Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program

Application Deadline June 1, 2024


Howard University School of Law

Howard University School of Law was founded upon the principles of justice, fairness, and diversity in the legal profession. The School of Law admitted its first class in 1869 and in 1931, became the first predominately African-American law school accredited by the American Bar Association. The first

10 graduates from the law school included the nation’s first Black woman law student. She was the fourth woman admitted to practice law in the United States. Howard University School of Law has retained the very special position for which it was expressly created: to offer educational advantages without regard to race, creed, color, or sex.

Today, Howard University School of Law has produced more than 4,000 “social engineers,” and was ranked among the top 20 public service schools by the National Jurist Magazine in 2012. Howard University’s 13 schools and colleges  prepare students to advance social justice and to preserve human liberty. The University’s library system contains more than 1.8 million volumes, including the Channing Pollock Collection. The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is recognized as one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world.

Washington, DC – Our Nation’s Capital

Washington, DC creates several opportunities for students to engage with key stakeholders, leaders, and the greatest legal minds in policy, law, and government. Living and learning in the nation’s capital makes Howard Law an ideal place to study American jurisprudence. Washington, DC is truly the city of lawyers. The Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Congress, dozens of federal agencies, national non-profits, international organizations, and highly esteemed law firms all have a home in Washington, DC. As part of the Howard Law community – students share a piece of what drives the nation. The law school is located on Howard University’s West campus, where it sits on 22 acres, surrounded by the Cleveland Park neighborhood, with convenient access to the Van Ness/UDC Metro station.

Why Howard?

Founded in 1869, Howard University School of Law celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2019. Like Howard University itself, the School of Law employs cultural diversity, research intensity, and dedicated faculty to produce compassionate graduates empowered to develop solutions to human problems in the United States and throughout the world. The Law School calls this producing “social engineers,” Charles Hamilton Houston’s term for “highly skilled, perceptive, sensitive lawyers” who know how to use the law to “solve the problems of local communities” and to “better the conditions of the underprivileged.”

Dean Houston (1930-35) empowered students like Thurgood Marshall (LL.B. ’33), just as we strive to empower students today. At graduation, Howard Law students accept a charge in Justice Marshall’s name, to “train diligently and thoroughly, to think creatively and with integrity, to speak persuasively and loudly, in defense of the defenseless.”

Dean Houston and Justice Marshall, and others including James Nabrit, Pauli Murray (J.D. ’44), Damon Keith (LL.B. ’49), Douglas Wilde (LL.B. ’59), and Sharon Pratt Kelly (J.D. ’68) paved the way. But, as Howard University Provost Anthony Wutoh cautioned at the 2017 commencement, “We follow in these giant’s footsteps; we are not to stand in their shadow.”

Howard Law has been busy in the 60 years since Thurgood Marshall and his compatriots, including Oliver Hill (LL.B. ’33), Robert Carter (LL.B. ’40), and Spottswood Robinson (J.D. ’39), won the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

Howard University School of Law publishes two journals: the Howard Law Journal, founded in 1955, and the Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review, founded in 2015. Both offer social engineering articles penned by students and noted scholars, each sponsoring an annual symposium named for Law School Deans Wiley Branton (1978-1983) and C. Clyde Ferguson (1963-1969), respectively. Howard Law faculty round out the scholarly projects with articles and books covering human rights, international law, economic development, intellectual property, and social justice.

On the world stage, the Howard Law South Africa Summer Program, in its 20th year, introduces student participants to the African quest for social justice. Since 1994, the Master of Laws (LL.M.) program has provided lawyers from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East with advanced training in human rights and national development.

Howard Law’s library houses the Juan Williams Collection of Thurgood Marshall Materials. The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, enabled by a generous donation from Vernon Jordan (J.D.’60), is poised to connect the 21st Century Civil Rights Movement to its elders, maximize its impact, and ensure its legacy.

The clinics at Howard Law, established in 1969, supervise students who submit U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs, free the wrongly-convicted from prison, fight for fair housing, protect intellectual property, reunify families, represent defrauded investors, and mediate employee disputes at the World Bank.

