The LL.M. is designed to provide a firm grounding in public international law. It allows students to tailor their studies according to their particular interests by choosing one of the three concentration streams offered: International Economic Law, International Environmental Law and Governance, and The Protection of the Individual in International Law. Students in the LL.M. Programme gain exposure to world-renowned faculty, benefit from being at the heart of international legal affairs in Geneva, and share ideas with other participants from different legal backgrounds and perspectives.

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programme highlights


One-year full-time Programme

World-renowned faculty

Foundational and concentration courses

Law clinicsworkshops and tutorials

Focus on professional skills

Network-building events

Located in Geneva



In theory, there is no gap between the theory and the practice of public international law. In practice, there is. The LL.M. in International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute is designed to bridge this gap. Founded in 1927, the Graduate Institute is Europe's oldest school of international affairs. Since the time of Hans Kelsen, the Institute's International Law Department has been at the forefront of public international law in theory and practice.

The LL.M. in International Law is a one-year postgraduate degree course that provides advanced, comprehensive and practice-oriented training in international law. Students in the LL.M. Programme gain exposure to world-renowned faculty, benefit from being at the heart of international legal affairs in Geneva, and share ideas with other participants from different legal backgrounds and perspectives.

The Programme allows students to tailor their studies according to their particular interests, while compulsory courses provide a firm grounding in public international law. Our courses are designed to facilitate a deeper exploration of the most pressing questions in the field with professors and practitioners at the cutting edge of international law.

The LL.M. in International Law is also profoundly committed to developing the transferable skills necessary to succeed professionally. To this end, law clinics, workshops on legal writing, presentation skills and career development, and a variety of network-building events provide the best possible springboard to launch or advance a career in international law.


Related SDGs

1 10 16

The structure and content of the LL.M. in International Law reflects the development of public international law in practice over recent years. There is an increasing need for international lawyers to master not just one concentration area in the field but also the core foundations of the international legal system, which in turn will allow them to adapt to different concentration areas.

The Programme comprises both compulsory and elective, general and specific international law courses. Not only does this provide students with a firm basis in public international law, but it also permits them to engage with the areas of international law that interest them most. In addition to their international law courses, students also have the opportunity to discuss legal problems in concentration streams, develop their professional skills in practical workshops and write an LL.M. paper. Moreover, LL.M. participants undertake real legal work for a beneficiary as part of a law clinic and gain exposure to leading practitioners through the courses and guest lectures.


Foundational Courses

Foundations of International Law

This course covers the essential content of international law. It is divided into the following segments:

  • International Law Making - Andrea Bianchi

  • Participants in International Legal Processes - Fuad Zarbiyev

  • The International Law of Responsibility - Santiago Villalpando

  • International Dispute Settlement - Marcelo Kohen

  • The International Law of State Jurisdiction - Mamadou Hébié

  • International Institutional Law - Nico Krisch

Selected topics in international law

This course combines lectures by Graduate Institute faculty with insights from a wide-range of practitioners in both the public and private sectors. It covers both substance and skills, with a focus on how international law is used by a variety of organisations as well as how it is enforced through different means, ranging from monitoring bodies, to complaint procedures and judicial bodies. Emphasis is placed on the practice of lawyers in respect of: (i) transactions, (ii) multilateral affairs and (iii) dispute settlement.

Concentration streams

In addition to the general courses, students choose one of the following concentration streams:

International Environmental Law and Governance

In the last decade the international protection of the environment has emerged as one of the main priorities of governments, international organisations and the private sector. This stream trains students to understand this complex area of international law, as well as frameworks regarding climate change and the use of natural resources, particularly in connection with water and food security. It also explores how environmental change and governance affects and intersects with other areas of law such as human rights. Special emphasis is placed on the rules governing the entitlement to and distribution of these resources and on real-life disputes where such rules have been applied.

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

International Economic Law

The IEL concentration stream trains students to understand the regulation of international economic relations through the prisms of international trade, investment and intellectual property law. Students analyse the highly complex regulatory frameworks applicable to trade and foreign direct investment transactions and the growing body of case-law arising from a variety of dispute settlement mechanisms, such as the WTO Dispute Settlement Body or investment arbitration.

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

The Protection of the individual IN International law

This stream trains students to understand the various international legal frameworks applicable to the protection of people, as well as their increasing interaction. From a substantive perspective, students gain exposure to human rights, humanitarian law, migration law and refugee law. Particular emphasis is placed on how these different bodies of law interact with each other to strengthen the protection offered to refugees, internally displaced persons, minorities and the victims of armed conflict.

  • International Human Rights and Litigation - Yuval Shany

  • International Criminal Law – Giulia Pinzauti

  • International Humanitarian Law: The Protection of Victims of Armed Conflict - Yasmin Naqvi and Andrew Clapham

  • The Movement of Persons Across Borders in International Law - Vincent Chetail

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

All Concentration streams include


1) Concentration modules

In these sessions, students have the opportunity to discuss a selection of readings in a small group with a professor. They allow students to explore, debate and ask deeper questions on topics of their concentration

2) Law clinic

Students complete a practical assignment for a real client. They work in groups and under the supervision of professors on specific legal questions related to their specialty stream that have been posed by external clients, such as international organisations, governments or NGOs. In addition, skills sessions are held with invited professionals to improve legal writing and oral presentation skills. At the end of the semester, the groups submit written legal memoranda and orally present their projects in class in the presence of the client and invited guests.

Optional courses

Students choose two semester-long courses from those offered by the International Law Department.

LL.M. paper

Students write a 8,000-word paper on a topic of their interest. It should be an original piece of research and be oriented for publication in practitioner journals.

Professional Development and Immersion


Workshops are organised with professionals and experts, providing students with an opportunity to acquire practical knowledge, develop professional skils and receive advice on career development.

Immersion work

Guest lectures, roundtables, colloquia and institution visits all allow students to engage in a very practical way with the leading experts, pressing topics and fundamental organs of international law.

  • Applications open: 23 October 2023

  • Deadline: 15 January 2024

  • Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed online between the end of January and mid-March 2024

  • Deadline for notification: 31 March 2024

Fee waiver
Entry requirements

To be eligible for the LL.M. Programme, applicants must possess a complete legal education which entitles them to sit for the bar exam in their country of origin, e.g. the Maîtrise de droit in Switzerland, the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in the United Kingdom, the Juris Doctor (J.D.) in the United States, the Maîtrise de droit (or equivalent title from a Haute Ecole) in France or the Erstes Juristisches Staatsexamen in Germany. However, please note that there is no need to have completed any professional courses requirements, such as the Ecole d'avocature in Switzerland or Legal Practice Course in the United Kingdom, or other training courses organised by the bar association of the respective country.


The Graduate Institute offers excellent housing options in the heart of international Geneva. We are pleased to announce that, as of autumn 2020, the Institute will be able to provide accommodation for all its students. Please get in touch with the Programme Manager for questions related to your housing application.


All students must have an excellent command of English. Students whose mother tongue is not English, who do not have secondary or post-secondary qualifications taught in English, or who have not spent a minimum of one year studying full-time at the university level in English must provide a certificate to prove their mastery of English.  

Recognised tests and scores

TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language)

  • Internet-test: 100

  • Paper-test: 600

  • Computer-based test: 250

IELTS (International English Language Testing System): 7.0

CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English, Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge): A-B-C

CAE (Cambridge Advanced English, Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge): AB

Application process

To apply for the LL.M. in International Law, applicants must complete an online application form, available here.

In addition, the following supporting documents must be uploaded during the online application process:

  • A curriculum vitae (in English or French);

  • A letter of motivation describing why you wish to pursue the LL.M. programme (1 page maximum);

  • Copies of official transcripts of all grades obtained in all university exams, accompanied by grade scales and their values;*

  • Copies of all university diplomas and qualifications obtained;*

  • English language test results. NB: French is not required for the LL.M. Programme;

  • Two reference letters (in French or English) are also required. The applicant must nominate two referees and will be asked to provide the professional email addresses of their referees on the application form. Once the applicant has validated their application, the nominated referees will automatically be prompted to upload their reference letters.

* a certified translation (in English or French) must be provided for all documents.

The following documents can be uploaded during the online application process, although those are not compulsory for admission :

  • A copy of the page(s) of your passport with your surname, first name and nationality;

  • A recent passport-sized photograph

Application fee

We require a non-refundable application fee of CHF 100 for the LL.M. in International Law.

Guidelines for reference letter

Terms and conditions

Cost of living

Cost of living

Residence permit and VISA

All students must apply for a student residence permit (Permis B) from the Office Cantonal de la Population (OCP) within eight days of their arrival in Switzerland.
Information on the application procedure can be found with:
Service des étrangers
Rue David-Dufour 3
1211 Genève 8
Tel.: +41 (0)22 327 48 88
Fax: +41 (0)22 327 75 91
Depending on your country of origin, you may also need a visa to enter/stay in Switzerland. If you are a citizen of an EU/EFTA country, you do not need a visa to enter Switzerland but will still need to apply for a residence permit.

