If you are a native of an English-speaking country*, or if you graduated from college in an English-speaking country, you probably won’t have to take a language test. If, on the other hand, you graduated from a college outside of an English-speaking country, you may.
Check the specific requirements of each law school, and note that schools often impose different requirements for LLM applicants and JD applicants. (If you can’t find the language requirements of your law school online, just send the admissions office an email or call them.)
Some schools require you take the TOEFL or IELTS, and some require international students to complete an online interview to assess language skills.
This guide by 7 Sage gives more information about language testing requirements.
*“English-speaking countries” generally means the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, often Canada, and occasionally Singapore, South Africa, Pakistan, and India.
Many international students wish to go directly to law school in the fall after finishing undergraduate study so they can stay in the United States. Unfortunately some top law schools (ex. Harvard and Northwestern) actively preference candidates who have gained additional experience between undergraduate study and law school. A large percentage of candidates for elite law schools will have that additional experience, and you will be competing with them. For example, Harvard reports that over 80% of accepted candidates have had at least 1 year of gap time, while more than 60% had 2 or more years of gap time. This gap time could be in the form of masters degrees, job experience, or volunteer programs.
Many U.S. law schools may have limited financial aid funds for international students. In fact, many U.S. law schools may require you to submit, along with your application, proof of availability of funds to pay for the entirety of your legal education. In addition, international students do not qualify for educational loans from the U.S. government, which is how many American students pay for their legal education.
It can be really helpful to reach out to individual law schools to find out what kinds of money might be available to international students (some may offer need based aid, some may offer merit scholarship aid based primarily on GPA and LSAT score). Your best resource for any questions related to financing law school is the nonprofit AccessLex. They have webinars, a scholarship search that allows you to filter for international candidates, and many more pre-law resources. They also meet 1:1 with pre-law students and alumni for free to help you plan to afford law school.
See our Financing Law School page for more information and financial resources.