Research LLM

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Visit Osgoode Professional Development for information on Professional LLM degrees, a course-based program for experienced professionals with part-time and full-time study options.

Research LLM

Offered on the York University Keele campus, the Research LLM is a full-time research-intensive degree, ideal for students who want to delve deeply into specific areas of study and for those who are considering advancing to the PhD.  Students entering without an LLB or JD may be required by the Graduate Program Director to take additional courses on the advice of their supervisors.  This is often advantageous, especially where students lack sufficient background in fields of law related to their research.

Please note, the Research LLM does not qualify students to practise law in Canada. Students interested in practising law in Canada should review the licencing rules of the Law Society of the province in which they intend to practice.

Degree Requirements

  • Graduate Seminar I: Legal Research (GS LAW 6610)
  • One Study Group
  • Major written research work (Thesis or Major Research Paper)
  • Elective courses:
    • One elective is required for the Thesis option
    • Three electives are required for the Major Research Paper option

For further information on required courses click here.


Most students in the program complete a Thesis, which is a lengthy piece of written research of 100-125 pages. It should contain an analysis of the scholarship on the topic and the results of research based on primary sources in the form of a sustained argument. It should have the usual scholarly apparatus, footnotes and a bibliography, prepared in accordance with the McGill Guide to Legal Citations.  The thesis must be defended (oral defence) before an examination committee.

In some cases, a student may opt to do a Portfolio Thesis. This involves using one or two published articles (depending on length and scope) from the students work during their time in the Osgoode graduate degree as the submission in lieu of a traditional thesis.

In addition, the Thesis option requires one additional elective course.

Major Research Paper (MRP)

The Major Research Paper is more than a research paper done for a regular course, but less than a thesis. It is an original piece of scholarly work, equivalent to an article of publishable quality for a reputable law journal. The suggested length is 60-70 pages.

The MRP should contain an analysis of the scholarship on the topic, the results of research based on the primary sources and a sustained argument. It should have the usual scholarly apparatus, footnotes and a bibliography, prepared in accordance with the McGill Guide to Legal Citations.

MRP are evaluated by the supervisors and one other member of the Graduate Program chosen by the supervisors in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. In exceptional circumstances, the second examiner could be a member of another Graduate Program at York University or another university.

In addition, the MRP option requires three additional elective courses.

Time to Completion

Both the Thesis and MRP options should be completed in 3 or 4 terms. Generally, students take courses in the Fall and Winter terms, conduct their research in the Winter term and write the Thesis or MRP in the Summer term.

Each graduate student in the Graduate Program in Law must register in each term (Fall, Winter, Summer) from start of the program to completion.

Residency Requirement

Students in the program must fulfill a residency requirement. “Residency” is defined as being physically based in the Toronto area, and being able to visit the university campus on a daily basis, such as to participate in classes, attend seminars, meet with the supervisor and study at the library.

The length of the residency requirement is: 2 terms (8 months).