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pepperdine | caruso school of law

llm in united states law

program overview

school: caruso school of law
cost: $53,430
units: 26
terms: 2 semesters
location(s): malibu, california

the llm in united states law is designed for international legal professionals looking to study u.s. law under internationally recognized scholars. in particular, pepperdine university caruso school of law offers an unparalleled student experience. situated overlooking the pacific ocean in beautiful malibu on the edge of vibrant los angeles, california, the spectacular location is surpassed only by the law school's student-centered teaching philosophy. the caruso school of law is well-known for the warmth and accessibility of its faculty and staff, and for its family atmosphere at the diverse, student body level. the llm in u.s. law offers a fundamentals track for students interested in sitting for a u.s. bar exam and a flexible track for those interested in maximizing the flexibility to design their own program.

  study in spectacular southern california

enjoy the excitement of a fast-paced city along with the peaceful environment of malibu. located just 35 miles northwest of los angeles - a thriving hub for legal practice and international culture - our 830-acre campus offers breathtaking views and a 40,000 square-foot library facility.

  qualify for a u.s. bar exam

students who choose the llm in u.s. law's "fundamentals track" choose courses that prepare them to sit for the bar exam in california, new york, or another state. historically pepperdine has an exemplary record of preparing its jd students for the state bar exam. in 2016, the maine board of bar examiners recognized one of our graduates, emily t. white, for earning (a) the highest essay score on the maine bar exam, and (b) the highest overall score on the maine bar exam. over the past three years, pepperdine jd students averaged a 76% pass-rate on the california bar exam, one of the toughest bar exams in the country.

  learn from faculty experts

our professors are legal experts, international authors, and award-winning mentors. prof. ed larson has received a pulitzer prize for his writings in legal history and has lectured on all seven continents; prof. jack coe is an associate reporter for the restatement on the u.s. law of international commercial arbitration, and he has chaired (1) the disputes division of the aba international law section and (2) the academic council of the institute for transnational arbitration; and dean paul caron was named the third most influential person in legal education by the national jurist in 2015, and one of the 100 most influential people in tax and accounting every year since 2006 by accounting today. thanks to our low student-faculty ratio, our students get to know their professors and get hands-on guidance from nationally recognized scholars and educators.

  design your own program

students who choose the llm in u.s. law's "flexible track" get a greater say in the courses in their llm program to individualize the experience to their professional interests and goals. after taking a set of core courses to introduce students to the key areas of u.s. law, students can choose from over 155 courses to complete their llm program. the program's director will help advise and mentor students through the process of designing their individual llm program.

  experience a supportive learning environment

the princeton review recently ranked our faculty the sixth best in the country with the highest possible score for accessibility. competition is inherent in legal education, but pepperdine works hard to ensure that we have a learning environment that promotes productive competition, not destructive competition. students actually enjoy their time in law school. we encourage you to visit the law school, if possible, during the application process. if you cannot do so, feel free to contact the program director for help with any questions you may have. email professor butler

quick facts

  • 9degrees/programs available
  • 50+dispute resolution courses
  • 100%applicants considered for scholarship
  • 63countries represented by alumni


Jie Xu pictured in front of a sign with Chinese characters

as an attorney from china, i can say that the field of dispute resolution is still growing in my country. before attending pepperdine, i knew little about arbitration, mediation, and dispute resolution. at pepperdine professors don't just focus on the theory but share real and interesting stories of resolving disputes, issuing arbitral awards, convening mediations, and facilitating negotiation impasses. through the program i not only got a deeper understanding of dispute resolution theory, but was able to gain real experience. this is crucial for a foreigner, because i can apply the skills i learned at pepperdine in my practice in china. pepperdine's reputation internationally gives me additional credibility in the field, and i am proud to be a member of the straus family.


i have a foreign law degree, am i eligible for the llm at pepperdine caruso law?

international students that have the first degree of law required to practice law in their country are eligible to apply for the llm in dispute resolution program.

do i need to get my transcripts evaluated?

all foreign transcripts must be evaluated through an evaluation agency. applicants for the llm in dispute resolution can have their transcripts evaluated by lsac's llm credential assembly service if they are applying online via lsac. this is the recommended method of application.

