IILJ Scholars Program

Program Overview

The Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) Scholars Program awards scholarships to students with outstanding academic backgrounds and strong international law interests.   Beginning with students admitted for Fall 2017, the scholars are known as IILJ Joyce Lowinson Scholars, in recognition of the generous donation of Professor Joyce Lowinson. IILJ Scholars participate in internships, research programs and IILJ events during their time at NYU.  IILJ Scholars also have the possibility in their second year to apply to enter the four-year J.D.-LL.M. in International Law, a highly selective program providing advanced specialist training in international law. IILJ Scholars in the 3-year or 4-year programs will have the opportunity to develop a substantial research agenda and publication record in international law, supported by opportunities for practical engagement and field research.

The 4-year J.D.-LL.M. is a unique and innovative addition to NYU Law School’s academic programs. It is designed for students seeking specialist academic expertise in international law. The program aims to provide close mentoring and specialist training for a small number of outstanding students who will go on to make a significant contribution to scholarship, teaching and innovative practice in the field of international law. The three-year J.D. program is followed by a one-year Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) that combines research and writing with some course work. Throughout the program Scholars will participate in academic colloquia, including presentation of their own scholarship during the LL.M. year, and in special seminars with leading scholars and practitioners in international law. Individual mentoring by international law faculty is a key component of the program. Potential mentors include all the members of the IILJ Faculty Advisory Committee (Professors Philip Alston, Jose Alvarez, Kevin Davis, David Golove, Ryan Goodman, Robert Howse, Benedict Kingsbury, Martti Koskenneimi, Mattias Kumm, Samuel Rascoff, Linda Silberman, Richard Stewart, J.H.H. Weiler, and Katrina Wyman), along with many other NYU Law faculty.

This 4-year program is designed to overcome the growing challenge in a three-year J.D. program of obtaining both an outstanding general legal education and the depth of specialist expertise and proven publication record that helps bring success in some of the most exciting parts of the international law job market. International law is a specialized and complex field. For the academic and international organizations job markets in particular, where a portfolio of high-quality written work is required, J.D. graduates are increasingly seeking not only clerkships and practical experience, but also post-graduate research and course work in international law. The NYU J.D.-LL.M. offers an integrated program of specialized training that is made possible by NYU Law’s unique range and depth in international law faculty, courses and programmatic resources.

Program Curriculum

First Year

In their first year, IILJ Scholars typically take International Law as a first year Spring semester elective course. IILJ Scholars receive funding for a suitable international law summer internship as well as assistance in arranging such an internship for the summer at the end of the first year, and will participate in IILJ events consonant with the demands of the first-year Law School curriculum.

Second and Third Years

IILJ Scholars in their second year of Law School take a mixture of international law courses and other courses in individual programs designed in consultation with the program director.  These typically include core and advanced courses on relevant international law subjects and at least one seminar involving substantial writing on an international law topic. In addition, all IILJ Scholars are required to take, in their second or third year, an IILJ seminar focused on international law writing and scholarly methodology, as well as an IILJ Colloquium on International Law Theory.  Topics explored in the IILJ seminar may include the implications for international law of globalization, global justice, democracy, and relations of these to trade, security, human rights, and social or environmental policy.  Methodologies covered include rational institutionalism, normative theory, constructivism, economic analysis, historical or case study methods, and development and testing of policy.

During their second year, Scholars are encouraged to produce a publishable student note for a suitable journal, often begun as part of an internship the previous summer, and IILJ faculty are available to provide comments and advice in this work.  All second, third-year and LL.M. Scholars participate in the IILJ Scholars Conference at which they present their academic papers for review by faculty and peers. 

Funding is available to Scholars wishing to undertake a further international law internship at the end of the second year. A review of personal goals, curricular plans and academic performance is held with the program director near the end of the second year. Continuation of the scholarship is subject to satisfactory performance and mutual agreement. The vast majority of Scholars then continue.

LL.M. Year

Those IILJ Scholars who have been accepted into the J.D.-LL.M. Program subsequently undertake the LL.M. year, with individually-tailored course schedules, including an International Law Thesis course. By the end of the program they will have written several very substantial supervised research papers relating to international law, with publication being the objective. These papers may address different aspects of the same big topic of the student’s central interest, although more commonly they explore several separate topics. The LL.M. is normally undertaken immediately following the J.D., but a one-year deferral may be granted in special cases for clerkships or other reasons.

