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 JD program, a one-year LLM program, and a JSD program for graduates of a US LLM 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 JD program usually has a small number of international students each year out of about 185-195 students in each class. Many of our international students have typically earned a bachelor's degree at a college or university in the US before coming to the Law School, and they plan to remain here after receiving their JD 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 JD program must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), unless you have earned your LLM 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 common law countries) or an LLM degree from another U.S. law school may apply to the JD 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 JD 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 JD program must obtain the JD application materials electronically through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Flexible Application.
The LLM program has about 75 international students each year. The basic qualifications for admission to the LL.M. Program are described here. 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). Read more about the LLM Program and application process.
Foreign trained lawyers who wish to remain in the United States and practice law here are advised to obtain the JD degree rather than the LLM degree. The JD 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 US LLM 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 US law.
The Law School offers a program for graduates of United States LLM and JD programs who wish to write a dissertation supervised by a member of the faculty. Read a full description of the JSD Program and application process.
To qualify for admission to the JSD 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 must spend two years in residence at the Law School but may work on their dissertations in Chicago or anywhere else in the world after that. 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 LLM program. Read a detailed description of the English language requirements for applicants to the Law School's JD Program (please scroll to the middle of the page) or the English language requirements for the LLM Program.
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 $64,089 for the 2018-2019 academic year. The tuition figure for 2019-2020 will be announced in April 2019.
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.