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Curriculum - Two-Year Extended LLM

First-Year Curriculum

Upon arrival at USC, your English proficiency will be assessed and you will enroll in oral and written English classes through USC's American Language Institute (ALI). This English coursework will prepare you to participate meaningfully in your law classes and will help you improve your oral and written skills. Please note that these courses are mandatory unless you are a native English speaker or receive a waiver, which will be determined by ALI at the time of your assessment. You may not waive out of this requirement through your TOEFL or IELTS exam scores.

ALI offers several courses to meet the needs of students at all levels of English proficiency. Depending on your performance during the fall semester, you may be placed in an additional English language course during the spring semester. You must complete all ALI courses into which you are placed and may not substitute one type of course for another.

During your first year in the Two-Year Extended LLM, you also will prepare for your LLM studies with coursework that teaches you about the foundational basis of the U.S. legal system. Upon successful completion of the first year, you will earn a Certificate in U.S. Legal Studies.

The first year follows a set schedule of classes:

Fall Semester

  • Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies I
  • Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture and Practice
  • Presentation Skills for International Lawyers
  • Fundamentals of Legal Writing Skills
  • American Language Institute course

Spring Semester

  • Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies II
  • Persuasive Advocacy
  • U.S. Common Law Analysis and Skills
  • Independent Study
  • American Language Institute course

You will also have the opportunity to enroll in an elective class, Introduction to Litigation in U.S. Courts, during the spring semester.

The second-year curriculum is the same as that offered to students in the one-year LLM degree. During your second year, you will be eligible to select one or more optional certificates to specialize your studies.

Degree Requirements and Courses

The Two-Year Extended LLM is offered on a full-time basis only and begins in the fall semester. During the first year, you may take up to four units of English-language courses through ALI and 16 units of law courses. During the second year, you must successfully complete 21 academic units over two semesters.

Course Descriptions

Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies I

This course is designed to help foreign law students succeed in our LLM degree by focusing on and improving your communication and listening skills. This course will help you improve your English in a legal setting by teaching you how to effectively read and brief cases, participate in class discussions and answer a law school exam. You will be encouraged to improve your vocabulary and pronunciation skills through group exercises and class discussions. In addition, you will learn listening strategies and techniques for taking clear and effective notes from lectures.

Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture and Practice

In this course, you will learn the foundation for U.S. law and culture, including the historical and contemporary development of U.S. law. The purpose of this course is to introduce and familiarize you with the practice of law in the U.S., specifically the common law system and government. The course will also feature guest speakers from a variety of legal backgrounds to help you understand the practice of law in different settings. You will also have the opportunity to attend a court hearing and report on the judge's findings. Classroom exercises will help you learn to work in groups, and further improve your legal writing, speaking and presentation skills.

Presentation Skills for International Lawyers

This course instructs you on the art of public speaking and effective communication in legal settings. You will practice and master public speaking and communicating in a variety of contexts, from informal conversations to legal academic presentations. You will have the opportunity to witness and learn from a variety of public speakers to integrate their techniques into your speaking. The goal of this course is to increase your overall ability to effectively communicate with a variety of audiences in a legal setting. In addition to content, the course will provide guidance on tone, language and presentation styles. At the end of the semester, you will have the opportunity to prepare and give your own presentations to the class on a legal topic of your choice.

Fundamentals of Legal Writing Skills

The purpose of this course is to improve your grammar, writing proficiency and ease of communication with commonly used legal communications and documents. You will learn to recognize and master legal vocabulary, sentence structure and appropriate tone for a variety of legal communications and documents. You will develop familiarity with a variety of legal documents, including scholarly articles, emails, case law, memoranda and other written work product. In addition, you will have the opportunity to draft your own sample documents and receive individualized feedback. At the end of the year, you will be required to submit a five- to seven-page paper on a particular legal topic.

Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies II

The second part of this course is designed to continue to assist international law students succeed in our LLM degree by focusing on and improving your communication and listening skills. During the spring semester, the course will focus on the professionalism aspect of the legal culture in the U.S., and you will learn how to interact with others in both formal and informal academic and professional environments.

Persuasive Advocacy

Designed to build on the communication and presentation skills students developed in Presentation Skills for International Lawyers, this course will further develop your persuasive advocacy skills. You will learn the fundamentals of persuasive legal advocacy through a variety of group exercises, including written works and presentations. This course will teach you the difference between objective and persuasive styles and help you develop your own effective persuasive technique in a variety of simulated interactions, including counseling a client, preparing for a trial and conducting a mock negotiation.

U.S. Common Law Analysis and Skills

This course builds on the basic understanding gained in Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture and Practice; here, you will take an in-depth look at how case law works in a common law system. You will learn how to analyze judicial decisions and understand how cases develop the law in the U.S, as well as learn how judicial opinions interact with other sources of law. Written assignments are designed to develop your legal analysis and critical thinking skills, and you will receive individualized feedback on your work.

Independent Study

You will analyze legal topics from a comparative perspective between U.S. law and your home country and prepare a 10-page report analyzing the relevant differences and similarities.

Intro to Litigation in U.S. Courts (optional)

Introduction to Litigation in U.S. Courts is designed to provide an overview of the United States legal system for those unfamiliar with common law courts. The reading and class discussions will provide a survey of the mechanics of the U.S. court system in both criminal and civil courts, as well as a slightly more detailed analysis of particular civil causes of action that provide a good comparison of adjudication in California vs. federal courts — torts and intellectual property disputes. The readings will likely also include selected case studies in which a more thorough analysis is appropriate.

American Language Institute Courses

Low Intermediate Oral Skills

This is a low-intermediate level course for both undergraduate and graduate students. This course explores aspects of oral and aural language in the American university setting, including skills in listening comprehension, speaking fluency, vocabulary building, pronunciation and oral grammar. You will develop listening and speaking skills through lecture and peer note-taking, formal and informal conversations, group discussions and oral presentations. In addition, you will learn key grammatical structures and pronunciation principles to facilitate effective communication.

Low Intermediate Writing Skills

This is a low-intermediate level course for both undergraduate and graduate students. This course explores aspects of written language in the American university setting, including skills in reading comprehension and fluency, vocabulary building, writing and written grammar. You will develop reading fluency and comprehension and will gain vocabulary strategies to improve vocabulary knowledge. You will also learn to communicate your ideas in written English using clear paragraph and essay forms. Review of key written grammar forms with an emphasis on error identification is also included.

Intermediate Oral Skills

In this course, you will work on the listening and speaking skills needed to succeed in the academic environment at USC. Authentic materials, including lecture excerpts, are used to develop listening skills. Assignments focus on different oral skills to help you participate in discussions, ask questions and give short presentations. Special attention is given to pronunciation issues that are often problematic for non-native English speakers. The overall goal of the course is to make you a more confident speaker of English.

Intermediate Writing Skills

In this course, you will work on reading and writing skills needed to succeed in the academic environment at USC. Authentic materials on general topics that a typical university student is likely to encounter will be used to develop reading skills. Unit assignments and course projects cover major components of academic writing, including understanding the organizational structure of academic papers, paraphrasing and summarizing others' ideas, and using outside sources to support arguments. These units will also cover specific language issues (grammar, vocabulary, register) that are often problematic for non-native English speakers. The overall goal of this course is to make your writing more accurate and academically appropriate.

Pronunciation Workshop

In this popular class, you will receive extensive individualized feedback and the tools to identify and independently address your own particular pronunciation challenges in North American English. The course covers broad aspects of pronunciation such as word stress, rhythm and intonation patterns, and introduces the mechanics of articulating consonants and vowels. Fun and useful activities in a variety of formats help you to increase your confidence speaking English by improving intelligibility in social and academic interactions.

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