Between juggling job, family, and personal commitments, you might be wondering how far ahead you should be applying for an LL.M. While the answer varies, we’ve broken it down below. And remember, while we’ve outlined general rules, the tips below will help you decide the time that is right for you and your program.
How far ahead should I apply for an LL.M.?
In general, U.S. educated applicants should begin securing transcripts, writing their personal statement, securing letters of recommendation, and other application requirements three to four months in advance of the deadline.
For foreign educated candidates and those who will need a visa, six to nine months is a good lead time. The earlier you apply the better, especially if your LL.M. program allows for course selection.
Guidelines for your LL.M. application timeline
Once you figure out which LL.M. program is right for you, research its requirements and make a list of what information is due when. If you are a domestic candidate, you may have it a bit easier. For applicants needing a student visa, you may want to get started much sooner, as we’ll detail below.
Pay attention to deadlines
The official deadline for Stetson Law’s International Law LL.M. application is July 1. Stetson’s LL.M. programs in Advocacy and Elder Law have later deadlines – August 1. This final submission deadline mainly applies to domestic applicants and international applicants who are currently in the United States and do not need to obtain a new visa to continue their studies.
Applying through LSAC LL.M. Credential Assembly Service (CAS) or right to the school
If you are required to apply to your LL.M. program through LSAC’s LL.M. CAS, you will want to allow yourself more time. If you have the option of using the LSAC LL.M. CAS service and are only applying to one LL.M. program, you may be able to save some money by applying to the school directly.
If you are applying to several schools, this service may be of great value and could save you money (the cost to request transcripts can really add up!). Domestic candidates only pay for the Document Assembly Service (DAS); Foreign-educated candidates pay for DAS and the International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service (ITAES).
Need a student visa?
For those applying from abroad, you will need to apply much earlier than July 1 to allow time for visa processing. Take into consideration the time required for the entire admission process, which includes application submission and review, submission of documentation for visa paperwork, transport of visa paperwork, appointment scheduling and attendance at the local embassy or consulate, and, finally, waiting for the approval.
In some countries, appointments can be made the same week and approvals are done in 24 hours. In others, it may take longer. In certain situations it can take up to three months for a deep background check called administrative processing.
To speed up the process when you are planning to submit your application or while you are waiting for a response, make sure you have access to your passport and check that it will not expire for six months after the program begins and collect proof that you can afford the cost of the program. Proof of funds can be shown from one’s own account, a family or friend’s account, or from funds from an employer or another third party source. For international applicants we suggest applying no later than April 1 to be cautious; however, we will continue reviewing applications past this date.
For foreign-educated candidates, your school may allow you to purchase authentication/evaluation from another service instead of LSAC’s ITAES. No matter what service you use, allow plenty of time to secure the transcripts and have them evaluated. Many schools will want a course-by-course evaluation and that can take more time.
If you’re ready to get started, apply now!