Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs related to Graduate Programs at UCalgary Law

Please review the Faculty of Graduate Studies webpages on our programs. Those webpages also contain links to the application system.

Our application portal is open according to the dates specified on our website.

No. Our programs are structured to begin at the end of August. We have only one intake per year, in the fall semester.

Not necessarily. Admission to our graduate programs is highly competitive. A committee reviews the applications that satisfy our minimum admissions requirements. We admit only the students we expect to find greatest success in our programs.

No. We review all the applications at the same time, after the deadline has passed, generally beginning in late January or early February. Applications are assessed on their merit; the system is not first come, first served.

No. Our graduate programs are offered in person. We cannot accommodate remote learning requests.

No. Some Canadian universities have LLM programs aimed at preparing students for legal practice in Canada. Our graduate programs do not do this. We have a separate Foreign-Trained Lawyers Program for lawyers from other jurisdictions who wish to take courses to prepare them to prepare for their bar admissions examinations.

On the accreditation process generally, visit the National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”).


  • PhD: the maximum time to completion is six (6) years. We expect students to complete in four (4) years.
  • Thesis-based LLM: the maximum time to completion is three (3) years. We expect students to complete in two (2) years, although many students take somewhat longer.
  • Course-based LLM: this program requires 12 months of full-time study. Students ordinarily take a “scheduled break” from May through August, as we offer very few courses during those months and at times none at all. The program therefore usually takes 16 months for most students to finish.
  • Graduate certificate program in NREEL: this program contains four (4) courses, which can be taken either all at the same time in one semester or two at a time in two semesters.


  • PhD: unavailable
  • Thesis-based LLM: unavailable
  • Course-based LLM: maximum time to completion is five (5) years
  • Graduate certificate in NREEL: maximum time to completion is three (3) years

Both are research-intensive degrees. The thesis-based LLM program requires you to take four courses (two of them compulsory) and write a thesis of 30,000 to 38,000 words, supervised by one of our faculty members. Students are in-program all year and have no scheduled break. The course-based LLM program requires you to take six (6) regular courses (including one that is compulsory and two others that impose specific research requirements) and write a major research paper of 15,000-18,000 words. The major research paper is done under the supervision of an instructor through two additional courses, Law 707 and Law 708. There is a scheduled break for course-based students from May through August.

Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law. This is our longstanding faculty research specialty. Students in either LLM program can specialize in NREEL if they so choose, and our Graduate Certificate is only available in NREEL.

Definitely. Please review our Research page.

With respect to the PhD program, yes. With respect to our other programs, it can be a good idea, especially if you are contemplating the thesis-based LLM program, but it is not absolutely necessary. PhD and thesis-based LLM students are required to identify potential supervisors on their applications.

The answer to this question is almost always no. Our graduate programs assume that our students come to us as lawyers, well-versed in legal reasoning and using legal sources. Our faculty members have law degrees and advanced degrees in law and sometimes other areas. The methodologies and theories we teach are heavily legal. We will not accept students who lack the background to succeed in law courses or whom we will be unable to supervise.

We do consider PhD applicants who have a law degree that meets our minimum GPA and a strongly law-related Masters, even if it is not an LLM. The minimum GPA for a Masters degree is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, but successful applicants will usually have a GPA of at least 3.7.

If you are applying as an international student, please review the information provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

This information can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website. We may exempt you from the ELP requirement if you have completed a previous degree program in which English was the language of instruction.

The English Language Proficiency tests we accept, and the minimum scores you need for Law graduate programs, are set out in detail in the Graduate Calendar.

You should study and retake the test. We do not accept students whose English Language Proficiency scores are below our minima. We will not offer a conditional admission on the understanding that your next test scores will higher. We will simply reject your application.  

We will not consider your application for admission. You will be rejected.

Yes. You must include your current transcripts (and any earlier ones) in your application. We may then offer you admission on the condition that you complete your current studies before you begin studying with us. We will require proof of completion before the end of May, or else we may not permit you to register in our courses. We do not permit students to be enrolled in our graduate program at the same time as another program elsewhere.

This may be permissible, depending on the program. Please email to discuss your situation.

A referee should be someone who can comment helpfully on how well you are likely to do as a graduate student, especially your capacity for research and your ability to develop and complete large projects independently. Usually former instructors provide the best references. Employers are often fine as well, as long as they can comment on how well you develop and complete large research projects.

