Degree Requirement

Entry to the Ph.D. program requires an LL.M. degree in law. Most of our Ph.D. applicants have completed an LL.M. degree at the University of Washington School of Law. However, we do welcome applications from individuals with equivalent academic standing and a demonstrated capacity for advanced research and writing. The LL.M. degree may be counted toward the credit necessary for the Ph.D. program.

Applicants must have a clear research interest that is current and builds upon their existing knowledge and skills.

Application Process

Applications will be accepted in the fall of 2019 for students entering in the fall of 2020. Our application deadline is January 15, 2020 and our admissions committee will begin to review applications near this deadline.

The application process to the Ph.D. Program is online through the University of Washington Graduate School. Fill out an online application, upload the following documents (or mail directly to the program), designate recommenders and pay the application fee.

  1. Resume listing educational qualifications, work experience, date of admission to legal practice (if applicable) academic honors and awards and any other professional affiliations relevant to the application.
  2. Statement of Purpose (1–2 pages). Please state the reasons for wishing to undertake Ph.D. studies, your area(s) of research interest and future career plans.
  3. Dissertation Proposal (5–10 pages). The proposal should be detailed enough to show your understanding of your field of interest and the need for new, original research.
  4. Writing Sample. The writing sample should be an original piece of legal scholarship (an LL.M. paper or a published article), authored solely by the applicant and no more than 30 pages in length. An excerpt from a longer essay or article may be submitted.
  5. Official Transcripts and Degree Statement (including date of graduation and title of academic degree awarded) from all colleges and universities attended. Please also upload transcripts for in-progress degrees and also for degrees that you did not complete. Admitted students will be required to have one of their official transcripts with degree statement (usually LL.M.) sent directly to the UW from the degree granting institution for verification.
  6. Two (2) Letters of Recommendation are required. In the online application, designate two recommenders who can best evaluate your capacity for graduate study in the United States, preferably law faculty or other law professionals. Once you designate your recommenders you can choose whether to have them email their letters or postal mail them. The letters should be on university or company letterhead and should be signed and sealed on the exterior by the recommender. There is no specific form for the recommendation letter.
    1. Interview: In addition to submitting a full application, you may be asked to schedule an in-person or phone interview with the Ph.D. Program Director and/or potential faculty supervisors as part of the application process.

Language Ability

International and foreign-educated applicants are expected to have a high level of ability in reading, writing and delivering presentations in English. Submit English Language Proficiency scores or documentation that satisfies the language test exemption policy.


A 92 TOEFL iBT minimum score is required, although a higher score is desired. Have ETS send your official TOEFL score electronically using Institution Code #4854.


Our department accepts the IELTS, with a minimum of 7 for the PhD program. IELTS scores must be electronically received, either by the UW Graduate School or LSAC, or else they cannot be accepted. If there are electronic transmission problems, only IELTS staff can assist, and if they are unable to resolve the problems, we will not be able to accept the scores.

To submit IELTS test scores, first go to their Find a Test Location page. Select the country where the test was taken, then find the city on the list of testing centers and click the link (“book now”) to the right of the center's name to view its email address. Email the testing center to request that they report your test results into the E-TRF system to:

University of Washington All Campuses
Organization ID 365
Undergrad & Graduate Admissions
Box 355850
Seattle, WA, 98105, USA