USC LL.M. Application Walkthrough
Listen to hear as the USC LL.M. admission and student affairs staff detail the application process.
- Anne Marlenga, Director of Student Affairs
- Nicholas Kajimoto, Student Programs Advisor
- Renee Tremble, Enrollment Advisor
Renee: Welcome to the Master of Laws and Business Law Certificate, LSAC walk-through webinar, presented by the USC Gould School of Law. My name is Renee Tremble and I will be your host today. First, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us. If you have any questions throughout the webinar, please type them into the question and answer box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen and hit send. Feel free to enter your questions as you think of them. We’ll answer as many as time allows at the end of the presentation. A PDF and a recording of today’s presentation will be available shortly after the main event.
Here is a quick look at what we will be covering today. First, Director of Student Affairs Anne Marlenga and Student Programs Advisor Nick Kajimoto will present an overview of USC and the online program. Then, I will cover the admissions requirement, provide a step by step walkthrough of the application process, and I will briefly cover the next steps in applying. We will then wrap today’s session with a brief question and answer session.
Now let’s get started. Hello, Anne and Nick. Thank you for joining us today.
Anne: Thank you, and hello everyone. My name is Anne Marlenga. I am the Director of Student Affairs for our graduate and international programs here at the USC Gould School of Law. I provide academic, administrative, and operational oversight for our online law programs. Within our G&IP office here, I also support our residential alum program, including recruiting, admissions, alumni relations, as well as our study abroad program.
Nick: Hi everyone. I’m Nick Kajimoto. I will be your Student Advisor for the online law program. In partnership with you, I will monitor your degree progress, and I am dedicated to help you reach your goals. I am available to answer any questions you may have with regards to academic, program, and university policy. I will act as your liaison to campus departments, be a resource for bar eligibility requirements, and assist you with professional development and academic support opportunity.
Anne: So first, Nick and I wanted to give you a little background about the University of Southern California and the USC Gould School of Law. As you can see on this slide in front of you, the University of Southern California, or USC, was established in 1880. We are located in Los Angeles, just south of the downtown area. We are one of the world’s leading private research universities, and we have 17 graduate and professional schools, including over 340 master’s, certificate, doctoral, and professional degree programs, including ours here at the law school.
Nick: For the USC Gould School of Law, we have a hundred-year heritage. So with more than 100 years of renowned legal education, USC Law is an institution that continues to make history through its philosophy of innovation and through its people. The online program and our students of that innovation. USC Gould School of Law is ranked number 20 out of the Best Law Schools by US News & World Report.
Many of our professors hold advanced degrees in economics, history, philosophy, political science, or psychology. So in addition to imparting their legal expertise, they’ll reveal how diverse forces beyond the law affect legal decision-making, and our interdisciplinary teaching deepens our students’ understanding of the law and opens doors to unique opportunities. With the Trojan family, which is now over 300,000 strong, it also includes over 10,000 Law School alumni, the Trojan family spans the globe, so no matter where your professional and academic aspirations take you, you can find a fellow Trojan who will support and guide you on your path.
Anne: Next, Nick and I wanted to go over the program learning objectives for students enrolled in our online law program. For our Master of Law, or LLM program, we intend for students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the US legal system, to become fluent in legal terminology, speaking and writing skills, to be able to perform legal research and analysis, understand concepts of legal professionalism and ethics, and have practical knowledge of the legal profession.
For students enrolled in our Business Law Certificate, either alone or as part of the LLM degree, we intend for students to develop a specialized knowledge in American Business Law. For those LLM students who decide to become eligible for the California Bar within their degree, we intend for students to have substantial knowledge of California law.
Nick: In particular, for the Online Master of Law degree, a couple highlights is that you can earn the only online LLM offered with a graduate certificate in business law. You can complete this program in as few as 12 months, graduate from a top-ranked law school in the United States, share a USC connection that is both world-wide and life-long with over 10,000 law school alumni, and you will receive dedicated student services.
For the online LLM program, there isn’t a residency requirement. However, you may choose to participate in our four-week non-degree Summer Law & English program before or after your online studies. A few of the highlights include build a foundation of basic US law, learn specialized legal vocabulary, improve your English speaking fluency, practice writing legal briefs and memos, prepare for an LLM program, build your network with other legal and business professionals, gain full access to USC campus facilities, and spend your summer in sunny Los Angeles.
Anne: Lastly, Nick and I wanted to share a little bit about our alumni. We have approximately 240,000 living USC alumni from all over the globe, including over 9,000 USC Law School alumni, which include nearly 12,000 LLM alumni. Our LLM alumni have come from 65 countries around the world. Several hundred of those alumni are working in prominent law firms with over 50 of whom are now partners. Nearly 100 alumni work for ministries and government organizations, and others have gone on to work in companies and for non-profit organizations.
