LL.M. and S.J.D. Application Instructions
Virginia's LL.M. program is a full-time master of laws program that students complete in residence in one year (two semesters). The Law School does not predetermine the curriculum; rather, LL.M. students can pursue their own interests in legal study. Students are required to take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester and successfully complete at least 24 hours to be awarded the degree. Almost all classes offered at Virginia are open to LL.M. students.
Applicants must have received the academic degree regarded as their countries' first professional degree in law (equivalent to the U.S. juris doctor degree). LSAC maintains a chart of the minimum degree requirements by country that lists criteria for eligibility for admission to our LL.M. program. If either your degree or your country of study is not listed in the chart, please contact the Graduate Studies Office regarding your eligibility to apply to our LL.M. program based on your legal education. Note that the chart includes only minimum requirements, and that applicants are expected to include information on all postsecondary education, including any academic work completed prior to or after the minimum degree listed.
How Applications Are Reviewed
Each year, the Graduate Program receives hundreds of applications for the 40-50 spaces in the LL.M. class. The admissions process is highly competitive and the Graduate Committee must, unfortunately, disappoint many qualified applicants. Although demonstrated excellence in prior law study is essential, the committee also considers other evidence of applicants' personality, accomplishments and potential for professional achievement as revealed through letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, personal interests and prior legal or law-related experience. The principal criterion for admission, however, is the closeness of the fit between the applicants' professional interests and the Law School's resources. Accordingly, the committee places special weight on applicants' stated reasons for wanting to pursue graduate legal studies, and their principal intellectual interests and career plans.
Applicants must submit the following materials in support of their application:
1. Application Form
Applicants are required to complete and submit an electronic application with required attachments through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website. Most scholarship assistance provided by the Graduate Studies Program is awarded on a combined basis of academic merit and need. Admissions decisions are made independently from any request for financial assistance. If you are unable to access the LSAC link, please contact LSAC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants should carefully outline and discuss their reasons for pursuing graduate work, including a statement of future professional plans. Applicants should also describe their principal areas of academic interest, with as much specificity as possible.
Applicants should submit an application form, including a personal statement, resume, and information on career plans and academic areas of interest; English language test score(s); application fee; letters of recommendation; and transcripts using LSAC. In addition to the LL.M. Document Assembly Service, international applicants must register for the LSAC International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation service.
2. Official Transcripts and Document Assembly Service
Applicants must submit transcripts and proof of degree documents from all prior colleges, law schools, exchange programs or graduate schools attended, even if the applicant did not graduate from that institution. In addition to the LL.M. Document Assembly Service, internationally educated applicants must register for the LSAC International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation service.
3. LSAC LL.M. Document Assembly Service
Applicants must register with the LSAC Document Assembly Service. In addition to the LL.M. Document Assembly Service, internationally educated applicants must register for the LSAC International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation service. Do not send your academic transcripts directly to the Office of Graduate Studies. For more information about the Document Assembly Service or the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service, please review the LSAC website.
4. Letters of Recommendation
The Law School requires applicants to submit letters through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation service. This service is included with your LL.M. CAS subscription. Letters submitted through LSAC are sent to us along with your CAS law school report and can be read online immediately. Updated reports are sent immediately if letters are received after your initial CAS law school report has been sent. To use this service, follow the instructions on the LSAC website.
The Law School requires at least two, but no more than four, letters from people who know the applicant well and are in a position to evaluate his or her capacity for advanced legal study. Current students or recent graduates should submit letters from two law school professors. Applicants who have completed their law degree more than five years ago should solicit a letter from a current or former employer in addition to one from a former teacher. The committee recognizes that a letter from a former teacher may not be practical in the case of an applicant who has been out of school for some time, in which case the second letter may be from an employer or colleague who is in a position to comment upon the candidate's qualifications. Letters from family members, friends or people who are not well acquainted with the applicant's legal capacity are not helpful and should not be submitted.
If a recommender is unable to write the letter of recommendation on letterhead, please ask him/her to explain why. Unless otherwise specified by LSAC, we do not accept emailed recommendations, except from Virginia alumni.
4. Application Fee
All applicants are required to pay their application fee using a credit card through the LSAC secure server. Follow the instructions on the LSAC website.
Competency in English is critical to success in the graduate law programs at the University of Virginia, and demonstrated fluency in English is an important consideration in evaluating applications.
International applicants who do not meet the very limited exceptions listed below are required to demonstrate proficiency in English by completing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS within two years prior to submitting the application. This is true regardless of the number of years of instruction in English the applicant may have had or if English is the “official” language of the applicant’s home country. Students who have studied in English (in Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, African countries, etc.) are not exempt from the TOEFL requirement. The only exceptions are applicants for whom English is the native language (those from Australia, the English-speaking provinces of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or applicants from South Africa who attended English-medium universities). If applicants do not fall under one of these limited exceptions, they should not assume for any reason that they are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Instead, they should contact the Graduate Studies Office early in the admissions season, before they apply, to discuss the issue. Domestic applicants whose native language is not English and who have not attended schools where instruction is in English, may also be required to submit TOEFL scores.
For all those required to take the TOEFL exam, the minimum scores we look for are:
Paper Based TOEFL (PBT):
Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT):
For information and questions about the TOEFL, please contact ETS. The University of Virginia School of Law will continue to accept PBT test scores as long as they are available from ETS and are less than two years old.
