Master of Laws (LLM)


Each year the College of Law admits students to pursue studies leading to the LLM degree. We invite you to consider the ways in which our LLM might meet your needs. We provide practical training and a path to bar admission and opportunities for in-depth research in a world-class setting. Our comfortable environment and affordable cost of living mean our LLM students get high value and support. Please explore the options below and consider the Iowa LLM Advantages!

As a top public law school, The University of Iowa College of Law offers a great deal for prospective LLM students.

Practical Training and Path to Bar Admission: If you are interested in qualifying for a bar examination, you can benefit from our LLM Legal Analysis, Writing and Research course, and core courses including Contracts, Property, Torts and Professional Responsibility. Our extended orientation provides an introduction to US law that will ensure your success as you launch your studies. In addition to the basics, choose from our large variety of regularly offered courses, most of which are open to LLM candidates. Work with your Iowa advisors to tailor your program to meet the requirements of New York (Important Information for Foreign-Educated Applicants to the New York State Bar [pdf]), Wisconsin, and California bars.
In-depth Research Path: If you are interested in research, the Iowa LLM provides a setting that encourages close collaboration with renowned experts in comparative law, anti-competition law, law and economics, law and society and international law. Your LLM thesis will represent the culmination of research conducted in our world-class law library, which includes an extensive international and comparative law collection.
World Class Setting: The University of Iowa is a world class public institution with world renowned business, engineering, health, business and liberal arts specialties. Our tradition of interdisciplinary work provides exciting opportunities for students to collaborate with scholars from other disciplines. The small size of our program allows you to get to know the law school and university academic community well.
Comfortable Environment and Affordable Cost of Living: The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, a comfortable, friendly community that is known equally for its academic excellence and cultural environment. Iowa City is a manageable size, but more affordable—both in terms of tuition and living expenses—than many of the large cities that are a close drive away. Immerse yourself in the environment of our vibrant campus, the literary culture of this UNESCO City of Literature, or in the music and art of the many festivals that occur throughout the year. Or travel the short distances to Chicago, Minneapolis or St. Louis to enjoy the offerings of a big city environment. (Wondering what it's like to visit Iowa?  Check out this video.)
Value and Support: Tuition costs and costs of living at Iowa are significantly lower than at peer institutions. Tuition discounts are provided for students employed by faculty as research assistants, and some scholarships are available as well.  

The Iowa Advantages: Iowa's LLM program offers many advantages

  • A top-ranked law faculty teaching issues at the forefront of today's legal developments
  • The College of Law being part of a major research university
  • Special facilities for foreign and international work, including one of the largest law libraries in the country and a Writing Resource Center for help with legal writing
  • Availability of ESL assistance, including the possibility of conditional admittance
  • Tuition costs and cost of living that are below peer institutions
  • A small program that allows close interaction between faculty and students
  • A university town that combines the friendliness and ease of living for which the region is justly famous—with first-class cultural and sporting events

Admissions Guidelines
The Iowa LLM degree is one degree program, but it is designed for two different types of students:
1.    Practical Training and Path to Bar Admission: foreign-trained jurists who seek a comparative introduction to and specific training in aspects of United States law and legal institutions; special courses are available for students interested in qualifying to sit for state bar examinations. These include a legal research and writing course tailored for LLM students, an extended orientation including an introduction to American Legal Systems, and access to core courses such as Contracts, Property, Torts and Professional Responsibility; and
2.    In-depth Research Path: foreign-trained jurists or graduates of JD programs in the United States who wish to deepen their understanding of law; applicants may propose any legal field of concentration but the faculty will accept students only in fields in which it has sufficient depth and it is especially prepared to accept students in the fields of international and comparative law, including the law pertaining to international business transactions and/or human rights; and business and innovation.

The LLM program is deliberately kept small so that each student can receive substantial attention from the faculty. Therefore, admission is competitive.

To be admitted, all applicants must present evidence of high academic potential and strong recommendations, especially from law professors who supervised their work in classes or seminars.

Academic Requirements for Application to the Program
United States law graduates who apply for this graduate degree must have obtained a JD degree from a law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools or approved by the American Bar Association.

Foreign law graduates must have completed the basic course of university studies that qualifies the candidate to sit for the bar examination (e.g., the French maîtrise, the German "first state bar examination"). If the home country bar exam does not require a specific degree, applicants should either be experienced members of the bar or have completed the first university degree in law or a multi-year masters program in law.

All applicants must present evidence (university transcripts and letters of recommendation) that they are serious students with a solid record of academic and professional achievement. In evaluating foreign transcripts, we rely heavily on recommendation letters, especially from academics, that explain in detail the basis for their recommendation.

English Requirements
Applicants who have not completed a bachelor's degree at an accredited university in the U.S. or an equivalent degree at an accredited English-language university in Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom must also have achieved a score of at least 580 (paper)/237 (computer)/92 (Internet) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Waiver of the TOEFL or IELTS requirements are not normally granted. Students will be tested at matriculation and may be required to take English classes before enrolling in law courses. The University's TOEFL code is 6681. For more information, visit: There are limited opportunities for conditional admittance to the program for students who do not meet these requirements; please inquire.

