Who Can Pursue an LLM?

The Master of Laws (LLM) is a postgraduate academic degree in law. This advanced legal qualification is often sought by individuals aiming to deepen their understanding of specific areas of law, advance their careers, or meet the requirements to practice law in different jurisdictions. But who exactly is eligible to pursue an LLM? This article will provide an in-depth look at the prerequisites and eligible candidates for an LLM program.

Educational Qualifications

The primary requirement for admission into an LLM program is a prior law qualification. This typically means that candidates must have completed a first degree in law, such as a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD).

Bachelor of Laws (LLB): Most LLM programs require applicants to possess an LLB degree or its equivalent. The LLB is a foundational law degree in many countries, including the United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

Juris Doctor (JD): In the United States and a few other jurisdictions, the JD is the standard first law degree. JD graduates are commonly eligible for LLM programs both domestically and internationally.

Legal Professionals

Practicing lawyers or legal professionals who wish to specialize in a particular field of law often seek out LLM programs. For instance, a corporate lawyer might pursue an LLM in International Business Law, or a human rights lawyer might opt for an LLM in Human Rights Law.

This pursuit not only adds specialization but also provides an opportunity for networking and career advancement.

International Law Graduates

Law graduates from outside the jurisdiction of the LLM program they are applying to are also eligible. Many international students pursue an LLM to understand the legal systems in globally influential jurisdictions such as the United States or the United Kingdom. This can open doors to practicing law in those countries or enhance their prospects in international legal affairs.

Academic Scholars

Aspirants intending to enter academia may also pursue an LLM degree. It provides a deeper understanding of a particular legal field and serves as a stepping stone towards a Ph.D. in Law, enabling individuals to pursue careers as law professors, researchers, or policy advisors.

Other Professionals

While a foundational law degree is the most common requirement, some programs might consider professionals from other fields who have significant experience and interest in law. For example, an experienced business executive or a policy analyst might be admitted to an LLM program in Commercial Law or International Relations, even without an LLB or JD.

Language Proficiency

For international applicants or programs conducted in a language other than their native tongue, demonstrating language proficiency is crucial. For English-language LLM programs, proficiency is often demonstrated through standardized tests such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System).


Pursuing an LLM degree is a viable option for a wide range of candidates including recent law graduates, practicing legal professionals, international students, academic scholars, and even experienced professionals from other fields. The primary criterion is typically a foundational degree in law, but exceptions exist depending on the program and institution. An LLM degree can be a significant tool for career enhancement, specialization, and scholarly advancement in the field of law.

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