Courses of Study 2023-2024 
    Jun 25, 2024  
Courses of Study 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Degree Programs

In the Law School .

Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree

Cornell Law offers a highly-rated national law curriculum leading to the three-year J.D. degree. The curriculum reflects a broad range of ideas current in American legal education.

Students can combine their J.D. degree with other International Law Programs:

  • J.D. with Berger International Legal Studies Specialization
  • J.D./ LL.M. in International and Comparative Law

Academic Requirements

All degree programs below are in person, in Ithaca, unless otherwise noted. Learn more about the Law School’s degree programs.

J. D. Degree Program

Students must satisfactorily complete 84 semester credit hours.

Students may take up to 12 credit hours of graduate-level courses related to legal training outside the Law School, subject to the approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs during their second and third years.

Students must complete:

  • one Professional Responsibility course,
  • one Writing course, and
  • six credit hours of Experiential Learning course(s).

J. D. Degree - Berger International Legal Studies Specialization

This program prepares students for international private practice, business that is international in scope, or government service. A slightly heavier load is required than for the J.D. (five credits more, 89 credits instead of 84 credits), as well as additional coursework in public international law, comparative law, and in conflicts of law.

J.D. Degree / LL.M. Degree in International and Comparative Law 

Cornell Law offers an opportunity to its students to earn both a J.D. degree and an LL.M. degree in three years, including one session at the Cornell Law School-Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Summer Institute of International and Comparative Law in Paris.

Students may apply for admission to the J.D./LL.M. program upon initial application to the Law School. Alternatively, they may apply for admission to the program after matriculation.

The J.D./LL.M program requires 24 upperclass credits in international and comparative law, in addition to the 84 credits required for the J.D. degree.

The 24 required credits must include:

  • Three specifically-designated courses — Public International Law; Comparative Law and Conflict of Laws

The 24 required credits may include:

  • A thesis option, which requires satisfactory completion of a five credit thesis
  • Up to four of the twelve language class credits available to all J.D. students, if taken at the graduate level
  • Courses that are taken—in accordance with the law school’s rules and regulations and if related to international, comparative, or foreign law—in other divisions of Cornell University, including its area studies programs (East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Institute for African Development, Latin American Studies and the Institute for European Studies)
  • Approved courses that are taken by participants in the law school’s Semester Abroad Program, in which J.D./LL.M. students may earn up to sixteen credits for study at an approved foreign law school or faculty.

The J.D./LL.M. degree may also be completed with the following partner universities:

  • Humbolt University of Berlin
  • University of Heidelberg

J.D./LL.B. Program with Jindal Global Law School

The Law School offers a three-year J.D./LL.B. or J.D./B.A.-LL.B. advanced standing program with Jindal Global Law School. Participants, who are nominated by Jindal Global Law School and admitted by Cornell, complete at least two years of advanced study at Jindal Global Law School before arriving at Cornell. They must complete 62 credits at Cornell over two years. Following completion of studies at Cornell, the participants receive a J.D. from Cornell University, in addition to a B.A./LL.B. or LL.B. degree from Jindal Global Law School. 

Cornell Law School Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree

Application Requirements

Applicants include experienced lawyers, in-house counsel, judges, government officials, and recent law school graduates. The program is highly selective and admission is based on a holistic review of the entire application including prior academic performance, recommendations, and work experience.

To be considered for admission to the General LL.M. program, applicants must have:

  • Earned a first degree of law outside the United States prior to the start of the program.
  • Proficiency in English as demonstrated by all aspects of the application and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS), if required.

We accept both the internet-based (iBT) TOEFL and IELTS test scores. If submitting a TOEFL score you must request that the Educational Testing Service send your official score report(s) to LSAC using the institution code number 8395. For IELTS, you must request that your official IELTS score report(s) be sent to the LSAC Credential Assembly Service for electronic download using the IELTS system. A high level of English proficiency is needed to complete the General LL.M. program. While all applications will be reviewed regardless of ESL scores, successful applicants typically have a minimum TOEFL overall score of 100 or a minimum IELTS overall band score of 7.0.

Applicants should plan to take either test prior to December. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid only if dated within two years of the program’s application deadline.

The English language proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant meets at least one of these criteria:

  • is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (except Quebec).
  • at the time you enroll at Cornell, you will have studied in full-time status for at least two academic years within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, or with English language instruction in Canada or South Africa. Even if English was the language of instruction at your school, if you did not study in one of these countries you are not exempt from the requirement. You must submit a transcript that shows you attended college in one of the approved locations, and that your academic program was at least two years in length.

If you meet the criteria, you may request a waiver by uploading an addendum to your online application with the appropriate documentation.  Waiver requests are reviewed with complete applications only.

Degree Requirements

The General LL.M. program requires the completion of 20 credits during two semesters of full-time study. Degree requirements include:

  • Completion of the two-credit Introduction to the American Legal System course;
  • One three-credit seminar with a substantial writing component that satisfies the writing requirement or Principles of American Legal Writing. This can be substituted with a three-credit paper supervised by a faculty member or a five-credit Master’s thesis; and
  • An additional 15 credits fulfilled by choosing courses from Cornell Law School’s extensive curriculum, including most first-year and upper-level courses. You can also take courses in other divisions of the university.
  • Those planning to sit for the New York Bar exam must complete 24 credits of in classroom law school coursework, which must include a professional responsibility course, a legal research, writing and analysis course, and core subjects covered by the New York State bar exam and the New York Law Exam.

