Graduate Tax Program

Suggested Curricula

Students studying tax at NYU have flexibility in designing their programs, subject to the specific requirements described below. For a complete list of courses and course descriptions, please visit the Course Management System.

Required and Recommended Courses

All full-time LLM in Taxation students must take a tax procedure course for either 1 or 2 credits (students may choose from Survey of Tax Procedure, Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties and Procedures, or Civil Tax Controversies and Litigation) and a course in tax policy. The tax policy requirement can be met by taking courses such as: Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium, International Tax Policy, Economic Analysis of Public Law, Comparative Tax Policy, or Tax Policy Seminar.  (Not every tax seminar meets this requirement.)

Part-time Tax LLM, Executive LLM, and MSL students are required to take a tax procedure course for either 1 or 2 credits, but are not required to take a tax policy course.  Please review our degree requirements for more information.

International Tax Program students have very specific degree requirements.

Aside from the tax procedure (full and part-time) and tax policy (full-time only) requirements, Graduate Tax Program students are free to design your program to suit your individual needs. We strongly recommend that all students should get some exposure to corporate tax, partnership tax, and international tax. Many employers will expect our graduates to have some background in these areas. 

  • Students often take Corporate Tax with us, unless they have already taken a JD-level course covering Sections 304, 305, 306, 338, 351, and 368 of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • All students should consider taking Taxation of Property Transactions, as it gives you a basis in concepts that pervade the tax law and all of your classes. We should caution that while this course may cover foundational concepts, it is not an easy course. It is recommended that you take Taxation of Property Transactions if your JD courses did not cover such issues as the treatment of non-recourse debt, basic financial instruments, limitations on losses, and capital gains. Instructors in the more advanced courses assume that you have mastered this material and do not spend class time reviewing these issues and concepts. Close to the start of each academic year each full-time student in the tax program is assigned a faculty advisor, who can advise you if prior tax coursework negates the need to take/retake Taxation of Property Transactions or Corporate Tax I & II. 

Because NYU has such a wide selection of tax courses, it is possible for you to design your program of study to focus on areas of particular interest. (The Taxation LLM does not have formal majors, minors, concentrations, etc.--these are simply thematic groupings.) These areas include General Taxation, Business Taxation, International Taxation, Estate Planning, and Tax Policy.  Our advice may vary depending on the geographic region you wish to practice in or your preferred employer type.  Generally, in larger markets, such as DC and NYC, practitioners tend to be more narrowly specialized, while in smaller or mid-sized markets, practitioners may be expected to have a broader knowledge base. For example, students in smaller or mid-sized markets may want to take coursework in estate and gift taxation, while students looking for transactional work in NYC may not need that course.

Below, we have listed some course combinations you may want to consider, depending on the area you wish to practice in. These are just suggestions. Some of these courses are not offered in every academic year (e.g., Advanced Corporate Tax Problems: International), though most are. Students in the Executive LLM and MSL programs should note that most, but not all, of the courses listed below are offered online. Again, these are simply suggested curricula, and John Stephens or a faculty member can suggest alternative suggestions from our full course listings.

Areas of Concentration in Taxation

General Taxation

If you are seeking a general background in taxation and you do not yet know in what area of tax you want to practice, we recommend a broad exposure. A typical schedule for a full-time student might include:

Courses  
Corporate Taxation I & II (fall) 3 or 4 credits
Taxation of Property Transactions (fall) 3 credits
International Tax I & II (Fall)  or International Tax I (fall) and International Tax II (fall) 4 credits
Survey of Tax Procedure (fall), or Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties and Procedures (spring), or Civil Tax Controversies and Litigation (spring) 1-2 credits
International Tax III (spring) 2 credits
Tax Policy (fall or spring) 2 credits
Partnership Taxation (spring) 3 credits
Electives: (up to four credits can be in non-tax courses) Common choices include Taxation of Executive Compensation, Estate and Gift Tax, Income Taxation of Trusts and Estates I, a course in Multistate Taxation, Taxation of Private Equity Transactions, or Taxation of Mergers and Acquisitions. 4-5 credits
Total 24 credits

Of course, your exact schedule depends on your background and interests. Your electives might include an advanced course in a particular area (e.g., Taxation of Financial Instruments, Multistate Tax, Tax Treaties, etc.)  If you are open to areas of tax practice other than transactional tax groups, consider checking out coursework in multistate tax, executive compensation, or estate and gift tax. It is possible to enter specialized groups or firms which focus on those areas. Try to check out the first class meeting of these classes to get a sense if you are interested in those areas.

