Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program

The University of Wisconsin Law School's LL.M. program is strictly a research and writing one designed for those 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

The University of Wisconsin Law School's LL.M. Program is research-based and designed to be completed within two years.

·         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 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.

·         The actual time of completion of the program may vary, depending on the research question.

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 Programs 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. 

Requirements of the LL.M. Program

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

Applying to the LL.M. Program 

The Fall 2018 application deadline has closed. The Fall 2019 application will be available in September.

To apply for the LL.M. program, an applicant should submit the following:

  • Please submit a completed LLM/SJD application. The document may be filled in online and saved as a PDF or printed and scanned in as a PDF. You may email and/or mail your application to the Graduate Programs office.
  • 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.
  • A research proposal- a brief summary of your proposed research project is a critical part of the application process, but it need not be detailed (at least 6 pages, double-spaced). Our experience is that it is helpful to have a general indication of the applicant's interest so that we can involve one or more members of the faculty who share this interest in the review process, and be assured that the research will have the active interest and involvement of a faculty member who will then serve as the students’ advisor. The specific focus of the research will most likely be altered or refined through the initial collaboration of the student and his or her advisor. Submit as a PDF.
  • A personal statement- a statement that tells us why you are interested in the LLM/SJD program (up to 2 double-spaced pages). Submit as a PDF.
  • A current resume, submitted as a PDF
  • Three original letters of reference from persons who can, in detail, assess your past performance and your potential as both teacher and scholar. The letters should be on letterhead and should have a waiver attached. Waivers are required for each letter of reference. 
  • Official transcripts from all higher education institutions you attended (undergraduate, law school, and any others)
  • Pay $56 application fee by mailed check
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS score report

For more detailed information about how to apply, please review the application process webpage. 

Costs of the LL.M. Program and Applying for Financial Assistance 

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

Applying for financial assistance.

Contact Us

The Graduate Programs office handles admissions, application inquiries, and any questions you may have about the LL.M. program.


Phone: +1 (608) 262-9120

Mailing address: 
University of Wisconsin Law School
Attn: Graduate Programs
975 Bascom Mall, Room 3222
Madison, WI 53706

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