Below are some tips, secrets and surprises on LL.M. application deadlines. Follow them to help ensure that you meet the deadline of the U.S. law school(s) you want to attend!
Also, click here to find the LL.M. application deadlines for 148 different U.S. Law Schools in over 40 U.S. States, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
1. The LL.M. deadline is part of the “formal component” of your LL.M. Application.
All LL.M. applications have two components: (a) a formal component; and (b) an informal component.
On the formal side, your LL.M. application will contain proof of your academic success such as transcripts, diplomas, certificates, list of honors, record of work experience and extra-curricular activities, recommendation letters, personal statements and essays, CV or resume, English language proficiency test scores, and possibly a phone or in-person interview.
An important part of the formal side of the application is the deadline – you must formally submit your application by the deadline identified by the school. Your accomplishments and merit will not be persuasive if your application is not received in a timely fashion.
The informal side of your LL.M. application consists of impressions the admission committee may gather from the courteous or non-courteous manner in which you communicate with them, your application’s tidiness or sloppiness, your perceived ability or inability to follow directions, and your general attitude, as perceived by the admission committee and others at the law school with whom you come into contact during the application process. The admission committee might form an impression, favorable or otherwise, based on the timing of your application – Did you meet the deadline? Did you beat the deadline? Did you miss the deadline? Does it appear as though your application is sloppy because you rushed to meet the deadline?
Please respect and follow all LL.M. applications deadlines! Begin preparing your application early enough so you do not have to rush to submit by the deadline.
2. Identify and understand the different types of LL.M. Application Deadlines
There are multiple types of LL.M. application deadlines, including: (a) Fixed deadline; (b) Rolling admission deadline; (c) Early admission deadline; (d) Flexible deadline; (e) International v. U.S. student deadline; (f) Part-Time deadline; and (g) Full-Time Deadline.
a. Fixed LL.M. Application deadline.
Schools with a “fixed deadline” set a date on which all applications must be submitted. The school will not consider for admission any applicant who submits an application post-deadline. If you miss the deadline, you are out of luck for that year! However you
Regarding rejecting "late" / post-deadline LL.M. applications, for example, one U.S. law school notes that applications postmarked after the deadline “will not be processed”.
Fixed deadlines permit the admission committee to have all applications in hand at the same time to make easier comparisons among all candidates. An early, fixed deadline permits early admission decisions, allowing more time for admitted students to prepare to attend.
Schools with fixed deadlines tend to have highly competitive admissions, meaning that they receive applications from far more people than they admit. Less competitive schools with fewer applicants may have more flexibility in accepting applications after any posted application deadline.
b. Rolling admission deadline (with or without a fixed deadline).
Many schools admit on a “rolling basis” or “until the class is filled”. These schools may decide to admit or not admit each applicant as the particular application is complete. If you submit your applications early, you may have a better chance of being admitted and you will certainly have more time to decide which school is “best” for you. One school indicated that applications “will continue on a rolling basis until the program is full”. But, how do you know when the program “full”?
If the school has a fixed deadline, but also admits on a rolling basis, in theory the class could get filled before the fixed deadline! The school will accept applications until the fixed deadline, but if many applicants are submitted very early – before the fixed deadline – and since the school is constantly reviewing applicants and admitting students, in theory the school could fill its class before the fixed deadline.
One U.S. law school notes that applications postmarked after the deadline “will not be processed”, even though “[a]dmission decisions are made on a rolling basis”.
A school can admit based on a rolling basis even without a firmly fixed deadline. This may be the case at schools that receive fewer applications, and the application period may be spread out over a longer period of time. Schools will make a decision on each application as soon as that application is complete. The school will not wait until all applications are submitted before making admission offers.
c. Early Admission Deadline.
Some schools have an “early deadline” date, requiring that applications be submitted at the beginning of an application cycle. The school promises to make “early” admission decisions for applicants who meet the early application deadline.
For example, a school may have an early application deadline of 15 November 2013 for applicants who want to enroll in the LL.M. program the following Fall / Autumn (August / September 2014). The school may promise that if you submit your application by 15 November 2014, it will inform you of its admission decision by 31 December 2013.
Early decisions are helpful for schools, since the schools can sort out as soon as possible which students will join its LL.M. class the following year.
Early decisions are helpful for applicants, since if you are admitted early to a school you want to attend, you will not have to wait, patiently, for what could be many months for a decisions. Also, if you apply early to a school you want and that school informs you early that it will not accept you, then you may still have plenty of time to apply to other schools during the regular LL.M. application cycle. (LL.M. application cycles are discussed below.)
d. Flexible deadlines.
Some schools may announce that they have a “fixed LL.M. application deadline”, but in fact they have some flexibility. Sometimes they will announce on their website that there is some flexibility. Other times the schools will treat applications with flexibility without officially acknowledging that flexibility.
