LL.M. in International Law - FAQ

Living in Gulfport

How big is the Stetson University College of Law campus and where is it located?
Stetson University is comprised of four campuses in Florida spread out in different cities: Deland, Celebration, Tampa and Gulfport. The Stetson University College of Law main campus is located in Gulfport, which is a small artist community on Boca Ciega Bay. Students often go to Gulfport Beach (only 2 miles away) for local festivals, to play beach volleyball, eat dinner (especially at O’Maddy’s on Stetson Thursdays) or go shopping, bicycling, walking, or fishing.

Stetson Law’s campus is quite small, but includes all the necessities; classrooms, library, book shop, café that serves Starbucks, dorms, laundry facilities, swimming pool, gym, student lounge for cooking and playing billiards among other amenities.

Do I need a car?
People in Florida drive even for short distances (it is true that it can get really hot). Most of the LL.M. students, however, do not have a car and use Über, taxis, ask friends or their Stetson Law Buddy for a ride. Many things students may need (grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants) are within walking or biking distance (less than 2 miles away) or they can use the public bus system to reach further destinations such as Tyrone Mall or downtown St. Petersburg.

How far away from campus are the beaches?
The closest beach from campus is Gulfport Beach, which it is located 2 miles from campus on Boca Ciega Bay. This beach is not used for swimming. However, many people walk, play volleyball and enjoy the shops and restaurants along the beachfront.

The nicest beaches closest to campus to visit are:

  • St Pete Beach – 3.4 miles - 8 min. by car/30 min. by bus/19 min. by bike/ 70 min. by foot
  • Treasure Island – 4.1 miles – 12 min. by car/60 min. by bus/20 min. by bike/75 min. by foot
  • Pass-a-grille – 6.4 miles – 19 min. by car/40 min. by bus/33 min. by bike/2 hours by foot
  • Madeira Beach – 6.7 miles – 17 min. by car/50 min. by bus/35 min. by bike/2 hours by foot

Where do I go grocery shopping?
Publix, Walmart Neighborhood, and Winn Dixie are three grocery stores that are located a walkable distance from campus (about 1.5 mile). Walmart Supercenter (3.6 miles), Aldi (3.3 miles), and Trader Joe’s (9 miles) are other options a little farther from campus.

Is there a place to eat on campus?
There is a café on campus, open from Monday to Saturday, which serves breakfast and lunch. Or feel free to grab a quick drink or a snack. During the classes in the fall and spring, the café is open during the following times:

  • Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
  • Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, closed

Students can also purchase their own food and prepare it in the student lounge which includes a full-size refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove top. Pots and pans are shared among students.

How is it to share the bathroom in the dorms?
Generally, students have different schedules so the shared bathroom situation is not often an issue. Moreover, communication between dorm mates are recommended to avoid any potential issues.

How much money will I spend per week?
Students, and especially international students, have a lot of costs when they first arrive. They need to buy bed sheets, toiletries, a US SIM card, etc. Besides these, the average weekly budget for food, restaurants, nights out etc. is $150-200. However, students can spend more or less based on their habits. There are many cost-free things to do throughout the area, if you just take the time to look for them.

As a side note, students also need to budget for books for each semester, which can cost up to $500 per semester depending on the books assigned to registered classes. Students on a budget might check the library to see if they have a copy available for use. Be aware, that there are only a few copies and may be restrictions, such as not taking it outside the library or only being able to use it for 4 hours.

Academics and Campus Life

Where can I buy textbooks? Are students required to buy them?
Students can either buy or rent new or used textbooks from the bookstore on campus. Students can also order them online. It is best to order books as soon as possible. After class registration students can go to their MyStetson account and view their “Stetson Student Schedule”. There is an option to purchase the books on the class schedule. That will give the book’s information as well as the cost of the book at the bookstore.

One reason to buy books from the bookstore is they will allow book returns within the first week as long as there is a receipt and there is no damage to the book or its packaging. So if students are uncertain if they will take the class, it might be best to buy it through the bookstore or see if the library might have a copy still available. Note that there are only a few library copies, if any.

How can I get involved with student organization or a sport teams?
Stetson University College of Law has more than 50 students organizations and sport teams in which students can be involved. The Student Organization Fair usually takes place in September. Student can sign up there or contact the members of each club or association to learn more. 

To review the different options, visit Student Organizations.

What courses are required for LL.M. in International Law? Are there courses that LL.M. students cannot take
Foreign educated LL.M. students are required to attend a two-week course in August called Introduction to the US Legal System (3 credits) and complete US Legal Research and Writing (3 credits).

U.S. educated LL.M. students can complete a course with a significant writing component to replace the Research and Writing requirement.