The Federal Office for Migration's website provides an overview of travel documents and visa provisions for entry into Switzerland. You can also contact the main Swiss embassy or consulate in your country. The residence permit and visa costs vary but can be up to 300 CHF.

LL.M. Clinic Programmes

Each year, LL.M. participants work in groups on a cutting-edge research project with one of our external clinical beneficiaries. Clinic projects are thematically related to the three concentration streams of the LL.M., namely International Economic Law, International Environmental Law and Governance, or The Protection of the Individual in International Law. Our clinical beneficiaries have included:


The LL.M. in International Law has been designed to enhance your career prospects. To do so, we will help you craft and strengthen the necessary skills to launch or advance your career in a competitive jobs market. In addition to the substantive knowledge you will acquire, the LL.M. in International Law places great emphasis on honing practical legal skills, such as in legal research and writing, but also highly transferable skills, including presentation and interpersonal skills. Moreover, our location at the heart of international legal affairs in Geneva offers an array of opportunities for legal internships, traineeships and employment. Indeed, students from the Graduate Institute have a strong track record of gaining employment in the legal profession, international and non-governmental organisations, government ministries and diplomacy, as well as various private sector destinations. The following features of the LL.M. Programme help to illustrate our commitment to your career:

Practical Legal Skills

The LL.M. programme aims to develop legal research, writing and advocacy skills through a series of practical workshops, the LL.M. paper and student participation in a law clinic. The latter also facilitates valuable client-facing experience.

Practitioner Sessions

Sessions with successful practitioners in the field of international law are offered to LL.M. students, enabling them to improve their professional skills in a number of areas and giving key insights to the professional world of international law.

Career Events

Workshops and career events (such as the Connexion Careers Fair) organised by the Careers Service of The Graduate Institute are open to participants of the LL.M.

Pietro Bombonato


Pietro Bombonato '18

Associate Attorney, Omnia Strategy LLP

"The LL.M. in International Law allowed me to develop and foster my academic and practical knowledge on various international law topics. Studying at the Graduate Institute allowed me to interact and connect with students and professors worldwide. Situated in a truly bilingual Institution and city, the LL.M. programme also helped me to perfect my English language skills as well as develop my French language skills.

I graduated with honours in June 2018 and was hired immediately by a public international law firm in London, Volterra Fietta, as a Staff Lawyer. I have recently joined Omnia Strategy, a London-based law firm founded by Cherie Blair CBE, QC, specialising in international dispute resolution, where I work as an associate attorney.

I strongly recommend the LL.M. in International Law at the Graduate Institute to lawyers keen to embrace a holistic approach to international law and develop a truly international legal career."

Maria Cecilia Ercole


Maria Cecilia Ercole '14

Human Rights Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

"I had the privilege to be part of the first class of the LL.M programme in International Law at the Graduate Institute (2013-2014). I only have words of gratitude and invaluable memories from the Institute, and I would recommend this programme to any law practitioner seeking to deepen their knowledge of international law in a unique international setting.

As an Argentinian human rights lawyer, and after having worked in Argentina and the US, deciding to come and study at the IHEID in Geneva was, so far, one of my wisest career choices. Exposure to outstanding faculty, guest speakers and lecturers from around the world and a culturally diverse group of students from which I ended up learning more than I could imagine made my LL.M experience unforgettable.

Today, I live in Geneva and have been working for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for more than five years."

Patrick Wall


Patrick wall '16

Global Refugee Forum Coordination Team, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

"I came to Geneva from Australia in the summer of 2015, hoping to use the LL.M. programme as a springboard to a career in international law. The combination of coursework with leading academics and practitioners, exercises focused on professional development, and seemingly endless public events on cutting-edge topics at the Graduate Institute and throughout Geneva, the LL.M. gave me a solid basis for building an international career. Indeed, the course offering was so rich that I ended up attending classes for many more courses than I was enrolled in.

Since completing the programme, I have spent almost three years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, working on developing the Global Compact on Refugees and now the first-ever Global Refugee Forum. It has been enormously fulfilling work and would not have been possible if I had not undertaken the LL.M. In International Law at the Graduate Institute."

Xuan Shao


Xuan Shao '17

D.Phil Candidate, University of Oxford

"I spent a stimulating, exciting and happy year in Geneva during my LL.M. at the Graduate Institute. I was taught by many leading academics and professionals from different areas of international law and befriended some of the most wonderful people I've met in my life.

The workload was challenging but manageable. The small size of our class allowed me to engage in substantial and intense discussions with professors and classmates.

