International Legal Studies

The Big Picture

NYU School of Law offers perhaps the broadest, most diverse and dynamic program in international law and global governance of any school in the world. The faculty is unsurpassed in the depth of its knowledge and engagement. The curriculum is unmatched in the strength and variety of international and related course offerings, from human rights and international humanitarian law to trade, finance and investment, from global environmental and energy law to United Nations and World Bank practice, from transnational arbitration to international legal theory.

Master’s students learn from recognized global leaders in their fields, completing a part of their coursework in advanced seminars which are offered in a small group setting and are dedicated to an in-depth exploration of topics. Direct engagement with faculty is also integral to the program, as students develop their research and writing ideas, and define the direction of their future intellectual and professional development.

Students derive great benefit from being located in New York, with its proximity to the United Nations and myriad high-level visitors coming to meet with students and work with our leading faculty, including practitioners at major law firms and NGOs who are working on the cutting edge of public international law. In addition, our premier Global Faculty and Global Visitors bring, each year, fresh perspectives from around the world.

The Program

Through courses, research and practical engagement, students are encouraged to deepen their understanding of international law, of the interconnections between its different fields, and of its relationship to domestic law.  Topics on which the Law School has particular curricular strength and which enable students with a specialized focus to hone their expertise while also building a strong foundation in public international law* include:

  • Chinese and East Asian Law
  • European Union Law and Regional Integration
  • Global Governance and Global Administrative Law
  • Global Public Law and Comparative Constitutional Law
  • History of International Law
  • Human Rights and International Criminal Law
  • International Climate, Environmental and Energy Law
  • International Legal Theory
  • International Trade
  • International/Transnational Litigation and Arbitration
  • Law and Institutions of War and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • Law and Development and Development Finance
  • United Nations and International Organizations Law
  • World, Regional and Bilateral Trade and Investment Law

Clinics and Practice

Students interested in more hands-on practical experience are also able to take advantage of NYU’s leadership position in the field of clinical legal education. A number of year-long or semester-long clinics, in which they work with real world clients, including prominent NGOs, government agencies or international organizations on cutting-edge issues, are offered annually. Master’s students interested in international law are especially drawn to our long-standing and renowned clinics on global justice, international organizations, and international environmental law, or the newly established clinic on international transactions by Professor Deborah Burand. Simulation courses, much like clinics, but without the fieldwork component, also offer students practical training, such as the classes on Investment Treaty Arbitration or Oral Advocacy in International Investment and Commercial Arbitration.  Many students receive competitive NYU post-graduation fellowships to work at institutions such as the UN International Law Commission, the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and the World Bank.  Students benefit also from NYU’s strong connections with many major NGOs and agencies worldwide.

After admission, some International Legal Studies students apply for the Transitional Justice Leadership Program. This selective program, which is pursued in conjunction with the LLM degree, guarantees enrollment in two of the main courses offered annually in this area, and the opportunity to undertake a related, academic-year internship with a New York international organization or NGO.

Colloquia and Student Research

LLMs in this program may choose from colloquia options annually that directly relate to their degree, such as the Law and Development Colloquium and Global and Comparative Public Law Colloquium in the Fall and the IILJ Colloquium in the Spring.  Whether or not enrolled in these classes for credit toward the master’s degree, students may attend along with members of the law faculty who together critique and debate the emerging scholarship presented weekly.

Additionally, throughout their year at the Law School, students have many options to develop their own ideas and make their own contribution to scholarly dialogue. Pursuing research that leads to a publishable paper may occur in these and other colloquia, in numerous advanced seminars, in student-edited journals, such as the Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP), or under the direct supervision of a faculty member by completing independent research, or this program’s 4-credit thesis option. LLM students may apply to join the staff of journals such as JILP, and on occasion may assist in the work of major journals or blogs edited by NYU Law faculty such as the American Journal of International Law, AJIL Unbound, or the Just Security blog.  ILS students and graduates participate actively in project of the IILJ (including its current projects on governance of illicit activities, global indicators, and global private regulation) and the CHRGJ (e.g. faculty director Philip Alston is a UN Special Rapporteur and a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry into events in the Central African Republic.)  The Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration and Commercial Law coordinates student involvement in NYU’s major programs on investment law and arbitration.  The Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU’s adjacent Stern School of Business includes interested law students in its research and applied work.

*Students principally interested in global business and commercial arbitration might consider the LLM in International Business Regulation, Litigation and Arbitration, as an alternative to the International Legal Studies program.