The general LL.M. program offers law graduates an opportunity to broaden their backgrounds in certain specialized areas of law by enrolling in advanced courses and seminars and by engaging in specialized research. Although the Dedman School of Law awards no specific subject-designated LL.M. degrees under this program, students seeking this degree may concentrate in areas such as corporate and commercial law, international law, legal practice and procedure, natural resources law or property law. Formal concentrations are offered in some areas of law. Students interested in concentrations should consult with the Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs. With the approval of the Graduate Committee, applicants who do not hold a J.D. degree may be admitted into the general LL.M. degree program if they possess an academic or professional background that demonstrates their ability to succeed in this program despite not holding a prior law degree. Advanced degrees in other disciplines (e.g., Masters or Ph.D.s) and relevant work or academic teaching experience are possible criteria that could qualify such a candidate. To qualify, the academic background of the applicant must be such that they can be awarded six credit hours of advanced standing credit. Candidates admitted through this alternative process must complete at least an additional twenty-four credit hours to obtain their General LL.M. degree.
Admission to this program is by selection. An applicant for admission to the general LL.M. degree program must hold a J.D. degree from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. With approval of the Graduate Committee, lawyers holding law degrees from foreign law schools can be admitted.
Applicants must include with their applications a letter setting out their interest in entering the graduate degree program, two letters of recommendation and certified transcripts from their undergraduate and law schools. Each applicant must have, in advance of acceptance, the commitment of a Dedman School of Law faculty member to serve as the applicant’s academic adviser. The application, along with all supporting documentation, must be received in the Office of Graduate Legal Studies by April 15 of the year of intended enrollment or by December 1 for the following spring term. The law school makes decisions on a rolling basis and will accept applications after these dates.
The SMU Office of Financial Aid is available to assist students in obtaining student loans.
To receive the general LL.M. degree, the student must meet all of the following requirements:
- Residence in the Dedman School of Law for no fewer than two terms if a full-time student and no fewer than three terms if a part-time student.
- Completion of 24 credit hours in courses, seminars or research and writing recommended by the student’s academic adviser. A student entering the program must have a GPA of C or 2.0 on all courses taken. The requisite GPA of C or 2.0 must be obtained in the first 24 credit hours. Students will not receive credit for a course or seminar in which their grade is below D or 1.0.
With prior approval of the Committee on Graduate Legal Studies, a student may take four of the required 24 credit hours in graduate programs in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Perkins School of Theology or the Cox School of Business. The student will receive Dedman School of Law credit on completion of all work to the instructor’s satisfaction, but the grades will not be computed into the student’s law school average.
The student may be permitted to undertake directed research for a one-hour to three-hour graded paper if the student can obtain a faculty sponsor.
A student has the option of writing a master’s thesis (for four to six credit hours). This thesis must be written under the direction of a professor at the Dedman School of Law and must be approved by both the professor and the Committee on Graduate Legal Studies. After the supervising professor approves the thesis, the student must submit four copies of the thesis to the Committee on Graduate Legal Studies at least 60 days before the date on which the student seeks to receive the degree. In writing the thesis, the student must comply with committee instructions. A thesis is either approved or disapproved; it is not graded.
- Completion of all requirements within 36 months from the date of initial registration as a graduate law student. However, a candidate continuously enrolled as a part-time student has 60 months to complete all requirements.
- Students shall prepare a memorandum discussing what they hope to accomplish in the General LL.M., which shall be given to their supervisor at the beginning of their studies. Students shall prepare a memorandum prior to graduation discussing how their degree program has fulfilled their goals and reflecting upon their experience in the program.