Statue outside Columbia University

Double Degree Programme

These guidelines apply in general to the LSE Department of Law's LLB/JD (juris doctor) double degree programme with Columbia University Law School which is open to students at LSE. The guidelines should not be relied upon by Columbia Law School students who wish to come to the LSE as part of the JD/LLM programme.

Please contact Dr Nick Sage, the Director of the Double Degree Programme at LSE, after reading the information on this website if you have any further questions. Please also contact him if you have previously applied to Columbia Law School. The Admissions Department at LSE is not responsible for this programme and will not be able to answer specific questions.

We do not recommend applying to LSE solely with the intention of applying to the double degree programme as we are unable to guarantee you will be admitted.

Background

The programme with Columbia was established in 2002. On average two to three LSE students participate each year.

How the programme works

The programme is open to LLB students at LSE who are in their second year of study and it is during their second year that students apply to participate in the programme. LSE students spend their first two years at LSE, during which they must complete the Law Society/ Bar Council core or 'foundation' subjects if they intend to secure a 'qualifying' degree for professional exemption purposes in England and Wales. If admitted to the double degree programme, LSE students then transfer to Columbia Law School for two years there, the first of which shall, if successfully completed based on the requirements of both LSE and Columbia Law School, satisfy the requirements of their third year at LSE. For administrative purposes, students remain registered at LSE as LLB students in their first year of study at Columbia but not in their second year, during which they are registered at Columbia Law School only.


Please note: eligibility is subject to the criteria of Columbia Law School, which may evolve over time. We do not recommend applying to LSE solely with the intention of applying to the double degree programme, as we are unable to guarantee you will be admitted. 

Coursework

Students must complete all of their first year coursework at Columbia Law School in order to be eligible for the award of their LLB from LSE. Students may choose from a range of courses at Columbia Law School according to its academic requirements. In the first year at Columbia, students are required to complete part of its mandatory first year curriculum, but are entitled to be 'waived out' of courses whose content is essentially similar to courses taken at LSE. It is up to Columbia Law School to decide which courses students may be waived from. Typically, students must take courses in these first year subjects of American law at Columbia: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and in some cases (i.e. where not previously taken) Property.

Waivers from mandatory first year courses are subject to final approval by Columbia Law School based on its review of the student's complete, official LSE transcripts.

Students are also required to complete an approved theoretical or conceptual course in their first year at Columbia in line with the requirement at LSE that Jurisprudence be taken in the third year of the standard LLB degree. Courses within Columbia Law School’s category “History and Philosophy of Law” will satisfy this requirement on the condition that the selected course is worth at least 2 course credits and is evaluated by way of a numerical grade (not: pass/fail). For a list of courses under this category, see here: History and Philosophy of Law Courses - CLS.

Following this course of study, a student will be awarded the LLB degree from LSE (typically, in the summer after their first year at Columbia); and the Columbia Law School JD, which will be equivalent to the standard 3-year JD for professional entry purposes in the US. Award of the JD is in all cases dependent on the student satisfying all graduation requirements of Columbia Law School. 

Study in the US

Students should be alerted that studying at a US law school may present challenges, both personally and academically. First is the challenge of adapting to life in a new city and country; further, students will be faced with a very different academic culture. Typically, US law students will have completed at least one university degree and sometimes several, and as such LSE students will be part of an older and in some respects more focused cohort of students. In this context, students may find it difficult to perform at as high a level as that which they achieved at LSE, particularly during their first term of study. Given these challenges, students must not take the decision to pursue the double degree programme lightly.

In terms of financing, students are responsible for meeting their own tuition costs and living expenses while at Columbia, and this cost may be prohibitive; opportunities to apply for funding are discussed here: funding. Students are also responsible for satisfying all immigration requirements to study in the US. Advice is available from Columbia with respect to financing, housing, immigration, and other matters – please see here: Information about CLS

Note also that Columbia may require, as a condition of admission, that students obtain a particular result in their second year exams at LSE.

In light of the challenges of study in the US, students who are admitted to the programme – and particularly those who obtain an average in their second year exams that is significantly lower than that in their first year exams at LSE – are advised to consider very carefully whether to pursue the programme, particularly in light of the possibility that they may find it difficult to perform at a high level in a new and challenging academic environment.

That said, LSE students have typically adapted well to life and study in the US, have competed successfully for jobs in US law firms, and have performed at an academic level that is comparable to (although very rarely better than) that achieved at LSE. More broadly, Columbia offers a stimulating curriculum and an excellent foundation for pursuing future job opportunities in the US and elsewhere. 

Application process

The Double Degree Programme is only open to LLB students at LSE who are in their second year of study. It is during their second year that students apply to participate in the programme. We do not recommend applying to LSE solely with the intention of applying to the double degree programme, as we are unable to guarantee you will be admitted.

Stage One: Acceptance by LSE

There is no application form. The following documents are required:

(1) your CV which should include, inter alia, details of:

(i) your entry qualifications to the LSE (eg 'A' level grades), and

(ii) your Intermediate (1st year) results at LSE.

(2) every essay that you wrote in Michaelmas term of your second year at LSE, with tutors' grades clearly indicated.

(3) a letter of recommendation from your academic adviser which refers to the selection criteria outlined here: LLB/JD Selection Criteria. Each reference should be submitted either in hard copy or by email directly by your adviser to Dr Nick Sage. It is imperative that you make an appointment with your adviser in good time to discuss this with him or her - references received after the deadline may not be accepted and could jeopardise your application.