Howard Law’s faculty and staff each day honor the special charge to care for, nurture, and direct the next generation of social engineers: Howard Law students who fill the halls and classrooms. Dean Danielle Holley-Walker, welcoming visitors to the law school’s website, sums it up when she says, “One of my great privileges as Dean is the opportunity to share with you the reasons why this Law School is such a wonderful place to teach and study the law.”

Hit the Reset Button

Prof. McDougall, the LL.M. Program’s director emeritus, is working to create opportunities for “millennial” lawyers to “hit the reset button” on their career trajectory and acquire a “reason to get up in the morning, by building ‘sustainable, progressive’ legal careers.”

“Generally, young millennial lawyers are those graduating from law school after 2000,” Prof. McDougall said. “I want to provide support to them as they develop their careers. The enhanced LL.M. program at Howard University School of Law is a catalyst towards doing so. For example, a young lawyer might want to use the LL.M. program as a sabbatical, to hit the reset button, to generate new contacts, or to go in a new direction. I plan to build support networks in key cities around the country to provide our LL.M. students with a place to land when they finish the LL.M. year.”

The restructured LL.M. program at Howard Law is designed to attract international and domestic students. In addition to the traditional courses offered in most LL.M. programs, Howard Law’s program will also offer—to both domestic and international students—courses in human rights, civil rights, and social justice.

“The LL.M. program will take advantage of both the academic strength of the law school and the resources available in Washington, DC,” Prof. McDougall explained. “Students interested in social justice will find special meaning and unique opportunities for growth and development at Howard because of our civil rights history and our legacy as social engineers.”

Building a Sustainable, Progressive Law Career

LL.M. students also have a special thesis option, for 3, 4, or 5 credits, to explore how to sustain themselves in their chosen career path for the future. Under LL.M. Director Emeritus Prof. Harold McDougall’s direction, students can examine alternatives such as Big Law (especially its pro bono dimensions), public interest lawyering, government lawyering, law teaching, university administration, solo or small practice, “low-bono” practice, and others.

The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center

Howard University School of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center celebrates and extends the legacy of Howard University School of Law as the epicenter for civil rights litigation and policy work since it birthed the groundbreaking Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center is dedicated to community-based litigation, policy work, and advocacy that promotes positive change through criminal justice reform, voting rights, fair housing, the expansion of access to educational opportunity, and the pursuit of immigrant rights, human rights, and economic empowerment for marginalized communities. The Marshall Civil Rights Center will host world-class academic conferences and establish an online platform that will become a repository for cutting-edge legal scholarship in the fi of civil and human rights.

The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center opened in the fall 2018. Under the leadership of founding Executive Director Prof. Justin Hansford, a leading scholar and activist in the areas of critical race theory, human rights, and law and social movements, the Center is on its way to becoming an intellectual and legal hub for the post-Ferguson movement to liberate Black Lives. LL.M. students interested in social justice and the Civil Rights Center’s work will find special and unique opportunities for growth and development in this exciting new context at Howard Law.

The LL.M. Team

The LL.M. Program team is comprised of Prof. Darin Johnson, director;
Prof. Sha-Shana Crichton, associate director; and Harold McDougall, director emeritus.

Prof. Johnson oversees the program for international students from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. His research interests include constitutional reform, reconciliation, and the rule of law in post-conflict and transitioning states. Recipient of Harvard Law School’s Irving R. Kaufman Public Interest Fellowship, Samuel Heyman Fellowship for Public Service, and Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship, he was selected as one of only two commissioned U.S. Army officer to serve in the Secretary of the Army General Counsel’s Office Honors Program at the Pentagon. He served as an Assistant General Counsel to the Army Secretariat for four years, completing his military service with the rank of Captain.

After leaving the Pentagon, Prof. Johnson continued to practice law as an attorney-adviser in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser, covering a wide range of international legal issues, involving Middle Eastern, political-military, United Nations, and other multilateral matters. Most recently, he served as Chief of Staff in Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, focusing on countries in the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab Spring uprisings. Prof. Johnson provides legal advice on matters of public international law and the rule of law in post-conflict, transitioning, and developing countries through his work as a Senior Peace Fellow with the Public International Law and Policy Group and his consultancy work.

