Top Ten International Law Schools in the USA

By Denisse Romero

Imagine yourself working at the Hague, fighting for international human rights, drafting a multinational business contract or defending immigrants facing deportation. The field of international law is now more important than ever with globalization, trade agreements, and human rights policies affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Can you imagine the infinite possibilities that a degree in international law offers? If you have already made up your mind about pursuing this field, then take a look at the top ten law schools for international law in the USA. They have been chosen based on their academic reputation, commitment to the field of international law, research centers and institutes, study abroad opportunities and exchange agreements with international law faculties.

The tuition rates stated on this article are believed to be true for the school year 2013-2014.

5. Cornell University

“From the beginning, Cornell Law School has embraced an international perspective, a diverse student body, and international scholarship.”

Location: Ithaca, New York
International Centers, Programs and Institutes: The Berger International Legal Studies Program
The Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies
The Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture
Mori, Hamada & Matsumoto Faculty Exchange
The Clarke Middle East Legal Studies Fund
Study Abroad Opportunities:
Cornell Law School offers summer programs at the Summer Institute of International & Comparative Law in Paris and at the Summer Law Institute in Suzhou, China.
In addition, Cornell offers semester abroad programs with:Bucerius Law School (Germany)
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Central European University (Hungary)
ESADE (Spain)
University of Heidelberg (Germany)
University of Hong Kong (China)
Humboldt University (Germany)
Keio University (Japan)
University College London
University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (France)
Peking University Law School (China)
Pompeu Fabra University (Spain)
University of Sydney (Australia)
Tel Aviv University (Israel)
Waseda University (Japan).
Tuition/Year: $57,270

4. Georgetown University

“The Law School located in the heart of the nation’s capital.”

Location: Washington, DC
International Centers, Programs and Institutes: Center for Transnational Legal Studies
London Summer Program
Asian Law and Policy Studies
Center for the Advancement of the Rule of the Law in the Americas (CAROLA)
Georgetown Human Rights Institute
Institute of International Economic Law
Program on International Business and Economic Law
Study Abroad Opportunities:

Georgetown Law currently has established study abroad programs with:

Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Tsinghua University School of Law (China)
Bucerius Law School in Hamburg (Germany)
University of Heidelberg (Germany)
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
University of Leiden (The Netherlands)
National University of Singapore School of Law
ESADE University School of Law (Spain)
The Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and Paris I (part of the Sorbonne).

Tuition/Year: $50,890

3. Harvard University

“At Harvard Law School, ‘international’ is not just something we teach. It is something we are.”

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
International Centers, Programs and Institutes: East Asian Legal Studies Program
European Law Research Center
Human Rights Program
International Center for Criminal Justice
Islamic Legal Studies Program
Program on International Financial Systems
International Law Library
Study Abroad Opportunities:

Joint JD/LLM program from Cambridge University

Harvard Law School has exchange agreements with a number of foreign schools:

University of Sydney (Australia)
Fudan University Law School (Shanghai, China)
University of Tokyo (Japan)
University of Geneva Faculty of Law and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies – Geneva (Switzerland)
University of Chile (Santiago, Chile)
Fundação Getulio Vargas (Rio and Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Arrangements with the following school are being finalized:
University of Toronto (Canada)
University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Tuition/Year: $52,350

2. Columbia University

“Our students, faculty, and centers’ activities reach far beyond Jerome Greene Hall, and continue to have a formidable impact on the international community.”

Location: New York, New York
International Centers, Programs and Institutes: Center for Contract and Economic Organization
Center for Chinese Legal Studies
Center for Japanese Legal Studies
Center for Korean Legal Studies
European Legal Studies Center
The Center for Global Legal Problems
Human Rights Institute
Parker School for Foreign and Comparative Law
International Moot Court
Study Abroad Opportunities:

Dual degrees in French Law Program with Universite de Paris I – Pantheon Sorbonne and the Insitut d’etudes politiques, “Sciences-Po”
Dual degrees with the University of London
Dual degrees with the Institut for Law and Finance at the University of Frankfurt

In addition, Columbia Law School offers the following exchange programs:

University of Amsterdam
Bucerius Law School (Hamburg, Germany)
University of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Central European University (Budapest, Hungary)
European University Institute (Florence, Italy)
Institute for Law & Finance in Frankfurt (Germany)
Peking University
Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel)
Humboldt University (Germany)
Kyushu University (Japan)
University of Neuchatel (Switzerland)
University of Paris II – Assas (France)
National University of Singapore
Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan)
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Tuition/Year: $55,960

1. New York University

“New York University Law School is a global ‘melting pot’ of scholars and practicioners.”

