Here’s an example of a common prompt: ”A personal statement of 1,000 words or less from the nominee describing his or her background, interests, plans for graduate study and career aspirations. The statement should include a discussion of some experiences and ideas that have shaped those interests, plans and aspirations.”
As Mary Tolar has noted, “If you are applying for nationally competitive scholarships, for graduate school, or for a number of post-graduate service or employment opportunities, you have seen the vaguely phrased request; in one form or another, it comes down to “tell us something about yourself… You are asked to share your “academic and other interests. A clearer charge might be: compose an essay that reveals who you are, what you care about, and what you intend to do in this life. Tell this story in a compelling manner, and do so in less than a thousand words. What’s so hard about that? Simply make sense of your life. (right.) But what does that mean?”
The personal statement is more like a genre than a rubric; there are set of constraints, but no formulas. This means that we need to triangulate our understanding of what it will be with more than one piece of advice rather than a single definition.
For that reason, I recommend you begin by printing out Mary Tolar’s advice. Highlight the phrases that strike you as helpful. Chances are, these are the phrases that surprise you or confirm what was a hunch. Noticing what stands out will help reveal assumptions you may not have even known you had. (This is a stage in the process that should not be overlooked in your rush to master the personal statement. The more you notice what you are learning, the easier the process will become.)
Only the applicant may complete the application form and author any electronic attachments to the online application. Applicants must certify that this is the case prior to submitting the application. Additionally, all applicants must comply with the relevant instructions when requesting their academic credentials, English language proficiency test scores, and recommendation letters in order to ensure authenticity. Except for approved organizations (such as Fulbright, EducationUSA, and LSAC), the use of third-party educational consultants, services, or advisors is strongly discouraged.
Application Form and Fee
Prospective students apply online for all graduate degree and certificate programs; they are permitted to submit only one application during an annual application cycle (September to June).
Applicants must use the application form that corresponds to their choice of program, entry semester, and/or prior legal education (view deadlines):
Fall 2018 Entry
If you are experiencing technical difficulty accessing an NYU application form via the above links, log into your LSAC account and navigate to the NYU application from there.
Applicants must complete all questions in each section of the application form, and electronically attach the required materials, before submitting the application. LLM applicants must choose to be considered for the traditional LLM or one of our master’s specializations. JSD applicants must state whether they wish to be considered for the LLM program in the event they are not admitted to the JSD.
Applicants are not permitted to electronically attach additional pages in place of completing the requested information on the online application form, nor should they mail duplicate copies of materials which are electronically submitted via the online application.
The $85 application fee is in addition to the service fees charged by LSAC, and is payable by credit card only on the LSAC website. Applicants who are unable to use a credit card to pay the application fee or for whom the application fee would present a financial hardship should contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application fee is non-refundable and will not be credited toward tuition if an applicant is offered admission.
Applicants must comply with all LSAC requirements and policies regarding transcripts, and submit their official transcripts and translations with the LSAC form(s) to the LLM Credential Assembly Service. The law school report issued by LSAC includes copies all of transcripts and translations which the Committee on Graduate Admissions will use when evaluating applications.
Official transcripts from all law degrees, and translations of these documents from their original language to English, are required. Transcripts from all institutions attended are required, even if no degree was earned and/or credits from the institution appear on another school’s transcripts, such as with exchange programs. Applicants who attended a school that releases information about class rankings should ensure that the school includes an official statement of class rank in the sealed envelope with the transcript. If class rank is unavailable, a school may instead include an official statement that attests it does not rank its students.
In addition to these documents, all applicants must calculate the grade point average and provide a class rank for their law degree in order to submit the online application. Applicants in their final year of study must also indicate which classes are currently in progress when submitting the online application. If there is additional information that applicants believe will be helpful to the Committee to evaluate their academic credentials, they should electronically attach an addendum to the online application.
Additional Academic Results
Applicants who are currently enrolled in a degree program should submit updated official transcripts to LSAC, if additional academic results become available at any point in the application process including after the deadline. Once processed, an updated law school report will be issued by LSAC to all schools to which an applicant has applied. Any information submitted, including materials sent after an application is complete, will be considered by the Committee on Graduate Admissions if received before a final decision is reached.
English Language Proficiency Test
An English language proficiency test is required for all applicants whose first law degree program was not taught in English, or for applicants whose law degree program was taught in English but whose degree-granting institution is located in a country where English is not the primary language. Such applicants must submit an official score result from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Applicants may choose either the internet-based TOEFL (iBT) or the academic version of the IELTS. The Committee does not favor one exam over the other, and no exams other than one of these are accepted. Applicants are encouraged to take either test as early as possible and no later than November.
In order to be considered for admission, the Committee requires that applicants who take the TOEFL achieve a minimum total score of at least 100, a minimum score of 26 on the reading and listening subsections, and a minimum score of 22 on the writing and speaking subsections. For applicants who take the IELTS, the Committee requires a minimum overall band score of at least a 7, a minimum score of 7.5 on the reading and listening subsections, and a minimum score of 7 on the writing and speaking subsections. For both exams, JSD applicants must present scores substantially higher than the minimum.
Applicants should request that the Educational Testing Service issue an official score report of their results from the TOEFL iBT directly to LSAC (institution code: 8395). For IELTS, applicants must contact the test center directly and request that their test scores be sent to LSAC electronically. An institutional code is not required. LSAC only accepts scores submitted electronically, and all IELTS test centers worldwide are able to send scores electronically to LSAC.