Cornell Tech LL.M. Program

Candidates for the Master of Laws degree in Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (Tech LL.M.) must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 32 credits of work over two semesters.

The first part of the curriculum is comprised of core law courses. Students with a demonstrated strength in other subject areas may substitute courses, subject to approval of the Director of the Tech LL.M. program, as well as scheduling constraints and faculty approval.

The second part is made up of courses from other parts of Cornell University. In addition, students will select elective courses in the spring.

The third part of the curriculum integrates LLM, technology and business students on project teams, tasked with developing new products and capitalizing on innovation opportunities for startups and larger companies. Tech LL.M. students will also provide legal support to team projects, as well as to other projects by faculty, staff, and students at Cornell Tech, in each case supervised by an experienced practitioner or practitioners. Learn more about degree requirements on the Cornell Tech page .

Cornell Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) Degree

Degree Requirements: Minimum of 2 residency semesters, minimum of 4 registration units, 3 committee members, prospectus, dissertation defense (B exam), and dissertation.

Special Committee: Each member of the committee represents an interest within the dissertation. The Special Committee Chair represents the greatest interest.

Prospectus: Oral exam administered by Special Committee; to examine preparedness for dissertation research.

Final Exam (B Exam A public talk on the dissertation or Dissertation Defense): research followed immediately by an oral exam by the Special Committee.

This information is supplemental and applies specifically to the field of law and should be used in conjunction with degree information published by the Graduate School.

Master of Science - Legal Studies (M.S.L.S.) Program

This master’s degree in legal studies from Cornell Law School is designed specifically for business professionals. Whether your role involves compliance, risk management, contracts and business deals, human resources, or finance, this program will prepare you to apply the language and concepts of U.S. law to the opportunities and challenges facing your company.

You will graduate ready to navigate your organization’s most urgent regulatory and legal issues, and will develop the skills you need to be a confident and informed partner to your legal team. This means being able to make sense of legal language, relate and apply legal concepts to the business realities you face on the ground, and spot potential issues before they become costly and difficult legal problems.

Program Details

Covering key areas ranging from contracts and negotiations, to corporate governance and compliance, to employment and immigration law, to privacy and intellectual property issues, the courses in this degree program will help you develop a sense of how the law works, along with the deeper regulatory knowledge and frontline skills in legal research, effective communication, and critical reasoning needed to work at the intersection of business and law.

  • Program length: 20 months, with 15-20 hours of study per week recommended, 30 Total Credit Curriculum
  • Choose from electives in topics such as healthcare and technology, privacy and security, and finance
  • 19 online courses
  • Two one-week intensive summer sessions at Cornell University’s Ithaca campus
  • Capstone project

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or an equivalent international degree
  • Resumé demonstrating five years of relevant professional experience
  • Transcripts from all colleges or universities you have attended
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • International students for whom English is not your first language, please provide TOEFL or IELTS scores
  • GRE, GMAT, LSAT scores are not required

Joint Degrees

J.D. and M.B.A. Degrees (Three-Year Program)

Cornell Law School and the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell will offer a program for combining law school education with graduate management training. Students receive both the J.D. and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees in three years, rather than the normal five years.

Applicants must apply and be accepted to both schools, although a joint coordinating committee of the two schools will consider the applications. Also, an applicant may apply to the business school during the first year of law school.

Student Schedule

  • The students’ first year is spent entirely in the Law School, totaling 32 credits.

  • The summer after the first year and the entire second year are spent primarily in Johnson. During the second year, students must also take a minimum of 9 credits of Law School course work each semester, which may include courses cross-listed between Johnson and the Law School. Students should expect to take a total of 18 credits for the summer and 30 credits for the second year.

  • The third year is spent mainly in the Law School, taking at least 9 Law School credits per semester. Students should also take one course in Johnson each semester (which can include a cross-listed course). Students should expect to take a total of up to 30 credits or more for the year.

Requirements/Additional Information

Students who apply to enter the three-year JD/MBA program must have a minimum 3.40 grade point average during the fall semester of their first year in the Law School.

In total, students must take (i) 20 credits of core courses and 25 credits of elective courses at Johnson and (ii) a minimum of 9 credits per semester and a total of 72 credits at the Law School.

As part of the Law School curriculum, students are required to take Business Organizations during the fall or spring semester of the second year. Students must also take Federal Income Taxation in the Law School, which can be during the second or third year.

All courses for credit must be taken at either Johnson or the Law School. Students are eligible to graduate with honors at both Johnson and the Law School; the grades used to determine honors will be only those for classes taken at the school granting the honors (cross-listed courses count for both Johnson and the Law School).

Students will graduate from the Law School with their entering Law School class. Graduation from Johnson will be at the same time as graduation from the Law School.

