Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program


The Law School's LL.M. program is strictly a research and writing one designed for people who have already received a basic law degree from an American law school or an equivalent degree (e.g., LL.B.) from a university outside the U.S.  The LL.M. is primarily of value to those planning on a career as a legal scholar or researcher. No course work is required (although students must register to get program credit for their research); in fact, degree candidates are actively discouraged from enrolling in courses. Applicants should already have a sufficient education in the field of research to pursue a serious scholarly project.

(If you are interested in the basic American three-year law program, the J.D. degree program, you are at the wrong place; go to JD Admissions.)

The University of Wisconsin Law School's LL.M. program is research-based.  

  • No regular (classroom) courses are taken in the LL.M. program.  Students must register for a non-classroom course called "Directed Research" (Law 990) each semester and pay tuition based on the Law School tuition schedule.
  • We have one specialized LL.M. program, the Master of Laws-Legal Institutions, specifically for those whose first degree in law was from a university outside the U.S.
  • Because our LL.M. degree is research-based and not course-based, completion of the LL.M. degree at our law school will not qualify you to take a bar exam. If you are interested in taking a bar exam, see the information about our Master of Laws-Legal Institutions degree.
  • Applicants to the LL.M. program may seek Fall (August) admission. The deadline for receiving the application for the research-based programs is March 1 for Fall entry.
  • Students must satisfy the required physical presence residence requirement.  This is done by enrolling as a full-time law student in Law 990  (12 credits each semester) and doing research in Madison for two regular semesters (i.e., fall and spring).  Students entering the LL.M. program who were in the LL.M.-LI program should note that the LL.M. program is a distinct program with its own residence requirement that must be satisfied.

Our LL.M. program is designed as a two-year program.

  • The LL.M. program is designed as a two-year program.
  • The actual time of completion of the program may vary, depending on the research problem.

Eligibility to apply to the LL.M.  program

  • Those who have a J.D. degree from a U.S. law school are eligible to apply directly to the LL.M. program.
  • For those who have a basic law degree from a university outside the U.S., especially from a civil code country, and who do not already have a master's degree in law from an American university, our Graduate Admissions Committee recommends the successful completion of our course-based Master of Laws-Legal Institutions program before applying to our LL.M. program.  The LL.M.-Legal Institutions program provides the necessary foundation in course work and writing a research paper. The deadline for application for the LL.M.-Legal Institutions program is March 1 for Fall entry.

Requirements of the program

Be sure to read carefully the requirements for the LL.M. program.

Applying to the LL.M. Program 

To apply for the LL.M. program, please print out the directions. The application process requires submission of the application electronically, attachment of supplemental documents sent by email, and the mailing of transcripts and letters of reference.  When all the applications are complete the committee meets to review and decide which applicants will be admitted.

Costs of the program; financial assistance 

Information about cost of the program is found at Tuition and Living Expenses.

Applying for financial assistance (new and continuing students):
See information at



If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Programs Office at the University of Wisconsin Law School:

telephone: (608) 262-9120
fax: (608) 265-2253
mailing address: Graduate Programs, University of Wisconsin Law School, 975 Bascom Mall, Room 3222, Madison, WI 53706-1399


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