All About An LLM - Part IV – Scholarships in the US

Richa Kachhwaha

9 July 2013 8:39 AM GMT

  • All About An LLM - Part IV – Scholarships in the US

    The cost of an LLM Program in US is high. It is not just the tuition fees which increases every year, the cost of living is also rising, especially if you plan on living in a big city. Foreign students should weigh their options carefully while considering LL.M schools and funding. Consider its location, financial capabilities and restrictions, if any.  Bear in mind that scholarships and grants for LL.M. in US are not common, although they do exist. Generally speaking, limited grant money is available directly from law schools for LL.M. programs, but merit based scholarships are available. Most law schools in US advise international students to seek financial aid funds from additional sources in their home countries, and to also contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for inquiring about sponsoring organizations and agencies.

    More importantly, several private and non-profit organizations provide scholarships, fellowships, grants and awards for LL.M, and students may apply for the same. Every organization/body has its independent and distinct application process and criteria. Starting early is vital for securing this support.

    Universities/Law School Funding

    Prominent US universities/law schools offer limited merit-based LLM scholarships. However, owing to limited funding by law schools and the high cost of attending a law school in the US, prospective LL.M applicants are encouraged to begin seeking other sources of funds before commencing the application process with the law schools in US.

    Given below are the main scholarships offered by some of the popular LL.M programmes in US:*

    Harvard Law SchoolAll financial aid awards are based on the applicant’s demonstrated financial need.The average grant is approximately half of tuition; for a small number of students with particularly acute financial need, grants covering full tuition and a portion of living expenses can be granted.In addition to grant funds, HLS offers students with financial need access to educational loans. For instance, everyone in the LL.M. class of 2012-2013 who demonstrated financial need received some form of aid, whether as grant, grant and loan, or loan only.All applicants who wish to apply for financial aid should complete the online financial aid application. The processes for making admissions and financial aid decisions are completely separate.Given the funding limitations of HLS, prospective applicants are encouraged to seek other sources of funds early in the application process.For details, visit this link.

    • Committee on General Scholarships:

    The Committee on General Scholarships administers special financial aid, scholarship, and fellowship programs that support Harvard University graduate students. It is one possible source of financial assistance at Harvard.

    The Committee oversees additional funds which support students from various countries, including Asia.

    The financial aid offices at Harvard's eleven individual schools administer most of the financial aid opportunities available for Harvard students. Therefore, all students should pursue financial aid options directly through the school in which they plan to be enrolled.

    New York University, School of LawNYU School of Law awards only merit based aids to LLM students without regard to financial need.Scholarship applicants should follow the directions on the application for admission in order to be considered for particular scholarships.Applications for scholarships are reviewed only for students seeking admission to a full-time degree program.For details, visit this link.


    • Hauser Global Scholars Program
      It is the most prestigious honor awarded to exceptional LL.M. students who pursue their degree in New York. These merit scholarships provide full tuition and reasonable living expenses, such as rent, the cost of textbooks and other study materials.Scholars are chosen on the basis of their intellectual and leadership ability.

    In addition to completing the application for admission to the full-time LL.M. program (including a personal statement), candidates must electronically attach to their online application an essay of 500 to 750 words briefly describing a current legal dilemma, controversy, or issue facing a country, a region, or the world, and suggests a strategy to address the problem.


    • Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholarships
      A limited number of merit-based, full-tuition Arthur T. Vanderbilt scholarships are awarded for study in New York City.

    Covering 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 fields.

    • Dean’s Graduate Awards
      Merit-based awards in varying amounts to students who have demonstrated significant academic promise and/or achievement in their respective fields. The Dean’s Graduate Award is given to full-time master’s students in New York.
    • The Clearing Corporation Charitable Foundation:  NYU has received $550,000 grant from The Clearing Corporation Charitable Foundation. The Foundation’s gift grants scholarships for students pursuing an LL.M. in Financial Services Law from NYU.  See here.

    University of California, Berkeley Law The amount of funding available is very limited, so the responsibility of financing the LL.M. program rests primarily with the student.  It is strongly suggested that applicants investigate all available financing options.There are two categories of LLM grants at Berkeley:  LLM Professional Track Scholarships  and LLM Traditional Track ScholarshipsFor details, visit this link. The South Asia Scholarship ($15,000 for students from South Asia)The South Asia Scholarship was developed to encourage enrolment of students from countries in South Asia, including India.Award Details:

    1. $15,000 credit toward tuition ($7,500 per summer).
    2. Scholarship application forms will be made available on the Admitted Students Website for professional track students, and are due within one week of receiving an offer of admission.
    3. Recipients must maintain a minimum grade standard of 'P' (pass) or higher in all classes during the first summer in order to maintain scholarship eligibility.


    LL.M. Traditional Track Scholarships

    1. Berkeley Law offers a competitive $15,000 scholarship program for admitted LL.M. students with superior academic credentials, for whom Berkeley Law is their first choice.
    2. Awards are based on merit, as determined by evaluation of academic records and supporting materials included in the application for admission.
    3. If selected, $15,000 scholarship award will be disbursed in two $7,500 installments, one being applied each semester as a credit to student billing account.

