By Upasana Dasgupta
For someone aspiring to pursue Masters in Law from reputed universities abroad, the first and most important task is to shortlist the prospective universities.
I. Why is short-listing a University Important?
Though one may be tempted to apply in all the good universities, this isn’t the most advisable thing to do. It is necessary to shortlist due to various reasons.
Firstly, almost every reputed university has an application fee (Kings College, London and Queen Mary, London being notable exceptions) of around $80-100.
Secondly, every University has its own application form which is generally detailed.
Thirdly, even if you have a generic personal statement already written, you have to tailor-make it for every University as the word limits and questions to be answered for personal statement vary from University to University.
Also, it is definitely not advisable to apply to only one University, however confident you are about into getting into it, as it will be putting too many eggs into one basket.
Ideally, the universities applied to should range from 3 to 10.
II. How to Short-List a University: The Mindset
Choosing the universities to apply is not an easy task but it is something that has to be done. I recommend a method for doing this.
Give yourself a day or two and think why you want to do LLM , which branch of law you want to specialise in and what you seek the most from the university you want to apply in.
The criteria which are generally important to prospective students are : reputation of a university, its research facilities, reputation of its faculty members, geographical location of an university, specialization of an university in a particular branch of law you are interested in, mode of teaching in a university, scholarship opportunities in a university, etc.
List the reasons  which are important to you in order of priority in a piece of paper.
For example, Oxford University is more well-known than McGill University but McGill has the best research facility and faculty for Air and Space Law. Hence, for someone passionate about Air and Space Law, perhaps it is more advisable to pursue LLM from McGill University.
III. How to do the research: The process
Research according to your priorities . The ranking websites can serve as a good starting point.
However, if your priorities are not clear-cut or if you are unaware of the good universities, which is quite understandable for a fresh graduate, here is the solution.
List out the 20 most coveted universities in the world or if you want to do LLM from a particular country, the top 20 universities providing legal education of that country.
Go to the ranking websites  to find this out. Now, Times higher education and the complete university guide are some ranking websites I referred to.
Other ranking websites you can easily find out by simple Google search. Most ranking websites I found were country-specific.
Some websites rank universities according to the subject (eg: law) whereas others rank universities on their overall research, reputation etc.
First, check whether these universities have any basic requirements  like CGPA etc and whether you meet such requirements.
Then, read extensively  about these universities from their own websites and from other websites commenting on them.
This research will help you to identify what sets a particular university apart and whether the university has well-known faculty members in the branch of law you are interested to study. (Note this down in a separate as it will later be helpful to you while you write personal statement  for that university).
The research on the universities will also tell you about the scholarships  offered by the university or its law department, the accommodation facilities the university offers (in case you are planning to stay in university residence) and other factors important to you.
Now, you can easily have a list of 10 universities whose basic requirements you fulfil and which meets your expectations.
If possible, find out from the websites of these shortlisted universities, names and email addresses of graduate law students  currently studying in these universities.
Contact them through Facebook  or by sending an email and get their feedback.
Upasana is a graduate of RMLNLU, Lucknow and is presently pursuing her LLM from McGill University, Montreal. She can be contacted at [email protected]
The post was first published here.
Editor’s note: The post was published on 24th October 2013.