LLM Degree


The University of Pittsburgh's Master of Laws (LLM) Program for Foreign Law Graduates provides lawyers who have completed their law degree outside the United States with an opportunity to study the common law legal tradition and the U.S. legal system in the United States. Students pursue their goals with the help of a close-knit community of intelligent and energetic scholars who are at the forefront of domestic and international legal research and scholarship.

The University of Pittsburgh offers a general LLM degree that gives students the freedom and flexibility to choose their courses from the Law School’s full curriculum. Students can focus their coursework on a particular field, or they can take a generalized approach and incorporate multiple subject areas. Either way, CILE staff is here to help develop an appropriate course of study tailored to each student’s needs.

At Pitt Law, you will be part of a small group (usually 15 to 20 LLM students each year) of highly accomplished and talented foreign-trained lawyers, tightly integrated into the life of the law school as a whole but with a variety of activities specially designed for our LLM students. These include the opportunity to participate in our LLM commercial arbitration team, which in March 2016 bested LLM from across the US, including American, Georgetown and Penn, to win the LLM International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Washington, DC (full story here).

Interaction with U.S. JD students is integral to understanding U.S. law, and to participating fully in the social and intellectual life of the law school. The LLM program allows students to study the U.S. legal system and institutions alongside JD students. The International Law Society (ILS) also takes an active role to put together social events for LLM and JD students to mingle and form relationships beyond the classroom.

Follow the Center for International Legal Education on Facebook.

Length of LLM Program: One Academic Year (August to May)

Estimated LLM Tuition & Fees:

  Full Time Part Time
Tuition $37,500 $1,562/cr
Computer and Network Services Fee $350 $200
Security, Safety and Transportation Fee $180 $180
Student Activity Fee $60 $30
Wellness Fee $240 $120
Books/Supplies $1,600 $1,000
Health Insurance $2,470 $2,470
Living Expenses $15,740 $15,740
Law Exam Fee $40 $40
Total Estimated Cost $58,180 $38,524*

* Part-time costs assume a six-credit course load in each of the Fall and Spring semesters.

Estimated LLM Living Expenses

Apartments in Pittsburgh can be very inexpensive. This estimate includes phone, electricity, groceries and social expenses. Your student identification card entitles you to free bus fare throughout the county. See our page about "Living in Pittsburgh" for more information, including links to apartment ads and foreign cultural affiliations in Pittsburgh.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 24 credits to graduate. The program is completed in one academic year (August to May). Additional Requirements are:

  1. Students are required to take U.S. Legal Analysis & Writing (total of 4 credits; taken in both Fall and Spring Semesters), Introduction to American Law (3 credits; Fall Semester), and the LLM Colloquium (1 credit, Spring Semester).
  2. Each student must complete a faculty supervised writing project, either in a seminar or as an independent study.
  3. Students who will take the New York Bar Exam must take courses that satisfy the Exam’s requirements for LLM students. These requirements can be found here.

Pennsylvania State Bar Exam:

While Pitt Law LLM graduates routinely qualify to take the New York bar exam, changes adopted in December 2013 now make it easier for an LLM graduate to qualify to take the Pennsylvania Bar exam as well.

Generally, a foreign lawyer may sit for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam if he/she:

  1. has been admitted to practice in his/her home country;
  2. has practiced in his/her home country for five of the past eight years immediately preceding application to take the Pennsylvania Bar Exam; and
  3. has completed at least 24 credits in classes from a specific list of courses (these courses must include Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, and Legal Research and Writing).

Any student interested in this possibility should carefully check Rule 205 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules (http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol43/43-49/2248.html).

Academic Program Outline:

LLM students must take at least 9 credits per semester to retain full-time status. Because 24 credits are required to graduate with the LLM and most students complete the LLM in two semesters, it is expected that students will take 11-13 credits per semester. If students register for too many credits in one semester, they may find themselves at an academic disadvantage.

Fall Semester: Credits
Legal Analysis, Research & Writing 2
Introduction to American Law 3
Electives At least 5
Spring Semester:  
LLM Colloquium Class 1
Electives At least 9
Either Semester (usually Spring):  
Writing Requirement: Seminar or Independent Study 2
Total Credits: 24

In the Required Courses tab are descriptions of these required courses.

The structure of the program allows each student the opportunity to obtain an in- depth view of the fundamentals of U.S. legal practice, while concentrating elective courses in a specific area of interest. Elective courses also allow LLM students to participate with JD students in the regular academic life of the Law School. Electives can be selected from the full array of courses offered in the law school, which the registrar lists for each semester here.

