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Degree Requirements

To earn an LL.M. degree, students must attend all classes in person at USC and successfully complete 21 units of credit over two semesters of study. The LL.M. program is offered on a full-time basis only and begins in the fall semester. Students interested in studying part-time may consider our online LL.M. program.

As part of the LL.M. degree, USC requires students to enroll in two courses in the fall semester: Introduction to US Legal Systems and Legal Research. These courses are designed to introduce foreign-educated individuals with the fundamentals of American law. The Introduction to US Legal Systems provides a survey of American law and familiarizes students with the history of the legal system, as well as foundational values of American law, such as due process and equality. Students satisfy their remaining course requirements over the two semesters by enrolling in upper division courses offered at USC Gould School of Law.

Bar "Track" Programs

USC does not provide formalized course "tracks"; however, we can assist students with choosing courses that help prepare them to sit for New York, California, or District of Columbia (D.C.) Bars. The office of Graduate & International Programs offers guidance to students prior to registration with determining which classes are needed to comply with bar requirements. Students are also encouraged to meet with our Registrar and Career Advisor to ensure the courses they select fulfill the graduation requirements and satisfy each student's individualized interests and needs.

Students who are not interested in sitting for a US Bar exam enjoy greater flexibility in their scheduling, as we only require two courses for the LL.M. degree. In some circumstances, students may enroll in courses outside of the law school, for example in our USC School of Cinematic Arts and Marshall School of Business. However, please note that courses taken outside the law school will not count towards the LL.M. degree.

Business, Entertainment, and ADR Certificate Programs

Many of our students tailor their course schedules around specialty areas such as Corporate/Business Law, Intellectual Property, Entertainment Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and International Law. For those who are interested in completing a certificate alongside their LL.M. degree, we offer a Business Law certificate, and an Entertainment Law certificate, and ADR certificate for our LL.M. students.

Our certificate programs allow students to delve deeply into a specialized subject matter. Additionally, because of the flexibility of our program, interested students may satisfy the requirements for the New York, California, or District of Columbia (D.C.) Bars as well as the requirements for our Business Law, Entertainment Law, or ADR certificate. Every LL.M. student is eligible to obtain a certificate; no prior coursework is required.


No transfer credit for work completed at other law schools will be granted toward the LL.M. degree at USC Gould School of Law.

LLM Degree Learning Objectives

Graduates of the LLM degree are expected to have developed a strong base of practical knowledge in theories, history, and usage of American law, to use to benefit their future careers. Learning objectives for students who complete the degree are as follows.

  1. Knowledge and understanding of the U.S. legal system, including:
    • basic structure and operation of government,
    • the American method of making, finding, and enforcing law,
    • the historical context in which the U.S. legal system was developed,
    • foundational values of American law such as due process and equality,
    • how the American legal system differs from the world's other legal systems.
  2. Fluency with advanced legal terminology, speaking and writing skills by reading substantive books, cases, statutes, and memoranda.
  3. The ability to perform legal research and analysis necessary for work in a variety of legal settings.
  4. Understanding of concepts of legal professionalism and ethics in the profession, and responsibilities required of representatives of clients and officers of the court.
  5. Practical knowledge for the legal profession, including the ways law is practiced in a real-world setting, so that they may directly and immediately use their skills in the workplace.
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