Notes for part-time students: A part-time student takes several years to complete their program, and thus may take a course I list as a typical "fall" course in a different semester or for fewer credits. For example, instead of the four-credit Corporate Tax 1 and 2 course, a part-time student would typically take separate two-credit sections of Corporate Tax 1 and Corporate Tax 2 in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Part-time students who have taken a course in corporate taxation at the JD level, but who would like additional coverage of taxable and tax-free corporate mergers and acquisitions should consider taking the spring semester two credit course Corporate Tax II.

Business Taxation

Our business tax offerings include the following courses: Corporate Taxation I & II (3 or 4 credits), Partnership Taxation (3 credits), International Tax I, II, and III (6 credits), Taxation of Mergers & Acquisitions (2 credits), Advanced Corporate Tax Problems (ACTP) (2 credits), Taxation of Affiliated Corporations (2 credits), Taxation of Private Equity Transactions (2 credits), Taxation of Financial Instruments (2 credits, Bankruptcy Taxation (2 credits), Taxation of Executive Compensation (2 credits), and Taxation of Business Conduits (2 credits). This area of concentration is designed for students who wish to concentrate in business tax. Depending on your prior scholastic or practice experience, several courses in the corporate area are also recommended for those wishing to concentrate in international taxation.

The recommended sequencing of courses in the business tax track is as follows: (1) Corporate Taxation I & II first (2) then Taxation of Mergers & Acquisitions, ACTP and Taxation of Affiliated Corporations. Full-time students who have not already taken a course on corporate tax should take Corporate Taxation I & II in their fall semester. Students with a solid background in corporate taxation are encouraged to proceed to advanced corporate offerings. Students who have taken a JD course in corporate taxation but would like additional coverage of taxable and tax-free corporate mergers and acquisitions should take the two credit course Corporate Tax II.

We also recommend Taxation of Property Transactions. A typical program of study might be as follows:

Courses  
Taxation of Business Pass-Throughs (formerly Taxation of Business Conduits) (fall) or International Tax III (spring) 2 credits
Taxation of Property Transactions (fall) 3 credits
Survey of Tax Procedure (fall) 1 credit
Corporate Tax I & II (fall) 3 or 4 credits
International Tax I & II (fall) or International Tax I (fall) and International Tax II  4 credits
Tax Policy (fall or spring) 2 credits
Partnership Taxation (fall or spring) 3 credits
Taxation of M & A (spring); or ACTP (spring); or ACTP: International (spring); or Taxation of Private Equity Transactions (spring) 2 credits
Taxation of Executive Compensation (fall or spring) or International Tax III (spring) 2 credits
Taxation of Affiliated Corporations (spring) 2 credits
Total 25 credits

If you have already taken corporate taxation in your JD program, we recommend that you proceed to more advanced courses.

 

International Taxation (International Tax Program Students have different course requirements)

The core of our offerings in international taxation consists of the following courses: International Tax I & II (4 credits), International Tax III (2 credits), Tax Treaties, ACTP International, Taxation of International Business Transactions (Professor permission required for those not in the Int'l Tax LLM program), International Tax Policy, Value Added Taxation, Transfer Pricing, and Comparative Tax Policy. To focus on international tax, we suggest that you take Corporate Taxation I & II at NYU in your first semester if you have not already taken a similar course in your JD program. If you have recently completed a corporate tax course, you should consider taking the spring courses Advanced Corporate Tax Problems or Taxation of Mergers & Acquisitions as part of your study of international tax.

