Degree Programs: Master of Laws (LLM) in Taxation

The LLM Taxation program, now in its third decade, is the only such program in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the preeminent tax law programs in the Western United States. It provides comprehensive study of tax law with courses in business taxation, general taxation, and estate planning.

The program helps students understand the substantive, procedural, and technical aspects of tax practice as well as the policies underlying tax law. Faculty includes tax practitioners from well-respected law firms, counsel from the IRS, and judges from the US Tax Court and the Alameda Superior Court.

Program Highlights

The LLM in Taxation Law Program is one of the preeminent graduate tax law programs in the West, and it is the only program available to students in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program offers advanced instruction in six core areas: business taxes, estate planning, tax litigation and procedure, international taxation, employee benefits, and general taxation. The program is taught by experienced practitioners, government attorneys, and full-time faculty members who specialize in tax law, and it emphasizes both an academic and a practical approach to tax law.

Courses cover fundamental legal principles in federal, state, and local tax law, as well as the policies underlying them. In addition, you will have opportunities to develop drafting and negotiating skills, keep up on current legislative and regulatory proposals, and understand cutting-edge tax strategies. Opportunities also exist for clinical fieldwork, independent study, and extended research and writing for scholarly publication.

Practitioners who wish to enhance their tax law expertise may also receive an Estate Planning Certificate, which is a 12-unit program. Students in the certificate program complete selected required and elective LLM tax law courses for credit, but the certificate is available only to non-degree seeking students.


To earn the LLM in taxation degree, students must complete 24 units. Classes are offered during the day as well as during the evening to accommodate working professionals. Students may attend full-time and complete the program in as few as two semesters. Alternatively, students may attend part-time. All students must finish the degree requirements within five years of matriculation. LLM students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale each semester.

With the permission of the program director, Golden Gate University School of Law JD students may transfer up to 12 units of LLM Tax courses taken while a JD to the LLM in Taxation degree. Students who received their JD degree from another law school may be allowed to transfer up to 6 units of tax related LLM-level courses completed at another ABA-accredited law school upon approval by the program director, Judge Marshall Whitley (Ret.).

Required Courses (13 units)

  • Characterization of Income & Expenditures (3 units)
  • Corporate Taxation (3 units)
  • Federal Tax Procedure (3 units)
  • Professional Responsibility for Tax Practitioners (2 units)
  • Timing of Income and Expenditures (2 units)

Elective Courses: (11 units)

  • Advanced Estate Planning
  • Bankruptcy Taxation
  • California Property Tax
  • Comparative International Tax
  • Directed Study in Taxation
  • 401(k) Plans - Tax & ERISA Issues
  • Estate & Gift Taxation
  • Estate Planning
  • Estate Planning Externship
  • Estate Planning Lab
  • Estate Planning for the Blended Family
  • Executive Compensation
  • Federal Income Taxation of LLC and S Corps
  • Income Taxation of Trusts & Estates
  • International Taxation I & II
  • DOJ/IRS Internship
  • Probate Court Externship
  • Marital Taxation
  • Multinational Estate Planning
  • Partnership Taxation
  • California Probate Procedure I & II
  • Real Estate Taxation
  • Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving
  • Tax Exempt Organizations
  • Tax Fieldwork
  • Pro Bono Tax Clinic
  • Tax Litigation
  • Tax Policy
  • Tax Research
  • Taxation of Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Thesis
  • Transfer Pricing I & II
  • Mediating Trust & Estates Disputes
  • Generation Skipping Transfer Tax & Special Valuation Rules

The program also offers an Estate Planning Certificate. See belowfor details

Estate Planning Certificate

Students may earn both the LLM in Tax and the Estate Planning Certificate, or a student may choose the Certificate only. The Estate Planning Certificate is awarded to those students who complete 12 units of instruction in the LLM Tax Program, 11 of which are required courses. The required courses include:

  • Estate & Gift Tax (3 units)
  • Estate Planning (3 units)
  • Income Tax of Trusts & Estates (2 units)
  • California Probate Procedure I (2 units)
  • California Probate Procedure II (1 unit)