As an alumnus of our online LLM program, you become a part of this LLM Trojan family, as we call it. You receive the same exact LLM degree as our residential LLM students, and you are able to participate in alumni events where we host them all over the world. Some of your career options as an alum are listed on this slide, and include many others that students go on to do every year.
Renee: Thank you, Anne and Nick. This is Renee. I am one of the lead enrollment advisors with the program. My job is to talk with students to help determine if the program is a good fit for you, and also to determine if you are qualified to apply for the program. If we determine that it is a good match, I will then work with you throughout the application process, and try to make it as simple for you as possible. We found that this application is rather complex, so we put this webinar together to walk you through the process.
First, I would like to cover the basic admissions and application requirements. For international students applying to either the full LLM or the Business Law Certificate Program, we do require that you have a first degree in law from outside of the United States. In order to apply, you will need a completed LSAC application, along with your official transcripts from all universities you’ve attended, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and either TOEFL or IELT scores or a waiver if you qualify for that. Then we will also need a resume. We do not require the LSAT examination for this program.
For our domestic students who are interested in applying, they may apply for the Business Law Certificate, and we do require that they have a JD degree or the equivalent. These applicants will also need to submit a completed LSAC form along with official transcripts from all universities, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. Again, the LSAT is not required for any applicant of this program.
Now that we’ve covered the documents necessary to apply, I’m going to walk you step by step through the LSAC application. The first step in applying to our program is to create an account through the Law School Admissions Council, or the LSAC. To do this, you will need to provide some basic information about yourself, and when you’ve completed this, you will be taken to the LSAC account home page. Then, to begin the online LLM application, you will need to find the USC Gould School of Law in the School Search tab.
There are several different ways you can do this. The easiest is the first of the three circled tabs below, the Schools Alphabetically tab. If you click on that, it will bring you to the next page, which has a list of schools. From there, you will find the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Just click Add, and that will change to Select, and then you will want to return to the top of the page and click Apply. There will be a drop-down menu, and then you will click on Applications and then USC Gould School of Law, and that will bring you to the page that you currently see displayed. From there, you simply click on Application Information under USC Gould School of Law.
If you are applying to more than one school, you will see multiple schools here, so just make sure you’re in the USC application, and click the Application Information. That will take you to the next page, where you select which semester you’re applying for. Currently we only have the Fall 2014 start dates available. We are hoping to have it updated with the 2015 start dates within the next week, but for now, if you are starting the application, you can just click the Fall 2014 and we’ll update it when those are available.
You will see there’s a USC application and a USC Online application. Make sure that you select the USC Online LLM application, or you will not be filling out the right one. Simply click the circled box, Apply and Submit Online, and that will take you to your main USC Application page within the LSAC application. Here, you will see that our application is divided into two main sections, the Application section and the Credentials section. The Application consists of three main steps, the actual application forms, previewing your application, and then submitting your application fees. The Credentials section has two main areas, your transcripts and your letters of recommendation.
Now, we’re going to walk you through this application in the order that we think is the most logical and the easiest to follow, but there is a lot of flexibility within when you choose to complete the documents, so if you want to do it in a different order, you can do that. Also note that you do not have to complete this in one sitting. As long as you save each page when you’re complete, you can log on and off as many times as you want. The information will be there.
So the first step that we’re going to do is the application section. This consists of 15 different sections that you have to fill out, along with a variety of attachments that you can include. Now, as you click on the numbers 1-15, you’ll have to save each page at the bottom, and then it will take you back to this main page. You can actually click on those and fill them out in any order. It’s really just a lot of basic information about yourself, your biographical information, your contact information, where you went to school, work history, and all the other typical application information that you would fill out.
Then below that, you will be able to upload your personal statement, your resume or CV, and also a TOEFL waiver if you are requesting that, or an academic explanation if you have anything that you would like to explain about your grades or your transcripts, and any other documents that you want us to see, that’s where you attach them.
Once you have completed all of that, you will see, up at the top, Congratulations, you have finished, along with the box to continue on to the next page. If you just click that, that will bring you back to our main Application page. At this point, you will notice, in the upper right-hand corner, you now have three items entered in your shopping cart. There are a total of four fees that you will have to pay to apply to our program. Three of those are in your cart now, and we recommend paying them at this point to get that stuff out of the way. You don’t have to, but it’s recommended, and to do that, you simply click on the cart and then click Check Out. We will cover the rest of the fees, or go over the fees in just a moment, but I just want you to see this page. Once you click Check Out, it will ask you to enter your credit card information and you submit it, and you’ll have these three fees taken care of.