Prof. Sha-Shana Crichton, recipient of the Thirteenth Global Legal Skills Conference Award for her “commitment to the promotion of global legal skills education and for advancing diversity and inclusion in legal education around the world” (Melbourne Law School, Australia 2018) and Howard Law School’s Warren S. Rosmarin Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service (2017), oversees the program for international students from Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean. 

Prof. Crichton has contributed articles to the Howard Law Journal and other scholarly publications. Her article, “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Jamaica’s Duty to Deliver Timely Reserved Judgments and Written Reasons for Judgment,” was published in the Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, was ranked No. 8 in SSRN’s top 10 most downloaded papers in June 2017 under the topic AARN: Latin America and South America, and was cited by the Court of Appeal of Jamaica in Cheng-Young v. Eagle Merchant Bank Jamaica Ltd.[2018] JMCA App 7 [page 39, footnote 71].

She is a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies (Mona), has served as president of the UWI Alumni Association, Washington-DC Metro Area chapter, for several years, and is a member of the UWI Chancellor’s Presidents Club. She is fluent in Spanish, and proficient in French.

Prof. McDougall oversees the program for U.S. students. He has a background in civil rights and community organizing, and has served the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as Washington Bureau Director. He specializes in civic culture and civic infrastructure, focusing primarily on how these support sustainable social and economic development and human rights. He has written numerous articles and Huffington Post blogs, as well as two books pursuing these themes: Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993) and African American Civil Rights In The Age Of Obama: A History And A Handbook (2011).

His recent publications include “The Rebellious Law Professor: Combining Cause and Reflective Lawyering,” 65 J. Legal Educ. 326 (2015). The Rebellious Law Professor was recently featured in Scholastica’s December 2015 spotlight blog. In 2017, he published “Class Contradictions in the Civil Rights Movement: The Politics of Respectability, Disrespect, and Self-Respect,” Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review 45, also featured by Scholastica, in its May 2017, spotlight blog.

Qualifications for International Students to Practice Law in the United States

Beyond completion of the LL.M., candidates must take and pass a bar examination and also meet any character, fitness, or other qualifications for admission to the bar required by the U.S. jurisdiction in question. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Degree Requirements

All degree candidates must successfully complete the following requirements:

  • Credits – Earn a total of 24 academic credits.
  • Residency – Be registered as a full-time resident for a minimum of 2 consecutive semesters.
  • Research and Writing – Complete 4 hours of writing, either by writing a 4-credit thesis or by writing research papers in 2 seminars.
  • General requirements – Otherwise satisfy Howard Law’s requirements for graduation.

Grades – Grading is on a numerical scale of 50-100. As an LL.M. candidate, maintain a minimum grade point average of 77 (C+). However, LL.M. candidates must earn a grade of no less than 70 (C) in each course in order to receive credit for that course w

How to Apply

The application for fall enrollment is available from October 1-June 1.

J.D. from an ABA-accredited Domestic Law School
As a U.S. LL.M. candidate, one must have a degree in law from an accredited law school along with a demonstrated high degree of academic excellence and promise.

J.D. from an International Law School
As an international LL.M. candidate, one must have a degree in law from an accredited law faculty of a foreign law school or an equivalent qualification to be determined by the School of Law’s Graduate Programs Committee, along with a demonstrated high degree of academic excellence and promise.

Before a candidate’s application can be reviewed, he or she must submit the following documents:

  • A nonrefundable application fee of $60 in the form of a cashier’s check or money order listing “Howard University” as payee. Personal checks are not accepted.

  • A completed application for admission to the Howard University School of Law’s LL.M. Program.

  • A brief (2-3 pages), typed autobiographical statement describing professional goals and the role of the LL.M. degree in fulfilling those goals.

  • Official transcripts of records from both the university attended as an undergraduate and the institution attended for legal study. Each institution must send original transcripts directly to the Office of Admissions.

  • An essay, written in English, describing intended thesis topic.

  • Two letters of recommendation that support character and academic potential in a graduate law program. At least one letter of recommendation must be written by a member of the candidate’s law school faculty. Recommendations must be from persons not related to the candidate and must be sent by each person directly to the Howard University School of Law Office of Admissions.

