LL.M. students enter in the fall semester. Over the course of one academic year, students are required to take 24 hours of course work to receive the LL.M. degree. UNC requires LL.M. graduates to achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.25, just as it does for its J.D. graduates.
Students who have not received their legal training in common law countries receive grounding in the American law tradition through Foundations in United States Common Law. All students receive the essential training for those working with American law in the United States Legal Research and Writing course. Students then pursue an academic plan that fits their individual professional needs, choosing from among select first-year courses and most upper-level courses available to the J.D. program.
Two core courses are required for graduation:
Foundations in United States Common Law
- This course provides an introduction to the substantive and procedural law of the United States, to the legal system of the United States, and to distinctive aspects of the Anglo-American system of common law, thereby bridging the gap between students' understanding of their home countries' legal systems and the United States legal system. It focuses on torts and contracts. Students holding law degrees from countries with predominately common law traditions may be exempted, upon the determination of the Faculty LL.M. Director, from this requirement.
United States Legal Research and Writing
- Students will learn basic techniques of legal research, writing and analysis in the context of American professional practice. Through a series of research and writing tasks, students will develop proficiency in researching legal issues, framing legal arguments and analyzing legal problems. All LL.M. students are to take this course during the fall semester of their studies.
UNC's LL.M. program is designed to give broad exposure to United States law and therefore has no formal concentrations or specialized degrees. However, students may concentrate their studies in the areas of their own special interest, such as corporate and commercial law, intellectual property, environmental law, health care and international and comparative law.
Writing a thesis is not required for the completion of the LL.M., and most students choose instead to take additional course work, often concentrating their selected courses in a field of particular interest. With approval of the LL.M. Faculty Director, interested students may be allowed to complete a thesis for six hours of credit. Based upon discussion with the LL.M. Faculty Director, the six credits would be completed by enrolling for thesis hours for three credits each semester or for six credit hours in the spring semester. The thesis option should be particularly attractive for students with an interest in academic careers. The thesis may be prepared on a broad range of legal topics selected by the student in conjunction with his or her selected faculty thesis supervisor.
Credit toward LL.M. Degree for Courses Taken as an Exchange Student at UNC Law School
Applicants to the LL.M. program who previously took courses at UNC Law School as part of a student exchange program with one of UNC’s formal exchange program partners may apply for advanced standing. A maximum of twelve credits earned in graded courses within the Law School while an exchange student may be accepted toward the UNC LL.M. degree as determined by the Faculty Director of the LL.M. Program under the following requirements:
- The exchange program courses must have been completed within five years of entering the LL.M. program
- The applicant must have earned a grade of B (3.0) or higher in the course
- Courses taken outside the UNC Law School (e.g., UNC graduate or undergraduate courses) and ungraded or pass/fail courses are not eligible for credit
- No LL.M. credit is awarded for the one-credit exchange program course Introduction to United States Law offered beginning in the fall of 2012.
For exchange students enrolling at UNC Law School starting with the fall of 2012, except for allowance of credits for previously completed law school courses as described above, all LL.M. degree requirements apply. Students who completed the three-credit Introduction to United States Law taught prior to the fall of 2012 are not required to complete the Foundations in U.S. Common Law course but may do so if they choose. The grades in the previously completed courses are ignored in determining whether the student’s grade point average meets the LL.M. graduation requirement.
With the credit for previously completed law school courses while an exchange student, it is possible to earn the LL.M. degree with as little as one full semester of UNC Law School study. Students granted advanced standing must enroll in the fall semester when the two required courses are taught.
Courses in Other University Departments
A student may be granted permission by the Faculty Director of the LL.M. and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to take course work in other graduate divisions of UNC-Chapel Hill for up to three hours of credit toward the law degree. The course work must be shown to contribute significantly to the student's legal education and permission must be obtained prior to enrollment in the course. A grade of P or better (on the basis of the usual graduate school grading criteria of H, P, L and F) will be transferred to the student's law record on a credit basis. The grade will not be averaged into the student's cumulative grade point average. This policy is not designed to affect the continuing opportunities available to law students to take or audit courses in other divisions of the University on a noncredit (toward the law degree) basis.
UNC Graduate School Programs: http://gradschool.unc.edu/academics/degreeprograms/