So, the three different fees that you will see include a $75 document assembly fee, a $125 international transcript fee, and a $25 LSAC report fee. Now, the $75 document assembly fee is required of all students, international and domestic. This is a fee LSAC charges to compile your transcripts and your letters of recommendation for ease of submitting to multiple law schools. If you are applying to more than one through LSAC, you pay this fee one time, they collect the documents for you, and then prepare a report and send it to the law schools. The $25 report fee is to prepare that report, all of the information they use with your transcripts and letters of recommendation.
The other fee, the $125 international transcript authentication and evaluation service fee, is required of all international transcripts. When you are requesting your transcripts, you will need to request them to be sent in officially sealed envelopes from your university directly to the LSAC Application Center. They will have to be in your native language, as official copies, and the university can also send in translated copies, or you can send the translated copies, but we will need official copies of your transcripts in both your native language and English.
Once we receive both copies, LSAC will then perform the authentication and evaluation service to ensure that they meet the standards of our program, and also to calculate what your GPA equivalency is in the US grading scale. So if you’re an international applicant, you will need to pay that fee, and it should automatically be uploaded into your cart after entering any international institutions.
Once you have paid those fees, you can click back to your main application page. You should now see that Step One is complete, and you can also preview your application at this point if you wish. You don’t have to, it’s just an optional step. The next step is to go to the Credentials section, where we will enter the transcripts and the letters of recommendation.
So first we’ll walk you through the transcript process. You will see down below, where it says Step Number One, Add Institutions. If you click on that, it will take you to the page where you enter all of your educational information. Here, we’ll need any undergrad institutions, any law school, any post-grad or doctoral-level schools. Any institutions you’ve attended past high school need to be entered in here, and if you have more than one, you can simply click the Add Institution button multiple times. Each time you click submit, it will pull you back to that first page to add more institutions.
Once you have entered all of your institutions into the system, you will need to confirm your institutions. This is simply clarifying that you have entered all educational information, it’s all complete, it’s all accurate, and you will request transcripts for all these institutions. If you’re missing any of them, LSAC will not be able to process your application, so it’s very important that you request all of your transcripts and then click the Confirm button.
Once you’ve done that, you can move on to Step Number Three, which involves printing off a transcript request form. This form is important, because it has all of your information listed on it about your application, the school that it’s going to, and also a unique identifying code. Each school will have a unique form. You want to either e-mail, fax, or mail this in to your institution when you’re requesting the transcripts, and if they return your transcripts with this letter, it makes it a lot easier for LSAC to process your transcripts and attach them specifically to your application using that unique bar code. It also lists address in the upper left-hand corner, where your university should send the transcripts to. Again, it’s very important that they be official copies sent from the university to the processing center, and that they’re in your native language and English.
Once you have done that, you can return to your main home page. We haven’t shown it here, but right below the Transcripts section is the Letter of Recommendation section in the Credentials. You can get there by going to Apply, Credentials, and then Letters of Recommendation. We require that you submit a minimum of two recommendations. You can submit up to four, and they do have to be professional or academic. No personal letters will be accepted. In the middle of this page, you see the Add Recommender button. If you click on that, it will take you to the next page, where you can add your letters of recommendation, or the recommenders’ information in.
You will want to ensure that you include the right address and e-mail address, and then you will also see at the bottom, L1 Letter Description. Later in the application, you’ll have to actually assign each letter to your USC application, so if you type in the name of the recommender or something that will help you remember what this letter is and which program it’s for, that’s helpful. Once you have completed everything, simply click Submit, and that will take you back to the next page. Here you will see, again, that’s just where you go to find the letters of recommendation, and it will also list how many you have, if you’ve entered any in or if you still need to enter them.
Then, in order to assign the letters, it will pull up this page. You can see circled in the example, L1 Tony [inaudible 00:20:42]. We’ve assigned one letter to our application. You will want to repeat that for the second letter all the way through the fourth one if you do have four letters. Again, we only require two. Once you’ve assigned at least two letters to your specific USC application, you can then click the Submit button to move on in the application.
Similarly to the transcripts, we also have cover letters that you will print off for each recommender. Simply click on the Request form that you see circled in red, and that will pull up the next form. It will just verify that you’ve entered all the information correctly and that it’s the correct description. Make sure this is correct. Once you’ve assigned the letters and printed them, you won’t be able to change it, so you want to ensure that everything is correct in this process. Once you’re sure that it’s ready, click Print. Each recommender will have their separate, specific letter, so just make sure you print off two copies or four copies so that you can send those to the people writing your letters for you.
