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Center for Animal Law Studies

Animal Law LLM Curriculum

Program Overview

The Animal Law LLM program is appropriate for recent law graduates or established lawyers who want to enhance their understanding of animal law for either their current or future practice. CALS offers the most extensive animal law curricula in the world. This allows our students great flexibility in selecting their area of focus within animal law. Our LLM students have access to the same extensive animal law course offerings as our JD students, along with opportunities to enroll in the Animal Law Clinic, work on the Animal Law Review, join the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter, and attend the Animal Law Conference and Animal Law Law Review Symposium.

Our program requires all LLM students to complete 26 semester hours of study and a final paper or project on an animal law topic of their choice. Program requirements can be completed in as little as nine months. U.S. students have a total of two and a half years to complete the degree. Under U.S. Homeland Security regulations, international students must ordinarily complete their degree within 18 months and contact the International Students and Scholars Office well in advance if an extension is needed. U.S. students can begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. International students without a U.S. legal background must start in the fall and take the two-week Introduction to U.S. Legal Studies course. 

Please view the list of animal law courses and seminars available to JD and LLM students and also cross check with the Registrar’s year-specific list of courses to see which courses will be offered for a given academic year. If a specific area of interest is not represented, a student may design an individual research project under the supervision of a faculty member or a reading group with fellow students. 

Degree Requirements

Domestic Students

To obtain the Animal Law LLM degree, U.S. students must earn a minimum of 26 credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better. Of the 26 credits, 2 credits must be applied to the mandatory Graduate Animal Law Seminars in the Fall and the Spring (1 credit in the Fall and 1 credit in the Spring). U.S. students who have not taken an Animal Law survey course at the JD level must take Animal Law Fundamentals (3 credits). In addition, U.S. students who have not taken an administrative law course at the JD level must take Administrative Law. In some cases, U.S. students who did not take these two classes in law school but have substantial practice experience in administrative or animal law, may request permission from the program director to waive those courses. At least 18 of the 26 required credits must come from the animal law curriculum. This allows U.S. students to dedicate up to 8 credits from non-animal law courses to the LLM degree.

International Students

To obtain the Animal Law LLM degree, international students must earn a minimum of 26 credits. Unlike U.S. LLM students, however, international students are graded on a “credit / no credit” basis. As such, they do not receive letter grades (e.g., A, B+, C-, etc.) on assignments or for their work in any of their courses. However, they may receive an “HR,” or Honors, designation for courses in which they have earned a B+ or higher. In unusual circumstances, an international student can request to be awarded letter grades instead. The decision to award letter grades is final and irrevocable, and the student should take into account any future uses of the transcript by employers, other graduate schools, sponsors, and bar examiners before submitting a request. A written record of the student’s request for letter grades must be submitted to the LLM Program Director for approval by the first week of a semester.

Of the required 26 credits, 2 must be applied to the mandatory Graduate Animal Law Seminars in the Fall and in the Spring (1 credit in the Fall and 1 credit in the Spring). International students must also take the 2-week, 2-credit Introduction to US Law for Animal Law Students that precedes the Fall semester. Finally, all International students must take Animal Law Fundamentals (3 credits) regardless of whether they have taken a similar type course in their home country. Finally, at least 18 of the 26 total credits must be taken from the animal law curriculum. Note that the Graduate Animal Law Seminars (2 credits total), Introduction to Animal Legal Studies (2 credits), and Animal Law Fundamentals (3 credits) all count toward this 18-credit requirement. International students may dedicate up to 8 credits from non-animal law courses to the LLM degree.

Course Load/Timing

In addition to the requirements listed above, LLM students must register for a minimum of 5 credits each semester, except for the summer term and the student’s final semester if fewer than 5 credits are needed to complete the degree. If a U.S. student wishes to take fewer than 5 credits in any semester that is not the summer term or their final semester, they must request permission to “underload” from the Animal Law LLM Program Director. Note that a student must be registered for at least 5 credits each semester to be considered a full-time LLM student. Being less than a full-time student may impact a student’s ability to defer loan repayments (depending on the lender), so students should plan accordingly. 

Additional Information

For more information, please contact the Director of the Animal Law LLM Program, Dr. Rajesh Reddy, at or 503-768-6895. 

Academic Calendar

The law school is on the semester system, with 13 weeks of classes and two weeks of exams in each semester. The fall semester generally begins the last week of August and ends the second or third week of December for a three-week winter break. The spring semester generally begins in early-January and ends in early-May, with a one-week spring break in March. See the full academic calendar here