Additional Details for International Students

As an international student applying to the law school, you must be prepared to fund all of your educational and living expenses. You are not eligible for GW Law need-based grants.

U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required to qualify for federal loans. If you do qualify as a U.S. or permanent resident, please review our Federal Stafford and GradPLUS loan pages and the Apply for Aid page.  Otherwise, you may borrow commercial, not federal, education loans only if you obtain a credit-worthy U.S. cosigner.

Graduate and International Programs considers all applicants for merit scholarships automatically with each application. Graduate Programs does not provide any other type of grant or teaching assistantships. Non-US LLM, MSL and SJD students who request an F-1 visa from this University will need to provide documentation of sufficient funding to cover any remaining amount of the cost of attendance and living expenses for the entire length of their program. Total costs of attendance are as follows:

Expense

 

LLM and MSL

One  year (two academic semesters)

SJD

Three years minimum

Tuition $53,400 $63,205 total tuition

Living Expenses (Based on minimum cost per academic year)

$20,850 $20,850 per academic year in residence
Health Insurance (12 months, required) $2,690 $2,690  per academic year in residence
Books and Supplies (9-month academic period) $500 $500
International Student Fee ($45 per semester) $90 $90 per academic year in residence
Total $77,440 $87,355 minimum

Online Resources

Many organizations provide websites with information on studying in the U.S., financing, and more, including:

Foreign Born General information site for students entering and living in the U.S.

Aetna Student Health All international students on a J-1 and F-1 visa will be automatically enrolled in the university's health plan which provides comprehensive coverage.

Rotary International Rotary International is a global organization geared toward community services that sponsors opportunities for foreign students

Studyabroad.com Resource for study abroad information

Study In U.S. General website that aids foreign students in calculation of costs and funding options available in the U.S.


Bar Information for Foreign-Trained LLM Students

Practicing Law in the United States

In the United States, lawyers who graduate from law school are not permitted to practice law in any jurisdiction until they have passed a certification examination, known as a bar exam, in that jurisdiction. The jurisdictions are defined by the various states and territories of the United States. There is no national bar exam, so if you are interested in practicing law in New York, you need to take the New York bar exam. If you later move to California, you would have to take and pass the California bar exam; however, if you are practicing federal law, for example, immigration or intellectual property, then you can practice law in any jurisdiction once you have the bar in one jurisdiction. The bar exam is a difficult examination; not every test taker passes it the first time. 

Foreign attorneys can be admitted to practice law in certain jurisdictions in the United States.  Most states require a JD law degree from an accredited law school in the United States to sit for the exam; however, some jurisdictions, including New York, California, and the District of Columbia, do permit foreign law graduates to sit for the bar but only under specific circumstances. For the most up-to-date information about bar examination requirements, eligibility, and test dates, please see the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ website at www.ncbex.org

Taking the Bar Exam

The bar examination consists of two, or in some jurisdictions three, days of testing. One day consists of multiple-choice questions in a format similar to the TOEFL. This part of the bar exam tests knowledge of general principles of U.S. law. The other day (or days) includes essay questions and sometimes additional multiple-choice questions that test applicants on various aspects of law that apply to the particular jurisdiction in which the applicant seeks admission (e.g., the District of Columbia or New York state). In some jurisdictions, such as California, a third day of testing requires applicants to answer essay questions regarding certain practice procedures in that particular jurisdiction. The examination is held twice a year, once in late July (which is when most U.S. JD graduates take the exam) and once in February. 

Additionally, most states require an applicant to pass another, shorter examination known as the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in order to be admitted to practice in the jurisdiction. The MPRE is a 60-question, two-hour-and-five-minute, multiple-choice examination administered three times per year at established test centers across the country. The purpose of the MPRE is to measure the examinee's knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct; the MPRE is not a test to determine an individual's personal ethical values. Lawyers serve in many capacities, for example as judges, advocates, counselors, and in other roles. The law governing the conduct of lawyers in these roles is applied in disciplinary and bar admission procedures; by courts in dealing with issues of appearance, representation, privilege, disqualification, and contempt or other censure; and in lawsuits seeking to establish liability for malpractice and other civil or criminal wrongs committed by a lawyer while acting in a professional capacity.

For more information on the exams, please visit http://www.ncbex.org/multistate-tests/mpre.

Almost all students (including JDs) take an intensive review course in preparation for the bar exam. This review course is offered by several competing private organizations and begins several months before the exam is offered. Students usually begin the review program very shortly after graduating from the LLM program. 

