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Graduate Degree Programs

Michigan Law has a long and proud tradition of welcoming international students. The Law School offers—in addition to the three year Juris Doctor (J.D.), the basic degree in law in the United States—four graduate degree options:

  • Master of Laws (LL.M.)
  • International Tax LL.M.
  • Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.), and
  • Doctor of the Science of Law (S.J.D.), for which prior completion of the
    LL.M. is a requirement

While the Law School student body totals about 1100 students from the U.S. and abroad, the size of the graduate degree programs has been kept small.  Each year, despite the large number of applications received, our graduate programs consist of approximately 35 - 45 students in the general LL.M., up to ten in the International Tax LL.M., and about ten S.J.D. students in residence.

Michigan Law’s commitment to the quality of academic life of our graduate students is the primary motivation for the small class size. For LL.M. students, it ensures full immersion in a top ranked and rigorous American law school. Two classes are designed specifically for LL.M.s, most of whom typically arrive with a civil law background; all other classes are taken together with the predominantly American J.D. students. The size and design of the graduate program ensures that graduate students not only get to know—and learn from—each other, but that they can also form friendships with J.D. students; that faculty are accessible and offer individual attention and mentoring; and that administrative support is readily available. Visiting researchers from abroad enjoy their brand new workspace in a large office adjacent to the Center for Comparative and International Law. They, too, find themselves in the midst of a stimulating peer group, where they benefit from each other’s intellectual experiences and insights in informal exchanges as well as in the frame of thought-provoking S.J.D. colloquia. For all, the Center for International and Comparative Law and the Assistant Dean of International Affairs offer support in administrative, academic, and personal matters on an individual basis.

“Even coming from a common law jurisdiction, I saw enormous differences in the legal education in Ireland and the US.  And the LLM at Michigan really opens your mind.  Academically, it was intensely focused, and at the same time we learned so much by meeting LLMs and JDs from all across the US and the world, sharing a sense of community, and taking advantage of lots of extracurricular events. I participated in Mr. Wolverine, a tongue-in-cheek event – something I don’t think you’d find at another law school. I can wholeheartedly recommend Michigan; it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Conor O’Hanlon, LLM ‘13
 Solicitor and Attorney,
Allen & Overy, New York

Academic Goals
Each of our graduate degree programs is designed with the overriding goal of enabling students to pursue a course of study reflecting their individual intellectual interests and career objectives. The graduate degree programs are intended primarily for individuals trained in law abroad who wish to engage in comparative legal study, gain a better understanding of the U.S. legal system, pursue a field of specialization, and/or to engage in advanced legal research. Graduate students attend an extensive orientation program prior to the start of classes. During orientation, each student meets with the Assistant Dean for International Affairs and a faculty member for individual advice on his or her selection of courses, seminars, and research projects in order to tailor a program to his or her specific needs and interests.

The Master's Degree Programs
Michigan Law offers two general master’s degree programs: the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and the Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.), as well as a specialized program: the International Tax LL.M. Each of these programs is described below in detail. All are designed to be completed in two terms of full-time study (one academic year), starting at the end of August and ending in early May. Some students remain in Ann Arbor during the summer to complete required research papers, provided their faculty research supervisors approve the time extension.

Master’s degree students benefit from the Law School’s acclaimed curricular strengths in a broad range of fields. These include, for example, corporate and commercial law, constitutional law, intellectual property, feminist jurisprudence, interdisciplinary perspectives on law, transnational law, litigation, legal theory, tax law, cyberlaw, environmental law, and civil rights law. Equally renowned is the School’s excellence in public and private international law, particularly in finance, tax, and litigation. The depth of the curriculum in the field of human rights, including refugee and asylum law, is unparalleled. Additionally, the Law School offers courses in non-U.S. legal systems, such as comparative constitutional law, European Union law, Chinese and Japanese law.

Many master’s degree students arrive with interest in particular subjects. Nonetheless, we encourage them to not only pursue specific subjects of professional usefulness, but also consider classes that expand the way they think about the law and legal problems. A typical program of study for the general LL.M. or M.C.L. might include courses in both U.S. and international or comparative law coupled with an interdisciplinary class and one of the core courses offered to first-year J.D. students, such as torts or criminal law, to gain a foundational understanding of common law legal analysis. A master’s degree student might combine the study of first-year U.S. contract law, corporate and securities law, and international trade, with a class in sex equality and one in legal philosophy to broaden his/her perspective on law. Another might take classes in torts, environmental law, administrative law, comparative federalism, American legal theory, economic analysis of law, and international litigation. Many of our students choose classes for the opportunity to engage with specific professors—not only for the course topic, but for the quality of their minds and the excitement of their intellectual approach to legal studies.