American Legal Studies

You are here

Exclusively for foreign attorneys with an LLB or equivalent first degree in law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s LLM in American Legal Studies offers the opportunity to study American law and specialize in a variety of law concentrations. Students are immersed in practice skills orientated classes and work directly with faculty advisors to plan and tailor their law school program of study. The law school is located in heart of downtown, San Diego and provides the ideal sanctuary to study law.

Degree Requirement

Students must complete 24 units to graduate. The program is expected to take one year to complete.

Entrance Requirement

Candidates for the degree of Masters of Laws (LL.M.) must hold a First Degree in Law from an accredited law school of or faculty of law (LLB or equivalent) to be eligible for admission to the LL.M. program.

Deadlines and Start Dates

Fall Enrollment

Classes begin in August

Deadline to Apply – June 1

Spring Enrollment

Classes begin in January

Deadline to Apply – November 1

Application Components

  • Completed Application Form (hyperlink to Apply page)
  • Statement of Interest
  • Resume / CV
  • One letter of Recommendation
  • English Competency Test Score (TOFEL / IELTS) – requirement waived if you received a degree from a program where English was the official language
  • Evaluated Transcript – transcripts must be translated to English and evaluated for U.S. grade equivalency.

Students earning an LLM in American Legal Studies at Thomas Jefferson School of Law's San Diego, California campus may be able to take the bar exam in California. Students must plan their program of study carefully to ensure eligibility to take the bar exam.

Please contact Professor Steven Semeraro at before matriculating at Thomas Jefferson School of Law to discuss your bar eligibility interests and plan a program of study.

Additional information about bar exam eligibility can be found in The National Conference of Bar Examiners Bar Admission Guide.

International Students

If you received your college degree outside the United States, you must have your transcript(s) evaluated by a professional evaluation service to make sure you have the equivalent of a U.S. undergraduate degree. The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) offers a Credential Assembly Service to evaluate your transcript. Transcript evaluations for transfer students and non-JD students may also be evaluated by World Education Services (WES).

Applicants from non-English speaking countries must also provide their TOEFL or IELTS exam results. Our school code is 4973.

Please visit the LSAC website for more information:

If you received a law degree outside the United States and are interested in seeking admission to a U.S. bar, you may seek admission to the JD Program as a transfer student. You may also be interested in our LL.M. (Master of Laws) degree in American Legal Studies (ALS). The LL.M. in ALS is a one-year program for candidates who seek a U.S. law degree, potentially leading to eligibility to sit for the bar exam in California.

Student Affairs Can Help

Student Affairs Office:

Location: Second Floor

Telephone: 619.961.4202

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday - Thursday

8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday

Contact: Ben Chamberlain, Director of Student Affairs

If you have not yet applied to Thomas Jefferson School of Law, please click here.

Important Information:

This page is designed to help answer your questions regarding the steps to take for pursuing your legal studies at our campus if you are neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident alien. We understand that the transition to law school and living in the United States can be challenging. Our Student Services team is ready to help manage this process and we look forward to working with you as you relocate to San Diego.

Transfer Students: International students currently enrolled in an educational program in the United States may transfer to a new learning institution. Students interested in transferring to Thomas Jefferson School of Law should complete the admissions application process through our Admissions Office. Upon notification of admission, you must alert the Student Affairs Office of your intent to transfer. While each school has its own process, the home school (the school you are seeking to transfer from) will need to release you and update you as a transfer on the SEVIS website. An official from your home school should contact our Student Affairs Office to inform us of the release and/or you can provide us with a document reflecting the completion of the transfer. Once the transfer information is complete, we will contact you about the issuance of an I-20 document.

Requesting an I-20 for F-1 Student Status: International students are required to obtain an I-20 document to study in the United States. Thomas Jefferson will only issue the I-20 after an individual has been admitted. Upon receipt of an "offer of admission letter" from our Admission Office, our Student Affairs staff works directly with each student to communicate the information needed to support the request for an I-20 document. The admission letter will disclose the financial obligations for studying at the law school. Students should be prepared to provide financial records that demonstrate the ability to finance their studies in the United States.

Please note: F-1 students must maintain full-time status throughout their law school career.

I-20 Document: The I-20 document supports the F-1 student status. This form is very important and should be treated similarly to a passport. This document will be needed when making an appointment for a visa to enter the country, as well as when arriving into the United States. Upon receipt of the I-20, students should carefully review it to ensure accurate information (name, birth date, and all other information). If there is a discrepancy, please notify the Student Services Office immediately. Please Note: F-1 students may enter the country 30 days prior to the start of classes, as indicated on your I-20 document.

Visa Appointments: Non-resident aliens and non-U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa prior to entering the United States. However, Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa prior to entering the country. Students who are not Canadian citizens should contact the United States Consulate Office within their home country for more information. Visa appointment times can vary; therefore, it is recommended that students make an appointment as soon as possible. For information regarding the nearest Consulate Office, go to: This website will also provide you with information on what documents are needed for the appointment, as well as the wait time for an appointment at the Consulate Office in the student's home country. Prior to the meeting at the Consulate's Office, students will need to pay fee I-901, which can be paid online at There may be additional fees accessed for the visa application as each country is different; therefore, please check the Consulate website stated above for further information.

