The duration of your LLM course depends on a number of factors, not just how well you do in each module.
When you’re doing your research before you apply for your course there are a number of factors you should consider when trying to calculate how long it will take you to study your Master of Laws – so let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider.
Full-time or part-time study
Whether you choose to study your LLM on a full-time or part-time basis will have the biggest impact on the duration of your LLM course. The more studying you are able to do, then the less time it will take to complete the course. Or if you put it another way, the less you have to do outside of your LLM course, then the more time you will have to devote to it. If part-time studying is your only option, then you should check with the course leaders and academic staff if this is possible, as there are many LLM courses that only allow full-time study, particularly in the US.
Where you are studying
Most LLM courses around the world, including in the US and in the UK, tend to only take one year to complete when studying full time. Check to see what a law school means by one year, as some courses mean a full 12 months and others mean an academic year of nine months plus your thesis, like the LLM in International Business Law at the University of Zurich.
Online or distance learning?
Usually distance learning or online LLM courses are studied on a part-time basis, and because of that they take at least two years, and sometimes up to five years, to complete – for example the online LLM courses offered by the University of Edinburgh. Because the student is not in daily contact with professors and other academic staff asking questions about the course or getting feedback can take a little longer.
Blended LLM courses and courses with internships
If you decide to undertake a course with another element, like an LLM combined with an MBA – such as the one at Northeastern University – then you will find that the course will probably take two years to complete when studying full time. There is an increasing number of LLM courses – like the LLM course offered by the University of California, Berkeley – that offer different options for the same course, and these all take different amounts of time. In the UK, the University of Essex offers a two-year full-time LLM course that involves time in internships and work placements to gain experience of specialised legal practice.
LLM courses & study duration
This table provides some examples of LLM programs and their durations and different law schools in the UK, Europe and the USA.