By Mitali Karwa, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana.
Every law student has different motivations which encourage him/her to pursue a Master’s degree in law. But whatever the motivation be, the journey from deciding to pursue an LL.M. abroad to turning it into a reality is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. You will talk to each and every person you think can help you in making this ride a little less bumpy. But since, different people will have a variety of opinions to offer, sometimes one can end up getting befuddled.
So to ensure clarity of opinion, here are 10 of the most important things that you should keep in mind while applying for an LL.M. abroad:
- The main motivation behind pursuing LL.M.
You need to be clear in your head about the reason that encourages you to pursue an LL.M. abroad. Is it just because you want to study in a particular country? Is it because you want to study in a specific college/university? Or is it because you want to specialise in an area of law? You need to figure this out, so that you don’t regret your decision later.
- Formation of lists according to your interest
You should be ready to prepare an exhaustive list of universities or colleges where you can apply for pursuing a Master’s Degree, depending on your preference. If your priority is to specialize in a particular subject, then start preparing a list of colleges across the globe that offer specialized degree programs in your subject of interest. If your aim is to study in a specific college/university, then you should make a list of programs that are offered in that college/university. But if you desire to study in a particular part of the globe, then you should look for places where you can pursue your Master’s Degree and prepare an exhaustive list of the programs that are offered in colleges/universities there.
- Research a lot
Endless amounts of research is one of the most tiresome parts while applying for an LL.M. abroad. However, it is necessary that you gather sufficient information about the places that are on your list. The aim of this step is to acquire enough information that could make your next steps easier. Basically, the more facts you know, the better it will be. So, never rely on one or two sources while collecting all the necessary information, refer to multiple sources before coming to a conclusion.
Colleges/universities often use money as a technique to obtain favourable ranks in survey reports. So, you should also seek guidance from your faculty, friends and seniors who have in the past pursued their Master’s degree from the places that are on your list. This will give you a real picture and will further help you with your decisions.
- Choosing out of the lot
Through the research and the information gathered by you, you should rank the colleges and pick a maximum of eight places. Try to ensure that the final list has three different category of colleges. The first category of the highest ranked colleges, where you have slight chances of getting in, followed by the medium ranked colleges, where you have favourable chances of getting accepted. Thereafter, the lowest ranked colleges, where you will definitely get through. Through this technique your gamble of getting admission into a higher ranked college might work in your favour.
- Marking the dates on a calendar
Keeping in mind the important dates is an essential step, since universities tend to have different cycles for admission. For some places the application process commences even when it hasn’t started for many other places. So, keeping a track of the deadlines will allow you to be on the safer side.
- Master writing the Master’s Degree application
The degree application generally consists of four parts: Statement of Purpose (SoP), Letter(s) of Recommendation (LoRs), Curriculum Vitae (CV) and the English Language Certificate. SoP plays a vital role in increasing the chances of your application getting accepted. However, many students mistakenly make their Statement of Purpose a replica of their CV, which is an absolute blunder. The SoP should consist of aspects beyond your CV’ s scope.
The Letter(s) of Recommendation provide authentication to the contents of the Statement of Purpose and the CV while highlighting a third person’s point of view about the potentials that as per your SoP, you possess.
- Lessening the financial burden
Most of the colleges/universities provide certain scholarships to the students. For example, Harvard University provides scholarships on the basis of need of a student whereas, Oxford University provides it based on the merit of a person. So, talk to your college/university or research about the financial aid that can be made available to you by them. You can even find some organizations that provide interest free loans or else you can look for financial support from other external charities.
- Extending your network
Studying for the Master’s degree will help you reach out to an additional set of professors, associates and alumni. Though the possibility of building a good network shouldn’t be your main motivation, you should take it into account while choosing the college/university you want to be in.
- CV building
You must make sure that there is an upgradation in your CV by gaining admission in a certain college/university. Whether or not you went to a renowned college for your Bachelor’s Degree, pursuing your LL.M. from a reputable institution will be a welcome addition in your CV. It will not only build your CV but will also add on to your confidence.
- Job Prospects
You must know that an LL.M. degree is not the key to a fulfilling career. Though, it may help you lead to your dream job, you will be upset if you purely or mainly see it as a means to your dream job. The Master’s degree year will help you in widening the canvas of your thoughts and imagination, which in turn will prepare you well for your goals and aspirations in the life ahead of you.
Above all, keep in mind that deciding to pursue a Master’s degree has far reaching implications. Therefore, it requires a significant amount of time, money, energy, resources and planning, as these factors will go on to determine the impact of your Master’s Degree on your future prospects.