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    Jul 24, 2024  
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook 
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Law Programs

Unless otherwise indicated, the administrative policies and procedures described in other chapters of this handbook apply to all students in the School of Law, including graduate law students. Wherever there is a note referring graduate law students to differing LLM and SJD policies, students can find them stated in this section.

The Academic Calendar and published deadlines apply to all law students in all programs.

All LLM and SJD students have access to all student services, including the law library, online research, computer support, counseling and advising, student organizations, career services, bar examination loans, and many of the special programs and clinics.

The policies and procedures that follow apply to all students in all graduate programs, whether they are graduates of US or foreign schools of law, and whether they are US citizens, permanent residents, or attending school on an F-1 or J-1 student (temporary/non-immigrant) visa.

Additional rules governing SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) registration and tracking of foreign law graduates on F-1 or J-1 student visas may be found in the International Students  section of this handbook.

Each LLM and SJD program has special requirements in addition to those spelled out in this handbook. Every student should seek advising from Law Student Affairs to ensure that they are complying with the program rules.

Registration and Advising

LLM Tax and Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law graduate students may use GGU4YOU for online registration; all other LLM graduate law students should submit a paper Registration Request form to Law Student Affairs. Graduate students may find that their registration is blocked if a course for which they are attempting to register has a prerequisite which they have not taken at Golden Gate. Graduate students will need to register for these courses by submitting a paper registration form and obtaining the signature of the Assistant Director of Student Affairs or the course instructor. All LLM graduate students should seek academic advising every semester before registering for classes and obtain the signature of the Assistant Director of Student Affairs for all courses as needed.

Overloads and Full Course Loads

The LLM and SJD programs have flexible enrollment policies that permit continuous enrollment when a student is enrolled in one course, thesis, practical training, externship, or directed study. The programs also allow for leaves of absence in increments of up to one year (and in special cases more) and for course overloads when authorized by the Assistant Director of Student Affairs. However, all students should be aware that financial aid regulations and visa requirements may limit their options. When in doubt, students should seek specific advising to avoid problems.

Fall/Spring Semester:

Full-time Enrollment: 8 or more units per term
Part-Time Enrollment: 4-7 units per term
Less than Part-Time: 3 or fewer units per term

Summer Session:

Full-time Enrollment: 4 or more units per term
Part-Time Enrollment: 2-3 units per term
Less than Part-Time: 1 unit per term

International Students in any program are not required to register for the summer session as it is an optional term.  Non-registration during the summer term will not violate a student’s visa requirements.  For more information, review the International Students  section of this handbook.


Students who are enrolled in an LLM degree program are not allowed to audit courses. SJD students and students who are not pursuing a degree are allowed to audit courses. Attorneys may enroll in courses as auditors on a space available basis. Subject to the approval of the Program Director, a limited number of non-degree candidates who are not attorneys may audit certain tax and trust and estate courses.
Auditing is always subject to the approval of the instructor for the course. Courses taken in an audit status may not be applied to an LLM program. Auditors may be required to participate in class discussions, but they may not take the final exam and they receive no grade or academic credit for the course. Auditors are subject to the School of Law’s Standards of Student Conduct.
Auditing students will receive a 1/3 discount on their tuition as a result of not receiving a letter grade in the course.  This discount is applied at the time of registration and applies only to tuition, not to any student fees.  The auditor tuition discount is not considered a scholarship.

SJD and non-matriculated students may change to audit status by submission of a Registration Request form until the last day of instruction for the term. Once the status of a course has been changed to audit, it may not be revoked.

Visiting Scholars

Visiting scholars are judges, lawyers, law graduates, or law professors from other countries who register for one or two semesters at Golden Gate to pursue research. These scholars may not have a degree objective but may enroll in one or more classes according to the terms of their invitation or government study grant. Visiting scholars may take the final examination and receive a grade for the course. Visiting scholars are required to pay registration fees and international student fees. Visiting scholars who later decide to pursue an LLM or SJD program may, upon approval of the Assistant Director of Student Affairs, apply courses completed while in visiting scholar status to the degree program.