Over the course of their law school career, IILJ Scholars participate in an extensive range of international law meetings and IILJ events, including speaker series given by NYU faculty and visiting scholars, judges and practitioners.


J.D. applicants with outstanding academic backgrounds and strong international law interests may receive Scholarships at the Law School's Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ).  Scholars participate in internships, special seminars, and research programs. 

Scholars will receive merit scholarships up to full tuition for the three years of the J.D. portion of the program.  Scholars have the option during their second year to apply to enter the four-year J.D.-LL.M. in International Law, a highly selective program providing advanced specialist training in international law.  If admitted, the Law School will meet the entire tuition charge for the LL.M. year. Living expenses in that year are the responsibility of the Scholar. Receipt of an IILJ Scholarship does not require Scholars to apply to the LL.M. segment of the program, nor does it guarantee admission to that program. 


No special application is made to the IILJ Scholars program by pre-JD students.  All applications by prospective J.D.s  for admission to NYU Law School are reviewed for suitability with the IILJ Scholars program as part of the Law School’s general admissions process.  The Admissions office forwards the most promising of the relevant admissions applications to the IILJ, which reviews them and invites finalists to the campus to meet with us and to become familiar with the Law School.  Thanks to a generous endowment given by Joyce Lowinson in honor of the late NYU Murry and Ida Becker Professor of International Law Thomas M Franck, students accepted into the IILJ Scholars program receive a substantially enhanced merit scholarship award for the three years of their NYU JD program.

IILJ Scholars already at the Law School have the option during their second year to apply to enter the four-year J.D.-LL.M. Program in International Law.  Students who are not IILJ Scholars in their first year are also able to apply to the J.D.-LL.M. Program during their second year at NYU Law, once they have had an opportunity both to get to know the field by taking some international law courses and to demonstrate legal academic excellence.

Admissions for prospective J.D. candidates will be handled by the Law School’s J.D. Admissions Office in accordance with usual procedures, but admission as a Scholar will also require approval by the Institute Director, in consultation with the IILJ Faculty Committee. For students subsequently admitted to the J.D.-LL.M. Program, admission to the LL.M. will be presumptive for those who have successfully completed the 3-year J.D. component, provided the necessary GPA has been maintained and the program director both approves and certifies that the student is meeting all program requirements and is contributing fully and effectively to realization of the program’s goals. Any deferrals will require the approval of the program director as well as the Law School’s Admissions Office.

Applicants to the J.D.-LL.M. Program in their second year at NYU Law should submit applications by the specified deadline (generally in March) in accordance with details announced earlier that semester.   

Applicants who are not Scholars of the IILJ should include a letter explaining reasons for interest in the program and future career aspirations, academic transcripts from NYU Law and pre-Law School studies (informal transcripts are accepted), a description of the applicant’s involvement in relevant activities prior to and during J.D. studies, and an indication of areas of particular research interest. These applicants, if successful, become IILJ Scholars beginning in their third year.  Students whose research interests cross over between international law and other areas of law, or between international law and other disciplines, are also encouraged to apply. Students interested in applying are encouraged to take part in international law events of interest to them during their first year but are advised to concentrate primarily on their first year courses. Potential applicants who are not already IILJ Scholars may well wish to apply for relevant internships for the summer at the end of their first year. They are also encouraged to take the basic international law course and any relevant seminar requiring written work during the Fall semester of their second year.

The IILJ Scholars and J.D.-LL.M. Program are primarily for students who do not already have a law degree. Students who already have a law degree from another country but wish to undertake a full US J.D. Program prior to LL.M. may also apply. Students who have a law degree and wish to pursue LL.M. studies or doctoral work should not apply to be IILJ Scholars or to enter the J.D.-LL.M. program; please read instead the information on NYU Law’s LL.M. and J.S.D. Programs on the NYU Law Graduate Admissions website.

The J.D.-LL.M. Program in International Law is directed by Professor Robert Howse. Barbara Landress in the Law School’s Office of Graduate Affairs administers the J.D.-LL.M. Program, but does not deal with admissions. 

Prospective applicants to the IILJ Scholars program with general inquiries about the Program should contact the Law School’s Office of Admissions.