LL.M Program Frequently-Asked Questions

GENERAL

Is it possible to enroll part-time in the LL.M. in Dispute Resolution program?
Yes. LL.M. students generally must complete all graduation requirements within a period of three (3) years beginning with the first semester of enrollment in the Program. Usually, students who enroll part-time take an average of six credits per semester. This enables them to complete the program in two academic years.

How difficult is it to enroll part-time in the LL.M. program and continuing working full time?
It depends. The law school courses in the LL.M. curriculum only meet during the day. However, most of the required LL.M. courses only meet one day each week in three-hour blocks. So students must take a morning, afternoon, or full day away from the office each week in order to attend class. Often the schedule permits students to take one course in the morning and one course the same afternoon. (See current class schedule. Note that the class schedule is set in March or April for the following academic year and may change from year to year. In scheduling classes, we try to accommodate the needs of part-time students as much as we can.) In addition to time spent in class, LL.M. students also need to be prepared for the level of work outside of the class meeting time. Most courses require a significant amount of reading, research and writing.

Is it feasible to commute from St. Louis or Kansas City and participate in the program?
It depends. Most required classes only meet one day each week for a three-hour block of time. In addition, usually on one day each week more than one class meets (so students can spend one day in Columbia and attend two classes). However, this only works for required courses. For the electives courses, scheduling can become more complicated. Commuting from St. Louis, Kansas City or any other distance is possible, but you need to account for travel time and possible overnight stays in addition to time spent in class and work required outside of class. Students can earn some credits without being in Columbia, including through independent study, externship, and transfer credits. If you want to contact students who have commuted, contact the program coordinator for more information.

Do you offer distance education courses?
No. Students must attend classes on campus in Columbia, Mo., each week. We do offer some elective courses that provide for some flexibility -- externship, practicum, independent study and correspondence courses -- but no more than nine (9) credits may be counted toward the 24-credit requirement of the LL.M. degree.

How long is the academic year?
The University of Missouri-Columbia academic year includes two semesters and a summer session. The Fall semester begins in late August and ends in mid-December. The Spring semester begins in mid-January and ends in mid-May. The summer session varies depending whether a student takes law courses or University courses. The law school summer session starts and ends earlier than the University summer session (which usually runs from early June through early August). There are no regular LL.M. classes offered during the summer, but students may use the summer to take other courses. We encourage students to use the summer to do externships for credit.

Can I start the LL.M. program in the spring or summer semester?
No. All new students start the program together in the fall semester. In some instances a student might take one non-LL.M. course in the spring or summer semester before the start of the new academic year for credit toward the LL.M. degree.

Am I limited to taking ONLY dispute resolution courses?
No. The program requires a minimum of 12 credit hours of core courses in dispute resolution. The remaining credits can be taken in other areas of the law, BUT they should be relevant to the dispute resolution field. Students also can take up to six (6) credits outside the law school, but again they should be relevant to the program.

I am an international student. When I complete the LL.M. in Dispute Resolution can I take the bar exam?
Although the LL.M. degree will help qualify you to take the bar exam in some states, bear in mind that the LL.M. in Dispute Resolution program is not designed to provide foreign lawyers with an introduction to the U.S. legal system. Therefore, if taking the bar is a goal, our program will not provide sufficient background for taking the bar exam.

In the State of Missouri , a graduate from a law school outside the United States may request permission to take the bar examination by furnishing satisfactory evidence that the person:

1) Has been admitted to practice in the foreign country where the law degree was conferred, has been in good standing during this admission period, and has engaged in the full-time practice of law for at least three of the five years preceding the date upon which the person applies to take the bar exam; or

2) Has been admitted to practice in the foreign country where the law degree was conferred, has been in good standing during this admission period, and has successfully completed at least 24 semester credit hours in residence at an ABA-approved law school.

Note that even with 24 semester credit hours of law school study, students taking the Missouri bar examination would also presumably take a bar preparation course offered in the summer that they take the exam.  This would be in addition to the 24 semester credit hours in the LL.M Program.  For more details on the requirements for admission to the Missouri bar, see http://www.courts.mo.gov/.

The requirements vary from state to state, so if you are interested in taking the bar examination in another state, you should check on each state's bar requirements at http://www.abanet.org/legaled/baradmissions/bar.html.

Do you offer scholarships or other types of financial aid?
Details on the cost of the program and financial support options are in the Financial Information section of our web site.

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

I do not have a law degree. Can I still enroll in the LL.M. program?
Maybe. The LL.M. program requires students to have completed and received the first degree in law (J.D. degree or equivalent) required for practice or law teaching in the country in which law studies were pursued. In exceptional cases, applicants may be admitted without a law degree if they have a bachelor's degree and substantial experience in dispute resolution.

I have a J.D., but my law school is not ABA-accredited. Am I eligible for admission?
U.S. applicants normally must have satisfied the J.D. requirements of an ABA-accredited law school. In exceptional cases, U.S. applicants may be admitted if they have satisfied the J.D. requirements of a non-ABA-accredited law school.

Do I need to have legal experience before applying for the LL.M. program?
The Admissions Committee prefers applicants with significant prior legal experience. The committee gives applicants without significant prior legal experience more favorable consideration if they have other relevant experience or accomplishments and/or a demonstrated interest in dispute resolution.

How many students do you accept each year?
Generally, we accept from 15 to 18 students each year. Of that total, 30 percent to 40 percent are part-time students.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS AND DEADLINES

What do I need to do to apply?
The list of items for submission is in the Admissions Requirements section of this web site. At that site, you also will find links for downloading application files and recommendation forms.

What is the application deadline?
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis as space is available. Please note: All new students start the program together in the fall semester.