applicants applying using our paper application form will not be able to use lsac's evaluation service without paying for all of their services. these applicants have the option to use wes to evaluate their transcripts.

students applying to the certificate or master's in dispute resolution are also required to have their transcripts evaluated through wes. applicants will need to select the course-by-course evaluation option.

do i need to take an english proficiency exam?

the straus institute's academic programs rely heavily on class discussions, stimulating simulated exercises and written papers, so it is imperative that international applicants are able to demonstrate a proficiency in english. english proficiency is determined by the toefl or ielts exam, as well as a skype or in person interview.

those that received the majority of their education in english and feel they meet our language requirements can submit a proposal to waive the english proficiency examination requirement. this proposal must outline the applicant's english education/training, describe how they feel they meet our language requirements and provide supporting documentation. this can be sent to dracademics@pepperdine.edu, and will be considered with a skype or in person interview.

pepperdine university caruso school of law has partnered with ucla's american language center and uc irvine's extension center to allow their international students to qualify for the graduate programs at straus without the need for a toefl or ielts score! once the uc student finishes the highest level of english instruction in any of the above-referenced schools, the language proficiency requirement for applying to straus is waived. applicants opting to participate in the english center partner programs may also apply for conditional admission that will allow applicants to take english courses prior to starting their llm until they can demonstrate english proficiency by completing the designated level at an approved partner. in other words, applicants will not be able to start their llm coursework until they meet pepperdine's language requirements. applicants will be able to gain full admission after submitting a completion certificate and participating in a skype interview. additional details can be found on the english center partner programs website.

will i be able to sit for the california or new york bar?

international students with a foreign law degree are eligible to sit for the california bar exam with one year of advanced law study. many graduates of the llm in dispute resolution program have been able to sit for the ca bar exam. additional information on these requirements can be found on the california bar exam or new york bar exam website.

do i need to complete the program in one year?

all international students pursuing an academic program are required to maintain full-time status to qualify for an f-1 student visa. most international students will complete their coursework in 2 - 3 semesters, but the minimum requirements to be considered a full-time student is 8 units per semester.

working professional also have the option to commute for the program using our one week and two-weekend intensive formats. in addition to the commuting option, students can also choose to split their coursework over two summers.

are courses only available in malibu?

in addition to the malibu program, pepperdine has recently partnered with heidelberg university to transfer 8 units of coursework to pepperdine's llm program. the pepperdine-heidelberg collaborative allows german speaking students the opportunity to complete the llm with only one semester of residence in california.

in addition to the heidelberg program, pepperdine is scheduled to start a pilot program at pepperdine's london campus offering extended weekend courses in london, requiring a portion of the summer and two one-week intensives in malibu.

i want to be a mediator. should i participate in a training program or get a certificate or llm in dispute resolution?

if your interest is in volunteering at the courthouse, the mediating the litigated case program will meet the minimum requirements of many courthouses without making the investment of an educational degree. if your interest is in going into private practice, the certificate and llm program will provide you with more credibility than any training program.
the academic programs provide an academic understanding of dispute resolution processes through the exposure to relevant literature as well as extensive conversations about practical skills and techniques. in addition to basic courses, elective courses include topics in divorce and family mediation, dispute resolution systems design, ombuds, employment dispute resolution, and various other topics. students in the llm program are required to develop their mediation skills though the mediation clinic class where students are able to mediate cases at various courts within los angeles county.

i have a full-time law practice, what are my options as a part-time student?

the straus institute recognizes the schedule limitations for busy professionals, and offers the certificate, mdr, and llm programs with full-time or part-time options. students can coordinate their participation in our academic programs with the pace of their professional and family commitments by taking advantage of one week, two weekend and evening courses at the malibu campus.

i don't live in california, can i still participate in the program?

the straus institute's courses are offered in a variety of formats including one week, two weekend, and fifteen week formats. students have commuted from various locations across the nation including texas, new jersey, tennessee, alaska, hawaii, utah, alabama, south carolina, north carolina and arizona. many of these commuting students take advantage of the two weekend courses offered at the irvine campus, which is across the street from the john wayne airport. commuting students can also participate in the intensive summer programs and the weekend courses offered at the malibu campus.

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contact us

straus institute for dispute resolution
pepperdine caruso law
24255 pacific coast highway
malibu, ca 90263