Destination USA: Choose your law programme carefully

Master of Laws is a popular law degree appropriate for international students. The degree is offered with a variety of specialties and students are generally allowed to design the programme on their own

By Author  |  Published: 12th Jan 2020  12:03 amUpdated: 11th Jan 2020  11:56 pm

Continuing our discussion on professional master’s programmes, today we will talk about law programmes at US universities. International students have various options to pursue master’s programmes in law in the United States.

The Master of Laws (LLM) is a popular law degree appropriate for international students. The degree is offered with a variety of specialties and students are generally allowed to design the programme on their own.

Another option is the Master of Comparative Law (MCL), also called Master of Comparative Jurisprudence (MCJ). Since the US legal system is different from those of other countries, this programme acquaints international students with common law as practiced in the United States.

Programmes in international law or international business law are also of interest to foreign students. While pursuing master’s programmes in law, international students can observe the US legal system, including courts and government agencies.

Almost all master’s programs in law last one year and generally admit students only for the fall semester. Entrance requirements include a first degree in law, a strong academic background, letters of reference, a statement of purpose and/or writing samples, and a high level of English proficiency as demonstrated by TOEFL or IELTS. The first degree in law could be a Juris Doctor (JD) from a US law school or a first law degree (JD, LLB or the equivalent) from a foreign law school.Most graduate law programmes do not require standardised admissions tests.

It is important for readers to understand that the first professional law degree in the US is the juris doctor (JD). JD programmes are of three years duration, and are pursued after four years of undergraduate (bachelor’s programme) study in any major.

Admission requirements for the programme include fluency in English, good undergraduate academic record, and a satisfactory score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). JD programmes do not usually focus on a single concentration, but a student may opt for courses that emphasise particular subject areas, such as taxation or international law.

The JD degree prepares its candidates for the practice of law in the United States. However, to practice in the United States, graduates must also pass the bar examination and other requirements in the State where they wish to work. The learning in this programme is not easily transferable for practice in other countries and hence JD is usually not a preferred programme of study by international students who intend to return back to their country for the practice of law.

— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad).

Q&A:

Q. I am in Class XI. I am considering applying for US for bachelor’s degree. My friend told me about AP exams. Can you please explain what are these exams?
— Anika Rao

A. The SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, the ACT, and Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are various test options for undergraduate (bachelor’s programme) applicants to US universities. Advanced Placement is a programme in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students.

AP Exams allow students to earn course credit hours (depending on the test scores) that in turn help them get waivers for introductory college courses, fulfil their general education requirements, and make them eligible for upper level courses. The test usually lasts around three hours and contains both multiple choice and free-response questions. AP Exams are offered in 34 subjects, in the areas of Art, English, History and Social Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, Sciences, and World Languages and Cultures. Please check (https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse) for the list of subjects under each area. Many secondary schools outside the United States offer authorised AP courses. You can also take an AP test without taking an AP class. But if you decide to take an exam without taking a class, you might want to check out the College Board website for information about how the test is structured and what it tests. The test is scored on a scale of 1-5 and offered once a year in the month of May. For further information on scheduled test dates in India, please visit: (https://international.collegeboard.org/prepare-to-study-in-the-us/ap-in-india)

Q. I am starting my master’s programme in the US in Spring 2020. Do I need to buy health insurance? If so, from where should I buy the policy?
— Rajesh Rao

A. Health insurance is a must in the United States as medical care tends to be relatively expensive.You may choose to buy university health insurance or buy one from an external insurance provider. It is important that you carefully compare plans before buying the policy. Some universities may not allow you to purchase plans from external providers. In that case, you will have to rely on your university’s insurance policy, which is often the most cost-effective and comprehensive option.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Every question has an answer. And ‘Destination USA’ will strive to provide the right answer to all those youngsters who dream of studying in the US. Mail your questions and doubts to [email protected] to have subject matter experts answer them, right from the degree and programme of study you can pursue to what the application process entails, on universities, how to prepare resumes, financing your studies and even how it is like to live and study in the US, all are welcome.


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