Applying to the S.J.D. Program

General Information

The Law School's S.J.D. program is a strictly research and writing program 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. and a LL.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. In rare cases, those who have written an LL.M. thesis that is deemed by the Graduate Admissions Committee to be the equivalent of a University of Wisconsin Law School LL.M. thesis may be considered for the S.J.D. program.  However, direct entry into our S.J.D. program is generally not granted for someone who does not have an LL.M. degree from the UW Law School, even for applicants who have multiple LL.M. degrees. 

Be sure to read the S.J.D. program requirements and the Overview of the S.J.D. program before submitting your application.

The application form for the S.J.D. and LL.M. is the same. If you apply for the S.J.D. program and then want to change to apply to the LL.M. program for the same entry period, notify the Graduate Programs office of your intent. No additional application is required.

Applicants to the S.J.D. program may seek either Fall (late August) or Spring (late January) admission. Full-time enrollment and research done in Madison for two regular semesters (i.e., fall and spring) is necessary to satisfy the academic year physical presence residence requirement. Thus, anyone admitted in the spring must be a resident for the following fall semester as well.

The deadline for Fall admission is March 1; for Spring admission, October 15. Please see that we receive all application documents by the deadline date.

Most browsers can open the PDF files on this website.  If you need a free PDF viewer, please visit Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Contact the Graduate Programs Office for printouts or alternative formats.  To listen to a PDF file, use View -- Read Out Loud in Acrobat Reader.


Photo: UW Communications

TO APPLY TO THE S.J.D. PROGRAM:                                                            

You will need to submit some application materials (#1-#4) electronically and others (#5-#8) by mail (or in person at the Graduate Programs Office). 

Please read through the full directions stated here before beginning the application process.

Submit the following electronically to

  1. A completed application form.
    The same application form is used for both the LL.M. and the S.J.D. programs.  The application form may be filled in online and saved as a pdf or printed and scanned as a pdf.
    --If you are claiming Wisconsin residency, please complete a Record of Residence Form.  This form should be printed out and then scanned and emailed with your application.  The Record of Residence form does not need to be completed if you answer "No" to Question 16 on the application. The State of Wisconsin statutes related to the record of residence form may be of interest to you.
  2. Your research proposal
    Submit electronically as a pdf or Word attachment your research proposal.  It should be at least six (6) double-spaced typed pages long to ensure specificity.
  3. A personal statement
    Submit electronically as a pdf or Word attachment a statement that tells the Graduate Admissions Committee about your experience, interests, and goals. This should be no more than 2 to 3 pages, double-spaced.
  4. A current resume.
    Submit electronically as a pdf or Word attachment a current resume.
    Submit the following by mail or hand deliver to the Graduate Programs Office.

    Note: If you are currently in the UW Law School's LL.M. program and are applying to the S.J.D. program, you should also read "Procedure for going from the LL.M. to the S.J.D. Program" in your LL.M. Handbook regarding points 5-8!

  5. Undergraduate, graduate and law school transcripts
    If you transcripts do not clearly state the degree that was granted, please include an indication of the degree granted.  If available, please also indicate your law school class standing. We do not require a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score for the S.J.D. application.
  6. Three original letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with your academic ability.
    At least one should be from a former law teacher. Letters from law faculty must be on official school stationery. Please be sure to give a waiver form to each recommender; the waiver should be included with the letter of recommendation.
    The letters may be sent separately to the Graduate Admissions Committee by the recommender or included with your application.  If the letter and its waiver are included with your application, they should be in an envelope sealed by the writer.
  7. An application fee of $56.00 (non-refundable)
    Make check or money order payable in U.S. dollars to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Do not send cash.  The Law School does not accept payment by credit or debit cards. 
  8. TOEFL score (if appropriate)
    If your last law degree is not from a law school in the United States or a country in which English is the first language, a TOEFL score of 625 (paper) or 106-108 (Internet) is requested.  The Graduate Admissions Committee will consider those with lower TOEFL scores.
    Send the above documents to our office so that they reach us by the deadline: October 15 for spring entry or March 1 for fall entry.
    Our mailing address is:

    Graduate Programs Office
    University of Wisconsin Law School
    975 Bascom Mall
    Madison, Wisconsin 53706

    Our email address is:

REVIEW OF THE FULL APPLICATION:  When the materials listed above are filed with the Graduate Programs Office, the Graduate Admissions Committee will review your application.

Financial Assistance

Funds for graduate support are scarce. Admission to the degree program does not ensure financial support. For information on making a request, see Requesting Financial Assistance.

Costs of the program.  See Tuition and Living Expenses.

International applicants must provide an official letter or statement(s) confirming financial support for all expenses while completing studies, as well as for family member who accompany you to the United States. See Tuition and Living Expenses.


Before applying, please consider whether there are members of the UW law faculty who might be interested in acting as the primary advisor for the proposed project. (See the Law School Web page for information about the Law School faculty.) In general, neither emeritus faculty nor untenured faculty (those who are assistant professors) can serve as primary advisors.

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

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