The application for autumn 2025 Ph.D. admission will open on Sept. 1, 2024, and the deadline is April 1, 2025. Submitted applications that are not complete by the April 1 deadline may be denied without review. Admissions for entry to autumn 2024 have closed and late applications will not be accepted.

The Ph.D. Program at the University of Washington School of Law is highly competitive. Only a handful of applicants may be admitted in any given year.

Eligibility Requirements

Entry to the Ph.D. program requires an LL.M. degree or equivalent advanced degree in exceptional circumstances. The LL.M. degree may be counted toward the credit necessary for the Ph.D. program.

Preference will be given to:

  1. University of Washington School of Law students who want to continue their studies with an identified faculty member who agrees to serve as chair of that student’s committee; or
  2. Extraordinary students from other institutions with strong support by a UW Law faculty member who agrees to chair the student’s Ph.D. committee, provided their application is as competitive as those from UW Law candidates.

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, designate recommenders, and pay the application fee.

To be considered complete by the admissions committee, an application must contain:

  1. A letter of recommendation from a UW Law faculty member in which they commit to chairing the Ph.D. committee and supervising the applicant for the duration of their Ph.D. studies, including information about the novelty and significance of the proposed topic as well as other committee members chosen ahead of time and with sufficient and continuous connection to the law school.
  2. Letters of recommendation from committee members who have already agreed to serve. To identify the chair and committee members in the application, applicants are provided instructions within the application to designate them.
  3. 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.
  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. Dissertation Proposal (8-10 pages). The proposal should be detailed enough to show your understanding of your field of interest and the need for new, original research and must include a topic that is novel and significant, as detailed in a written prospectus, to include research questions, significance of topic to existing literature, and methodology.
  6. Study Plan. A mapped-out plan for academic study, including specific courses across UW departments that provide the requisite body of knowledge for the proposed dissertation topic, and estimated timeline.
  7. 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. 
  8. Transcripts and Degree Statements (including date of graduation and title of academic degree awarded) from all colleges and universities attended. This includes transcripts for in-progress degrees and also for degrees that were attempted but not completed. Admitted students will be required to have one of their official transcripts with degree statement (usually LL.M.) sent directly to the UW Graduate School from the degree granting institution for verification.
  9. Admissions interviews may be required to determine if the topic is novel and significant; if the prospectus is complete; and if the proposed methodology will get the project from questions to answers.


International and foreign-educated applicants are expected to have a high level of ability in reading, writing and delivering presentations in English.

Applicants whose native language is not English:

Applicants whose native language is not English must submit English Language Proficiency scores or documentation that satisfies the UW Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements. Please self-report your scores in the application and electronically submit your test scores to the UW using the following instructions. Offers of admission cannot be made until the UW receives the official scores electronically:

  • Have ETS send your official TOEFL score electronically using Institution Code #4854.
  • Have Duolingo electronically report your score to the UW.
  • Have IELTS electronically report your score to the UW via the IELTS system (E-TRF), using the University of Washington’s organization ID 365.
  • For the full details of the English proficiency requirement, please see the UW Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80, Duolingo 105, IELTS 6.5.
    Scores required to clear AEP requirement: TOEFL 92, Duolingo 120, IELTS 7.0