Adding and Dropping Courses

All graduate law students are governed by the same add/drop policies as JD students. They must meet all of the deadlines to add or drop courses to avoid penalties. However, where students experience unavoidable visa problems that delay their arrival and registration, the situation will be taken into account. F and J visa holding students planning to enroll in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) should see the International Students  section for eligibility and registration procedures.

Credit/No Credit Grade Election

With the approval of their Program Director, LLM students may take up to six units of non-required courses on a credit/no credit grade basis. The deadlines for submitting the Election for Credit/No Credit form are the same as those in the JD program; see the Administrative Rules & Procedures  section of this handbook.

Language Accommodation for Exams

LLM or SJD students whose first language is not English and whose prior law degree was not obtained in English may request a language accommodation for examinations only in special circumstances and with the approval of the Assistant Director of Student Affairs. A Request for Language Accommodation form is available on the Registrar’s Office forms webpage. The form must be completed and submitted by the deadline listed on the form. The deadline for requesting language accommodations is very early in the semester, so students should act promptly. The Assistant Director of Student Affairs must approve and sign the request. Late requests will not be granted without the approval of the Exam Coordinator.

If approved, the language accommodation allows an extra 20 minutes per hour of scheduled examination time and permits accommodated students to bring a bilingual dictionary to the exam. The dictionary must be “English to student’s language” or “student’s language to English” only. English language dictionaries with definitions, electronic translators with definitions, and law dictionaries are NOT permitted.

Requests must be made each term in which the student wants to receive the language accommodation. Approval in a prior term does not carry over to subsequent terms.

Grading Policies

Many LLM students plan to work in US law offices as law clerks or lawyers. Therefore, they need to have a realistic picture of their ability to understand and practice US law. For all JD courses in which they enroll, LLM students will be graded according to the JD grading standards found in this handbook. However, they will not be included in curve calculations.

Grade Values

Grades are based on a twelve-category letter system with numerical point equivalents as follows:

  A+ 4.0 (awarded at discretion of instructor, to 1 student maximum in any course)
  A 4.0
  A- 3.67
  B+ 3.33
  B 3.0
  B- 2.67
  C+ 2.33
  C 2.0
  C- 1.67
  D 1.0
  F 0.0
  WF 0.0

Retaking A Course

LLM and SJD students who have received a “C-” or lower grade in a specific course, or who are on academic probation, may retake a course with permission of or may be required to retake a course by the Academic Standards Committee. The grade from the second attempt is the grade that will be calculated in the student’s GPA, whether or not it is higher than the first grade earned. The first grade will not be calculated in the student’s GPA, but the course and grade will appear on the student’s transcript as having been repeated. All tuition charges and fees associated with the second attempt must be paid by the student.

Application For Graduation

LLM and SJD students should enter their anticipated date of graduation on the registration form each semester, and this date may be changed by advisement. However, every student must also Apply for Graduation via GGU4YOU in order to have their degrees conferred. The deadlines for filing the application are September 1 for December graduation candidates and December 1 for May and July graduation candidates.

To be considered a candidate for graduation, students must apply for graduation online through GGU4YOU. Applications are due by December 1 of the year prior to the commencement ceremony for their graduation class. Students planning to graduate must submit this form whether or not they expect to attend the commencement ceremony. Only students who are in good academic standing and good financial standing will be eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony. Students visiting away at another law school during their last academic year still are required to apply for graduation by the deadline. Completing the application allows the Registrar’s Office to order a student’s diploma and ensures that the student will receive mailings and/or email updates regarding commencement throughout the spring semester. Completing the application form does not include ordering regalia, which is a separate process.

Graduation Honors

Graduation honors are awarded to LLM students earning cumulative GPAs of 3.50 and above.


LLM and SJD students must provide official transcripts of their prior law study with their application. These transcripts become the property of Golden Gate University and remain in the student’s file for up to five years after graduation. Students who have graduated from law school in non-English speaking nations must provide certified translations as well.

Transcripts for Bar Examinations

All students who plan to take a bar examination should review the state bar requirements before requesting documentation for the bar. Students from other countries should bring with them to the US an official transcript and a certified translation in sealed envelopes or with official seals for submission to the bar when applying to take the bar exam. Upon completing the LLM degree, the student should order an official Golden Gate University transcript from the National Student Clearinghouse. Students from nations where it may take considerable time to obtain official records should plan ahead.