My year in Geneva was a great asset for my current research that I am conducting as a D.Phil candidate at the University of Oxford. The diverse perspectives of international law I gained from this programme helped to enrich my understanding of international law."

Rebecca Zard


Rebecca Zard '18

Trainee Solicitor, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

"The LL.M in International Law at the Graduate Institute has one main advantage over any other LL.M - that is the small class size. I chose the LL.M in International Law because I wanted close contact with professors and to be in the heart of Geneva. Before pursuing my LL.M, I received an offer of a training contract with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which meant that my LL.M year became entirely focused on making the most of the programme, building up my knowledge in international economic law and, specifically, investment arbitration.

The faculty at the Graduate Institute is unparalleled as far as international law is concerned. The programme offers you the flexibility to make what you want of it. I deep-dived into the reading lists in the first semester, carefully selected to give you broad and specialist knowledge in general public international law. The second semester was equally rewarding and allowed students to engage with international institutions via the LL.M. clinic. Our beneficiary was UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements section. My group was supervised by Professor Makane Mbengue, who had participated in the negotiations of the Code Pan-Africain des Investissements. It was an experience that was both academic and practical, aiming at providing a technical note for negotiators of international investment agreements that aimed to tailor the drafting agreements in such a way that negotiators would be aware of the liabilities they were assuming and the sovereign powers they were limiting in ratifying these agreements.

The LL.M in International Law played a transformational role in widening my knowledge of international law and realising my potential."

Maria Gabriela Pereira


Maria Gabriela Pereira '19

Associate Legal Officer, International Organization for Migration

"I chose this LL.M program because I wanted to follow my passion and needed a significant shift in my career.

The Graduate Institute offers a concentration stream in human rights, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and migration law, which suits my interests. The professors are esteemed lecturers highly qualified in their respective fields, but also very approachable and often helped us navigate our academic challenges in Geneva.

During the LL.M., I worked at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights during the first semester and at Human Rights Watch during the second semester. It was my first peek into the United Nations system and my first time working for a non-governmental organization. These two experiences were precious and were stepping stones to other offers and opportunities. After the LL.M., I joined the International Organization for Migration as an Associate Legal Officer. I hope to continue this challenging, fulfilling path in international law."

Ashley Stanley-Ryan


Ashley Stanley-Ryan '20

Associate, International Committee of the Red Cross

"I travelled from New Zealand to Geneva to pursue a career in international law, focusing on human protection and dignity. The LL.M. in International Law Programme at the Graduate Institute was the best possible place to gain the professional, academic, and personal knowledge necessary to begin that career. I applied to the LL.M. because of the strength of its teaching faculty, the opportunity to learn from leading international lawyers, and the excellent reputation of the Graduate Institute.

The LL.M. equips its students to excel in any field of international law through a strong generalist education and concentration streams taught by leading professionals. The faculty in the 2019-2020 Protection of the Individual concentration stream included a member of the Human Rights Committee and an advisor to several international organisations. In the core courses, lecturers ranged from notable academics to judges, law firm partners, legal advisors to international organisations, and barristers specialised in international litigation. The diversity of the faculty and courses provided both a breadth of knowledge and thought and excellent opportunities to learn about career paths in international law. I was fortunate to complete a UN internship and a challenging law clinic during my LL.M., which provided important professional experience.

After graduating with the LL.M., I began working as an associate at the ICRC."

LL.M. 10-year anniversary


Giuseppe Poderati


Giuseppe Poderati '13

Doctoral researcher in International Environmental Law at Wuhan University, China

Giuseppe Poderati was one of the first students to complete the LL.M. in 2013 and thinks back:

"At the Geneva Graduate Institute, I gained in-depth theoretical knowledge about Advocacy in International Affairs and Public International Law with a focus on environmental-related issues. Professors and instructors of some of the highest calibre gave noteworthy lectures during my attendance at the executive education programmes. Also, I had the opportunity to sharpen and develop my technical skills with very talented colleagues worldwide. From this perspective, the Institute offers an academic environment conducive to learning and improving oneself."

Adeline Michoud, LL.M. Alumna 2013
Helena Rodríguez-Bronchú Carceller, LL.M. Alumna 2013
Mamadou Hébié, visiting professor of the LL.M. in International Law

Upcoming events

Week 30
22 Jul - 28 Jul
Week 31
29 Jul - 04 Aug

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Applications for LL.M. 2024-2025 are now closed.

Value of legal clinics

16 Sep. 2024 - Sep. 2025


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Fee waiver (application form), Alumni

Chèque de formation
Ref. number: 2211

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Tanya Norton
Programme Manager

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