It is best practice to submit on or before the fixed deadline. However, if you miss a deadline, please recognize that the school may be flexible, and may accept your application after the stated fixed deadline. That is, some schools will not advertise deadline “flexibility” even though they practice flexibility.
Schools with flexible deadlines may accept applications post-deadline and admit late-applying students close to the beginning of classes. If a school has empty seats in its class, it will admit students who fit the school’s criteria, even if the application is “late”. It’s like airline travel—airlines would rather have the flexibility to be able to fill the plane on the travel day, rather than let the plane leave with empty seats. Some schools would rather fill their LL.M. class at the last minute, rather than begin classes with empty spots in their LL.M. class. So go ahead and apply after deadlines if you have to!
If you have financial resources available and can get your visa and other documents processed before the semester begins, the school may admit you after the deadline. Indeed, I have witnessed students admitted late who arrived at the school in the U.S. after classes began for the semester!
e. International student v. U.S. student deadline
Some schools may have an earlier deadline for international students who require a visa and a later deadline for U.S. citizen or permanent resident applicants. Schools may require more time to review international applications, and international students may need more time for U.S. student visas and logistical arrangements for traveling to the U.S. for school. U.S. citizen / permanent resident applicants will not need visas.
f. Full-time deadline.
The typical LL.M. deadline is for full time students who wish to earn their LL.M. degree in the traditional period, which is one academic year consisting of 2 semesters. This is the case for the vast majority of U.S. and international applicants at all U.S. law schools.
If an LL.M. program website mentions an application deadline but does not mention whether it is for full-time or part-time students, you may presume that the announced deadline is for full-time students, as a default.
Please note that international LL.M. students are not permitted to enroll in a part-time program. The U.S. government requires students on student visas to be enrolled full-time.
g. Part-time deadline.
Some schools have a separate deadline for their part-time LL.M. programs. These deadlines tend to be later than full-time program deadlines, with students permitted to apply very close to the time that classes begin. However, please note that the U.S. government requires international LL.M. students on visas to be enrolled in full-time programs, and they cannot enroll in part-time programs.
International students who enroll at U.S. law school LL.M. programs are not permitted to enroll in a part-time program. The U.S. government requires students on student visas to be enrolled full-time.
3. It is better to apply as early as possible!
If there is a deadline, you should endeavor to meet it. Some schools—particularly very competitive schools with hundreds or thousands of applications—will not even open an application that arrives after the deadline, no matter how compelling the application.
However, many schools will consider applications received post-deadline if the class is not “full”. Most schools are interested in accommodating as many LL.M. students as possible, so long as those students have the requisite academic background and promise, and of course if they can pay the tuition.
4. Should I apply if the official deadline has passed?
Yes! Apply even if the official deadline passed.
Some schools maintain flexibility in their admission process, even if they advertise non-flexibility. What do you have to lose in submitting a late LL.M. application? Of course, please try to submit before the deadline, as early as possible, to help maximize possibilities.
5. The typical LL.M. program deadline schedule – the application cycle.
U.S. law schools generally admit students to begin study either in August (for the fall term) or in January (for the spring term). Application deadlines are tied to these enrollment dates, as schools need adequate time to process applications and admit students. Also, students need time to accept an offer, acquire their visas, and make financial and travel arrangements.
6. Fall / Autumn admission deadlines – The Fall cycle.
For Fall / Autumn entry (August / September), applications from international students may be due 10 months in advance—as early as October or November of the previous year for competitive schools. But for other schools, international student applicants are typically due no later than April or May – only 4 or 5 months before classes begin. It is important to meet each school’s deadline. But if you miss the deadline, you should apply anyway. Some schools may accept your late application, and if you have a suitable application, may admit you.
7. Spring admission schedule – The Spring cycle
Some schools do not permit LL.M. students to begin their program in the spring semester (commencing in January). For schools that permit January enrollment, deadlines for international students would ordinarily be no later than October. However, if necessary, apply in November or December . . . maybe the school will admit you to begin in January, if you have time to acquire your visa (if necessary) and arrange to arrive on the LL.M. campus in time for January classes to commence.
8. Last minute application tips.
a. Apply as early as possible. If you apply early and the admission committee asks you follow up questions, you may have time to answer. Applying by deadlines demonstrates that you can follow directions, reinforcing your competence, interest, commitment and potential.
b. Reflect before you hit the “send button”. After you finish preparing your applications, set them down for a few days. Reflect on your answers to the questions. Review for errors. Only then should you submit your application.
But remember, beat deadlines!
c. Be patient! After you submit your application, do not bombard the LL.M. administration with petty questions via e-mail or phone. More than one administrator has noted that their school marks these “unimpressive inquiries” in their database and takes them into account when deciding whether to admit. Prepare your application as best you can. Submit it it…before the deadline!