Location: New York, New York
International Centers, Programs and Institutes: Hauser Global Law School Program
Institute for International Law and Justice
Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
Center on Law and Security
Global Public Service Law Project
Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice
Project on Transitional Justice
Study Abroad Opportunities:

NYU School of Law participates in study abroad programs with eleven foreign law faculties at the universities of:

Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Kyushu (Japan)
Copenhagen (Denmark)
Leuven (Belgium)
Palermo (Argentina)
Paris II and Paris X (France)
Sydney (Australia)
European University Institute (Italy)
Bucerius Law School (Germany)
National University of Singapore

Tuition/Year: $53,200

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9 comments to Top Ten International Law Schools in the USA

  • Hello, this thread has been undoubtedly helpful, thanks. Im a nigerian and i’d like to have some info about scholarships in one of these top us law schools, im a graduate of law in nigeria and I’d like to practice as an international lawyer and later proceed to work in the world court. I need advice on how to go about my vision. Thanks.

  • natalie

    how does american university fare in terms of international law? is it better to go to a school for the school in general, or for how good they are for the type of law you want to practice? in other words, should i choose a school based on the fact that i think i want to practice international law, and they have a great program for it, or just choose the law school that has an international law program but is more known for being a good law school in general? and what about location? how important is it to go to school in the state/area you want to practice? what about for international law? should the school be located in a more metropolitan area?

    • Denisse Romero

      All of these factors should be considered. American University is a great school, but you shouldn’t limit your options. Apply to all the schools that meet your criteria. All the schools on this article are excellent in every aspect, not just in terms of their international law curriculum. I would say applying to schools located where you want to eventually practice would definitely give you an advantage, however don’t limit yourself. Try to explore your options and go to for more resources.

      • Denisse, great advice on your April 10th post. What is your backround and do you offer more personal advice? I’m helping my daughter with her choices of Law Schools with more emphasis in International Law vs. Environmental Law and would like to hear thoughts on what schools might be better than the other or ones listed here. Also, we were looking at a variety of schools such as Vanderbilt, George Washington, USC ( which are great schools) but don’t have an emphasis in law. Do you have an opinion on her going to just a generic school verses one listed here?

        Eric Cano

        • Denisse Romero

          Hi Eric. There are several factors that need to be explored such as internship and networking opportunities, tuition and living costs (the investment!) and admissions requirements, but in general all the schools on this list and the ones you mention are great. George Washington specifically is right across the street from the IMF and the World Bank, and it’s also located in one of the most international and political cities in the world. I am not very familiar with Vanderbilt or USC, but I have heard great things about both. I believe your daughter could take a variety of environmental or international law classes, and later on decide whether she wants to specialize in one field or the other or a mix of both – international environmental law. Good luck!

          • Sasha

            Hi Lisa,
            You’ve been giving great advice on here, so I thought I’d try and pick your brain a bit. I’ve recently been accepted to both Northwestern and GW, and received a scholarship at the later. Northwestern is ranked significantly higher than GW, but considering the locations of both, I see better networking at GW. Additionally, financial aid is a huge consideration since I will probably be making considerably less money in public interest law than corporate law, for example. And if I come out with too much debt, I might not have the option of working in my field after graduation. All things considered, which school do you consider a better pick?

            Thank you in advanced!

          • Denisse Romero

            First of all, congratulations for both getting accepted and getting a scholarship from GW. All things equal, I would strongly consider GW. However, you need to see whether this makes a difference or not with your budget and your overall student debt. For example, if GW gave you a scholarship for 10K but living in DC is going to cost you 10K more than living around Northwestern, then the scholarship will not really give you much of an advantage. I would try to talk to alumni from both schools and see what they have to say about their experience, networking opportunities, and overall career paths. Good luck!

  • Lisa Malta

    How long is the International school of law training? Why isn’t Harvard School of Law listed here? I plan on transferring to law school next year.

    Thank you for any information
    Lisa Malta

    • Denisse Romero

      Lisa – Law Schools usually follow a three-year curriculum for full time students. Harvard Law is listed on this page with specific information about their international law focus.

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