Once you click Print, it will look very similar to the transcript cover page. Just send these, e-mail them, or fax them to each recommender so that they have this to return with your letter. Again, this will make it much easier for LSAC to attach your letters directly to your application because of that unique bar code. We do request that letters be translated into English if the original language isn’t English. They don’t have to be officially translated in sealed envelopes. You can open it, just make sure you send in the original language copy along with the English copy when you send them in.
Once you’ve finished that, you have now completed the majority of the application. There are only a couple of steps left. Step Number Two, circled in red, is to preview your application. This just allows you to read over it, make sure everything is correct, accurate, and up to date. Once you complete the submission process, you won’t be able to change anything in your application, so make sure everything is correct and that you are happy with what you’ve got and ready to submit it.
Once you’ve done that, you can click on Step Number Three, the Continue button. Nothing will happen when you do that. You just need to click it in order to move on to the final step, which is officially submitting your application along with the $75 USC application fee. In order to do that, you will return to the shopping cart in the upper right-hand corner, which is similar to what you did when you paid the first three fees. You’ll find it in that same location. Just click on it, the $75 fee will be there, and you will be able to pay it.
If you do have issues with any of these fees throughout the process, finding them or getting them into the cart, either let me know and I can assist you or you can call the LSAC application desk. They’re very willing to help out and figure out what might be going wrong if you are having any issues. That is the final step to submit that [inaudible 00:23:52].
To further assist you, I have created an application checklist that breaks it down into easy steps that you can follow and check off as you’re completing them. You can see a brief portion of it displayed here. If I haven’t sent you that checklist yet and you would like a copy, just e-mail me today or tomorrow or give me a call and I can send that your way. It’s just a useful tool to help organize the process and walk you through it.
I understand the process can be a little complex and a little complicated. We’re trying to make it as easy as we can for you. Here you will see some resources that you can click on. The main LSAC website is where you get started. That’s the link to begin your application. The page below that lists the fees, what they are, how to pay them. Below that, we have the basic LSAC contact information, if you need to call them or e-mail them. They’re very helpful and willing to assist you in any issues you might be having. You will just need your name and your LSAC ID number, and they’ll be able to provide you with information. If you are a US citizen or a permanent resident, you might be eligible for financial aid through FAFSA. We have included the link there if you want to look more into financial aid. It can be a great resource. Then finally, we’ve also included a link to the TOEFL website if you do need to register for that test.
Currently, we are accepting applications for the upcoming Spring and Summer 2015 start dates. The Spring priority deadline is November 15th, so I would definitely recommend getting started on your application if you’re interested in starting then. We can also work on your application for future terms. It’s never too early to get started. If you do have any questions or want to move forward in the application process, please don’t hesitate to call me or e-mail me. I’m happy to schedule an appointment or answer questions via e-mail or whatever is most convenient for you. Get in touch with me and I will follow up with you to help you out with the process.
Alright. I hope the application process was helpful, and now we will answer some of your questions that were submitted during the webinar. The first question we have regards the bar and if you’re required to take the California Bar. One student in particular is in a different state and wondering if they can take it there. The Bar is a very unique and challenging process in the US in that each state has their own requirements. We cannot speak to any states outside of California regarding the bar. You would need to check with that state individually. They all have their own requirements regarding educational levels, where you got the degree from, how you earned it, so if you are looking to take the bar you’ll need to check with the individual state.
For California, the California Bar track will meet the post-graduate level requirements, but there are also undergraduate level requirements and other factors they take into consideration. So if you are interested in taking the California Bar, you can get in touch with me and I can send you more information on that, along with the list of resources as to who can help determine if you will qualify or not. It’s important to know that we can’t guarantee this program alone will qualify you to take a Bar in any state.
The next question: a student has received a degree from a university in the US. Do I still need to take the TOEFL? Students who have studied at an English-speaking institution, whether it’s in the US or an English-speaking institution internationally will most likely not need to take the TOEFL exam. As long as you can prove to us that you have studied at an English-speaking university, we will typically accept that for a TOEFL waiver. If you do have other questions regarding certifications in English or work experience in English that may qualify you for the TOEFL waiver, just follow up with me. Send me your resume and I can try to get that approved for you.