A typical course of study would be:

Courses  
Taxation of Property Transactions (fall) 3 credits
Survey of Tax Procedure (fall or spring) 1 credit
Corporate Tax I & II (fall) 3 or 4 credits
International Tax I & II (fall) or International Tax I (fall) and International Tax II  4 credits
International or Comparative Tax Policy   2 credits
International Tax III (spring) 2 credits
Tax Treaties (*usually only offered on campus) (spring) 2 or 4 credits
Taxation of Mergers and Acquisitions (spring) 2 credits
Transfer Pricing (spring)

1-2 credits

Value Added Taxation (spring) 2 credits
Total 23-25 credits (1 credit remaining for an elective)

The instructor's permission is required to enroll in International Business Transactions, which is offered only in the spring semester and is primarily intended for students in the International Tax Program.

Estate Planning

The core of our offerings in the estate planning area consists of six courses: Estate & Gift Taxation (2 or 3 credits), Estate Planning (2 credits), Income Taxation of Trusts & Estates I (2 credits), and Income Taxation of Trusts & Estates II (2 credits). It is our experience that students who have taken estate and gift taxation at the JD level need not repeat the class at NYU School of Law. You should consider taking Tax Exempt Organizations (2 credits), Private Foundations and Their Alternatives (1 credit), and Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving (2 credits). Many practitioners in this area also find state and local tax issues to be relevant, so consider the Multistate Tax classes. To practice effectively in this area, it is important to have a good general background in taxation. Therefore, we recommend that you select from among the following courses (if you haven't taken them already): Taxation of Property Transactions, Corporate Tax I, Partnership Taxation, and Timing Issues and the Income Tax. If you can fit in International Tax III instead of one of the below courses, many practitioners find the coverage of PFICs in that course to be very useful.

A typical program might be as follows:

Courses  
Estate and Gift Taxation (fall)

2 credits

Taxation of Property Transactions (fall or spring) 3 credits
Survey of Tax Procedure (fall or spring) 1 credit
Income Tax of Trusts and Estates I (fall) 2 credits
Income Tax of Trusts and Estates II (spring) 2 credits
Estate Planning (spring) 2 credits
Partnership Taxation (fall or spring) 3 credits
Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving (spring) 2 credits
International Taxation I & II (fall) or International Tax I (fall) and International Tax II (spring)* 4 credits
Tax Policy (fall or spring) 2 credits
Private Foundations and Their Alternatives (online only, fall or spring) 1 credit
Total 24 credits

 

Tax Policy

If you are interested in a career in government or in teaching, you should strive to obtain a broad exposure to both tax policy and substantive tax issues. We offer a broad variety of tax policy courses. In addition, we recommend taking non-policy courses to round out your tax background. We often limit students to a single tax policy course until the first week of the course in question. Students should exercise care when bidding on more than one tax policy course and can contact the tax office closer to the start of the course to see if additional policy courses may be taken.

No Independent Writing Requirement

There is no independent writing requirement for students in the LLM in Taxation Program. With permission, you may receive up to two credits for a directed research project supervised by one of the tax faculty. No exceptions can be made to the maximum of 2 credits for directed research.

 

Online Courses

We have also offered asyncronous pre-recorded online classes for over ten years which are largely limited to our part-time students unless the course is not otherwise offered in real-time.  Often these classes are recorded in a prior semester, with all videos immediately available, and other times they are being recorded meeting in the current semester. 

Our faculty have a rule that requires full-time students to take on campus courses in person to maximize faculty-student interactions.  We thus restrict enrollment in many pre-recorded online courses to students in our part-time programs. In the Fall 2020 through summer 2021 semester we revised our rules due to COVID-19. We allowed tax students in all programs starting in fall 2020 or spring 2021 the option to attend any of our on-campus classes remotely (online) in real time. For the fall of 2021 (as of August 2021) we are reverting back to requiring full-time students to take on campus courses. We do allow full-time students to take a few online courses which we do not offer on-campus in the fall or spring, e.g., private foundations and their alternatives. Note that students studying on an F-1 visa or hoping to use the LLM to qualify for the bar exam historically have been limited to a single online course per semester under visa regulations and were unable to count online courses for the bar exam. The visa rules have been slightly relaxed at least through fall 2021 and the bar examiners are also allowing online coursework through fall 2021. (as of August 2021)

 The regulations for J visa holders do not explicitly allow for any online study, however.  Finally, students whose first degree in law was outside the US and may not be able to use online courses to qualify for the NY bar exam under section 520.6 of the bar examiners rules.  