    University of Pennsylvania Law SchoolPenn Law School has two types of scholarships available to LLM applicants, a general merit scholarship and a human rights scholarship.For details, visit this link. 

    • General Merit scholarship

    All students are automatically considered for our general merit awards and there is no need to apply separately.   Students are notified of these awards during the months of March or April each year.

    • Human Rights scholarships

    The human rights scholarship is for outstanding students with a substantial, demonstrated commitment to human rights.  Application requires an additional essay for students interested in applying for a human rights scholarship.


    Columbia Law SchoolThe Law School has limited funds for financial assistance for graduate legal studies.Financial assistance is given in the form of full or partial waivers of tuition primarily on the basis of financial need. These awards generally cover only a portion of the total amount required for tuition and living expenses.There is no general restriction, as a condition of the awards, but recipients are expected to focus their work on the subjects they emphasize in their applications.Only incoming students who have applied for financial assistance will be considered for an award. Applicants who do not submit the Application for Financial Assistance with their application for admission will not be considered for financial aid, even if they request it after the deadline.For details, visit this link.


    The Appel Fellowship on the Regulation of the Multinational Enterprise

    This is an annual prize, up to full tuition for one academic year, to a candidate for the LL.M. degree who intends to focus his or her research on regulatory or policy issues emerging from the trans-boundary operations of multinational or transnational enterprises. Topics may include issues relating to corporate governance, labor issues, environmental concerns, or human rights.

    To apply for the Appel Fellowship, submit a complete application for admission to the LL.M. program and a 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.

    Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship

    This Fellowship supports students in LL. M. degree program who show exceptional commitment and potential to use their education to become innovators and leaders in human rights practice or academia. LL.M.

    Only students admitted to Columbia’s LL.M. program will be considered for the Fellowship. Applicants are expected to have at least two years of experience in human rights advocacy and/or teaching and a proven intention to do such work following completion of the program.

    Students from Africa, Asia and Latin America are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Full fellowships provide a full tuition waiver and a stipend to help defray living costs for the academic year. Partial fellowships are awarded when the recipient has outside funding (such as Fulbright) or under other special circumstances.

    • Applicants requesting financial assistance are automatically considered for some other fellowships. See this link.


    Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA)All applicants receive full consideration for limited number of Dean's Tuition Fellowship awards. No application is necessary.Research Assistantships are also available wherein students are  hired to help law professors with their research needs. The number of positions available in a given year is dependent on the needs of the faculty, and thus is highly variable.For details, visit this link.

    • Dean's Tuition Fellowship Awards 

    Awards are granted on both a need-based and merit-based basis, typically in the amount of 25% to 50% of the total cost of tuition.

    Note: In the "Finances" section of the online LL.M. Program application, you can bring to the Graduate Studies Committee's attention any additional information that will assist the Committee in making a determination regarding a financial aid award.

    • Law Library Research Assistantships

    Students typically work 10 hours per week for a rate of approximately $15.00 to $16.00 per hour. Successful candidates must demonstrate academic excellence as well as research proficiency.

    Openings for Research Assistant positions are posted with the Office of Career Services, and applications are accepted after the start of the academic year in August.

    Boston University School of LawEach year BU School of Law acknowledges a small number of LL.M. applicants who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement through the LL.M. Scholars Program. It includes a generous scholarship award and designation as an LL.M. Scholar.All applicants for admission are automatically considered for this merit scholarship; no separate application is required.For details, visit this link. Frederic G. Corneel Scholarship
    Established in 2002, the income from this fund provides partial scholarship awards, based on merit and financial need, to one or more full-time students enrolled in LLM Tax Program.To apply for this scholarship, prospective student must complete and submit the forms to the Graduate Tax Program by the specified date. 
    George Washington University Law SchoolThe GWU Law School does not award need-based grants to LLM students. However, there are a limited number of fellowships and scholarships available to LLM students.International applicants to the LLM degree program, are required to inquire about financial aid directly through the International Graduate Programs Office.  For details, visit this link. If you wish to be considered for any of the following fellowships, submit a letter of interest to the appropriate admissions office at the time application is made:

    • Randolph C. Shaw Graduate Fellowship
      The Shaw Fellowship for full tuition is reserved for a student in the Environmental Law Program who will assist the director of that program on a part-time basis throughout the academic year.

      • Faculty Research Fellowships
        The Law School has limited funds available to assist graduate students who work with faculty on research and other projects during the academic year in exchange for tuition remission. The amount of individual awards varies.
      • Thomas Buergenthal Scholarships
        Buergenthal Scholarships cover full or partial tuition and are awarded on the basis of academic merit and financial need to non-U.S. law school graduates. Contact the LLM Admissions Office to apply for a Buergenthal scholarship.
      • The Gerald J. Mossinghoff Fellowship for Graduate Research in Intellectual Property Law
        The Mossinghoff Fellowship is awarded annually to either an LLM or SJD degree candidate. Preference will be given to a candidate who is specializing in the pharmaceutical field.