You should discuss your application with anyone you ask to provide a reference for you. Do not put down the name of a referee unless you have asked the person and the person has expressed willingness to write this reference for you.

First, try again to contact them. Second, as long as you have time before the deadline, you can put their email address into your application and save it – but do not submit the application until you have confirmation from the person that they are willing to write you a reference. If the person never answers your email, ask someone else. Once you submit the application, it becomes much more difficult to change the referee (you have to email

As soon as you have completed your application and submitted it, our application system generates an automated email that goes to the email address you have provided. The email contains instructions for the referee on how to submit the reference. It is therefore very important that your referee be expecting the automated email. Sometimes these emails go to spam, and sometimes referees delete them without reading them. If your referee has not received the email within about five hours, the spam email folder should be searched. If you realize you have made a mistake in typing the email address, contact, but do double-check it before you submit your application.

Yes. This is our deadline for “supporting documents.” Applications lacking references will be considered incomplete and rejected.

Any transcript or record of grades that you upload yourself is an “unofficial transcript.” Official transcripts, by definition, are sent from the institution to the University of Calgary, either by mail or, preferably, by email (to Information about submitting official transcripts is on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

We need to review your grades as part of your application, so at the application stage we only require unofficial transcripts. You upload them yourself to the application portal. If we accept you, we will then ask for official transcripts by a certain deadline.

Yes. We require transcripts from every institution you have ever attended. Failing to disclose your records from an institution you have attended is a form of misconduct at the University of Calgary.

The to-do list is created when you submit your application. It doesn’t update. If you can see your uploaded documents in your application portal, or if you have received confirmation that your documents have been received, you can rely on that confirmation. (The “to-do” list disappears only once students are admitted to the program.)

The costs for our programs are made up of tuition plus fees. They are subject to annual increases determined according to the policies and goals of the University and the Province of Alberta. They also change if students alter their programs, for example by going on leave for a semester, taking unusual courses, or taking courses part-time for a while.

The fees for PhD and thesis-based LLM students are generally lower than those for the course-based LLM program. Students in the PhD and thesis-based LLM programs pay tuition for their programs as set out in the University of Calgary Calendar. The cost of 700-level courses is included in these fees. However, students also pay a “differential” for 500- and 600-level courses they take, essentially paying for these courses at higher, JD rates. Thesis-based LLM students are required to take two such courses (at the 600-level). The ”differential” is added to the standard thesis-based Masters tuition fee. The schedule of rates for undergraduate courses can be found in the University of Calgary Calendar

Students in the course-based LLM and Graduate Certificate program in NREEL basically pay by the course, with Certificate students also paying a separate program fee. These rates (including the rate for Law 703 and Law 705, if you choose to take it) are set out in the University of Calgary Calendar. The cost of other 500- and 600-level courses is set out in the undergraduate calendar, as these are JD courses.

Students also pay fees for various other purposes, such as health insurance, transit, and campus recreation.

PhD and thesis-based LLM students are eligible for scholarships and program funding. The scholarships available are set out in the Graduate Awards Database. Students apply for most of these scholarships through the Graduate Awards Competition (“GAC”). Links to apply for funding for which you are eligible may be provided through the application website.

Course-based LLM and Graduate Certificate in NREEL students are not provided with program funding, and they are not eligible for the Graduate Awards Competition (GAC).

Some competitions, such as those offered by the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law, Canadian Energy Law Foundation, the International Bar Association, and the Canadian Bar Association, operate separately. PhD and LLM students are generally all eligible for these awards.

Students should not expect that any funding they receive will be enough to live on. The Graduate Student Association has a cost of living “calculator” that you may find helpful.  

Please see the university housing website. It is a good idea to begin investigating housing as early as you can, as housing has recently been in short supply.

You apply to the provincial Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan as soon as you are here. The Graduate Student Association offers a supplementary plan as well, which also covers dental coverage, which is not covered by the provincial plan.

You should email Other staff at the Faculty of Law have no access to your application file and no more information than is supplied on webpages, including this one. We will not return calls to international numbers, and our phones do not display the caller’s name or number. If you do leave a message, make sure you spell your full name and include the date and time you called, your phone number, and if possible your student number. You should also send an email.