Frequently Asked Questions
A successful candidate should have:
- 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.
- A minimum of approximately 5 years of work experience after earning the first law degree.
- A stellar academic record evidence by graduation with honors from all post-secondary education institutions.
- Minimum scores on the TOEFL as follows: TOEFL iBT - 105 overall score, with a minimum of 26 on Reading and Listening and 24 on the Speaking and Writing sections.
- Applicants who completed their first degree in law at a school where the language of instruction was entirely in English in an English-speaking country may be eligible for an exemption from taking the TOEFL exam.
For more information on eligibility and standards please see our Eligibility and Admission Standards page.
As a general matter, applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. If you apply for early decision by October 1, 2019, you will receive a decision by November 1, 2019. Applications submitted after the Early Decision deadline, but prior to the Regular Decision deadline of December 18, 2019, will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Typically, the Admissions Committee begins rolling out decisions in December and continues to release decisions until the end of January.
We send all admission decisions by email. Offers of admission are sent in writing also, via courier. Please make sure that you provide us with a valid email address and a physical address for the courier delivery (we do not deliver admission materials to post office boxes), and that you update that information as necessary. Many companies have put up firewalls and email messages get returned to us. Therefore, we recommend that you use a personal email account (such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo) or speak with your employer’s IT department to make sure that messages from Columbia Law School will not be blocked. All decisions are emailed from ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu.
We take into consideration all elements of an application when making a decision on an application, and there is not one individual aspect that is more important than the others. Typically, decisions are based on review of the file as a whole, considering the applicant’s academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, professional experience and goals, and the personal statement.
Applicants are welcome to visit the Law School and our office. Please make an appointment and we will be happy to meet you and informally answer your questions, and will give you a brochure so that you can take a self-guided tour of the Law School. Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications we receive every year, we are unable to interview prospective students. For more information, please see the Visit Us section of our website.
With the exception of applications from Fulbright or other scholarship organizations, we do not accept applications submitted by third-party educational advisors or consultants. Such applications do not in any way enhance your chances for admission to the Executive LL.M. at Columbia Law School. In fact, unless they are submitted through Fulbright or another scholarship organization, they may hinder your chances or render your application incomplete, as we have no way of verifying that the application is indeed your work. We will not report on an applicant’s status to anyone other than the applicant.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the Executive LL.M. Office to speak with individual applicants about their applications. In the rare case the Admissions Committee feels more information is needed beyond what is included in your application, we will contact you directly.
Unfortunately, no. Because of the high volume of applications we receive, it is not logistically possible for us to provide feedback on individual applications. Admission to our program is very competitive. In general, when we deny admission to an applicant, we cannot point to one specific factor which led to the decision. Typically, the Admissions Committee bases its decisions on a review of the file as a whole, considering the applicant’s academic and professional credentials, English language skills, letters of recommendation, professional experience and goals, and the personal statement.
To be awarded the LL.M. degree, Executive LL.M. candidates are required to earn 24 points of academic credit.
Columbia Law School does not accept transfer credits for the Executive LL.M. Program, including credits earned in any other degree or non-degree program at Columbia.
Executive LL.M. students may not transfer into Columbia Law School's J.D. program.
If you intend to apply to both the full-year LL.M. and Executive LL.M. Program, please contact us at ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu.
Applying to both programs does not affect your ability to be admitted to either. Decisions are made independently by different offices. Therefore, you may receive one admission decision before the other.
If you are admitted to both programs, you must choose one as enrollment in both is not possible. Typically, the nonrefundable tuition deposit for the Executive LL.M. will be due earlier than the deposit for the full-year LL.M. since the Executive LL.M. Program begins earlier. If you pay the deposit for the Executive LL.M. Program, then your application to the full-year LL.M. will be withdrawn.
Application Procedures and Instructions
The application for the 2020 Executive LL.M. Program is now open.
Applications for admission to our 2020 Executive LL.M. Program and all supporting documents must be submitted through LSAC. Please familiarize yourself with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). We do not accept supporting documents by mail or email.
For additional information on applying for the Executive LL.M. Program, please visit the Admissions Process page of our website.
The $85 application fee is rarely waived, and only waived in extenuating circumstances. If you would like to request an application fee waiver, send a detailed email to ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu outlining your reasons for requesting the waiver.
The minimum score for the TOEFL iBT is: 105 overall score, with 26 on Reading and Listening and 24 on the Speaking and Writing sections.
You must take the TOEFL test by December 18, 2019. We recognize that score reports will not arrive by that date, but all applicants should take the exam no later than December 18. Applicants should therefore schedule their exams as early as possible.
While we cannot guarantee that it will be considered with the rest of your application, all TOEFL scores sent to LSAC will be included with your application and will be available for review by the Admissions Committee. However, we will not hold your application while awaiting your new scores.
Your most recent TOEFL score must be from no more than two years before the application deadline. For the 2020 Executive LL.M. Program, you must have taken the TOEFL no earlier than December 18, 2017.