Applicants should arrange to take the TOEFL at the earliest possible date in order to ensure that their applications are completed by the Feb. 1 deadline.
Scores must be submitted in accordance with the procedures listed above. To arrange an examination date or for further information, please visit www.TOEFL.org.
Applicants should have an official score report sent to LSAC using the LSAC Institutional Code 8395. Applicants may also send a score directly to the University. The University of Virginia Institutional Code Number is 5820 and Department Code 03. Please note that it is not necessary to send a report to the University of Virginia if a report is sent to LSAC.
The Graduate Committee will accept a score from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in lieu of a TOEFL score. The minimum score we look for on each section of the IELTS exam is 7.5. As with the TOEFL exam, we will not accept scores that are more than two years old. The details found above in the discussion about the TOEFL exam apply to IELTS scores as well. If you have questions concerning submission of an IELTS score, please contact the Graduate Studies Office.
We also offer a service available to applicants who wish to supplement their standardized English test scores through InitialView. InitialView offers unscripted interviews with native English speakers who completed their university education in the United States. This allows applicants to converse in a live setting about their unique backgrounds and goals, and to further demonstrate their English language proficiency. Initialview will send a recording of the interview to designated law schools as indicated by the applicants, as additional material for review. For further information and to schedule an interview, please contact InitialView at www.initialview.com. Please note that this is in addition to submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score and not a substitute for either. Applicants may request a Skype interview with a member of the Graduate Committee.
Applications, including all supporting materials, must be received by Feb. 1. Applications that are not complete on this date will be reviewed on a space-available basis at the discretion of the Graduate Committee. Applicants are notified by email when their applications are complete. If you have not received an email from us telling you that your application is complete, you should not assume it is complete. Candidates are strongly advised to apply early in the fall semester of the year prior to the one for which they seek admission. Although completed applications are not due until Feb. 1, the Graduate Committee follows a "rolling admissions" policy and offers of admission may be made before the Feb. 1 deadline. Therefore, it is advantageous to apply early.
After we have extended an offer of admission, we require applicants to pay two successive deposits in order to hold a seat in the class. The initial $500 deposit must be received by the Law School by April 1. Generally, all admitted applicants must make a second, final deposit of $500 by April 15 unless otherwise noted in the offer. Applicants receiving notification of acceptance after April 1 must pay this deposit by the date indicated in their admission offer email. This deposit is not refundable. Both deposits will be credited towards the applicant’s tuition and fees upon matriculation.
Importance of Full Disclosure
Falsification of information in an application for graduate studies or failure to provide complete responses to requests for information, including information concerning financial aid status, will be a basis for exclusion from the Law School. In addition, either could result in disciplinary action by bar authorities or loss of legal resident status for noncitizen students. Applicants have a continued duty to disclose even after they have submitted their applications. Students planning to take a bar exam should familiarize themselves with the rules for admission to the bar of the state in which they intend to seek admission, especially those rules relating to character, fitness and other qualifications for practice.
A personal interview is not required as part of the evaluation process. Interested persons are, however, welcome to visit the Law School, sit in on classes and meet with the director or another member of the Graduate Committee. Such visits must be arranged in advance by contacting the Graduate Studies Office. Interested candidates are also able to set up a videoconference or Skype interview.
Only a few students are admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree in a given year. Because the S.J.D. is primarily a research degree, evaluation of the applicant's proposed research agenda is the primary factor considered in the admissions decision.
Many applicants for admission to the S.J.D. program have already completed the Law School's LL.M. program. In cases, the Graduate Committee will consider applications from persons who have received the LL.M. or its equivalent from another U.S. law school and from those who have already achieved professional distinction in law teaching, private practice or government service. Applicants who do not already hold the Law School's LL.M. will not be considered for candidacy until they have completed two semesters in residence demonstrating honors ability in a program of study consisting of 24 hours of courses, seminars and/or independent study as may be prescribed and approved by the director of graduate studies.
All candidates must have earned their previous degree or degrees in law with distinction and must demonstrate the capacity for making an original and substantial contribution to the legal literature. Accordingly, to be considered for candidacy, an applicant must submit, at the time of application, a dissertation proposal in such detail as to permit the Graduate Committee to evaluate the feasibility, originality and likely scholarly contribution of the candidate's research plans. Applicants for the S.J.D. program should submit the same materials required for LL.M. applications, taking particular care to describe fully their reasons for wanting to pursue the degree and its relevance to his or her planned career.
The Law School does not typically offer financial aid to S.J.D. students. The application deadline for S.J.D. applications is Feb. 1.
If you are applying for admission as an in-state student, complete the Application for In-State Educational Privileges and submit it directly to the Committee on Virginia Status. The form should be sent either via fax to 434-982-2663, or via email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email the form, please be sure that it is a scanned copy with your actual signature on it. This form is not transmitted electronically by LSAC and must be sent separately. We cannot classify you as a resident candidate without this form. If you have any questions about the form or your residency status, please contact the Virginia Status Office at 434-982-3391 or 434-982-3397.
GRADUATE STUDIES OFFICE
University of Virginia School of Law
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1738
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Telephone: (434) 924-3154
Fax: (434) 982-6682
The University of Virginia School of Law does not discriminate with regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or national origin in its admission and financial aid policies. Return to Top
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