Application and Admissions Requirements

S.J.D. applicants must have completed an LL.M. (Master of Laws) program at Wake Forest Law or elsewhere in the United States to be eligible for the program. Comparable LL.M. degree programs from countries other than the U.S. may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. Wake Forest LL.M. graduates will be given preference over applicants from other LL.M. programs. Admission will be based on a formal application, with appropriate supporting material, and a dissertation proposal. Only applicants with exceptionally strong academic credentials, well-planned dissertation proposals, and proficient English language ability are admitted.

To be eligible for admission, an SJD applicant must

  • Hold a first degree in law (LL.B.) or equivalent from a foreign institution (non-U.S.)
  • Hold a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from Wake Forest University School of Law or another ABA-accredited law school
  • Have outstanding academic credentials
  • Demonstrate exceptional promise as a legal scholar through submission of prior written work (such as an LL.M. thesis) of high quality
  • Possess exceptional English language proficiency
  • Present an original and detailed doctoral dissertation proposal

Each S.J.D. application will be evaluated by the Dean’s office and a prospective faculty advisor to determine whether it promises to result in an original, creditable, and publishable contribution to legal scholarship. Applicants will not be evaluated until their completed applications and supporting documents are received. Early application is advised.

Your Application

Fall Applications
Open Date: September 1
LSAC Due Date: April 1
WFU Online App Due Date: May 1

Spring Applications
Open Date: July 1
LSAC Due Date: October 1
WFU Online App Due Date: November 1

You may apply through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website and have all supporting materials sent to that organization or through the Wake Forest Law application system. Candidates should complete their application once they have the following materials ready to submit:

  • Resume
    Your resume should list all universities you have attended, academic publications, and relevant extracurricular activities. Provide information about any honors, awards, and scholarships you may have received. You should also list any law or business-related professional experience you have, by providing the dates of employment, your employer, and the position you held.
  • Personal Statement
    In English, please explain your reasons for pursuing an S.J.D. degree, your intellectual goals in pursuing doctoral studies, and how you plan to use your graduate degree for your short and long-term career plans. If there is a faculty member with whom you are particularly interested in working with because of their area of expertise or research, please identify the individual and explain the reasons for your interest in this professor. Indicate all of your previous international experience, including your experiences in your LL.M. Program, and any particular interest you have in the Wake Forest School of Law S.J.D. Program.
  • Official Transcripts
    You must submit transcripts from each university or college that you have attended. Transcripts must be in the language of the institution, as well as in English, and should explain the University’s grading system.
  • Proof of English Proficiency
    Applicants whose native language is not English are required to provide proof of English language proficiency. The following tests are an accepted way to provide proof.

    • TOEFL: Applicants must earn a minimum paper-based score of 600 or an internet-based score of 100 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The institution code for the TOEFL is C261.
    • IELTS: A score of 7.0 or higher on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted.
    • English Language Proficiency: The TOEFL or IELTS requirement may be waived at the discretion of the admissions committee if the applicant has earned (or will earn), prior to law school matriculation, a baccalaureate-level or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher education where English is the primary language of instruction and where the corresponding degree of study was undertaken primarily in one of the following countries:
      • Antigua and Barbuda
      • Commonwealth of Australia
      • The Bahamas
      • Barbados
      • Belize
      • Canada
      • Commonwealth of Dominica
      • Grenada
      • Co-operative Republic of Guyana
      • Republic of Ireland
      • Jamaica
      • Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis
      • Saint Lucia
      • Republic of Malta
      • New Zealand
      • Trinidad and Tobago
      • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
      • United States of America
      • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

      The Office of Admissions & Financial Aid may, at its sole discretion, require a TOEFL or IELTS score of any applicant, regardless of education or other attributes.

    • Two Letters of Recommendation
      Applicants are required to submit a minimum of two letters of recommendation. Ideally, these letters should come from former law professors or employers of the applicant and should address the applicant’s ability to pursue graduate legal study. We prefer that at least one letter come from a professor or dean from the school where you earned your LLM. Recommendation letters must be in English or accompanied by an English translation. Letters of Recommendation may be submitted via the online application system.
    • Writing Sample
      An applicant must demonstrate superior achievement in graduate-level legal research and writing in English, preferably by providing a copy of their thesis produced at the LL.M. level or by providing a substantial directed research paper submitted as an LL.M. candidate as evidence of the ability to conduct graduate-level legal research and writing in English. This writing sample should represent the applicant’s best scholarly work.
    • Dissertation Proposal
      S.J.D. applicants must submit a dissertation proposal that is typed, double-spaced, and accompanied by a bibliography that provides relevant research sources that may be used in the applicant’s dissertation. The proposal should provide enough detail to define the topic of the proposed dissertation with specificity and indicate its significance and issues to be investigated. The proposal should include:

      • an introduction;
      • a description of your topic, why it’s important, and what makes it interesting for you;
      • a discussion of work that has already been done on the topic by other scholars;
      • what your dissertation will contribute;
      • a chapter-by-chapter summary as you foresee it;
      • a conclusion; and
      • a preliminary bibliography of likely primary and secondary sources you will use.