INTERNATIONAL LL.M. PROGRAMS: THE EUROPA INSTITUT at SAARLAND UNIVERSITY, Saarbrücken, Germany
I express my sincere appreciation to Dr. phil. Alexandra Pfleger, Project Coordinator, for assisting me in arranging the interview and Ingrid Sigstad Lie, LL.M., Master’s Program Coordinator, for answering my questions about the LL.M. application process and providing insights into the program. GHK
GHK: The Europa-Institut at Saarland University is the second eldest institution focusing on European Integration and offers an internationally renowned LL.M. degree in European and international law. In an increasingly interdependent world reshaping our profession, what do you think is the value of an LL.M. in European and international law from Europa-Institut for a graduating law student or lawyer from Turkey?
ISL: Graduates of our Master’s program in European and international law gain a modern, research- and practice-oriented qualification in law with a strong international orientation that prepares them for their future career on the European and international job market. The location of the institute in the border triangle France-Luxembourg-Germany and its proximity to cities of European importance such as Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and The Hague allows it to recruit high-grade international experts and practitioners as lecturers and open up the way for job opportunities in this region and form the ideal starting point for an international career to its students.
GHK: Europa-Institut offers many specialization modules, such as European Economic Law, Foreign Trade and Investment, International Dispute Resolution and European, International Protection of Human Rights, and IT Law. Could you provide more information regarding the specialization modules?
ISL: The Europa-Institut offers a one-year Master’s program focusing on European and International Law where students can obtain the title “Master of Laws” (LL.M.). We offer six modules: Module 1: European Integration and Modules 2-6 with the study units European Economic Law, Foreign Trade and Investment, International Dispute Resolution and European, International Protection of Human Rights and IT Law. During their studies, students can obtain up to two specializations in addition to their Master’s degree, i.e., to obtain an LL.M. degree in International Dispute Resolution or European and International Protection of Human Rights. They can choose the combination of their specializations freely and according to their likes and interests and future career aspirations.
GHK: What advantages are there for international LL.M. students at Europa-Institut?
ISL: Being located in Saarbrücken means that we are in close proximity to several important institutions in the European and international context. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is just an hour and a half away, same with the Court of Justice of the European Union. Furthermore, Brussels is also within driving distance. We feel that our location really is perfect in terms of our connection with the different institutions and seeing how our program has a broader focus than just EU law. Additionally, being situated on the French border in an international student city really gives students the experience of what European Integration really is, living in an international community.
GHK: It sounds exciting that students can acquire additional skills in the course of the LL.M. degree at the Europa-Institut. Can you provide us with more information about the supplementary qualifications or “soft skills” offerings?
ISL: Soft skills trainings are an important part of our schedule. We offer practice-oriented courses such as international negotiation trainings and communication skills trainings as well as the opportunity to participate in case studies, moots and simulations. These courses strengthen critical thinking and analysis, public speaking and negotiation skills as well as problem solving skills and most of all the ability to cooperate in multinational teams closely. For years now, teams from the Europa-Institut have successfully taken part in international moots and simulations with a focus on European and international law and have reached top positions among the participating teams, thereby complementing academic qualifications and strengthening intercultural communications and allowing for an optimal combination of theoretical knowledge and practical application.
GHK: Could you please explain the weight or emphasis given to each part of a student’s application, such as GPA, language score, personal statement, and letters of recommendation? Given the selective admissions process at Europa-Institut, could you give an insight to students from Turkey on what an ideal candidate’s application might look like?
ISL: Each application is carefully reviewed and weighed against the other applications, taking into account both professional qualification and suitability to the program. There is no perfect or ideal application. We strive to welcome a diverse, international, open-minded group of students with different backgrounds, different viewpoints and different trainings. Most of the students will have to work together in a language other than their own, we strongly encourage teamwork and to enable students to learn to understand and appreciate different approaches and lines of arguments. The unique cross-cultural environment at the Europa-Institut enables students to develop and deepen their intercultural competence within a tightknit community. That makes students at the Europa-Institut ambassadors of the European and international spirit and forms a multinational team out of them. Many of them stay in touch for the rest of their lives, for instance as members of EVER e.V., our alumni organization.
GHK: When is the earliest you start receiving applications? When is the best time to apply, and is there any benefits to applying early?
ISL: The application deadline for international students is 15 July each year. Applications may be sent in throughout the whole year. We offer a limited number of 75 places; candidates are selected according to criteria of professional qualification and suitability. More information on our application process can be found on our website.
GHK: Could you offer any advice on the best way for an LL.M. applicant from Turkey to write a resonant personal statement? Do you have any comments on pitfalls or clichés an applicant should avoid?
ISL: Every candidate should freely present their qualifications and motivations. As already mentioned, we welcome open-minded, diverse, team-work-oriented applicants with a strong interest in European and international law and are happy to review all applications that are sent in to us.
GHK: Since LL.M. degrees can be expensive to obtain, could you please tell us a bit about merit or need-based scholarships the Europa-Institut or its partners offers for non-European students from Turkey?
ISL: The tuition fee for our Master’s program in European and International Law is 5,600 € per academic year (2,800 € per semester). Additionally, an administrative fee has to be paid to Saarland University each semester, costs of living in Saarbrücken amount to around 650 Euro per month for accommodation, food, insurance etc. The Europa-Institut itself does not offer any scholarships, however there are several sites that offer you to select the scholarships you are interested in and to specify them according to your country. Also, many countries offer scholarships from the respective governments or their foreign ministries. Applicants should inform themselves in time at the appropriate offices about the available offers.
GHK: What job search support is provided to international LL.M. students at the Europa-Institut? What do you think international LL.M. graduates should do to increase their chances of recruitment after graduation?
ISL: The Europa-Institut supports its students in the planning of their future professional life following graduation by offering extensive career services such as application workshops, training for the European Personnel Selection Office’s entrance exam (EPSO) as well as a job and internship pool offered in close cooperation with the alumni organization EVER e.V. Staff members give career advice in one-on-one talks when requested. EVER e.V. organizes regular meetings where alumni from the Commission and the business world talk to current students and alumni about their job perspectives and experiences in Brussels or Luxembourg. The Europa-Institut can draw upon a wide-spread network thereby enabling valuable contacts for internships or jobs via its teaching staff, its cooperation partners and its alumni.
GHK: Thank you for your time, Ingrid Sigstad Lie! In closing, do you have any parting words of wisdom for applicants from Turkey applying to Europa-Institut this cycle?
ISL: Saarbrücken is right at the heart of Europe. We are in close proximity to Strasbourg, Brussels, Luxembourg; the city is small, safe and has a lot to offer. We are in direct contact with the “makers and shakers” of Europe and we are looking forward to see how we can all develop Europe and its connections to the world together. Join our Europa-Institut family and apply now via our website.