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Admission Requirements

Requirements for all programs:

In addition to the below program-specific requirements, please review our English  Proficiency requirements that apply to all graduate programs.

Successful participation in any of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Graduate Programs requires a high level of English proficiency. The quantity and quality of academic work required at the Law School cannot be accomplished without prior mastery of the English language, including the ability to understand rapid, idiomatic English and the ability to express thoughts clearly in both spoken and written English.            

The Law School does not have a minimum score requirement. In general, we look for a TOEFL score of at least 100 (with a least 23 in each section) or IELTS score of 7 (with at least 7 in each section).   However, a lower score in one area or overall does not automatically preclude an applicant from consideration for the Law School’s graduate programs. Applicants whose test score(s) falls below the above targets, should address their English language skills in their personal statement. Recommenders can also address the applicant’s English Language ability in their letters.           

Applicants who believe that their English language listening or speaking abilities are not accurately measured by their TOEFL or IELTS scores should consider utilizing “InitialView.”  These interviews are not required and the applicant bears the cost. For further information and to schedule an interview, please contact InitialView directly at Please note that this is in addition to submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score and not a substitute for either.

Covid Update: Due to exceptional circumstances, in addition to the in-person versions of the IETLS and TOEFL tests, Penn Carey Law will accept the IELTS Indicator, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, and the TOEFL IPT Plus for students in countries/regions where an in-person test is not available. In-person tests are required where available. Applicants who submit the at-home version may be asked to submit to a subsequent in-person test result, if it becomes available, and/or be required to undergo additional language assessment prior to a final admissions decision and/or matriculation.

The Law School does not grant conditional admission to applicants with insufficient English language skills and all applicants must have achieved the language proficiency noted above by the time their application is submitted.

Even if you are a native English speaker or have a law degree from a US law school, you must submit a score or seek a waiver.

Program Specific Requirements:

LLM Program

Applicants to the LLM program must already hold a law degree or expect to receive one prior to matriculation.

The Law School’s LLM class is made up of lawyers from around the world with a wide range of legal experience.  Although most of our successful applicants have at least some work experience, some applicants are accepted directly from first law degree (or masters) program.

The Graduate Programs Admissions Committee can, in some circumstances, admit students to the LLM program that do not already hold a law degree. Typically, such students will hold a graduate degree in a related field, will have already embarked on an academic or professional career, and/or are licensed to practice law in their home jurisdiction. The applicants must be able to show how legal training is important to the advancement of their career and/or their scholarly work and that they have sufficient legal training to be able to be successful in the program.

Although the Law School’s LLM is designed for foreign trained attorneys, U.S. JD graduates are permitted to apply. However, to receive serious consideration, applicants must be able to demonstrate an exceptional level of academic achievement and how they would contribute to the class.

Although we cannot evaluate credentials outside the formal admissions process, we will provide guidance on eligibility to apply.  Please contact for assistance.

LLCM Program

Applicants to the LLCM program must meet the same requirements as those applying to the LLM program.  In addition, they must have completed (or will complete by matriculation) an LLM at a US law school. 

The Graduate Programs Admissions Committee cannot consider an LLCM application until receiving at least one semester of grades from the prior LLM. The committee strongly suggests that applicants provide at least one letter of recommendation (if not more) from the applicant’s US LLM program.

SJD Program

The SJD is the highest law degree offered by the University of Pennsylvania. All applicants must have already earned an LLM, JD, or equivalent degree from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School or another, comparable institution. All applicants must have a well-stated scholarly agenda, with an area of research and appropriate research methodology clearly outlined. Candidates must also provide a writing sample in English. Learn more about SJD requirements.