Sustainable International Development LL.M.

Join lawyers and leaders from around the globe to contribute to a sustainable and resilient future.

UW Law Sustainable International Development Graduate Program

The UW Law Sustainable International Development (SID) Program trains lawyers to address interrelated global challenges and to advance law and policy frameworks that help people thrive within the ecological limits of our planet. SID law students analyze strategies for development and rule-of-law promotion in a dynamic academic setting, where they engage with peers from around the world who possess an impressive range of law, policy and advocacy experience. Students who hold a first degree in law from outside the United States may also qualify through this program to sit for a bar exam in the U.S.

Practical approaches to global development challenges

Students learn through an innovative, hands-on and practical program that includes experiential and collaborative opportunities designed to build skills to face the global development challenges of the 21st century.

Sustainable International Development students typically focus their studies in one or more of the following areas:

  • Rule of law, human rights and governance
  • Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030
    Sustainable Development Goals
  • Global environmental protection and addressing climate change
  • Global environmental protections
  • Corporate responsibility and sustainability, business and human rights, ESG
  • Indigenous peoples' rights

Students are also encouraged to explore their academic interests by taking courses offered by other UW graduate schools.

Real-world application

Our experiential learning partners have included the UN Global Compact, the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking, Landesa, Global Rights Advocacy, the Environmental Defender Law Center, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, UNIDROIT, Heifer International, Communities First, the Clooney Foundation for Justice, Human Rights Watch, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, among others.

Graduates of this program will be equipped to work within leading non-governmental and civil society organizations; development organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, USAID and the World Bank; corporations and private consulting firms; law firms; and active military service focused on the rule of law.


The Sustainable Development curriculum draws upon the strengths of the UW Law faculty, locally based practitioners and partner organizations. Courses provide students with both theory and hands-on experience. Skills-building classes also introduce internationally trained attorneys to U.S. legal practice and help all students strengthen their writing, analysis and presentation skills. Core faculty include professors with expertise in business and human rights, anti-corruption, human rights, and protecting rights to land and resources for vulnerable communities in the developing world.

See FULL curriculum


“The quality of the courses and the professors was exceptional and enriched by the perspectives of classmates from throughout the world. I gained the knowledge and tools I needed as a lawyer to collaborate with other development professionals, including at the United Nations.”


Mexico, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2018
Transformational Governance, United Nations Global Compact

“As an American student, I was able to interact with skilled legal practitioners from around the world. They helped ground my approach to international human rights and development in the experience of impacted people.”


United States, J.D., Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017
Staff Attorney, EarthRights International

“During my time as a student, I was transformed. As Sustainable Development alumni, we are working for international organizations, governments and communities, touching every layer of society and reaching the whole world.”


Kenya, Sustainable International Development LL.M. and Barer Fellow 2018
Magistrate Judge and Head of Station, Othaya Law Courts

“In the Sustainable Development program, there were people from every continent, and I think that we have formed bonds that are going to last well into the future. The benefits of the experience are going to follow me for the rest of my life. ”


Australia, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017
Senior Community Lawyer, Fitzroy Legal Service, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Australia

“As the world moves towards the United Nations’ ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, we need to understand international development more deeply and comprehensively. The Sustainable Development program helped me to understand development in an engaging and challenging way.”


Indonesia, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017, Assistant Program
Manager, Secretariat of Sustainable Development Goals, Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning