum vitae for consideration as part of your application.

    Transcripts and Diplomas

  • The applicant’s must submit an official transcript and, where applicable, a diploma or proof of degree from all postsecondary (university level) institutions who have attended, whether or not you earned a degree.
  • If you are in school at the time you submit your application, submit the applicant’s most recent transcript, and send an updated one to LSAC once your grades are available.
  • If the applicants are not able to submit original documents to LSAC, the applicant may submit certified copies.
  • If the originals are not in English, the applicants must submit an official, certified translation of each document. 

Statement of Rank

  • If the applicant’s official transcripts for the first law degree does not include his or her class rank, he or she must include a separate statement of rank issued by the University.
  • If the University does not provide official class rankings, the applicant must include a statement from their university that students are not provided an official class rank upon graduation.
  • One of the two statements should be sent to LSAC and included in your official CAS report.
  • If the University refuses to issue a statement that they do not rank candidates, the applicant must contact the Office of Graduate Legal Studies by email gls@law.columbia.edu prior to submitting your application.

Letters of Recommendation

  • The law school requires two original letters of recommendation from the applicant’s law school professors, employers, supervisors, or other persons qualified to appraise your academic potential for graduate legal studies. The law school does not encourage submission of more than two letters. Part of compiling a strong application for admission is determining which two recommenders are best able to evaluate the applicants ability to pursue and succeed in graduate legal studies. In very rare circumstances, applicants may feel they have a compelling reason to submit an additional letter of recommendation. If the applicants feel they fall into this category and would like to submit a third letter, the reasons should be obvious to the Admissions Committee and you the applicants must give a detailed explanation in the “Recommenders” section of this application. Nevertheless, the applicants application will be considered complete once two letters have been submitted.
  • One letter should come from a law school professor and one letter should come from a work supervisor.
  • Letters from family friends and letters from prominent persons who have not taught you or supervised your work are not helpful.
  • The letters of recommendation must be submitted by the recommenders directly to LSAC. This may be done electronically via LSAC’s new Electronic Recommendation System (also called E-LOR’s) or by mail to LSAC.

English Language Test Scores

  • All applicants except those who have completed their first law degree entirely in English in an English-speaking country have to submit a TOEFL score.
  • An IELTS score will not be accepted in place of a TOEFL score.
  • The required TOEFL scores are:
  • TOEFL Internet Based Test: Minimum 105 overall score. The minimum sub-section score of 26 on Reading and Listening and 24 on Speaking and Writing.
  • The TOEFL Paper Based Test: Minimum 620 overall score. Minimum sub-section score of 59-60 on the Structure/Writing and Reading Section. Minimum sub section score of 60-61 on Listening section. A minimum score of 5.0 on TWE.
  • If the scores fall below the minimum requirement then chances of admission could be adversely impacted even if other factors in an applicants application are strong.
  • If the applicants applying for an early review process, the scores must be in the Credential Assembly Service Report by November 1, 2016.
  • TOEFL scores are valid for a two-year period. You must have taken the test on or after December 15, 2014.
  • The law school does not accept scores sent directly to them by ETS. The scores must be submitted through LSAC.
  • TOEFL waivers are rarely granted. If the applicant wants to request a TOEFL waiver he must submit the request before December 15, 2016. Waiver requests submitted after this date will not be considered. The waiver request must be sent in writing by email to the office of graduate legal studies. It should include a description of why the applicant thinks he qualifies for a waiver. The waiver is granted at the sole discretion of the office of graduate legal studies. Applicants who get a waiver must attach it with the application through LSAC. If you have taken the TOEFL before you must include the scores.


  • Application for Financial Assistance (optional)
  • M. applicants who wish to be considered for financial assistance from Columbia Law School must complete the Financial Aid section of this application. All applicants who complete this section will be automatically considered for award of all funds for which they are eligible.
  • Because our financial aid funds are limited, applicants who will require financial assistance to attend Columbia Law School should also seek assistance from other sources, as we cannot guarantee an award. Awards are generally in the form of partial waivers of tuition and, in some cases, loans. Full waivers of tuition are almost never granted.
  • If you are applying for Columbia Law School’s Appel Fellowship, Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship, or Human Rights Fellowship, you must complete the Financial Aid section.
  • If you do not submit an application for financial assistance with your application for admission, you will not be considered for financial aid, even if you request it after the application deadline. If you think you may need financial assistance, you must complete the Financial Aid section of this application. If you later decide you do not need financial assistance, you may withdraw your financial aid application by sending an email to gls@law.columbia.edu.
  • It is your obligation to notify the Office of Graduate Legal Studies should other funds become available to you within seven (7) days of learning of such an award. Since Columbia Law School offers financial assistance mostly on the basis of need, the Law School reserves the right to reduce the amount of any financial assistance it has awarded if other funds become available to you.


  1. What is the total estimated financial expenditure to pursue the LLM program at the Law school?


Tuition and Fees


Tuition                                                                                                          $63048

Student Activity Fee                                                                                     $270

University Facilities Fee                                                                               $922

Health Service Fee                                                                                        $1020

Total Tuition and Mandatory Fees                                                               $65,260


Student Health Insurance (Gold Level)                                                        $2862

Document Fee (one-time fee for new Columbia University Students)        $105

Total University Charges                                                                             $68,227



Living Costs for the Nine-Month Academic Year


Room                                                                                                            $12538

Board                                                                                                            $5200

Personal                                                                                                        $4000

Total Living Costs                                                                                        $21738

Books & Supplies                                                                                         $1575

Total Academic Year Budget                                                                       $91,540


Additional Charges

International Services Fee: $140 per academic year (for all students holding a nonresident student visa)

Platinum Level Health Insurance Plan: $4,164 for the 12-month calendar year, including summer 2017 (this plan is for students who opt to obtain comprehensive health insurance coverage instead of the basic health insurance coverage required for all enrolled students).

The estimated room expenses anticipate a budget for rent/utilities of $1,393/month for a single student.

  1. What are the important dates to take note of while applying for the LLM program at the Law School?

September 15,                                        Admission Applications Open

November 1,                                           Early Review Application Deadline

December 15,                                          Regular Admissions Application


Financial Aid Application Deadline

Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship

Human Rights Fellowship


  1. If I have any questions about the application whom do I get in touch with?


      Office of Graduate Legal Studies

Office Location

1125 Amsterdam Avenue

(corner of 115th St.)

Room 601 (6th Floor)


      Mailing Address

Office of Graduate Legal Studies

Columbia Law School

435 West 116th Street

Mail Code 4036

New York, N.Y. 10027-7297








  1. What is the website where the details about the Law School admissions for the LLM programme are listed?




LLM Web Pages



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