Current UI JD Candidates
Current UI JD candidates seeking the LLM degree may do so by successfully completing 108 semester hours of academic credit over four years; 24 of these 108 hours must be concentrated in a specific area of law selected in consultation with your faculty advisor. Areas of concentration include international and comparative law, business and innovation, or tax. At least four of these 24 hours must be taken after admission into the LLM degree program. To qualify as part of the 24 credit hours required for the LLM degree, the credits must be graded and the student must have obtained a 2.1 or better. For more information please see the academic requirements page.

Degree Requirements
To earn the LLM degree, each student must successfully complete a course of a minimum of 24 hours of academic credit, as approved by his or her faculty adviser. These 24 credit hours are to be earned from the law school's general course offerings, with the exception of LLM-specific courses noted below.

1.    The legal practice track: This track is open to foreign trained lawyers who do not have a US JD. For this track, LLM students must take the LLM orientation course to the US legal system (two credits in August before the start of the fall semester), a course in professional legal writing specially designed for foreign-trained lawyers (two credits), a course in professional responsibility (three credits), and at least six credits of other basic bar exam courses, such as contracts, torts, or constitutional law. This track is designed to qualify the student to take the bar examination in states like New York (Important Information for Foreign-Educated Applicants to the New York State Bar [pdf]), Wisconsin, and California that allow certain foreign lawyers to sit for the bar exam.

2.    The research track: This track is open to both foreign trained with a JD and students holding a US JD degree.  LLM students without a JD degree must take the LLM orientation course to the US legal system (two credits in August before the start of the fall semester). All LLM students in this track take LLM Seminar, a research and writing course during which they will write a research paper qualifying for at least one credit on a topic they choose with the approval of their advisor. This track is especially suitable for those seeking to enter into an academic career or one involving primarily policy formulation or research.

United States JD-holders and international students who have been trained in another common-law jurisdiction, whose English competence is sufficiently high, and who choose the research track are required to undertake a more ambitious, 4-credit-hour research project intended to lead to the production of a publishable paper. Others suitably qualified also may attempt the longer research paper with their advisor's approval.

With the exception of the LLM orientation course and the special LLM writing courses (professional writing or research seminar), courses are taken together with regular JD students from the law school's regular offerings, especially its rich offerings on US, international, and comparative law. This method of instruction ensures a very effective comparative experience through broad contact with US law students and professors, and the US-trained students similarly benefit from close contact with the foreign-trained lawyers.

Tuition costs and costs of living at Iowa are significantly lower than at peer institutions, please see this chart (and click on "International," if appropriate) for more information.  The tuition rate is $20,000 per year for the residents of the state of Iowa, and $24,000 per year for residents of other states and foreign countries.  The new tuition rates will go into effect fall of 2014.  Tuition discounts (at the resident rate) are provided for students employed by faculty as research assistants, and many LLM students take advantage of this opportunity. Please see the International Tab for specific information on “International Students with ¼-time or Greater Assistantships" and "International Students without Assistantships."  The costs include an estimate of living expenses for twelve months. The total shown on that document is the amount of support from all sources that foreign students will need to show in order to obtain a student visa. It is reasonable to expect these amounts to increase somewhat each year.

Housing estimates apply to on-campus or moderately priced off-campus housing, to sharing housing with at least one other person, to maintaining a modest style of living, and to exhibiting careful financial management.

Since costs for major medical care in the United States are very high, the University requires international students to purchase health insurance through the University or show that they have equivalent coverage of at least $75,000. In addition, students are strongly advised to provide health insurance for any dependents that will be here with them. Figures quoted are estimates. Students with assistantships have a lower cost for insurance.

Additional Estimated Costs for Students Bringing Dependents
Students whose spouse and child(ren) plan to accompany them to Iowa City on F-2 or J-2 visas must present additional evidence of sufficient financial support for their dependents' living expenses and health insurance costs. (If your family members plan to join you later, you may submit your proof of additional financial support after you arrive in Iowa City.) Students with young children requiring full-time daycare should expect to pay more than $200 per week for each child. (All figures quoted are subject to change without notification.)

Financial Aid
The chief financial support the College provides is to hire LLM students as quarter-time research assistants (10 hours per week for a total of 300 hours over the fall and spring semesters). In addition to wages, the position entitles the out-of-state student to pay tuition at the in-state rate, which is a substantial savings.

Some partial scholarships are also available to LLM students. The Thelma L. Schaffer Scholarship, the Carroll Sample Scholarship and the Donald R. Newbrough International and Comparative Law Scholarship Fund are available to academically outstanding and otherwise deserving LLM students.

To apply for research assistantships and scholarships, simply indicate on your LLM application that you need financial support to attend. Whether or not you are applying for financial aid, for visa purposes all international students must also fill out the section of the application entitled "Financial Statement for International Students."

We encourage you to look aggressively for funding elsewhere. International students should consider applying for such U.S. programs as Fulbright; the Muskie Program for countries of the former Soviet Union; or the Ron Brown Fellowships for Eastern Europe; as well as pursuing funding possibilities within their own countries; with international bodies; and with private foundations like Ford, Soros, Rotary International, the Asia Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. Students whose home universities participate in the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) may be able to come under that program without paying more tuition than their home university charges.