  • In addition, international LL.M. candidates must provide the following:

    • One passport-size photograph

    • Proof of the ability to study in the U.S.

    • Statement of Financial Resources demonstrating the ability to pay for the program. The documentation must show the availability of funds no earlier than two months prior to enrolling.

    • Requisite “F-1” student visa (timeline of visa application process available upon request)

Tuition / Fees / Funding


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University Mandatory Fees2


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Personal/Misc Expenses


Books and Supplies


If you opt to take out a loan, federal fees are associated with doing so.


Direct Stafford - Loan Fees3


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Estimated Cost of Attendance Total


  1. Based on full-time enrollment per semester. 
  2. Subject to change each academic year.
  3. Loan fees vary based on ac

Current tuition and fees

Financing options

International-Trained Lawyers Visa Requirements and Application Timeline

October 1 - June 1

  • Apply
    • Financial Statement Form (Receive from/Submit to HUSL)
    • F-1 Status Verification Form (Receive from/Submit to HUSL)
    • Supporting Documentation

Application review process is typically 8 weeks

  • Howard University School of Law (HUSL) Admissions Decision
    • Receive online/paper application
    • Notify LL.M. committee of applicants
    • Complete application in ACES
    • Application Review
    • Applicant informed of decision
  • If Applicant accepts admission, submits intent to enroll form to HUSL
  • Applicant pays enrollment fee and submits confirmation to HUSL
  • HUSL creates Banner profile and sends Applicant online payment info for enrollment fee

Within 15 days of admissions

  • Student pays Enrollment Fee
  • Admissions sends HU International Student Services (“ISS”) a copy of admissions letter, financial statement, documentation, and confirmation of enrollment fee

No later than 60 days prior to enrollment

  • ISS creates I-20 form and sends to applicant/requests transfer from current school
  • Applicant pays SEVIS fee, if applicable

As soon as possible

  • Applicant applies for visa (typically F-1) at U.S. Embassy or Consulate
  • Applicant attends interview

– If applicant receives visa, applicant informs ISS and HUSL Admissions

  • Applicants may arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before their program start date. Some portion of this time could be wisely used in securing housing and completing enrollment procedures.
  • ISS holds an Orientation for foreign students, going over ”do’s and don’ts” for foreign students in U.S.
  • HUSL hosts LL.M. Orientation
  • LL.M. Committee/Professors meet with students and choose courses
  • Students register for classes
  • Note also that a student with an F-1 visa may work for pay for up to 12 months for a maximum of 20 hours per week during their stay in either a ”Curriculum Practice Training” (CPT) setting (say, at a law firm) or an

“Optional Practice Training” (OPT) setting (at any place that will hire him or her). If a student has worked at CPT for less than 12 months (say 11 months), he or she can stay in the host country another 12 months to work in an OPT area.

U.S.-Trained Lawyer Application Timeline

October 1 - June 1

  • Apply

Application review process is typically 8 weeks

  • Howard University School of Law (HUSL) Admissions Decision
    • Receive online/paper application
    • Notify LL.M. committee of applicants
    • Complete application in ACES
    • Application Review
    • Applicant informed of decision

Within 15 days of admissions

  • If Applicant accepts admission, submits intent to enroll form to HUSL
  • Applicant pays enrollment fee and submits confirmation to HUSL
  • HUSL creates Banner profile and sends Applicant online payment info for enrollment fee

As soon as possible

  • Applicant completes FASFA with the Department of Education

No later than July 1st

  • Applicant completes Med-Proctor process for verification with the Student Health Center (If any inoculations are missing, the SHS will typically administer those free of charge).

2nd week in August

  • LL.M. Orientation
  • LL.M. Committee/Professors meet with students and choose courses
  • Students register for classes.

While Howard University School of Law is an ABA-accredited law school, please note that non J.D. degree and certificate programs are not specifically approved by the ABA.
For further information or questions regarding the LL.M. program, use the following contact information:

2900 Van Ness Street, NW
Holy Cross, Suite 219
Washington, DC 20008

Howard University School of Law LL.M. Program

Click Here to Apply Online