Differences between the LL.M. Thesis and Non-Thesis Options

All of our Master's options require 45 credits and lead to the same LL.M. degree; they are differentiated by the proportion of coursework to scholarly research and writing.

The Thesis option is a research-intensive LL.M. program, requiring less coursework; the Non-Thesis option is a primarily course-based LL.M. program, which requires students to complete a Research Project in their last term. In choosing the LL.M. program that best suits their interests, background, and objectives, prospective students are encouraged to take into account their aptitude for in-depth academic legal scholarship, their interest in taking a range of courses, and their professional and personal timelines.

Thesis

A Master’s Thesis is a 30,000-word project (including notes and bibliography). It should constitute a sustained analytical contribution to an ongoing academic discussion or to developing concepts and practices. The Thesis must demonstrate substantial knowledge, intellectual curiosity, critical argument, and scholarly ambition. The theoretical and methodological approaches incorporated into the research and writing should be clearly understood and articulated. Applicants to the LL.M. program with Thesis are expected to submit a proposal that illustrates their readiness to explore a particular research question in depth.

Non-Thesis (Research Project)

A Research Project is a 15,000-word paper (including notes and bibliography). It constitutes a substantial piece of critical writing, of publishable length and quality, which elucidates particular ideas or problems within an area of law. The Research Project should exhibit a solid understanding of its own theoretical and methodological framework, and should be clearly written with the incorporation of relevant and significant sources. LL.M. Non-Thesis students complete their coursework over the Fall and Winter semesters and write their Research Projects over the Summer term.