J.D. and M.B.A. Degrees (Four-Year Program)

Cornell Law School and the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell offer a program for combining law school education with graduate management training. Students receive both the J.D. and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees in four years, rather than the normal five years. Applicants must apply to, and be accepted by, both schools.

Student Schedule

  • First year is spent entirely in one school.
  • Second year, entirely in the other school.
  • Third and fourth years they take a mix of courses across the Law School and Johnson to meet the degree requirements of both programs in four years.

Requirements/Additional Information

Students in the program must satisfactorily complete 84 credit hours of Law School credit. A student must earn a minimum of 72 of the 84 credit hours in the Law School. During six of the eight terms, a student must register for at least 9 credits in the Law School. In total, a candidate in the program will need a minimum combined total of 117 credits for receipt of both degrees.

Students may take up to 12 credits of courses related to legal training taught by members of the university faculty outside the Law School, which may include Management courses, subject in each case to the approval of the Law School’s associate dean for academic affairs. As with other joint degree programs offered by the Law School, those particular Management courses may be “double counted” toward the J.D. and M.B.A. degrees.

Tuition is paid to the Law School for five semesters and to the Johnson Graduate School of Management for three semesters.

Students enrolled in the joint law and management program need take only 86 hours if they wish to pursue the J.D. with the Berger International Legal Studies Specialization, but may not count management courses for the program’s total-hours or course requirements.

J.D. and M.P.A. Degrees

Cornell Law School and the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) offer a four-year program that leads to a J.D. degree and a Master of Public Administration degree. Applicants must apply to, and be accepted by, both schools.

Student Schedule

  • First year is spent entirely in one school.
  • Second year, entirely in the other school.
  • Third year and fourth years are spent mostly in the Law School, but students must generally take at least one course each semester to fulfill CIPA requirements.
  • Applicants to the MPA program from the Cornell Law School may apply up to twelve (12) credits from the Law School toward their MPA degree, subject to approval of the Director of Graduate Studies of the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA).

J.D. and M.I.L.R. Degrees (Sequential Degree)

The School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University offers a two-semester program for outstanding Law School graduates that leads to the Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (M.I.L.R.) degree. Both recent graduates and those working in the field of law may apply.

The program provides general coverage of industrial and labor relations and is suitable for those having little prior course work in the field. The M.I.L.R. program is normally completed in four semesters; however, law graduates who enter the special program can complete the program in one year.

An applicant must be a graduate of a school of law and meet the normal requirements for admission to the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. A candidate deficient in preparation in the social sciences is advised to do additional work before entry.

J.D. and PH.D. in Developmental Psychology Degree

Cornell University’s dual J.D./Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology and Law will prepare the next generation of scholars who work on the interface between the law, psychology, and human development. Education at the Law School combines inspired teaching with cutting-edge scholarship in a close-knit and collegial intellectual community. Located in the College of Human Ecology, the Department of Human Development provides graduate students with world-class training in the general discipline of psychology, as well as focused training in one or more of its sub-areas of research: cognitive, social-personality, biological, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The dual degree will provide Ph.D. students with the legal education that is necessary to conduct research and teach in this field at the highest level, and will provide J.D. students with the research training that is necessary to practice and teach scientifically-based law. Read more about the J.D./Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology degree.

J.D. and PH.D. Degrees in Other Fields

The Law School also maintains joint J.D./Ph.D. programs with the Department of Economics Sage School of Philosophy. As with other joint programs, students are required to be independently accepted by both the Law School and the relevant Ph.D. field.

Dual Degrees

Juris Doctor - Master En Droit Degree Program

This program is offered jointly by Cornell Law School and the Université de Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne as a four-year joint degree program. At the completion of the program students will receive both the Master en Droit and the Juris Doctor degree. Participants will spend their first two years at Cornell Law School and their final two years at the Université de Paris I.

Applicants must be completely fluent in both English and French.

American applicants must have the customary undergraduate training for admission to law school.

French applicants must have the Baccalaureate degree and at least two years of advanced study at a French institution.

For participants admitted by Cornell with Paris I concurrence, it involves legal studies for two years at Cornell and two years at Paris I. Students may apply to the program in their initial application to the Law School or, if spaces are 10 available, following matriculation. Participants admitted by Paris I with Cornell concurrence have the Baccalaureate degree or a first-level Master degree before arriving at Cornell. They must complete 62 credits at Cornell over two years and return to Paris I for their final year of study. Following completion of studies in Paris the participants receive both the J.D. degree from Cornell University, and a Master degree (at the M1 and/or M2 level) from the Université Paris I. Students must complete the requirements for a Paris I Master degree before they can receive their Cornell J.D. and be certified to take the bar exam of a U.S. state. In some cases, the timing of the dual degree program may require students to receive their J.D. degree in August and sit for a U.S. bar exam in February rather than July.

3+3 Pathway

The 3+3 Pathway gives Cornell University, Hobart William Smith Colleges, and St. Lawrence University undergraduates the opportunity to spend their senior year of study at Cornell Law School. Essentially, the first year of law school will satisfy the student’s senior year course requirements. This accelerated program allows participants to receive their bachelor’s and Juris Doctor degrees in six years.