    Yale Law SchoolThe Law school grants “Academic  Year financial aid” which consists of need-based grants and loans. For details, visit this link.There are many ‘Outside Scholarships’ also for which students might be eligible. For details, visit this link. The financial aid awards are based on a budget of tuition and fees plus allowances for living expenses, books, etc. The process of applying for financial aid differs for new admit students and for continuing students. 
    Cornell Law SchoolCornell Law School awards over $4 million each year to new and returning students. Almost 50% of Law School students receive scholarship assistance.For details, visit this link. To be considered for institutional aid, you will have to complete the Need Access Report at and Cornell Law School Financial Aid Information Sheet
    Vanderbilt University Law SchoolMore than 70 percent of Vanderbilt Law students receive merit- or need-based scholarships in varying amounts.Financial aid packages may include merit scholarships, need-based scholarships, scholarships based on combined merit and need, or educational loans.For details, visit this link. 

    John W. Wade Scholarship
    Patrick Wilson Scholars Scholarship  John S. Beasley II Honor Scholarship
    Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Scholarship
    Elliott Cheatham Scholarship

    For details of each of these awards, see this link.

    • Need-based Financial Aid: Some scholarships are awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need. You must complete both the Need Access Form. International students may also complete the Need Access form to be considered for need-based scholarship.

    See this link for more information.



    *Please note that the above table is not exhaustive and is for reference purposes only. The specific details of the scholarships have been obtained from the relevant web-sites and may change from time to time. For further and up-to-date information, please contact the relevant Law Schools. Further, this list is in no particular order and is NOT an indication on the ranking of the Law School or the LLM Programme.

    Government Scholarships & Grants

    One of the most sought after US government scholarship for study of LLM is the Fulbright scholarship:

    Fulbright Program:

    The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.

    The Fulbright Program's application process is lengthy and rigorous. The competition for Fulbright Program grants is merit-based. Candidates are selected based on a variety of factors, that may include academic qualifications, project feasibility, personal leadership ability, etc. Non-U.S. applicants (non-U.S. citizens) apply to either the Fulbright Commission in their country of citizenship or the U.S. Embassy in their country of citizenship (in countries where there is not a Fulbright Commission).

    Fulbright Scholarships cover a wide variety of subjects. Fortunately, they are available for taking LLM Programs.

    For details, visit this link.


    Ford Foundation International Fellowship Programme:

    Although historically, majority of Ford Foundation grants go to organizations, there are a limited number of fellowship opportunities for individuals, focusing on advanced degrees. Under the Foundation’s International Fellowship Programme, when available, recipients are selected by Universities and other organizations that receive grants from the foundation to support fellowships.

    For details, visit this link.

    American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowships (For Women):

    AAUW awards $18,000 each for women from various countries to study in an LL.M. program in the U.S. for one year. Recipients are selected for academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to women and girls.  Recipients must return to their home countries to become leaders in business, government, academia, community activism, the arts, and sciences.

    Applicants must have earned the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree by September 30, 2012, and must have applied to their proposed institutions of study by the time of the application.

    For details, see this link.


    Federal and US State loans are almost never available to non-US residents.

    On the bright side, Global Student Loan Corporation (GSLC), in conjunction with HSBC Bank, has launched a program for international students without a U.S. cosigner. This international student loan program known as the
    HSBC Bank Student Education Loan
    is currently for students from India enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities. Funds may be borrowed to cover the cost of education – tuition, books, room and board and other education-related expenses.

    The loan terms and conditions are at the discretion of HSBC and may change from time to time. For detailed terms and conditions, visit GSLC site,

    The maximum annual loan amount is $50,000 and maximum lifetime amount is $200,000. All loans will have a cosigner in India. The interest rate is based on HSBC’s Retail Lending Rate which is reset occasionally. There will be a one-time administration fee of 2.75% paid by the borrower. Borrowers may have up to 15 years to repay.

    Way Forward

    Remember that while some law schools have stronger funding sources and are committed to helping all students find funding sources, many schools are forthright and state on their websites that funds for foreign students are non-existent or minimal. U.S. law schools offering LL.M. scholarships, grants, or fellowships, advertise these opportunities on their websites. Make sure you
    read carefully the websites of all law schools that interest you to know about financial assistance. Infact, go a step further and ask those law schools whether any scholarships or other financial grants are available which the school does not advertise.

    Needless to add, pursuing a Masters’ degree is akin to investing in your future. In order to make this investment, make sure that you are financially ready to take on the costs associated with it. Limit your borrowings. Living frugally as an LLM student will benefit you in the long run. By being proactive early on, you can ensure reasonable amount of finances. Make a personal budget and stick to it. Cut down on discretionary spending and save. In additional to merit scholarships/awards of the law schools, there are several “outside scholarships” available for studying graduate programs in US. Find out about them by using the internet and approaching the Law school counselors and financial aid offices. Scholarships, partial or full, are a great way of funding your LLM and reducing your borrowing.

    You can read All About An LLM- Part III here.

    You can read All About An LLM- Part II here.

    You can read All About An LLM- Part I here.

    Richa Kachhwaha is Managing Editor at Live Law and you can follow her on Twitter.
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