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 by email. No additional application is required.
Applicants to the S.J.D. program may seek Fall 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.
The deadline for Fall admission is March 1st. We must receive all application documents and materials by the deadline date.
Most browsers should be able to open the PDF files on this webpage. If you need a free PDF viewer, please visit Adobe Acrobat Reader.
To apply to the S.J.D. program, applicants should submit the following electronically to GPO@law.wisc.edu:
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 in 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 in and emailed with your application. The Record of Residence form does not need to be completed if you answered "No" to Question 16 on the application.
For more information regarding Wisconsin residency, please see the State of Wisconsin Statutes.
2. A Research Proposal
To apply to the S.J.D. program, the research proposal should be at least six (6) double-spaced providing a brief summary of your proposed research project. Submit as a PDF.
3. A Personal Statement
Include a statement that tells the Graduate Programs Admissions Committee of your experience, interests, goals, and why you are interested in the S.J.D. program. The personal statement should be no more than 2 double-spaced pages and submitted as a PDF.
4. A Current Resume
Submit as a PDF
The following documents should be submitted by mail to the Graduate Programs Office (see address below):
5. Three Original Letters of Reference with Waivers
The letters of reference should be from people who are familiar with your academic ability. The letters should, whenever possible, address the applicant's capacity and ability to conduct serious and creative research. At least one letter should be from a former law professor. These need to be original letters, signed, and on official stationery (“letterhead”), accompanied by the waiver form that you have signed and given to the recommender. Request that the letters of recommendation be sent directly to the Graduate Programs Office in a sealed envelope. You may alternatively include the letters with your other supplementary mailed materials, making sure that the letters are in their own sealed envelopes. The back of each envelope should have the signature or stamp of the recommender.
6. Official Transcripts
Please have all official transcripts from any higher education institution attended (undergraduate, graduate, law school, etc.) sent directly to the Graduate Programs office address.
7. Official TOEFL or IELTS Score Report
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 or IELTS score is needed.
8. Pay Application Fee of $56.00 (non-refundable)
Make a check or money order payable in U.S. dollars to the University of Wisconsin Law School. Do not send cash.
Send the above documents to the following address to be received by March 1st:
Graduate Programs Office
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall, Room 3222
Madison, WI 53706 U.S.A.
Once the Graduate Programs Office receives all of your admission materials, the Graduate Admissions Committee will review your application file.
Once an international student is admitted to the S.J.D. program, the Graduate Programs Office will communicate with the student by email to begin the process of preparing the student’s I-20 document. For the I-20 to be prepared, the international student must be admitted to the S.J.D. program and must provide original financial documents that show sufficient funds for the tuition and cost of living expenses connected to the program. The financial information for the program can be found here and information from the UW-Madison International Student Services office can be found here.
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 this webpage for information about the Law School Faculty). In general, untenured faculty (those who are assistant professors) cannot serve as primary advisors. A person seeking admission is expected to be reasonably familiar with the research interests and directions at this law school and make inquiries of UW law faculty members based on the familiarity with the possible faculty member's research interests.
Funds for graduate educational support are limited. Awards are made in exceptional cases and only of modest amount. Admission to the S.J.D. program does not guarantee financial support. If you wish to be considered for financial assistance, you can indicate this on the second page of the application form. You will also need to submit additional documentation, as noted on the Applying for Financial Assistance page under "New Students".
If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Programs Office.