In general, a visa application requires the following:

  • A valid passport (six months remaining)
  • An I-20
  • Proof of funding (bank statements, letters of support, etc.)
  • Photographs for the Visa
  • Payment of Visa application fees
  • Visa application forms (D-156, D-157, and D-158 as required)
  • Payment of I-901

Once issued, the visa will be stamped into the student's passport. The visa has an expiration date that indicates the period of time the student can enter the United States.

Entering the United States: Students are required to go through United States immigration and customs inspection when entering the United States. All documents will be reviewed by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. The I-20 document will be stamped and an I-94 form will be issued. The I-94 document will indicate the date of entry, your status in the United States, and the day you will leave the United States. It is extremely important that your I-20 and I-94 stamps reflect your F-1 status; therefore, please check the documents prior to leaving the United States Customs area. If your stamp reflects any other status (such as visitor) notify the CBP immediately so that the documents can be corrected.

Orientation and Checking in at Thomas Jefferson School of Law: Once you are settled in San Diego, make an appointment with Dean Lisa Ferreira to set up your school check-in. Check-in appointments will include welcoming you to the campus, completing your international student file, registering you in the SEVIS website, providing information on maintaining your F-1 status and orienting you to beautiful San Diego, CA. Students are also required to attend the law school's orientation, about which the Admissions Office will mail information to each student.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is designed to provide students with additional educational opportunities through externships. Students interested in pursuing an externship for CPT should contact the Student Affairs Office.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): Optional Practical Training is designed to provide work experience to students in the legal community. This experience can be received in school or after degree completion. Students interested in OPT should contact the Student Affairs Office for further information.


"I had a great experience being an LLM student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Highly qualified professors. contemporary, well equipped classrooms, great library - all the resources were there for me. The most valuable part, however, was that I had an opportunity to study with American students, rather than taking special classes for foreigners. That experience accelerated my studey profess and helped me prepare for real life and real work, to build confidence and subsequently to get my job."

"Immersing myself in the LLM program has been the most challenging experience of my life, and my first time to the USA. It truly was a great opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge through the teaching of such great professors. The professors of Thomas Jefferson School of Law are committed to their students and their success. Also, I had the chance to study alongside an incredibly diverse student body that comes from very different backgrounds. The most valuable of this experience was acquiring a practical understanding of the American legal system and learning a great amount of English legal vocabulary."

"This experience was the best one I ever had! Being able to learn about the American legal system while being surrounded by Americans from different states and learning the differences and similarities between them was very interesting. The faculty, the professors, and the many resources available made this experience even more enjoyable by showing that they are always here to help you anytime you need. I would definitely encourage anyone who is hesitating to take the plunge and use this amazing opportunity to travel, meet new people, and learn about another legal system."

"What I like most at Thomas Jefferson School of Law is the highly professional and challenging atmosphere. From the very beginning I received the guidance on everything I needed: from the application process to course selection, and work load. Then, as an LLM student, I had the chance to learn from the best. Remarkable scholars and highly respected practitioners, the professors were very demanding, still willing to help me gain a deep understanding of the various aspects of the American Legal System. Every week the school hosts conferences and networking events, providing students with every resource needed to become competitive practitioners in the U.S or abroad. Last but not least, Thomas Jefferson School of Law really embraces diversity, thus studying together with students of different nationalities and coming from various backgrounds was a truly enriching experience."

"My professors really gave me a lot of their time and made an incredible effort to make my classes understandable. They made me feel comfortable with my language in class, even though English is not my first language."

“I am extremely impressed with the quality of the LL.M. program at TJSL. The faculty and staff are truly interested in the success of their students and are very approachable. The Professors are not only highly knowledgeable in their respective legal field, but also have excellent pedagogic skills, which makes a huge difference on the learning curve. Being able to study in an astonishing facility, with state-of-the-art classrooms, amongst American students, at the amazing city of San Diego makes this experience unique and very enjoyable. Highly recommendable to any lawyer looking to understand and deepen their knowledge of the interesting American Legal System.”

"As a European student this dive into the American law universe is extremely rewarding. Unlike other LLM programs that can separate LLM students from other US students, Thomas Jefferson School of Law allows you to participate in all classes alongside other students at the law school. If you like the challenge and the work does not scare you, this experience can only be beneficial for you. "

"For me is a honor to be part of the TJSL community, now as an alumna. I have learned much more that I could have imagined when I started 2 years ago. What a wonderful opportunity!"

"Thank you for the wonderful and interesting classes and the support shown to me from my first day at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have learned at this school. The entire staff is very friendly, positive, and amazing, and I hope to see everyone again soon. Thanks again very much. "