LL.M.s in the United States are not cheap. This post highlights the numerous scholarships available to LL.M. students.
American legal education (actually, all education in the US for that matter) is not cheap. For a world-renowned legal education, you are starting at tuition fees that exceed $50,000 USD. Combine that with rent, living expenses (that vary based on your personal habits), the exorbitant costs of textbooks, and airfares, you are looking at roughly around a $75,000 USD year.
While the above may be depressing to read, just be thankful you’re not an American undergrad who had to pay for (read: acquire debt) four years of undergrad at an expensive college and then fork out (read: acquire more debt) for another three years of legal education. You, international lawyer, are the lucky ones: after only one year of paying exorbitant/almost criminal tuition fees, you can have the imprimatur of the likes of Harvard, Yale, Stanford (etc.) on your curriculum vitae. If you are very lucky, you may get this imprimatur for (almost) free. In this post, I attempt to outline the main scholarships available to LL.M. programs (obviously, there are specific scholarships available for particular countries/geographical regions – this post does not address those). Without further ado, here are some of the main scholarships:
New York University School of Law
a) Global Hauser Scholarship
This is the best scholarship that NYU offers for LL.M. students; as such, it is not easy to get. The “full ride” scholarship pays for tuition, board, and a stipend (the value of the award is valued at approximately USD$90,000). Each year, the Hauser Committee (made up of prominent legal figures, including justices of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit) chooses 10 individuals to receive the scholarship. The biographies of the current scholars can be found here.
To be considered for the Hauser, in addition to the personal statement for the general NYU application, applicants must “electronically attach to the online application an essay of 500 to 750 words that briefly describes a current legal dilemma, controversy, or issue facing a country, a region, or the world, and suggests a strategy to address the problem.”
b) Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholarship
Below the Hauser Scholarship, is the Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholarship. As NYU described it, “[c]overing the cost of tuition for the full-time master’s degree programs, the Vanderbilt Scholarship is awarded to a select group of extraordinarily talented LL.M. candidates who have demonstrated outstanding academic promise and/or achievement in their respective field(s) of interest.”
This scholarship is given to about 10 LL.M. applicants per year. A current list of the Arthur T. Vanderbilt scholars can be found here. Unlike the Hauser, no essay is required to be considered; thus, all LL.M. applicants are considered for this scholarship.
c) Dean’s Graduate Award
These scholarships range from USD$15,000 to USD$30,000 and are credited against an LL.M. student’s cost of tuition. Like the Arthur T. Vanderbilt scholars, LL.M. applicants are automatically considered for the scholarships. While NYU does not state how many awards are given out, it is estimated that they give out 30-50 of these awards annually.
University of Michigan School of Law
Michigan Grotius Fellowship
Based in cold (read: freezing) Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan School of Law offers the generous and famous Michigan Grotius Fellowship.
As the website says, “Michigan Law is proud to award the prestigious Michigan Grotius Fellowship to several particularly exceptional LLM students and research scholars. Named after Hugo Grotius, the seventeenth century Dutch jurist generally regarded as the father of modern international law, the fellowships acknowledge superior academic and professional achievement in all areas of law and recognize the promise of a distinguished legal career following graduate study.
On your Michigan application, there is a form which requires you to state your financial resources and how much funding you require. If successful in receiving the Fellowship, the Fellowship will cover the amount you stated that you required (which, if your financial circumstances require, may be a full tuition scholarship). Generally, the Grotius Fellowship only covers tuition, not living expenses.
Up to 40% of the Michigan LL.M. class is given the Grotius Fellowship. While this may seem like a lot, given the small class size at Michigan (no more than 45 usually), it is not so absurd.
Harvard and Yale
Harvard and Yale do not provide any merit-based scholarships . These law schools only provide financial aid based on demonstrated need. Thus, for these schools you need to fill out their financial aid applications (including forms disclosing your parents’ financial means).
Given that Harvard and Yale only give out financial aid based on financial need, you cannot negotiate with them based on the scholarships you have received from other schools. For example, a NYU Hauser will not sway Harvard or Yale’s financial aid decisions.
(Stingy) Stanford Law School
Despite the campus looking like a billionaire’s mansion, the school does not provide financial aid for LL.M.s. Thus, unless you have sufficient resources or can secure funds from outside sources, Stanford may be financially out of reach.
Berkeley School of Law
Across the San Francisco Bay from Stanford is University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Headed up by its new dean, the renowned constitutional scholar, Erwin Cherminsky, Berkeley offers a great legal education in an amazing college town.
Berkeley is relatively secretive about its LL.M. scholarships. The law school’s website merely says it “offers selective, merit- or citizenship-based scholarships that are applied toward tuition and fees, which are awarded to a few outstanding admitted LL.M. students each year.”
The criteria for being awarded such a scholarship is uncertain. I have coached applicants who have been admitted to Harvard, Yale, and received NYU’s Hauser Scholarship, but did not receive any scholarship from Berkeley. Go figure.
University of Pennsylvania School of Law
a) Penn Law Merit Scholarships
Every LL.M. who applies for Penn (and checks a box) is automatically considered for Penn’s Law Merit Scholarships. These range from $5,000 USD to $40,000 USD. The Scholarship Committee states that it “considers the applicant’s academic, professional and personal background in making its scholarship allocation decisions.”
b) Human Rights Scholarships
In addition to the general scholarship noted above, Penn offers a specific scholarship for LL.M. applicants interested in human rights. The aptly titled “Human Rights Scholarship” is awarded to “outstanding students with a substantial, demonstrated commitment to human rights”. To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must submit an additional essay. ‘
However, securing this scholarship is not easy: the law school only offers one or two of these scholarships each year.
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School, in the upper-west side of Manhattan, offers a plethora of specific scholarships for individuals from particular geographical regions or with particular research interests (these can be accessed here). However, they do offer three more general scholarships/fellowships which require applicants to submit additional essays.
a) Human Rights Fellowship
The Human Rights Fellowship is “for individuals with extraordinary potential in the field of international human rights. The Fellowship is designed to support students pursuing an LL.M. degree at Columbia Law School who show exceptional commitment and potential to use their education to become innovators and leaders in human rights practice and/or academia.” The Fellowship can be either partial or full-tuition, and, if there is demonstrated financial need, can cover living costs.
b) Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship
Thanks to the Indian government, Columbia Law School has three fellowships for LL.M. students who wish to specialize in the study of international trade law, WTO law, and related topics. The Fellowship will, depending on financial need, provide partial to full tuition costs.
c) Appel Fellowship
The Appel Fellowship awards an annual prize, up to full tuition for one academic year, to a candidate who “intends to focus his or her research at Columbia Law School on regulatory or policy issues emerging from the trans-boundary operations of multinational or transnational enterprises [that’s a mouthful!], with priority given to students from emerging economies”. Topics may include issues relating to, for example, corporate governance, labor issues, environmental concerns, or human rights.
This is not free money, however. The Fellow is expected to participate in a relevant research seminar culminating in a workshop on the subject that brings to the Law School prominent scholars and practitioners. Talk about pressure.
To apply for this fellowship, applicants must submit an additional separate two-page essay describing your background, interest in this area of law, and the research you would undertake at the Law School if you are awarded the fellowship.
An LL.M. in the United States is not cheap, but there is a lot of money up for grabs. Most applicants I talk to know everything about particular law schools but are oblivious as to the multitude of scholarships available.
If you would like assistance with your scholarship application, negotiating your financial aid/scholarship (yes, this can and does happen), or general scholarship guidance, please do get in touch. My clients have helped secure hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of funding to top LL.M. programs.
Prepare for the Journey, LLMSherpa