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LL.M. Academic Handbook

I. Degree. The degree Legum Magister (Master of Laws or LL.M.) shall be awarded to those students who complete the study of law in the LL.M. program of the Pennsylvania State University.
II. Eligibility for Admissions. To be eligible for admission to the Penn State Law LL.M. program:
  1. Requisite education. An applicant must:
    1. have received an LL.B. degree in law from an accredited institution outside of the United States, and provide an official transcript of that degree (a certified translation);
    2. have completed, while resident in a country other than the United States, a university-based legal or other degree [education] that is required to take the equivalent of the bar examination in that foreign country, and produce an official transcript certifying satisfactory completion of that degree [education] status;
    3. be licensed to practice law in a foreign country; or
    4. the equivalent of a., b., and/or c. above as determined by the Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs in consultation with the Penn State Law Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  2. Language capacity.
    1. The applicant must take and submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
      1. The minimum score on the TOEFL shall be 88 (internet-based test) or 575 (paper-based test) or the equivalent.
      2. The minimum score on the IELTS shall be 6.5.
    2. An applicant with scores below the minimum listed above (II.2.i) may be eligible for admission if the applicant obtains suitable language training or provides otherwise acceptable evidence of proficiency in English prior to enrolling at Penn State Law.
    3. International applicants may be exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or master's degree from an educational institution in a country where English is both the language of instruction and the only official or native language. Countries that qualify an applicant for exemption include Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States, and Wales. The Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs may also waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for an international applicant who has undertaken significant undergraduate or graduate study in English.
  3. Character and fitness. The applicant must answer the following questions and make full disclosure of facts where appropriate upon application to the LL.M. program:
    1. Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime other than a minor traffic violation? If yes, please explain.
    2. Have you ever been subject to discipline or dismissal from any college, university or place of employment or bar or legal licensing authority? If yes, please explain.
The applicant should complete the Penn State Law LL.M. application and admissions procedures
III. Length of Study. Students will enroll in the LL.M. program on a full-time basis. Students enrolled in the program on a full-time basis will generally be expected to complete the requirements of the degree in one academic year.
  1. Full-time status at the law school means enrolling in classes for at least 12 credits per semester, except under the third semester option (see below, III, 3). Full-time student status is necessary to maintain F-1 or J-1 visa compliance for international students.
  2. Part-time study. Upon approval by the Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for admission may enroll in the program on a part-time basis. Part-time LL.M. students may generally be expected to complete the graduation requirements within two academic years. Except when the Penn State Law, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs grants a special exception for good cause shown, the requirements for completion of the LL.M. degree shall be completed within a maximum of three calendar years from the date of first matriculation at Penn State Law as an LL.M. student. Approval to participate in the LL.M. program on a part-time basis will depend on whether an international applicant’s immigration status will allow part-time study.
  3. Third semester option. Full-time LL.M. students may apply by the second week in March to extend their stay in the LL.M. program by one semester, where such extension is required to meet their educational/career objectives. The Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs will admit students to the third-semester program based on the applicant’s sound performance in the LL.M. program and educational/career goals.
    1. Third-semester students must take a minimum of 6 credits in the third semester to be considered full-time students at the law school.
IV. Graduation Requirements. In order to fulfill the requirements for the LL.M. degree, students must satisfy the following criteria:
  1. Credit Requirements. Students must earn at least 24 credits.
  2. Academic Standing.
    1. Academic Rules. Unless otherwise stated here, and where relevant to the academic program of the LL.M. degree, LL.M. students are subject to the rules outlined in the J.D. Student Academic Handbook.
    2. Good Standing. Students must maintain good academic standing. Good academic standing requires regular course attendance and participation, as well as maintaining a semester and cumulative grade-point equivalent of at least a 2.0 (C).
    3. Evaluation of Academic Standing. Academic standing for LL.M. students is evaluated throughout the student’s program of study. If a student fails to achieve a grade average of at least C in the first semester, or excessively fails to attend class, or fails to submit assigned work without excuse, the Penn State Law Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will notify the student in writing that he or she is no longer in good academic standing and afford the student an opportunity to be heard as to whether he or she is able or willing to undertake the study necessary to complete the LL.M. degree program. The Law School's Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs, will determine whether the student may continue in the LL.M. program or whether probation or dismissal from the program is appropriate. The student may appeal an adverse decision to the Dean of the Law School.
  3. Required Courses. Students must earn credit in the following required courses:
    1. Introduction to the United States Legal System;
    2. LL.M. Legal Analysis Writing and Research; and
    3. One course from the following list:
      1. Civil Procedure 
      2. Constitutional Law I 
      3. Contracts 
      4. Criminal Law 
      5. Criminal Procedure 
      6. Property 
      7. Torts

The Associate Dean, Graduate and International Programs may waive one or both of the course requirements where students have satisfactorily completed equivalent courses at another U.S. law program or in a common law country.

  1. Graduate level courses: LL.M. students may enroll in one 500 level course per semester. Enrolling in additional graduate level courses, or 400 level courses may be done only with permission of the Law School's Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  2. Independent study: LL.M. students may take independent study courses for up to 3 credits in any one semester, and no more than a total of 4 credits during the two semesters of the LL.M. program.
V. Honor Code. LL.M. students are subject to the Penn State University Code of Conduct and the Penn State Law Honor Code.
VI. LL.M. Grading System
  1. Pass/Fail Courses — LL.M. students may not take classes on a pass/fail basis
  2. Grade Point Average and Class Ranking — LL.M. students will not have a GPA calculated by the Registrar and will not be ranked. GPA inquiries for LL.M. students should be directed to the Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs.
VII. LL.M. Grading Norm 
VIII. Examinations and Final Examination Information