(4) a personal statement which indicates why you are a suitable candidate for this programme, and which states whether you have attempted the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) and, if so, the year and the percentile obtained on each attempt. You must also disclose if you have previously applied to Columbia Law School.

Documents should be placed unstapled and unfolded in an A4 envelope with your name and ‘Columbia Law School’ clearly printed on the front. Staples should be removed from essays and replaced by paperclips. Please do NOT place the documents in any file, plastic sheets, or any other presentational device. Your application dossiers should be submitted to Dr Nick Sage

Regarding the personal statement: this need not be long. A brief explanation of why you are interested in attending Columbia plus any further thoughts on why you would both perform well and benefit from two years abroad is sufficient. Please feel free to include in your CV any information concerning outside interests or activities which you think indicate that you are the sort of person who would flourish in a US law school environment. Further references from, for example, employers may be included but are not essential. Students are strongly advised to explore the Columbia Law School website to get a picture of academic and extra-curricular life abroad before making an application.

Students are not required to take the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) which would normally be a requirement of admission by JD applicants at US law schools. As noted above, students must disclose information about previous LSATs they have written and any previous unsuccessful applications to Columbia Law School.

The deadline for receipt of applications is during the first week of the Lent term of the student's second year of studies. In the academic year 2016/17, for admission to Columbia Law School in 2017, the deadline will be 4pmon Wednesday 11 January 2017.
 
Students who are shortlisted will be asked to attend an interview early in Lent term.

Stage Two: Confirmation of Admission by Columbia Law School

The second stage of the application process applies only to those applicants who are selected to go forward during the first stage by the LSE Department of Law. These students' application materials will be forwarded to Columbia for its consideration and confirmation of admission. In all cases, acceptance to the programme is subject to approval by Columbia Law School and LSE students should not make firm plans based on their acceptance to the programme by LSE, until they have received confirmation from Columbia Law School. In some cases, confirmation may provide for a conditional admission based, for example, on the student achieving a minimum average performance of 65 in their second year exams at LSE. In all cases, Columbia Law School reserves the right to attach the conditions that it considers appropriate in light of the student's first-year academic performance or other criteria. Decisions about admissions and eligibility are always subject to the criteria of Columbia Law School, which may evolve over time.

Both institutions will strive to move this stage of the process along as quickly as possible.

During this stage, students will also be required to complete a standard Columbia Law School application form. This form will not need to be completed in full as its primary purpose is to get students 'into the system' at Columbia.

Information specific to Columbia Law School can be found here: Information about CLS.

Selection criteria

Competition for admission is usually very tight. In general, students who do not achieve at least an upper second in their first year exams and any essays written in their second year (Michaelmas Term) are unlikely to be admitted. However, the cut-off may well be much higher than an upper second.

Candidates will be selected by LSE during their second LLB year. Candidates will be selected on the basis of academic performance, seriousness of purpose and maturity, and will be proposed for admission to Columbia Law School conditional on sustained academic performance in their second LLB year. Given the 'upper degree' status of law studies in the US, it is understood that there is a preference for more mature candidates who demonstrate a breadth of experience appropriate to undertaking US legal studies at the graduate level.

Grading/awarding of degrees

 The LLB will be awarded from LSE on the basis of the student's performance on the final (second) year of study at the LSE and first year of study at Columbia Law School, in parity with other LLB students at LSE whose degrees are awarded on the basis of their results in year 2 and year 3 (Part I and Part II). Grades awarded in individual subjects taken in the first year of study at Columbia Law School will be weighted and translated so as to fall within the LSE degree-awarding rules. A standardised formula is used for grade translation, based on the proportionate distribution of grades at Columbia Law School as compared to LSE.

The JD will be awarded on the basis of the grades achieved by the student during the two years' course of study at Columbia.

In the event that students choose to take an essay course at Columbia, it is recommended that they submit all of their coursework by the regular deadline and not seek an extension, in order to allow for all of their grades at Columbia to be assigned and provided to LSE in time for LSE's exam board (usually held in June) at which LLB degrees are awarded. If coursework is completed too late, whether or not because an extension was granted, the award of the student's LSE degree may be delayed by as much as one year.

Information about Columbia Law School

For the general shape of the Columbia JD programme, students are directed to the Columbia website, http://www.law.columbia.edu/

Tuition at Columbia Law School for the academic year 2016-7 is US$63,048 and this figure is likely to rise in future. However, the estimated academic year budget, including mandatory fees, accommodation and personal expenses is US$91,540. This figure is named as a Standard Cost of Attendance and is the official number used to determine eligibility for federal aid. These are estimates for a nine month academic year only. A detailed breakdown is available from the Columbia website here: financial information.

Columbia Law School's Financial Aid Office may assist students in obtaining loans from commercial sources. However, it has been reported that non-US citizens have struggled to obtain commercial loans and therefore this source of funding should not be relied upon. Students are eligible to apply for financial aid, although preference is given to domestic, three-year JD students. Emergency loans can be made available but once again these should not be relied upon. All students are expected to consider the financial implications of participating in the programme before applying.

Columbia Law School have been able to arrange with their accommodation office to guarantee housing for incoming students in this programme. They can offer housing in New York for both years of study if it is accepted from the beginning of studies and not given up - to do so may exclude the student from being offered accommodation again in the future. Specific housing options are not guaranteed and should be considered as an offer only. It is, however, common for students to live off-campus, and there is an Off-Campus Housing Assistance Office.

Students are expected to arrive at Columbia Law School in early August for orientation and interviews. Further information on Columbia Law School's academic calendar can be found here: CLS calendar.