Another question revolved around the class structure and how it’s set up, if there are live classes or if it’s self-paced. In general, the program is very flexible in that you will have deadlines every week that you’re going to be required to meet. You’ll have reading assignments, you’ll have message board participation, you will have tests and exams. We are also hoping to have one weekly live session for each class every week. That will be flexible and it will likely be offered at two or three different times, depending on the cohort of the students. We never want to inconvenience you and require that you log on in the middle of the night or in the middle of your workday, and we understand that our students are coming from time zones around the world. So the program will be very flexible to accommodate students worldwide with busy work schedules.
The next question revolves transcripts. Can certified copies of transcripts be provided? If not, will the originals be returned? LSAC is very particular about having original copies of the transcripts, and once they are sent in, they are LSAC property. They will not be returned. If you are from a country where it is absolutely impossible to get original transcripts, just get in touch with me and we will talk about what the options are for that. In general, we do absolutely require that you submit original copies of your transcripts.
We have another question regarding the length of the program and how long it takes to complete. The program will be either 21 or 25 units, depending on which track you enroll in. If you want to do the LLM with the California Bar and the Business Law Certificate, it will be 25 units. The other options are 21 units. Most students will complete the 21-unit track full-time in about three semesters, and most students doing the 25-unit track will complete in four semesters. There are three semesters per year, the Spring, Summer, and Fall, so typically it will take 12 to 16 months to complete the program, but you kind of have longer than that if needed. You can also enroll part-time and take a more flexible schedule if that’s more suitable to your work life.
How good is the video quality? The programs that we use do provide a very clear video that shouldn’t have any issues with visibility or sound. The biggest issue with that would be the speed of your internet connection, depending on where you’re located. If you don’t have a reliable internet connection, we can’t absolutely guarantee that it will be flawless, but if you are able to view and participate in this webinar with no issues, you should also be able to participate in the lectures without any problems.
Another question revolves around traveling. Will I have to travel to California? As Nick mentioned briefly earlier, there are no required residencies, so you will never have to come to California. It is 100 percent online, but there are opportunities to come to campus if you wish to do so, including that summer law and English program, or attending a campus graduation, or just meeting with our professors and coming to campus and meeting with us. We’re always happy to have our students on campus.
Another question revolves around scholarships. There is the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, which all students are automatically considered for upon applying, but it is quite rare. Only a handful of students in all of the USC programs are awarded that, so most students will be responsible for funding their education entirely themselves, be it through financial aid, work support, your own money and savings, or whatever method you have to pay for it. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to offer in terms of scholarships.
We have one final question regarding the time commitment per week. We estimate that a full-time schedule will require about 20 hours of your time per week, but that can vary greatly depending on your individual study habits as well as your comfort in working in English. Some students might only spend 15, some might spend 25 hours. It really depends on your individual study habits and how in-depth you get into the program.
We do have one more question regarding an undergrad degree and qualification for the program. As we previously mentioned, the full LLM does require that you have a law degree from outside of the US. If you don’t already have your law degree, or your bachelor’s of law from outside of the US, the program unfortunately will not be a good fit for you, and domestic applicants looking to apply for the Business Law Certificate do have to have a JD degree. So you do have to have a first degree in law, be it an international LLB degree or a domestic JD, to apply to our program.
Another question just came in. If I have a question during class, how can I ask it to the professor? This will depend largely on the professor’s preferences. The professors will all be available to answer questions, depending on if it’s a live class or if it’s a question that you have in watching a lecture, you might be able to ask it during the live class. If it’s something that you’re watching online, you might send them an e-mail or a G chat. The professors will definitely be available to answer questions. They’re here to help you and ensure that you’re successful, so you will definitely have contact information for your professors so that you can get all questions answered.
There’s another question popping in, but I can’t see all of it. We have a question about when the live classes will be offered. That’s not something that’s 100 percent set beforehand, as we find it … we think it’s important to see what the make-up of the cohort is, where the students are coming from, and what their preferences are before we set the live sessions. Typically it will depend on how many students we have from different time zones, and what makes the most sense. Again, there will be a lot of flexibility with that. If for some reason you can’t attend a live session, that’s something that we would urge you to discuss with the professors. A lot of the live sessions will be recorded and made available to watch at a later date if you can’t attend that live session.
That actually concludes the question and answer session for today. A few other questions have come in, but those will be answered individually because they are so specific to the student. If you have any further questions or think of anything after the webinar’s complete, you can e-mail them to me. Or if you would like clarification on any of the questions, just send me an e-mail or call me and I would be more than happy to discuss specific situations for you. Thank you for taking the time to attend our webinar today. We appreciate you being here. Thanks to Nick and Anne for participating, and I look forward to speaking with you, either on the phone or via e-mail, to discuss your situations and the next steps. Have a great afternoon.
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