Under no circumstances may an applicant submit a score report directly to LSAC or to NYU Law; only official reports issued by the testing agencies are acceptable. Photocopies or examinee copies are not permitted, and will not expedite the review of an application.
Applicants whose primary language is not English must have strong English language proficiency in order to participate productively and successfully in all aspects of the graduate program. Simply meeting the minimum TOEFL or IELTS standards is not necessarily sufficient and will not ensure academic success. In addition to the English language exam, interviews for English proficiency may be required; any such interviews would be conducted in the applicant’s home country.
Applicants whose first law degree program was not taught in English, but who have completed an advanced degree taught in English in a country where English is the primary language are not required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS in order to apply. These applicants must submit an official transcript to LSAC showing the advanced graded academic coursework and the conferral of the degree. Despite this policy, the Committee on Graduate Admissions reserves the right to require an English language proficiency test score from such an applicant prior to rendering a decision. Applicants who are currently enrolled in such an advanced degree program, but who have not been conferred the degree, must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score at the time of application.
All applicants are required to use the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service. Applicants must comply with LSAC requirements and policies regarding letters of recommendation. Applicants should advise their recommenders that Graduate Admissions may contact the recommender directly if further information is necessary.
Letters may be sent to LSAC electronically or on paper, depending on the recommender’s preference. The Committee on Graduate Admissions does not favor one submission method over the other. To ensure that the correct letters are received, applicants must carefully follow the instructions when registering recommenders and assigning letters to NYU. Applicants are further advised to provide proper instruction to their recommenders regarding the submission of the letters.
One academic letter of recommendation is required for application to the full-time and part-time LLM programs. Applicants may submit up to two additional academic or professional letters if they wish to do so.
JSD applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation from law school faculty members who are familiar with the candidate’s academic work and can attest to the candidate’s ability to complete a doctoral dissertation that will make a significant scholarly contribution.
Applicants to the part-time LLM in Taxation, the E-LLM, or APC in Taxation programs, who additionally received their first degree in law from a US or Puerto Rican law school, are encouraged to submit a letter of recommendation but are not required to do so.
Personal Statement and Résumé
All applicants must electronically attach to the online application a brief personal statement of no more than 500 words. Applicants may describe their professional interests and goals, or they may use the statement to describe aspects of themselves and/or their work that are not apparent from their other application materials. Applicants should include their reasons and qualifications for applying to a particular program or specialization.
Applicants to the Legal Theory program should use the personal statement mostly to address their main field(s) of interest within legal theory and the potential research questions/projects they wish to explore. Applicants to the part-time LLM in Taxation, the E-LLM, or the APC in Taxation, who additionally received their first degree in law from a US or Puerto Rican law school are encouraged to submit a personal statement, but are not required to do so.
All applicants must also electronically attach a résumé or curriculum vitae to their application. This document may be one to two pages in length, and should account for all education and work experience, as well as any period of more than three months not spent in school or employed. Publications, presentations, or other career-related information may also be included.
Due to the large number of LLM applications that we receive each year, the Committee on Graduate Admissions is not able to read or consider writing samples, articles, or research papers submitted with applications. Instead, publications, academic presentations and the like may be noted on an applicant’s résumé or curriculum vitae for consideration by the Committee.
Any additional information an applicant would like to share with the Committee on Graduate Admissions that is not already present in the other application materials may be electronically attached as an addendum to the online application.
Hauser Global Scholarship
If an applicant to the full-time LLM program is applying for the Hauser Global Scholarship, a separate essay is required. Such candidates must electronically attach to the online application an essay of 500 to 750 words that briefly describes a current legal dilemma, controversy, or issue facing a country, a region, or the world, and suggests a strategy to address the problem. This essay is in addition to the personal statement.
JSD Sample Research Paper
Each JSD applicant must submit a research paper originally written in English. Applicants must electronically attach the paper to the online application prior to submitting the application on or before the deadline. The applicant may submit a previously published paper, a research paper written for seminar credit, or a paper prepared specifically for the application. Ideally, but not necessarily, the research paper will address a question in the same substantive area in which the applicant plans to write his or her dissertation. The uploaded paper should not exceed 2MB in size.
JSD Proposal of Study
All JSD applicants must electronically attach a dissertation proposal of no more than 3,000 words to their online application. All proposals must be submitted with the online application on or before the deadline, and late submission of a proposal of study is not permitted. The proposal must be written in English and contain a bibliography.
The substance of the proposal should:
- Clearly state the research questions to be addressed;
- Review the current literature in the field;
- Identify the original contribution the dissertation will make;
- State the methodological approach that the applicant plans to adopt;
- Identify any difficulties that might be encountered during research.
The proposal should have sufficient specificity to make possible an evaluation by a member of our faculty familiar with the proposed field. While applicants should identify in their proposal of study possible dissertation advisors after reviewing the NYU faculty biographies online, they are not expected to be in contact with, nor seek approval from, faculty members in advance of application. Students admitted into the program will be notified of their designated advisor.
Applicants who previously applied to any program at NYU School of Law must submit a new application and fee, and all required application materials. Such applicants must follow all policies and procedures as first-time applicants. Note that LSAC retains applicants’ materials on file for five years.