For foreign attorneys, the review courses taken by U.S. lawyers may not offer adequate preparation for the bar exam (consider whether an eight-week review can provide the depth of familiarity with U.S. law that JD graduates gain over a three-year training). In general, students from countries with a common-law heritage tend to fare better on the exam. In addition, some foreign students are not experienced with the multiple-choice format of the exam, which leads to additional difficulty. Bar review courses are expensive, sometimes costing in excess of $2,000; the exam fees themselves run $200 and up. 

We highly recommend that you plan on taking the bar in February in the year following graduation. We recommend this because it will allow you enough time to adequately and appropriately study for the bar. You only want to have to take the bar one time. To be successful, you need to give yourself enough time to learn the material and strategies for passing the exam. This will also give you enough time to submit all the documents you need to the relevant bar review board to be allowed to sit. 

New York Bar

If you are relying upon your LLM studies to “cure” your “durational or substantive deficiency” you will need to do the following:

You will need to take the course Legal Research and Writing for LLM Students both your first and second semesters. You will also need to take the courses Fundamentals Issues in U.S. Law, and Professional Responsibility/Ethics. To complete the requirements for graduation from GW Law, you also will need to complete: (1) a thesis, or (2) a class with a written paper requirement. 

In addition, you will need to take six credits in subjects tested on the exam, which are typically three-credit courses as follows:

Subjects tested on the NY Bar as part of the Uniform Bar Exam:

  • Constitutional Law I and II
  • Contracts I and II
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Federal Civil Procedure, Civil Procedure I and II
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Agency and Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Family Law
  • Secured Transactions (UCC 9)
  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Estates

Application Process

To find out if you are eligible to sit for the NY Bar, you will need to complete an Online Foreign Evaluation application. The New York State Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) states that one must submit, at the latest, both the Online Foreign Evaluation AND all required foreign documentation by May 1 if you want to sit for the February exam, and by October 1 if you want to sit for the July exam. Please note this means all of the documents that must meet requirements as laid out by the BOLE (i.e. translations, descriptions of classes and hours attended, etc.). To assess your eligibility, visit https://www.nybarevaluation.org/Intro.aspx

Note: Once you have passed the bar by achieving a passing test score on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), you will need to do the following to be certified for admission:

  1. Complete an online course in New York-specific law, known as the New York Law Course (NYLC),
  2. Take and pass an online examination, known as the New York Law Exam (NYLE),
  3. Take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE),
  4. Comply with the 50-hour pro bono service requirement, and
  5. Satisfy the Skills Competency Requirement.

https://www.nybarexam.org/TheBar/NYBarExamInformationGuide.pdf

Please see here for further details about the NY Bar:

https://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/ForeignLegalEducation.htm

https://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/NY%20Bar%20Exam%20Foreign%20Legal%20Education%20Handbook_6.13.2019.pdf

Washington, D.C. Bar

The D.C. Bar is much stricter than the NY Bar in relation to course requirements. We do not recommend planning on sitting for the D.C. Bar unless you specifically need the D.C. bar. If you have questions about this, you may contact the LLM Bar Counselor once you are on campus.

To be eligible to sit for the D.C. Bar, foreign-trained attorneys will have to “successfully complet[e] at least 26 credit hours of study in a law school that at the time of such study was approved by the ABA. All such 26 credit hours shall be earned in courses of study, each of which is substantially concentrated on a single subject tested on the Uniform Bar Examination.”

https://www.dccourts.gov/sites/default/files/2017-07/DCCA%20Rule%2046%20Admission%20to%20the%20Bar.pdf, emphasis added.

These courses include:

  • Business Associations I and II
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Family Law
  • UCC Art. 9
  • Secured Transactions
  • Trusts and Estates
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional Law I and II
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Civil Procedure

Visit http://www.ncbex.org/pdfviewer/?file=%2Fdmsdocument%2F209

As a student at GW Law, you also must take the following classes:

  • Legal Research and Writing for LLM Students
  • Fundamentals Issues in U.S. Law

You also must write a thesis or take a class with a paper requirement.

These three criteria are required above and beyond the 26 credits required for the DC bar. So, in reality, you will need to take more than 26 credits to qualify to sit for the D.C. bar.

This also means that you will not be able to complete a specialized LLM while taking the necessary courses to sit for the D.C. bar. You will have to take the General LLM. It will also be very difficult to complete all of the required courses in two academic semesters. Most likely, you will have to take additional classes over the summer.