Frequently Asked Questions about the LL.M.- Legal Institutions Program

What is the Master of Laws-Legal Institutions program?

What kind of student is the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program designed for?

How much time does it take to complete the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

How many credits are required?

Are there required courses?

May I take regular J.D. courses?

How do I choose the courses I want to take?

How good does my English need to be to be eligible for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

Will you accept English test scores other than the TOEFL?

Do I need to take the GRE or LSAT test for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

Will the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program let me be eligible to take an American bar exam?

When is the deadline for applying to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

May I enter the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program in the spring?

What are the eligibility requirements to apply to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

How much does the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program cost?

Are there scholarships for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

How do I apply to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

[Link here to go to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions Overview page.]

What is the Master of Laws-Legal Institutions program?

It is a course-based master's degree program in law held at the Law School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. All or almost all of the courses are taken at the Law School.  Students can take courses in other departments at the University if the courses are related to the student's overall study plan.

The Master of Laws-Legal Institutions degree started in the 1950s at the University of Wisconsin as the Master of Legal Institutions degree program, a legal studies program that emphasized law's interaction with other disciplines, such as economics, business, sociology, land tenure, etc.  Because of its interdisciplinary foundation, the Legal Institutions program allows up to nine credits of law-related courses from other University departments to be taken by LL.M.-Legal Institutions students who wish to do this.

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What kind of student is the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program designed for?

It is designed for men and women who have a basic law degree (LL.B.) from a university outside the United States and who want to take courses in American law in the U.S. in a one-year program.  The program is also available to applicants from Japan who do not have a bachelor in laws degree but who have graduated from a Japanese J.D. program.

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How much time does it take to complete the program?

Usually around nine months. The fall entry program begins in September of each year. The spring entry program begins in January.  The program is designed to be completed in one academic year, not including summer months (September - May, or January-May and September-December). Most students complete the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program in two semesters.  Some students who begin in September complete the program in early June or later in the summer.  There are also students who request permission to complete the program in three semesters.

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How many credits are required?

Twenty-four.  The 24 credits include 3 credits of directed research and 21 credits of coursework. At least 12 credits of the courses must be Law School courses.  The remaining 9 credits can be Law School courses, courses from other University departments, or a combination of both.

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Are there required courses?

Yes. Two courses, a total of six credits, are required.  These are Introduction to American Law (Law 601 - 3 credits) and Legal Sources (Law 602 - 3 credits).

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May I take regular J.D. courses?

Yes.  Students select most of their courses from the regular J.D. curriculum.  Students can also take up to nine credits of courses from other University departments.  (A typical course is three credits; the range is generally two to four credits.)

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How do I choose the courses I want to take?

After arriving on campus, each LL.M.-Legal Institutions student is assigned a Law School professor as an advisor. This advisor assists the student with course choices. The student registers for courses after meeting with the advisor.  The Graduate Programs Office helps LL.M.-Legal Institutions students schedule meetings with the advisors after the students arrive on campus.

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How good does my English need to be to be eligible for the Legal Institutions program?

All of the courses in the Legal Institutions program are taught in English so students need strong English proficiency.  A TOEFL score of  100 (Internet-based) or 600 (paper-based) or above is desired. In some cases, applicants with lower TOEFL scores but very strong academic records may be considered and accepted conditioned on taking an intensive English language program. In that case, applicants must show successful completion of the classes in the program indicating that the applicant's English ability has improved sufficiently to be able to handle the demands of the Legal Institutions program. For information, contact the Graduate Admissions Committee, gradprog@law.wisc.edu.

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Will you accept English test scores other than the TOEFL?

The Graduate Admissions Committee prefers the TOEFL score (TOEFL Website).  However, we will accept the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score as alternative to the TOEFL.   The score on the IELTS should be 7.0 or higher.

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Do I need to take the GRE or LSAT test for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

No.

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Will the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program let me be eligible to take an American bar exam?

The United States does not have a national bar exam. Each state has its own exam with its own rules. Graduates of the LLM-Legal Institutions program are usually eligible to take the New York State bar examination if they have an undergraduate degree in law (LL.B.).   They may be eligible if they have the Japanese J.D. degree.  If you are interested in possibly taking a bar exam, look at the rules for the particular state you are interested in. 

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When is the deadline for applying to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

March 1 for fall entry (late August 2011) and October 15, 2011 for spring entry (January 2012) .   The deadline is the date by which the Graduate Programs Office at the Law School needs to receive all of your application documents. (See the instructions for applying to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program.)

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May I enter the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program in the spring?

Yes.  Classes begin in late January.

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What are the eligibility requirements to apply to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

  • A degree or diploma representing, at least, an equivalent of a B.A. or a B.S. degree in the United States and that constitutes a first degree in law, or a bachelor's degree and another degree that constitutes a first degree in law (such as Japan's J.D. degree);
  • A Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, or a B average, from your undergraduate work;
  • A TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score showing high proficiency in English if your undergraduate work was not conducted in English.  High proficiency will ordinarily be demonstrated by a score of 100 (Internet-based) or 600 (Paper- Based Test) or higher.
  • Adequate Financial Resources. You must certify that you have a minimum of approximately 56,000 for the 2011-2012 academic year. Applicants who wish to bring family members with them will need a higher amount. Detailed information is at Tuition and Living Expenses.

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How much does the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program cost?

Roughly about 56,000 for the 2010-11 academic year. This is based on the tuition rates of 2010-11. Details can be found at Tuition and Living Expenses.

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Are there scholarships for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

No; candidates are expected to be self-financed.

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How do I apply to the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program?

You complete an application form online and mail additional material directly to the Law School.  Link to instructions for applying to the Legal Institutions program.

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