I have been out of law school for a significant amount of time and I do not think anyone there remembers me. What can I do about getting an academic reference?
If you cannot get an academic reference, you can provide two professional references. Keep in mind that the persons providing a recommendation needs to provide: “a candid evaluation of this applicant, with particular emphasis on his or her academic promise, ability to express self orally and in writing, initiative, perseverance, ability to work independently, interests and capabilities, judgment and maturity, and the applicant's motivation for pursing an LL.M. in dispute resolution.”

English is not my first language; however, my secondary and post-secondary instruction has all been in English. Do I still need to provide a TOEFL score?
The LL.M. Program Admissions Criteria read: "Applicants whose native language is not English must be able to read, write, understand, and speak English sufficiently well to participate in and contribute well to the class experience." Also, see the English Language Proficiency Policy on the Graduate School web site for more information.

What is your minimum English language score requirement?
We do not have a minimum score requirement. Generally, we do not accept students with test scores below 100 on the internet-based TOEFL test (which is the preferred test). Scores from IELTS are acceptable only in those situations when the internet-based TOEFL is not administered.

It is difficult for me to get my country's currency exchanged in order to pay the application fee required for international applicants. Can you waive that fee or delay payment until I come to the U.S. to enroll?
No. It is our policy and the University's policy not to waive the application fee. You can pay the fee by credit card or have your bank send a money order or cashier's check in U.S. dollars. Some students with friends or colleagues residing in the U.S. have asked those individuals to send the application fee to the University on their behalf.

ABOUT OUR STUDENTS

What percentages of LL.M. students are part-time vs. full-time?
On average, about 30-40 percent of our newly admitted students have been part-time and 60-70 percent have been full-time. It varies depending on the applicant pool and those accepted from that pool.

What is the average length of time since law school for LL.M. students?
We have had students fresh out of law school and those with more than 20 years of experience. On average, our students have been out of law school for 10-13 years.

What are the backgrounds of students who choose to enroll in the LL.M. program?
Just as the ages and nationalities vary among our students, so do their backgrounds. We have had students from private practice, state and federal government, the insurance industry, banking, health care, the ministry, military, and corporations. Some students' interests lean more toward mediation; others are more interested in arbitration. The admissions committee tries to select a group of students with a combination of experiences that provides some relevant diversity as well as shared experiences to make for a rich class experience. We have short biographies of our LL.M. students on our web site.

ABOUT OUR ALUMNI

What can I expect to be doing once I complete the LL.M. program?
Our Career Services web page has its own "frequently asked questions" section to answer this and related questions about careers in the dispute resolution field.

What are LL.M. graduates doing, now that they are have completed their degrees?
We have brief biographies on some of our LL.M. graduates on our web site.

COMPUTING AND RESOURCES

What type of computing skills do I need to participate in the LL.M. program?
LL.M. students are expected to be able to use a word processing program (either Microsoft Word or WordPerfect), e-mail, and a web browser (either Netscape or Internet Explorer). In addition, the many resources of the law library are online. Students should to be able to conduct computer-assisted searches of legal and non-legal databases (after receiving some orientation to the library services). Librarians are available to help students learn how to use the computerized resources.

Do I need to buy a computer in order to participate in the LL.M. program?
Not necessarily. In the law library, there is a computer lab with PCs available for use by law students and law faculty. In addition, students have 24-hour access to the law building using a card-key access system. However, the computer lab does not have 24-hour access. For more details on computer resources, including information on buying a computer, visit the law library web site.

What research resources are available in the law library?
Our library houses over 315,000 volumes on four floors in the south wing of John K. Hulston Hall. Library services include reference and research assistance, computer-assisted searches of legal and non-legal databases, and legal research instruction. All law library operations, including acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, interlibrary loan, and serials control, are performed through the University's integrated library system, called MERLIN. The library has a section devoted to dispute resolution materials. For full details on the law library, visit the web site.

HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION

What is the Columbia community like?
For lots of information on Columbia, visit the Convention and Visitors Center web site.

I have to relocate to Columbia. What are the housing options for LL.M. students?
LL.M. students can live in any type of housing they choose. On-campus housing options are limited, but are the best option for students who would not have a car for transportation to campus. More detailed information about on-campus housing is on the Residential Life web site. Plenty of privately owned apartments are within walking or driving distance to campus. Students who prefer to live off-campus should try to visit Columbia before enrollment to make the best decision on living arrangements. Contact the LL.M. program coordinator for a current list of privately owned rental properties.

I have car and plan to drive to campus each day. How difficult is it to find parking?
Parking at the University can be a challenge. We provide LL.M. students' names to Parking and Transportation Services before the start of the fall semester. Parking tags for a nearby parking garage (depending on space availability) may be purchased at the Parking Office, which is at the Turner Avenue Garage, Level 2.

I do not have a car, what are the public transportation options in Columbia?
The Columbia Transit System provides limited bus service throughout the city. More information on the routes is on the transit system web site.

Can I bring my bicycle to Columbia?
Many University students use bicycles to travel to campus. Whether you will want to use a bike on your route to campus will depend on where you choose to live. The "bike friendliness" of some roads depends on the amount of travel on the road. On campus, there are bike racks outside most classroom buildings, including the law school.

Where is the closest airport to Columbia?
Columbia Regional Airport serves the mid-Missouri region. It is located 10 miles south of Columbia. American Airlines is the only commercial carrier, with daily flights between Columbia and Chicago and Dallas. Many travelers also choose to get to Columbia by flying into either St. Louis or Kansas City. They then take a ground shuttle service to Columbia. The St. Louis airport is a two-hour drive away; the Kansas City airport is a two-and-half-hour drive away. A ground shuttle service serves mid-Missouri: MoXpress Service (commonly known as MO-X). Click on the company name to link to their web site.