LL.M. Frequently Asked Questions

Here are brief answers to some of the many questions that prospective LL.M. students frequently ask. For other questions not addressed here or elsewhere on the Dickinson Law website, please contact us.

Academic Issues

Does Dickinson Law offer English Language Instruction?

No. All admitted students should be sufficiently prepared for study in English at Dickinson Law. However, international students enrolled in the LL.M., M.L.S., or S.J.D. programs for whom English is not their first language may request additional time on timed, in-person assessments and the use of a hard-copy English language and/or translation dictionaries.

Is it possible to continue in the J.D. program after completing the LL.M.?

Candidates for the LL.M. degree may seek to transfer into the J.D. program. Criteria for transferring to the J.D. program are set by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The admissions process is extremely selective.

Is it possible to do the LL.M. part-time?

Yes. The LL.M. program requires a minimum of 24 credits. It can be completed in one academic year as a full-time student or, with permission, in up to four semesters as a part-time student. International students, however, may not pursue part-time study in order to remain in compliance with immigration requirements.

How are LL.M. students graded?

LL.M. students receive letter grades for their classes. They are not graded with the J.D. students on a curve. The GPA is recorded on the student transcript, but students will not be ranked. LL.M. students may not take required classes on a pass/fail basis. LL.M. students may, however, take non-required courses on a pass/fail basis with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and subject to the same credit limits as J.D. students.

Can students concentrate in a specific area of law?

Dickinson Law offers a flexible LL.M. degree program designed to give students a high-level understanding of the U.S. legal system. Students must earn a minimum of 24 credits and complete a limited number of required courses. In addition to fulfilling degree requirements, LL.M. students have the option to pursue a concentration in a specific area of law. To meet a concentration requirement, students must successfully complete 9 total credits of both required and elective coursework. 

How much time is spent in class during the LL.M.?

The American Bar Association (ABA) defines one credit hour as one hour of classroom instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work. The LL.M. program requires a minimum of 24 credits. If enrolled in 12 credits a semester, one should expect to spend approximately 12 hours a week in class and 24 hours a week studying outside of the classroom.

Can I participate in the courses of J.D. students? What is the average course size?

Yes. LL.M. students enroll in the same classes as J.D. students. Other than the three LL.M. specific required courses, LL.M. students take classes alongside J.D. students.

Does Dickinson Law provide disability accommodations?

Yes. Penn State and Dickinson Law welcome students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Students with temporary or permanent medical conditions or physical, cognitive, or psychological disabilities may be able to receive accommodations to eliminate barriers to their success. Accommodated students do not receive an advantage over others; rather, accommodations allow such students to not be at a disadvantage relative to other students as a result of conditions beyond their control. Please see Disability Accommodations Process.

Application Process

What is the application process?

For admission to the LL.M. program, applicants must submit an application via the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Only complete and verified applications received from LSAC will be reviewed. Please note that all applicants must register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). As part of that service, LSAC will compile official transcripts and letters of recommendation and send a comprehensive packet of these necessary documents to Dickinson Law.

What are the application fees?

Dickinson Law does not assess any application fees. However, LSAC does require certain fees that cannot be waived.

What are the application deadlines?

LL.M. students have the option of beginning the program in the fall semester (August) or the spring semester (January). The application cycle closes on December 1 or June 15 for the following semester. Completed and verified applications received via LSAC are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Typically, an applicant will receive notification within 2-3 working days of application completion. International students who require a visa for study in the U.S. should apply no later than six months ahead of the anticipated semester start date.

What is important to address in the personal statement?

Applicants must submit a brief personal statement (1-2 pages) that provides a clear and well-organized rationale for pursuing an LL.M. degree and specifically why the applicant has chosen to do so at Penn State Dickinson Law. This rationale should succinctly explain the applicant’s career plans and the relevance of an LL.M. degree in realization of those plans. Consider the personal statement akin to an interview with the law school. Make a strong first impression.

Are letters of recommendation required? 

No. Applicants are however encouraged to submit up to three letters of recommendation in English (or certified translations into English), including one from a law professor with whom the applicant previously studied. Recommenders should have knowledge of the applicant’s academic achievement and potential for a career in law. Each recommender should evaluate the applicant’s capacity for advanced study and potential for fulfilling the professional objectives for which the applicant seeks the degree. To the extent possible, letters should be specific to Penn State Dickinson Law and the LL.M. program.

Is it necessary to confirm attendance?

Yes. To confirm attendance, it is essential that LL.M. students submit a one-time, non-refundable seat deposit in the amount of $500, which will be credited toward the cost of tuition upon matriculation. Pay seat deposit here.

Can an LL.M. application be deferred? 

Yes, but only with approval of the Director of International Programs and Graduate Education. For any number of reasons, LL.M. students may need to defer admission for a semester. In such cases, a student may submit a formal request, explaining the reasons for the deferral, to defer admission to the immediate next semester following the initial targeted semester intake. Only those students who have submitted a one-time, non-refundable seat deposit will be approved. The seat deposit will be forfeited if a deferral request is not approved. (S.J.D. applications may not be deferred.) 

Career Development and Employment

What career support does Dickinson Law provide?

Students seeking career support and guidance should visit the Career Services Office. The Career Services team may be able to assist with career planning and preparations. Schedule a meeting by visiting the Career Services website.