Yes. You are exempt from taking the TOEFL exam if you completed your first degree in law at a school where the language of instruction was entirely in English in an English-speaking country.
Yes. In order to be exempt from taking the TOEFL exam, you must have completed your first degree in law at a school where the language of instruction was entirely in English in an English-speaking country.
No. All applicants who have not completed their first degree in law entirely in English in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Visit www.toefl.org for more information. IELTS or other English proficiency exams are not accepted.
Letters of Recommendation
No. All letters must be submitted through LSAC's Credential Assembly Service.
Please confirm the process of submitting your letters of recommendation with your recommenders. All letters that are mistakenly sent directly to the Executive LL.M. Office rather than to LSAC will be discarded.
Letters should be addressed to the Executive LL.M. Office.
We urge you to submit only two letters of recommendation. Part of compiling a strong application for admission is determining which two recommenders are best able to evaluate your ability to pursue and succeed in the Executive LL.M. program. In very rare circumstances, applicants may feel they have a compelling reason to submit an additional letter of recommendation. If you feel you fall into this category and would like to submit a third letter, your reasons should be obvious to the Admissions Committee and you should give a detailed explanation in the "Recommenders" section of the online application. Nevertheless, your application will be considered complete once two letters have been submitted to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service.
We require two original letters of recommendation. The two required letters should come from academic or work associates; personal/friend references are not permitted.
- Students who have received a degree in the past five years are required to provide at least one academic reference.
- Students out of school for more than five years are encouraged to provide one academic reference if they deem it in their best interest. Otherwise, letters should come from professional associates.
- Your recommenders must submit their letters of recommendation directly to LSAC. They may do so either electronically via LSAC’s Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs) or by mail to LSAC.
- Recommenders should be encouraged to include in their letters: their relationship to the applicant; the duration of their relationship; and as many specifics regarding their experience as possible (for example, a former instructor might name the course that the applicant took with him/her, the applicant’s performance in the class, ranking of the applicant against other students taught, etc.).
- The email address for each recommender should be a professional email address (e.g., with an “.edu” extension or company-related domain). If such an email address is not possible, the student must provide an explanation and seek permission from Columbia to utilize a non-professional email address for the reference.
Your recommenders must submit their letters of recommendation directly to LSAC. They may do so either electronically via LSAC’s Electronic Recommendation system (also called E-LORs) or by mail to LSAC. If your recommender uses the E-LOR system, be sure they include a work e-mail address and contact information in their letter, so we can contact them if we have any questions about the letter or to verify the authenticity of the letter. If your recommender sends the letter by mail, it must be written on official letterhead and addressed to the Executive LL.M. Office. If your recommender is unable to print the letter on official letterhead, ask her to include an explanation as to why she is unable to do so.
In the “Recommenders” section of the Columbia Law School online Executive LL.M. Application, you must also include a work email address for each recommender so we can contact her/him should we have questions about the letter or your candidacy (please note that we cannot accept generic email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail addresses for recommenders. If you submit a generic email address, we will request that you submit an official work email address before the Committee will review your application. If your recommender does not have an official work email address, you must explain on the online application why s/he does not have one). If your recommenders cannot write in English, please submit certified translations together with the original letters. We reserve the right to disqualify letters written or translated, in part or whole, by the applicant.
You should have all documents, including transcripts, submitted to LSAC by December 18th.
You need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary education completed, whether or not you earned a degree at a particular school. This rule applies even if the M.A. or B.A. program was not related to law.
Yes, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework, whether or not you completed the program or earned a degree.
Yes, unless the grades are noted on your regular law school transcript, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary education completed, whether or not you earned a degree at a particular school.
Yes, you need to submit transcripts for all post-secondary coursework undertaken, even if it is just one course.
No. If your school provides one, however, you can submit it with your transcripts.
Yes, we require the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service in addition to the basic CAS service.
No. If your institution does not provide official English translations, you must have the documents translated by an official, certified translator. We do not accept translations completed by the applicant.
Yes, we require official translations. Any time LSAC's rules differ from ours, you should default to our requirements. If your institution does not provide official English translations, you must have the documents translated by an official, certified translator. We do not accept translations completed by the applicant.
Executive LL.M. Program—General Questions
We expect that students will continue with their regular work obligations during the on-line portions of the program. The Summer Residency, however, is an intensive period and Executive LL.M. students should not accept or continue off-campus employment during this time.
You should expect to spend between 20-25 hours per week on coursework in addition to the live lectures.
Yes, you are absolutely welcome to visit Columbia Law School! Applicants and prospective students are welcome to visit Columbia Law School and the Executive LL.M. Office during regular office hours, generally, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please contact the Executive LL.M. office at ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu for an appointment. For more information, check out the Visit Us page of our website.
There are a number of housing options for students during the Summer Residency, including on-campus housing, campus housing sublets, off-campus sublets, and short-term corporate rentals. Please see our Housing page for more information.
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) administers immigration services for all international students. You can obtain general information on immigration procedures and requirements by visiting their website. We will provide additional information on the visa application to admitted students in the spring.