Ph.D. Program Design Review

The UW Law School faculty recently voted to pause Ph.D. admissions for two years while the program goes through a reexamination and review. Our PhD program has a long and rich history. We take its prominence in the legal field and our commitment to preparing students very seriously. As with all of our programs, we must re-examine the curriculum periodically to determine if it meets students' needs and prepares them to advance legal practice, scholarship and education in communities locally and globally.

A committee led by a member of the greater university community has been convened to review the Ph.D. program. This work will include opportunities for input from UW Law faculty, current students, PhD graduates and our alumni community. We look forward to partnering with these stakeholders for a robust and fruitful discussion about the future of this program. If you would like to provide input on the Ph.D. program or are a student with questions, please email

The program will not accept new applicants for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years.

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

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.