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LL.M. in American Legal Studies

Earning a graduate law degree in English from a U.S. institution can give you a comparative perspective on practicing law in your own country as well as enhance your job opportunities. You will also gain insights into the workings of common law structure and procedures as well as American legal traditions and doctrine. Candidates will also be challenged through active classroom learning and the Socratic method. If you have an LL.B. and plan to establish eligibility to sit for a state bar exam this program is right for you and can provide the insights and networking opportunities to help you succeed professionally.

The LL.M. in American Legal Studies is a degree for internationally trained lawyers. American trained lawyers are not eligible.

This degree satisfies the U.S. legal education requirement for the LL.M. graduate to sit for the Texas, California or New York Bar exams. Some jurisdictions require additional components, such as pro bono service, and each candidate is responsible for determining those requirements as set by each state.


The American Legal Studies concentration is now available through online course curriculum.

Contact Assistant Dean Jennifer Stevenson, J.D., for more information.

Why an LL.M.?

Twenty-four credit hours are required to earn the LL.M. in American Legal Studies. Students have two years to complete the degree, but can complete the program in two semesters of full-time study. Candidates for the bar are strongly encouraged to investigate the requirements for the bar and to enroll in the courses that will be tested.

Two unique features of the program offered by St. Mary’s Law include:

  • Access to bar prep courses, which must be taken outside of the 24-credit-hour requirement
  • Access to online course content for self-prep purposes

LL.M. versus J.D.

The LL.M. degree in American Legal Studies is a nine-month program with global credibility. It is open to students who have finished a law degree either in the United States or in a foreign country.

LL.M. stands for Legum Magister, which is more commonly called Master of Laws. It contains two “L”s due to its Latin origins, where the second “L” makes the first “L” plural.
J.D. programs are the standard degree typically earned to sit for a bar exam to become a practicing lawyer. J.D. programs typically span three years of full-time study.

International Students

International students must study on a full-time basis. Foreign nationals who must maintain student visa eligibility must enroll in a minimum of 10 credit hours per semester during the regular academic year (Fall and Spring). Ten hours is also considered full time for purposes of financial aid eligibility.

The School of Law is a member of the International Association of Law Schools and the International Academy of Comparative Law (Académie Internationale de Droit Comparé).

American Legal Studies LL.M. Courses

Required Courses

  • Introduction to the American Legal System
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Professional Responsibility (Required for the bar)
  • Two courses from the following list:
    • Civil Procedure
    • Contracts
    • Criminal Law
    • Property
    • Torts
    • Constitutional Law

Program planning templates can be requested from the Director of Graduate Law Programs.

Other courses and seminars offered in the LL.M. program in American Legal Studies include:

  • Evidence
  • Sales/Secured Transactions
  • Oil and Gas
  • Deceptive Trade Practices
  • Immigration Law
  • Business Associations
  • Patent and Copyright Law