LLM Internships

CILE works with LLM students who wish to stay in Pittsburgh for the summer and intern at a law firm or other organization. We work with each student to assist them in finding an internship provider that best suits his or her field of interest.


Applicants are admitted to the LLM program based on their ability to thrive in a demanding, competitive academic atmosphere, as evidenced by their academic record and professional accomplishments. The program accepts applications from lawyers with a law degree from a non-U.S. law school who can demonstrate a proficiency in English, as measured by minimum scores of 100 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (internet based version), or a minimum score of 7.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We will continue to accept applications until the class has been filled. We suggest that you submit your application by March 31 of the year in which you would like to begin your studies for better consideration.


The estimated total cost for a single student participating in the program is approximately $57,020 for the 2015-16 academic year, including all tuition, fees, supplies and other living expenses. Current tuition rates can be found on the financial support form in the application and on the University's tuition page. CILE has very limited financial aid funding available. Financial aid is awarded based on need and merit. If you would like to be considered for financial aid, please include a statement with your application stating why you would like to be considered.


Download an application, or submit one online through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).



  • Introduction to American Law (3 credits)

    This is a three-credit course designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the legal system of the United States of America. The common law foundations of that system are discussed in detail, largely through coverage of materials on specific substantive areas of law, including civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, contracts, property, torts, family law, and business organizations law. Students will be required to prepare papers and presentations comparing both procedural and substantive law aspects of the U.S. system with their home legal systems. Grade is based on two pape
    rs, two class presentations, and a final exam.
  • U.S. Legal Analysis And Writing: Comparative Legal Methodology For LLM Students (2 credits each semester; 2 semesters required)

    The goal of this course is to convey the essential attributes of the common law legal order based on the predominance of case law as a primary source of law, as well as to develop common-law legal writing skills. The course transmits the underlying system of reasoning and legal methodology of the United States common-law system from a comparative perspective that emphasizes the differences between the common law and the civil law.
  • LLM Colloquium (1 credit)

    This is a one-credit course in which students are introduced to specific aspects of the practice of law, including issues such as contingent fees, punitive damages, environmental litigation, and advanced legal research. Students doing independent study papers during the semester will present their research to the class. Part of the course will be a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., including a day at the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in cases before the Court. There will be a final exam.

Writing Requirement - Choose one of the following:

  • Independent Study (2 credits)

    This is a course usually worth two credits in which students can work independently under the supervision of a faculty member. The student must research a topic, usually a topic of choice which must be approved by their faculty adviser. And by the end of the semester the student must submit their final paper to their faculty adviser.
  • Seminar Courses (2 credits-various courses are offered each semester)

    Two credit courses in which class will meet once a week for two hours with the guidance of a faculty member. The students will conduct research on the seminar topic and prepare drafts of their paper throughout the semester. Each student will present their paper in class and submit a final paper at the end of the semester.

One of the unique benefits of our LLM program is that we have our own professional writing specialist who works individually with our LLM students, to review their written work and teach them how to produce clear and effective English. We also work hard to assist LLM students in finding post-graduation internships that match their professional interests and needs. Past LLM internship placements have included PPG Industries, Bayer, Alcoa, H.J. Heinz Co., and local private law firms and professional organizations.

The University of Pittsburgh strives to offer each LLM student a personalized course of study and experience. The size of each LLM class over the past decade has varied between 11 and 20, allowing close interaction among students and instructors. Students benefit from inclusion in the entire Law School community, in addition to a small community of global scholars who are dealing with common experiences. Special opportunities are arranged for the LLM class to visit important legal institutions and see their studies in practice.

Keeping the LLM class small also allows faculty members to deal with student needs on an individual basis. The required LLM courses (Introduction to American Law, U.S. Legal Research & Writing, and the Spring Colloquium) are limited to LLM students to allow for substantial discussion and comparison of home legal systems, and for students to receive personal feedback on both written and oral presentations.

Despite the relatively small size of our LLM classes compared to other schools' programs, enough LLM students are admitted to have a significant impact on the JD students in other classes.

While Pitt Law LLM graduates routinely qualify to take the New York bar exam, changes adopted in December 2013 now make it easier for an LLM graduate to qualify to take the Pennsylvania Bar exam as well

Generally, an foreign lawyer may sit for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam if he/she:

  1. has been admitted to practice in his/her home country;
  2. has practiced in his/her home country for five of the past eight years immediately preceding application to take the Pennsylvania BarExam; and
  3. has completed at least 24 credits in classes from a specific list of courses (these courses must include Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, and Legal Research and Writing).

Any student interested in this possibility should carefully check Rule 205 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules.