LL.M. for Foreign Law School Graduates

SMU Dedman School of Law offers international students an opportunity to become part of a vibrant, scholarly community with the advantage of studying in Dallas, Texas – not only an international business center, but a dynamic cultural center situated midway between the east and west coast of the United States in a region known for its mild, sunny climate.  Established in 1949, the law school's LL.M. in international and comparative law, and has played an important role in training some of the foremost leaders around the world. We are proud of the more than 2,000 graduates from 80 countries who hold prominent positions in government, legal practice, business, the judiciary, and legal education worldwide.

Members of our faculty are known as experts in their fields, nationally and internationally. They have outstanding academic credentials and the vast majority of them have had practical experience before entering their teaching careers. A strong faculty translates to a strong curriculum.

In addition to our diverse curriculum, students are invited to take advantage of the many activities outside the classroom. At SMU, your learning experience will be enriched through year-round international conferences and lectures, bringing prominent international figures to campus to discuss current global legal issues.  International LL.M. students take classes with Americn J.D. students and participate in our Inns of Courts Program - a program that is introduced during orientation where students connect in small groups with fellow classmates, faculty, student leaders, career advisors, and alumni for a community experience throughout their time at SMU Dedman School of Law.

The LL.M. degree for Foreign Law School Graduates is a one- year, full-time program for students who hold a basic law degree from a recognized international law school. Students enrolled in this degree program must complete 24 credit hours including the required two-credit course in Perspectives of the American Legal System. The remaining courses are elective and offer a wide range of choices. Students have the freedom to choose from a wide array of classes and can design their LL.M. degree to meet their needs and goals in studying in the United States.  Students desiring to take a bar examination in Texas, New York or California can take classes required to qualify to sit for those exams.  Other students may want to specialize in international studies or in other areas of the law.

A primary goal of the program is to enhance the international student's legal skills so that he or she may become a more effective lawyer and member of society. In this respect the program seeks to develop: 
  • an appreciation of the role of law in national and international development 
  • the ability to identify, through comparative and international studies, policy considerations of various legal rules
  • an appreciation of the role of the lawyer in social and economic change 
  • legal analysis and problem solving abilities to enable the student to meet the complex needs of our modem world
  • a basic understanding of the U.S. legal system, as studied from a comparative perspective
  • a frame of reference for dealing with business and legal interests in a transnational setting

Admission Criteria

An applicant for admission to the LL.M. Degree For Foreign Law School Graduates must be a graduate of a recognized foreign law school. The applicant's undergraduate record must demonstrate scholarly legal aptitude. An applicant for whom English is a second language must present evidence of a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) computer based score of 233 or written score of 575. U.S. trained law students may not apply to this degree program.

Application Procedure

An applicant must include with the application: a short curriculum vitae; evidence of proficiency in English (normally a TOEFL computer based score of 233 or written score of 575); a certified transcript in English of grades received in law school; letters of recommendation in English (or translated into English) from the dean of the applicant's law school and from a law professor; evidence of financial ability to pay tuition, fees, and all other expenses during the applicant's stay in the United States; and a recent head and shoulders photograph of the applicant. 

Scholarship Procedure

We do not have a separate application for LL.M scholarships. Your application for LL.M. admission serves as your scholarship application.

Available scholarships include:
  • The Storey Scholarship, which provides a stipend toward the payment of tuition and fees for one international student per year.
  • The Helmut Sohmen Scholarships, which provide full tuition, fees and a monthly living stipend for up to six (6) students from China who will return to China to work..
  • In addition to the above scholarships, a limited number of tuition remission scholarships may be available to full-time students.

Specialized Courses

SMU Dedman School of Law offers a rich curriculum to enhance the international students’ legal skills to become a more effective lawyer. The diversity and depth of courses offered can be found in the catalog or in the course schedule listing.

Degree requirements

2015-2016 Full-time LL.M. Tuition, Fees and Expenses

The following are the tuition, fees, and estimated costs for the full-time LL.M. programs.
Tuition                 $44,542
Fees   $5,420
Estimated Expenses
Books   $2,000
Living Expenses $15,500
Miscellaneous   $2,738
Total  $70,200
Note: If you are bringing family to the United States, you are required to show proof of an additional $7,000 for one dependent.  If you are bringing more than one dependent, in addition to the $7,000, you are required to show proof of $3,000 per dependent.    

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 vary from state to state. Some states 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.  Texas now allows qualified foreign educated attorneys who have completed an LL.M. degree to sit for the Texas Bar examination.
For complete rules governing Admission to the State Bar of Texas click here.

For a fact sheet that summarizes the Eligibility of Foreign-Educated Applicants and Foreign Attorneys to take the Texas Bar Examination click here.

Application to the J.D. Program

The J.D. is the basic law degree for U.S. law students.  In a limited number of instances, international students who have graduated with distinction in the LL.M. program of the Dedman School of Law and who can demonstrate legitimate graduate study objectives for furthering their careers may be considered for admission to the J.D. program.  These students are not required to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).  Admission under such conditions will normally entail an additional study of 63-87 credit hours.  

For more information about admission to these programs, contact the Admissions Office at LAWADMIT@SMU.EDU.
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