About the LL.M.

The programme includes core courses supported by tutorials, optional courses and activities covering various fields of international law applicable in armed conflicts and emergency situations, and a LL.M. dissertation.

Core courses are taught in English and tutorials are given in English and in French. Exams may be taken in French (upon request). Optional modules are available in English or in French. The LL.M. dissertation may be written either in English or in French.

The Academy offers students who pass their exams both in English and in French the possibility of earning a bilingual degree.

Professionalizing activities, such as internships at local NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, may replace optional courses. The Academy ensures the work carried out by interns consists mainly of legal tasks relevant to the areas of study. Students can also participate in the new Law Clinic on International Criminal Justice, which has been established in collaboration with the Defence Association of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and TRIAL. There is a rigorous selection process to participate in these activities.

Workshops are also organized with professionals and experts (ICRC, human rights defenders, judges and prosecutors, NGOs activists, and so on) so as to enable students to acquire practical knowledge in different fields related to the subject matter of the LL.M.

Which are the requirements to apply to the LL.M. ?

This programme is open to candidates who have a full degree in law (such as a Bologna Master degree, a J.D. or an LL.B.) and who can demonstrate their interest in and motivation for the subject matters of the programme. Given the high level of specialization of this programme, candidates are informed that a good background in public international law is strongly recommended. In addition, proficiency in English and strongly recommended passive knowledge of French (oral and written understanding) or proficiency in French and mandatory high passive knowledge of English (oral and written understanding).

If I do not have a degree in Law, am I still entitled to apply ?

We accept candidates with degrees other than in law only if they have a significant amount of training in public international law and courses related to our programme (international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, etc.).

Those without a formal education in the aforementioned subjects may be considered if they can demonstrate significant relevant professional experience.

Does the Academy have quotas for a particular region or school ?

No, it does not. Applicants are compared to all other applicants, both regionally and globally.

Which are the language requirements to be admitted in the LL.M. ?

The LL.M. is a bilingual programme where the majority of the courses (including all compulsory and part of the optional courses) are taught in English and some optional courses are taught in French. We therefore request high proficiency in English and strongly recommend passive knowledge of French, or proficiency in French and high passive knowledge of English. Students whose mother tongue is neither English nor French therefore have to prove an advanced level in at least one of the two languages.

Applicants who are proficient in English need to satisfy to the minimum requirements of the admission committee, that is TOEFL scores of 600 in the paper-based test, 100 in the Internet-based test; minimum overall IELTS score of 6,5, or a Cambridge Advanced Certificate, grade B. Furthermore, they are expected to possess a sufficient passive knowledge of French; if they don't possess this skill, they are encouraged to take French courses before coming to Geneva and during their period of residence.

Applicants who are proficient in French need to prove a minimum level of skills of DALF C1. They must demonstrate a high passive knowledge of English as a prerequisite.

NOTA BENE: Applicants who have not sat a language test but have at least two years of professional experience qualify for a waiver of the language requirement upon submission of a reference letter (from a teacher, employer, etc.) stating their level of proficiency.

How important are extracurricular activities in the admissions process ?

By far the most important selection criteria are the applicant’s academic curriculum and his or her academic performance. However, extracurricular or professional activities, such as internships or work experience, are an important complement, demonstrating an applicant’s motivation as well as ability to thrive in and contribute to the multicultural environment of the Academy.

When will I be informed whether I am admitted or refused ?

Admitted applicants without scholarship requests will be informed accordingly at the end of March 2013 and those admitted with scholarships will be informed accordingly at the end of May 2013.

How many students are admitted to the LL.M. ?

In order to keep our faculty-student ratio low, we seek to enrol no more than 35-40 students each year, based on the strength of their record of academic or professional achievements.

If I’ve been refused in previous process of selection, may I present a new application ?

Candidates refused in previous years can present a new application and this will not constitute a negative point in the selection process.

May I apply if I have not yet completed the degree I am working on ?

You may apply to the LL.M. during the last year of your degree. In this case, admission will be granted conditionally and the final decision will depend on whether you meet the specific requirements (minimum mark) that the Admissions Committee will set and which will be notified to you.

How is the decision taken about admittance and who takes it ?

Each application is considered in its entirety and on the basis of the academic results, the personal letter of motivation, recommendation letters and the overall merit of the candidate (this includes work experience, extracurricular involvement and language skills) along with his/her ability to secure funding beyond the limited resources the Academy has at its disposal. Approximately 20 places are available with scholarship and 20 places are available without scholarship. Through individual consideration, the Admission Committee seeks not only to identify individual characteristics that are important to academic success in the programme, but also other qualities that promote vitality, diversity, and excellence in the student body. The Admissions Committee is the responsible body and is constituted by the Academy’s directors and faculty.

I have been admitted to the LL.M., can I defer my offer to next year ?

It is not possible to defer one’s admittance for the programme from one year to another. Even if a candidate for a highly valid reason has to cancel his/her admittance to the LL.M., he/she cannot defer it to the following year. He/she will have to reapply and be considered within the new pool of candidates. This approach is due to the fact that selection criteria might change from one year to another in addition to the effort made to ensure a certain geographical balance among the selected students.

Does the Academy offer any funding possibility ?

The Academy can only offer a limited number of scholarships to admitted students. We have approximately 20 places available with scholarship and 20 places available without scholarship. We therefore strongly encourage applicants to do their utmost to secure financing from other sources and we only entertain requests from students demonstrating to have made best efforts to obtain scholarships in their home country or in Switzerland. For this purpose, we maintain a list database, which is accessible on our website, of the principal funding sources in Switzerland and in a number of other countries.

Which are the criteria to apply to the scholarship offered by the Academy ?

