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LL.M. in American Legal Studies

LL.M. In American Legal Studies

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.

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. 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.

What LL.M. stands for

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.

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. Required Courses

School of Law students get hooded at a ceremony.

  • Introduction to the American Legal System
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Two courses from the following list:
    • Civil Procedure
    • Contracts
    • Criminal Law
    • Property
    • Torts
    • Constitutional Law

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

  • Professional Responsibility (Required for the bar)
  • Evidence
  • Sales/Secured Transactions
  • Oil and Gas
  • Deceptive Trade Practices
  • Immigration Law
  • Business Associations
  • Patent and Copyright Law

LL.M. Courses

Program planning templates can be requested from the Graduate Law Coordinator.

LL.M. course descriptions

Interested in learning more?

Frequently asked questions about our LL.M. Programs

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For more information, please email stmullm@stmarytx.edu or complete the form below.

Learn more about the LL.M. Program

Please submit your request for additional information here.
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  • Which program are you interested in? * Required

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? We’ve got answers.

What LL.M. degrees are available?
How many hours of academic credit are required for completion of the LL.M. degree?
Can I complete my full-time study for an LL.M. degree in one academic year?
Can I study on a part-time basis for an LL.M. degree?
Will the LL.M. degree fulfill a necessary threshold requirement if I wish to sit for an American bar exam in order to become licensed in one or more states in the United States?
Where can I find a list of the courses which are offered for the completion of the American Legal Studies; International and Comparative Law; and Criminal Law LL.M. programs?
How do I know which courses are necessary and otherwise most appropriate for the LL.M. in American Legal Studies and bar exam preparation?
If admitted for either the LL.M. in International & Comparative law or the LL.M. in International Criminal Law, will I receive counseling regarding the courses I should complete for the degree?
How do I apply? What steps do I need to take?
Does St. Mary’s Law School impose LL.M. application deadlines?
If I am a foreign national applying to the LL.M. program, what English language requirements must I meet in order to be granted unconditional admission?
May LL.M. applicants apply through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)?
What materials are required for a foreign student visa application?
What are the current estimated costs of obtaining an LL.M. degree at St. Mary’s University?
Where can I find the academic requirements for the completion of any one of the LL.M. degree programs?
What can I expect after I am admitted to the LL.M. program?
What is Optional Practical Training (OPT) and can I enroll?
Who can answer my additional questions about the LL.M. degree programs?


Q: What LL.M. degrees are available?
The law school offers three LL.M. degree programs: the LL.M. in American Legal Studies; the LL.M. in International and Comparative Law, and the LL.M. in International Criminal Law.

Q: How many hours of academic credit are required for completion of the LL.M. degree?

The number of hourly credits required for graduation with any one of the LL.M. degrees is 24. Additional classes required to improve language proficiency will not count toward this total.

Q: Can I complete my full-time study for an LL.M. degree in one academic year?

Yes. Any of the LL.M. degrees may be completed in full-time status in one academic year which consists of two semesters, Fall and Spring. This process can therefore take as little time as nine months.

Q: Can I study on a part-time basis for an LL.M. degree?

International students may not study on a part-time basis. U.S. citizens may study part-time in the Fall and Spring semesters plus summer school sessions with the intention to complete the LL.M. degree in two academic years. Should more time for completion of the degree program be needed, the LL.M. candidate must secure the approval of the Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs.

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). 10 hours is also considered full time for purposes of financial aid eligibility.

Q: Will the LL.M. degree fulfill a necessary threshold requirement if I wish to sit for an American bar exam in order to become licensed in one or more states in the United States?

Each state in the United States independently regulates the eligibility of attorneys to practice law within its jurisdiction. The LL.M. in American Legal Studies will satisfy the U.S. legal education requirement for the LL.M. graduate to sit for the Texas, California or New York Bar exams (list not exhaustive).  Please note that some jurisdictions require additional components such as pro bono service, and that candidates are responsible for determining those requirements as set by the Board of Law Examiners in each state (http://www.ncbex.org/). In and of itself acquisition of the LL.M. degree in American Legal Studies does not qualify a foreign trained attorney to practice law in the United States.

Q: Where can I find a list of the courses which are offered for the completion of the American Legal Studies; International and Comparative Law; and Criminal Law LL.M. programs?

Program planning templates can be requested from the Graduate Law Coordinator at: stmullm@stmarytx.edu. Additional information is available on the course catalog and descriptions can be found here.

Q: How do I know which courses are necessary and otherwise most appropriate for the LL.M. in American Legal Studies and bar exam preparation?

While 24 hours are required to complete the LL.M. any student wishing to sit for a bar is encouraged to take every core law course available to them. Specific bar exam content can be accessed through each state’s Board of Law Examiners site. It is also expected that LL.M. candidates will participate in formalized bar prep activities like their J.D. counterparts to prepare.

Q: How do I apply? What steps do I need to take?

For details, please visit the Applying to the LL.M. page.

Q: Does St. Mary’s Law School impose LL.M. application deadlines?

The LL.M. program admits two cohorts each year: Fall and Spring. While we have rolling admission, foreign LL.M. applicants are encouraged to submit a complete application package at least three weeks before the commencement of the semester in which the applicant intends to begin his/her first semester of study. This helps ensure that the I-20 can be processed by the University’s International Student and Scholar Services Office in enough time for the applicant to secure a student visa for study in the United States.

Q: If I am a foreign national applying to the LL.M. program, what English language requirements must I meet in order to be granted unconditional admission?

LL.M. applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) prior to their admission to the LL.M. programs. English proficiency is the key for LL.M. students to meet the rigorous reading and writing requirements at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

Cut-off scores are: 80 points on the internet-based TOEFL or 6 points on the IELTS test. The TOFEL code for St. Mary’s University is 6637. Only current TOEFL and IELTS scores will be considered. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to interview candidates via telephone or Skype to verify English proficiency.

International applicants who have successfully completed a high school, secondary or post-secondary program of study in English are exempt from the English proficiency test requirement.

Q: May LL.M. applicants apply through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)?

Yes. This is the preferred method if an applicant plans on taking a bar exam.

Q: What materials are required for a foreign student visa application?

The following materials are required:

  • A valid passport
  • The visa application payment
  • The Law School’s official letter of admission to the LL.M. degree program
  • The completed I-20 form issued by the International Student and Scholar Services at St. Mary’s University
  • A bank statement of financial responsibility to pay tuition and all other related LL.M. program costs

Q: What are the current estimated costs of obtaining an LL.M. degree at St. Mary’s University?

Complete tuition and fee information is available via the University’s Business Office.

Q: Where can I find the academic requirements for the completion of any one of the LL.M. degree programs?

For sample academic plans or a copy of the Student Handbook please email the Graduate Law Coordinator at: stmullm@stmarytx.edu.

Q: What can I expect after I am admitted to the LL.M. program?

Admitted students will receive their student credentials, access to an online orientation module and will be contacted to register for classes before the start of the semester. International Student and Scholar Services has a Pre-Arrival checklist for new international students that can be found here.

Q: What is Optional Practical Training (OPT) and can I enroll?

LL.M. students with F-1 status who have completed their degrees may apply for Optional Practical Training. The work must be in their field of study and must include practical training. F-1 students are usually permitted a total of 12 months of practical training. Information on the OPT is sent out to international students by the Office of International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) during a student’s last semester of study. Contact ISSS for more information. Students are responsible for securing the work assignments.

Q: Who can answer my additional questions about the LL.M. degree programs? 

Graduate Law Coordinator:stmullm@stmarytx.edu.

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