Information for International Students
Each year the Law School receives a number of inquiries from prospective international students regarding opportunities at the Law School. The Law School offers a three-year J.D. program, a one-year LL.M. program, and a J.S.D. program for graduates of a U.S. LL.M. program who wish to write a dissertation supervised by a member of our faculty. The following information is a brief description of our programs.
Our J.D. program usually has a small number of international students each year out of about 185-190 students in each class. Many of our international students have typically earned a bachelor's degree at a college or university in the U.S. before coming to the Law School, and they plan to remain here after receiving their J.D. degree. Occasionally, we receive inquiries from international applicants who did not receive a degree or have not completed the educational requirements for graduate or undergraduate degrees in their own countries. The Law School will, in exceptional cases, consider applications from applicants who finished 75% of the course work leading to a final degree from a university or college in their own country. In recent years, however, no international applicant who did not have a final degree prior to applying to the Law School has been admitted to the student body.
All applicants for the J.D. program must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), unless you haved earned your LL.M. degree from the University of Chicago Law School and are applying as a transfer student with advanced standing. International applicants who have already obtained an undergraduate law degree (one which would enable them to apply for admission to the bar in their own countries) in a common law country may apply to the J.D. program as a transfer student and request one year advance standing. Applicants requesting one year advanced standing must apply to the J.D. program through our transfer application process (instead of the regular J.D. application process) along with students who have completed the first year in another law school in the U.S. The transfer application process takes place in the spring and summer. All candidates interested in the J.D. program must obtain the J.D. application materials electronically through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Flexible Application.
The LL.M. program has about 70 international students each year. All students in this program must have already obtained a basic law degree in their own countries before they can enter the LL.M. program. Students in this program must take a minimum of nine courses (27 credit hours) over three quarters (the normal academic year of three quarters runs from late September to early June). Most international applicants for the LL.M. program must take the TOEFL or IELTS as part of the admissions process (see below). The LL.M. application process is described here.
Foreign trained lawyers who wish to remain in the United States and practice law here are advised to obtain the J.D. degree rather than the LL.M. degree. The J.D. degree will enable candidates to take the bar examination in every state while the LL.M. degree may qualify them only to take the bar exam in a few states. In addition, foreign trained lawyers with only a U.S. LL.M. degree who are looking for long term career positions will be at a disadvantage in competing for employment with J.D. graduates who have more extensive training in U.S. law.
The Law School offers a program for graduates of our United States LL.M. and J.D. programs who wish to write a dissertation supervised by a member of the faculty. A full description of the J.S.D. Program and application process is available here.
To qualify for admission to the J.S.D program, candidates must ordinarily have maintained a strong academic record in their LL.M. coursework, must identify one or more faculty members who could supervise a dissertation, and must submit a dissertation proposal that in the opinion of the Graduate Studies Committee promises to result in a creditable contribution to legal scholarship. Once students have been admitted to the J.S.D. program, they may work on their dissertations in Chicago or anywhere else in the world. They are expected to keep in close contact with their faculty sponsors. The J.S.D. degree will be awarded to students who have submitted a dissertation that is accepted by the faculty within five years of the start of the program.
There are different language requirements for applicants to the J.D. program and applicants to the LL.M. program. For a detailed description of the English language requirements for applicants to the Law School's J.D. Program, please click here (scroll to the middle of the page). The English language requirements for the LL.M. Program are described here (scroll to middle of the page).
Financial assistance in the form of scholarship grants is available to international students, but the University does not have a loan program for students who are not United States citizens. Eligible non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents may be able to receive loans through alternative loan programs. Since scholarship resources are limited, international students, whether in the J.D. or LL.M. programs, should understand that they will be expected in most cases to provide for their own living expenses and a substantial portion of the Law School's tuition expense which is $56,916 for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Bar Exam Eligibility
International students who wish to practice law in this country and qualify for admission to the bar in one of the states or the District of Columbia should familiarize themselves with the bar admission requirements in the particular jurisdiction where they plan to practice. Bar admission requirements will vary from state to state. Some states will require applicants to have a J.D. degree, and others will require only a certain number of course credits from a law school in this country.
The Law School does not have positions for visiting scholars or researchers. Access to our classes and full use of our library, housing, and other campus facilities is only available to students enrolled in one of our degree programs. Visiting lawyers, however, are permitted to use the print collection of the Law School Library and have some limited access to electronic bibliographic sources for reasonable periods of time. This library access does not include use of computing equipment or the assignment to private offices or carrels. Visiting lawyers should make their own arrangements for visas, insurance, and housing. The Law School does not offer a summer program, a part-time program, or correspondence courses.