All students must take International Law (3 credits), International Litigation and Arbitration (3 credits) and complete an externship (3-5 credits) in their second semester. If a student already has a lot of practical law experience, s/he may request a waiver of the externship.

Besides those courses, LL.M. students are free to apply for any class for the remaining elective credits. To graduate, LL.M. students must complete a minimum of 24 credits.

Full-time students must take no less than 10 and no more than 17 credit hours per semester. However, all students on F and J Student Visas must register for a minimum of 12 credits to maintain their visa requirements.

Part-time students can take a maximum of 9 credits and are allowed 3 years to complete all 24 credits.

To learn more, visit Curriculum.

What teaching method is used at Stetson University?
Classes are made up of 20-50 students. Most classes are around 30 students. This favors participation, discussion and debate. Students are required to read a certain number of pages for each class and be ready to answer questions on this portion of the book. This is called the “Socratic Method."

What is the amount of class preparation required per week?
Students are required to do their readings for each class and the number of pages can vary from week to week depending on the course and the professor. Students may work in groups, give an oral presentation, or write a multi-page essay at some point in the semester.

Are International Law LL.M. students graded differently?
International Law LL.M. students are graded on the same scale as J.D. students within classroom for projects and exams. While professors will still use a 4.0 grading system to evaluate examinations, transcripts for LL.M. students will reflect the High Honors Grading System with the following grades determined by reference to the 4.0 system:

High Honors (3.5 or higher)   Credit (.75 – 1.75)
Honors
(3.0 - 3.25)
  Fail (Below .75)
Pass (2.0 - 2.75)      

International Student Questions

How will I get to campus from the airport and get accustomed to campus?
International LL.M. students are assigned “Law Buddies” with whom they can communicate prior to their departure, ask questions about living on campus, class selection and really any question that might arise! These Buddies earn pro bono service volunteer hours for their time helping our international students. Pro bono is required for their degree program. 

Generally, Law Buddies pick the international students up from the airport and drive them to campus on their first day in Tampa Bay. They help get them settled by taking them to the store and setting up bank accounts and cellular phone plans.

Do I have to get a Florida driver’s license to be able to drive in Florida?
Foreigners need to have an international driver’s license to be able to drive in Florida. Go here to read the frequently asked questions by international drivers: http://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/visiting-florida-faqs/

Check out this website for materials needed to get a driver’s license: www.gathergoget.com

International students that are willing to get a Florida driver’s license need to go to a tax collector center with the required documents and pay a fee (around $45) and to pass an eye-test. Some countries (i.e. France) have a reciprocal agreement with Florida so that their citizens do not need to take any written or practical driving test. Some other countries (i.e. Germany) have a limited reciprocal agreement so that their citizens need to take a written test. Check if your country is on this list of countries.

What accommodations will I have during exams? Can I bring a dictionary?
International students may request extra time for taking their final exam accommodations and may also request to use a dictionary during an exam.

Can I take a bar exam after graduation?
International students that have an LL.M. may take a bar exam after they graduate from Stetson Law. Some states, however, prohibit foreigners to take their bar exam, which is the case in the state of Florida. Generally, students seeking to sit for a bar exam consider New York or California. It is also possible for international students to take the multistate bar exam.

LL.M. students that plan to take the bar exam at the end of their academic year are advised to contact the Office of the Bar Examiners for which state he/she wishes to sit for the bar exam.  Some states require that certain basic American law courses be taken during the student’s LL.M. curriculum to be eligible to sit for their bar, i.e., contract law, constitutional law, professional responsibility, civil procedure, etc.

Also, LL.M. students may wish to sign up for a private bar exam preparation. More information can be provided for students that are interested, however, students are encouraged to complete their own research and verify all required information with the appropriate bar examination entities.

Can international students get a student job or an externship?
International students on F and J visas may work on campus between 10 and 20 hours a week. Students can apply for a job when they arrive through Career Development’s website called “Simplicity”. Jobs are often posted around the start of each semester as professors return from summer break in late August and are added throughout the semester.

LL.M. students are provided the opportunity to complete an externship during the second semester (a minimum of 9 hours a week). We try to place students in externships that meet their interests and professional goals. Students on F visas can complete this requirement through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and those on J visas use the benefit called Academic Training (AT). The paperwork required for these will be done with the help of the International Programs office. More information on this will be provided at the appropriate time in the academic semester.

Can I extend my visa after graduation?
Students on J Visa holder may stay for 30 days after graduation with no extra paperwork required.

Students on F Visas may stay up to 60 days without extra paperwork. They also have the benefit of completing Optional Practical Training, also known as OPT, which allows a student to stay in the U.S. for one year of practical training after their degree. F1 Visa holders generally begin applying for this in February. OPT applicants may apply without a job offer. Additional information will be provided in the Spring semester.