At the moment, the donors contributing to the scholarship programme of the Academy agree to grant scholarships to admitted applicants who:

  1. come from  low or medium income countries 
  2. demonstrate academic merit;
  3. do not possess the financial means to sustain the tuition fees of the programme and/or the cost of living in Geneva;
  4. state their plans to return  to their country of origin to strengthen its capacity building and expertise in the subject matters of the programme.

Unfortunately, there are currently no full scholarships available for applicants coming from developed countries.

With respect to scholarships, do you have any quotas for countries or employees of international organizations ?

We do have one donor providing support specifically to candidates from Latin America. Otherwise, there are in principle no geographical or profile quotas with respect to scholarships other than ensuring a geographically balanced student body overall. At the moment, most of the donors contributing to the scholarship programme of the Academy agree to grant scholarships to admitted applicants who come from low or medium countries. Moreover, the main selection criteria are merit, financial needs and future prospects of applicants. Some donors favour applicants who aim to return to their country of origin to apply their acquired knowledge and contribute to their country’s development.

In case I want to work part-time or do an internship during the semester, is it possible to take the programme on a part time/evening basis ?

Our students receive a student resident permit upon arrival to Geneva. This document allows nationals from the European Union (EU) to work up to 20 hours a week. Students from outside the EU are however barred from carrying paid work for the first 6 months of their stay. Our LL.M. programme is a 10 month, full-time engagement and does not allow for part-time modules. The programme is very intensive, especially in the first semester, and we therefore do not advise our students to find intensive employment that might interfere with their academic performance. For more information see Geneva Work Permit Regulations.

What should I do if I need to apply for a Swiss Government scholarship before receiving the admission in the Academy ?

You can request a statement issued by the Academy confirming that you fulfil our admission criteria. This statement is, however, not an indication that you will be admitted but uniquely used to support your application to the referred funding.

Does the Academy offer distance-learning courses ?

For the time being, the Academy does not offer distance-learning education. All the courses and seminars are held on site.

Where can I find a course catalogue ?

You can find a course catalogue of the current academic year on our website.

Is it possible to do an exchange programme abroad during my studies at the Academy ?

The Academy is not in a position to offer exchange programmes.

Is it possible to attend only part of the courses offered by the programme ?

Our LL.M. programme must be followed entirely, over a full academic year (September to June). It is not possible to follow only some courses or only one semester to seek validation of the credits thereby obtained.

Which degree will I receive after concluding the LL.M. programme ?

Our programme is a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), which is equivalent to an LL.M. The certificate is issued jointly by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

What are the career opportunities after graduation ?

Graduates may become lawyers, researchers or legal advisors with national or international institutions; work with international, mixed or national judicial bodies, and collaborate with NGOs or intergovernmental organisations. A significant number of the Academy’s LL.M. graduates work for the ICRC, on the field as well as at the Geneva headquarters. Others pursue their studies and become university professors in their home country, thus allowing the diffusion of knowledge in this essential field.

How do I find accommodation in Geneva ? / Do you offer any facility ?

Finding appropriate and affordable accommodation in Geneva can be very difficult. Looking for a place to live can even become a quite unpleasant experience if you start it too late. You should therefore start looking for accommodation as soon as you have been admitted. Please note that as there are typically not enough places for all the students who come to Geneva each year, those who apply early are served first. Please be advised that finding accommodation in Geneva remains your responsibility alone, although upon admittance we do provide admitted students with a list of possible student accommodations in Geneva (residence halls, university housing, hotels and furnished flats, shared accommodation, rooms with local families, etc.).

What visas and residence permits are necessary for studying in Geneva ?

Students who are nationals from countries outside the European Union need a visa to enter Switzerland and to stay more than 3 months. Please check with your nearest Swiss embassy for details about the procedure. Because the visa process may take several weeks to a few months, make sure to apply at your embassy as soon as you have been notified of your admission to the MAS.
For more details, please find the relevant contacts for your country on the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs website. Upon arrival in Switzerland, students are required to go to the Office cantonal de la population (Cantonal Population Office) to apply for a “permis de séjour” (residence permit). For more information, visit the website of the Service des étrangers, Office cantonal de la Population (OCP) (in French only).

How expensive are the costs of living in Geneva ?

You will need a very strict minimum of CHF 1’600-1’900 per month to live in Geneva, or CHF 16’000-19’000 (in addition to tuition fees) for the period of residence (minimum 10 months)

Budgeting is not just for students – it is a life skill you can use long after you graduate. It’s about controlling your money instead of letting your money control you, understanding how you are spending your money, and making informed consumer choices.  Perhaps most importantly, budgeting can keep you from worrying about your money.

The first step in budgeting is to make a list of your anticipated monthly expenses. The financial aid budget follows a modest but liveable standard and provides recipients with CHF 1’600-1’900 per month for the 10-month 2012-13 academic year. If you are fully reliant on financial aid, this is what you will have to meet your monthly living expenses. The following examples demonstrate two different sets of budgeting choices, and the monthly expenses related to those choices.

2011/12 estimated living costs per student Student Residence Private Residence
Rent + Utility   CHF 600   CHF 800
Food   CHF 600   CHF 600
Internet   CHF 0   CHF 70
Insurance (health + CR)   CHF 100   CHF 100
Mobile phones   CHF 40   CHF 40
Laundry/Toiletries   CHF 100   CHF 100
Study-related expenses   CHF 100   CHF 100
Local transportation   CHF 75   CHF 75
Total monthly cost   CHF 1’615   CHF 1’885
Tuition fee (one-time payment)   CHF 15’000   CHF 15’000
Total cost of study (12 months in Geneva)   CHF 34’380   CHF 37’620


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