Can LL.M. students pursue Optional Practical Training?

Yes. LL.M. students who have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which is temporary employment for purposes of gaining practical experience. Please see Penn State Global for more information.

While LL.M. students are generally eligible for Optional Practice Training, an offer of admission to Penn State Dickinson Law does not guarantee or imply promise of permanent employment in the U.S.

Is it possible to do the bar exam after the LL.M.?

Yes. Earning an LL.M. degree in the United States does not guarantee eligibility to sit for a bar examination. Each U.S. state sets its own eligibility requirements that should be considered. While the Dickinson Law curriculum provides all coursework necessary to sit for the New York bar examination, students must plan accordingly to ensure that appropriate coursework is completed. For more information, see The New York State Board of Law Examiners.

Can LL.M. students seek employment?

Yes. Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is limited and working without permission is a violation of status and a deportable offense. On-campus employment is permitted with certain restrictions. With permission, international students can work on-campus up to 20 hours during the semester and up to 40 hours during the winter and spring breaks.

Can LL.M. students complete an off-campus internship?

International LL.M. students are generally ineligible to conduct off-campus internships, whether paid or unpaid. Curricular Practical Training (CPT), employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, is potentially available to F-1 students who have been enrolled full-time for one academic year. Given the duration and structure of the LL.M. degree program, CPT is generally not available to LL.M. students. Please see Penn State Global for more information.

Eligibility Requirements

What are the admission requirements?

To be considered for admission, applicants must have completed, or be in the process of completing, a first professional degree in law. This is generally a J.D. from an ABA-approved, U.S. law school or the equivalent to the J.D. from an international law school. Successful applicants are often licensed to practice law and have significant professional experience in legal practice.

What are the English language proficiency requirements?

Applicants for whom English is a native language or those who have earned an academic degree from a college or university in which the language of instruction was English meet the language requirement. In some cases, an oral proficiency interview may still be required. For applicants who are not native English speakers and have not received a degree from a college or university whose language of instruction is English, a TOEFL, IELTS or similar score that demonstrates advanced proficiency in English is required. Applicants must provide evidence of a TOEFL score report of 88 or higher, an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher, a Duolingo English Test score of 120 or higher, or the equivalent.

How many LL.M. students are accepted each year?

The LL.M. program at Penn State Dickinson Law is highly selective with a limited number of highly qualified students admitted each year. The LL.M. cohort is kept intentionally small with generally fewer than 10 students enrolled each academic year.


How does the international student visa process work?

Once enrolled, international students will receive notice from iStart, Penn State’s immigration management system for international student and scholar advising. Each student will receive a message from Pre-Arrival Admissions that will explain what is needed regarding immigration compliance. Once the student has submitted the necessary documentation into iStart, an I-20 (assuming an F-visa type) will be sent within 2-4 weeks. The I-20 is a “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status” that allows a student to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Students on other visa types, including J-1 visas, will require different paperwork but the visa process itself is generally the same.

International students are supported by the Office of International Students and Scholars at Penn State Global for all immigration matters.

Are international students required to have health insurance?

Yes. Health insurance is mandatory for all international students. Each international student will be automatically enrolled in the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). To waive out of this requirement, one must submit a waiver request at the start of the semester documenting proof of insurance coverage that meets Penn State’s insurance requirements. SHIP does not cover visual or dental insurance. Direct questions to the Student Health Insurance Office at UHS-insurance@psu.edu.

Student Life

How do students get around?

The law school is only a 10-minute walk away from downtown Carlisle, and most law students live within a walking distance of the school. However, there is no major public transportation available in Carlisle. As such, some students have purchased cars and others have used bikes and rideshare options like Uber and Lyft. The Amtrak train connects Harrisburg to cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. One can get to Harrisburg from Carlisle via taxi or rideshare options like Uber and Lyft.

Are there student clubs and organizations?

Yes. At Dickinson Law, there are also many student organizations that allow students to become involved. Student organizations make it easier to meet classmates and learn about areas of the law or other interests. There is no limitation on how many student organizations a student can join. LL.M. students may also apply for executive board positions.

Is on-campus housing provided?

No. Dickinson Law does not provide on-campus housing. Fortunately, there is reasonably priced housing within walking distance of campus. Students are responsible for securing their own housing. View database of available housing and apartments.

Tuition and Scholarships

What is the cost of attendance?

For a breakdown of costs, including tuition, fees, books, and living allowances, visit Cost of Attendance. To reduce living expenses, most students establish a personal budget, opt to live with a roommate, shop at discount food stores, walk or bike to campus, bring their meals to campus, and more. Penn State offers student discounts on software, computers, clothes, and much more.

Does Dickinson Law offer scholarships to LL.M. students?

Yes. Penn State Dickinson Law is committed to providing every student access to a world-class education. All LL.M. applicants are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships at the time of admission.

How is tuition paid?

Tuition billing begins in August for fall semester and January for spring semester.  Click here for more information on tuition due dates. An e-mail notification will be sent to via official Penn State e-mail when the tuition bill is available to view and/or pay on LionPATH.  Click here for more information on paying tuition and payment options. Scholarships awarded through Penn State Dickinson Law will be reflected on one’s student account.  For more information on financial aid, please see here