Graduate law students who obtained their first degrees in law from law schools located in foreign countries who are seeking admission to the State Bar of California should order official Golden Gate University transcripts from the National Student Clearinghouse to be sent to the Office of Admissions in Los Angeles as discussed on the Guidelines for Applicants with a Foreign Law Degree page. Note: the word “certificate” on the California State Bar webpage means “transcript.” See the Foreign Education page for additional information regarding registration requirements.

LLM Student Request for Transfer or Reapplication of Units

Generally, whether the courses were taken while the student was in a JD or LLM program, up to twelve units from courses in a related program at an ABA-approved LLM program may be counted towards an LLM program at Golden Gate University School of Law. The student must have earned a grade of at least “B-” (2.67) in each course to be transferred. Consent of the receiving Program Director is required for any transfer or reapplication of units.

Transferring Between LLM Programs at GGU

A student may apply to transfer from one GGU LLM program to another by submitting a request in writing to the new Program Director. The Program Director will determine admission and whether any scholarship awarded in the prior program will be applicable in the new program. The new Program Director will also determine what, if any, courses taken in the prior program will apply to the new program.

A student may apply to transfer between the Taxation, Estate Planning or Dual LLM programs by submitting a Request to Transfer Programs Form to the Program Director. The form is available in the Graduate Law Office. The Program Director will determine whether any scholarship awarded in the prior program will be applicable in the new program. The new Program Director will also determine what, if any, courses taken in the prior program will apply to the new program.

LLM US Legal Studies Application for Concentration Form

While the LLM programs in Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, International Legal Studies, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, and Taxation have specific course requirements that provide the student with a specialization in a particular area of US or international law, the LLM program in US Legal Studies is a general program offering a basic curriculum in US law. Nevertheless, some law graduates in the LLM US Legal Studies program may elect to specialize in a particular area of US law. LLM US Legal Studies students may complete a concentration by completing the required courses for the LLM US program and completing a minimum of sixteen units of courses selected from the concentration course lists. Concentrations are available in Corporate and Commercial Law, Immigration Law, Labor and Employment Law, Litigation and Lawyering Skills, Real Estate/Property Development Law, and US Legal Practice. To apply for a concentration, students should obtain the LLM US Legal Studies Concentration Application form, refer to the list of courses for each concentration available in the United States Legal Studies, LLM , and make an advising appointment with the Assistant Director of Student Affairs.

Graduate Law Academic Standards

The following academic standards pertain to those who matriculate as students during the 2019-2020 academic year. Unless otherwise noted, continuing students who matriculated in prior academic years are governed by the Grading Policies portion of the 2019-2020 Student Handbook and by all other portions of the Academic Standards in the handbooks for their respective matriculation years.

This section only pertains to students in LLM, LLM Certificate, or SJD programs. JD students enrolled in LLM courses are subject to JD Academic Standards. Any standards not addressed in this section are thereby subject to the JD Academic Standards.

Students also should note that the policies, rules and procedures in the Student Handbook are subject to change. The Graduate Law Programs office will make every attempt to notify students of any changes to their program requirements, but it is the students’ responsibility to check the online version of the handbook throughout the year to keep apprised of any changes to program rules and policies.

The Academic Standards of the School of Law reflect:

  1. The requirements of our continuing accreditation by the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State of California;
  2. The goal of ensuring that graduates are prepared to achieve a high standard in the practice of the legal profession; and
  3. Dedication to equal educational opportunity.


  1. “Academic year” means the two-semester period from August through May.
  2. “Associate Dean” means the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School or the person appointed by the Associate Dean to perform or administer a designated task or program.
  3. “LLM Program Director” means the LLM Programs Director or designee for a particular LLM program.
  4. “Student” without other qualification includes both full‑time and part‑time students.
  5. “Grade point average (GPA)” means the figure derived by dividing the total number of grade points a student has earned by the total number of units the student has attempted in courses completed for letter grades. GPAs are not rounded up in order to satisfy academic, financial aid, or career services standards.


Dual Masters

•  Taxation and Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law, Dual LLM  


•  International Legal Studies, SJD