 Traditionally with our online classes, all students (on campus and online) prepare for class by completing the same problem sets, take the same exam, and are graded on the same grading curve.

Some classes, e.g. International Tax I, are being recorded in the current semester. Full-time students can register for the on campus section of this course and are expected to attend in-person, even if there are class recordings available. You cannot substitute watching a class online later for appearing in class and participating, absent a compelling reason, such as illness.

We do not formally have "excused absences" for illness or job interviews, so under our pre-COVID rules, if you miss class for any reason that can be a concern and missing more than 20% of your classes can result in grade lowering or being dropped from the class. However, we do now have a formal COVID policy that you should not come to class if you are unwell, so that is a superceding policy. Faculty do take attendance and participation seriously and often enforce the school's attendance rules strictly. If you miss more than 1-2 classes it is a good idea to let your faculty member know.

For part-time students taking asynchronous courses, there are often two points in the semester when a part-time student must be caught up with watching classes. Besides those two points, there is flexibility as to when part-time students watch the class videos. (Again, we are referring to pre-recorded, or asynchronous classes.)  As long as students in the online asynchronous section meet the attendance deadlines, they can watch the videos on the weekends, at night, in the morning, a half hour at a time, an hour at a time, etc. We often film multi-hour classes in one hour segments.

Students in the part-time LLM program are limited in how many credits of online coursework they can apply towards their degree program. Part-time tax students must take 12 credits of on campus coursework, and the remaining 12 credits can be on campus, online courses, or up to four transfer credits. We do count remote classes as "on campus" for this purpose if the classes meet in real time and the student meets our attendance requirement. 

 

Note for foreign-trained attorneys interested in sitting for the NY bar exam:  

Students in our International Taxation LLM (ITP) and some of our students in our Taxation LLM programs have already received their first law degree outside of the U.S. These students are often interested in sitting for the New York bar exam.  The topic of bar exam eligibility is complex, and can depend on one's prior legal education. The first step is to ask the NY bar examiners to review your educational reviews to find out if you can use an LLM to qualify to sit for the bar exam. We advise you to read about the requirements online here, and that you also read about some of the specific courses students might take if they were not educated in a qualifying common law legal system here.

In brief, the tax and international tax programs can be structured to satisfy the curricular requirements under section 520.6 to sit for the bar exam for many attorneys (again, this is a complex issue, so please do read our resources to see how the rules apply to your situation). ITP students receive a detailed memo during summer registration which offers suggested courses to meet both their degree requirements and those of the bar exam.  Foreign-trained attorneys in the Taxation LLM program should reach out to John Stephens to plan a set of courses that can satisfy the bar exam requirements as well as your other goals. Keep in mind that there are additional requirements after one has passed the bar exam to actually become licensed, including passing the MPRE (multistate professional responsibility exam), "character and fitness" review, the section 520.16 requirement to perform pro bono work, and the section 520.18 requirement to work in a law office or to have previously worked in a law office to satisfy the "skills competency and professional values" requirements. The bar examiners have issued an FAQ to answer some questions about the recent section 520.18 skills competency requirement. Many students in our international tax program have prior legal experience in their home jurisdiction, and thus may be able to satisfy the section 520.18 requirement with this experience. Note that the coursework taken to satisfy section 520.6 does not satisfy the “pathway 1” option for section 520.18.  The NY State Court of Appeals will allow students to take online classes to qualify for the bar exam in the Fall 2020 through Fall 2021 semesters (as of August 2021).

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits are treated as elective non-tax courses, even if they are on a tax law subject. Requests to take a course for transfer credit may be denied, for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, how long ago they were taken, format (i.e., no correspondence or undergraduate courses), etc. Up to four transfer credits may be approved by the vice dean and faculty director. We cannot award transfer credits for coursework which was already used towards another completed degree program, such as tax credits taken during a JD program. However, we can award advanced standing for tax courses taken by JD or visiting students at NYU Law, subject to restrictions.