Advanced Degree Application Process

Step by Step to SLS (LLM and SPILS Programs)

If you are applying for admission to Stanford Law’s LLM or SPILS program for Fall 2024, mark these three important dates on your calendar:

September 15, 2023 — When the application becomes available.

December 1, 2023, 11:59 PM PST — The deadline for submitting your application.

December 1, 2023 — The date your application must be deemed complete by SLS if you are applying for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.

Step by Step to SLS (JSD Program)

February 26, 2024 – The date the application becomes available.

April 11, 2024, 11:59 PST – The deadline for submitting the application.

Please be aware that the timing requirements are such that you cannot apply for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program during the year that you apply for the JSD program.  If you intend to apply to the JSD program and also for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, you must apply for the scholars program one year earlier – namely, at the time that you are applying to one of our master’s degree programs.  Put differently, students who complete an LLM elsewhere and then apply to Stanford for the JSD program only are ineligible to apply for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.

All applicants should explore these key steps in the application process — then get started.

Application Requirements

A completed application consists of the following components (see guidelines below):

  1. Application for Admission to Graduate Study
  2. Application Fee
  3. Resume or curriculum vitae
  4. Personal statement
  5. Two letters of recommendation
  6. Official transcripts
  7. TOEFL score report

Additional materials required from both SPILS and JSD applicants:

  1. Research Proposal
  2. One additional letter of recommendation (3 total)

Additional materials required from JSD applicants only:

  1. Example(s) of scholarly writing

All application materials must be submitted through LSAC. The application form, resume, personal statement, research proposal (for SPILS applicants only), and the nonrefundable application fee payment must be submitted electronically through LSAC. Official transcripts and TOEFL score report must be submitted through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service. Required application materials submitted directly to the Office of Admissions will not be accepted.  If applying for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, note that your CAS report with all required authenticated and evaluated transcripts, letters of recommendation, and valid TOEFL score must be received in our office and your file deemed complete no later than the December 1, 2023 deadline.

It is your responsibility to make certain that all items arrive at the Office of Admissions. Your application may be treated as complete and a decision reached as soon as the minimum number of required documents is received.

Applicants are discouraged from submitting additional materials with the application; such materials will not be returned. All applications must be in English. Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide information that demonstrates their ability to handle difficult materials in the English language.

When the documents listed above have all been received, an application is complete. However, until the application has been finally acted upon (and until the first day of attendance), if are accepted and enroll, you are obligated to advise the school of any changes in the information previously furnished. In particular, you should promptly report to the school any additional grades received and any other facts that would have required a different answer to the questions asked in the application. Such changes may be reported informally by e-mail to the Office of Admissions; if official verification is required, you will be so advised.

Questions concerning the LLM, SPILS and JSD application process should be directed to the Stanford Law Office of Admissions by email or by phone at 650.723.4985.

Application Fee

An application fee of US $85 must be submitted by credit card at the time you transmit your application form electronically through LSAC. This fee is nonrefundable and not applicable towards tuition.

Applicants who choose to apply to multiple programs must pay a separate US $85 fee for each application. The application fee for the primary program to which you are applying must be submitted by credit card at the time the application form is transmitted. To submit the remaining application fee amount, payment must be made payable to Stanford Law School in US dollars either by check, postal money order or traveler’s check and sent directly to the address listed below. The applicant name, LSAC account number, and the program(s) to which you are applying must be clearly noted with payment to allow for proper processing.

Graduate Admissions
Stanford Law School
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610

Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Stanford requires a one-to-two page resume or curriculum vitae describing your academic, extracurricular, and professional activities. The resume must be submitted with your application. Please do not include a photo. If you have already submitted your resume and have included a photo, note that we have redacted that photo. No further action is required on your part and that original submission will not impact our review process.

Personal Statement

The personal statement and research proposal (for SPILS applicants only) must be submitted with your application.

LLM Applicants

This statement of two to three pages seeks information about the applicant’s experience in legal practice, and interest in graduate study (in the applicable specialization). This statement should also discuss the applicant’s professional goals, and how the completion of an LLM degree could benefit his or her legal career.

SPILS and JSD Applicants

This statement of two to three pages seeks information about an applicant’s interest in a chosen area of concentration, the expertise and experience the applicant brings to bear on their research and study at Stanford Law School, and how the completion of a JSM degree as a SPILS fellow or the JSD will benefit their academic, public service, or policy-oriented career.

Research Proposal

This statement of not more than five pages should (a) briefly explain the applicant’s intended research project, including the nature of the underlying problem to which the research will respond, and (b) state clearly the scholarly and practical objectives and significance of the research. In addition, applicants should explain, on the basis of their prior research on and/or experience with the underlying issue, the methods they intend to deploy in analyzing and contributing to the ultimate resolution of the problem. In particular, applicants should address interdisciplinary perspectives and modes of analysis that promise to increase understanding of the underlying problem. The Admissions Committee pays particular attention to research proposals in evaluating applications. The committee reviews each research proposal carefully with respect to clarity of focus, analytical specificity, interdisciplinary approach and feasibility, and the degree and quality of research and work-related experience and preparation that the applicant brings to the proposal.

JSD Applicants Only: Example(s) of Scholarly Writings

Please submit at least one – and no more than two – examples of your best English-language scholarly writing to date.  These may, but need not have been already published.  The Admissions Committee is not interested in writings that take the form of legal advocacy, such as legal briefs.  Instead, you should submit research of the sort that has been or might be published in an academic journal – including law reviews, interdisciplinary “law and” journals, and non-legal journals (as long as the research engages with law in some way).  If you have written a book, please submit at most two chapters.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service.

Federal law provides a student, after enrollment, with a right of access to, among other things, letters of recommendation in the student’s file (if maintained). This right may be waived, but such a waiver may not be required as a condition for admission to or receipt of any other services or benefits from Stanford Law School. Please indicate your choice by checking the appropriate box at the top of the LSAC Letter of Recommendation form before giving them to your recommenders.

Please advise recommenders that should you choose to apply for other programs at Stanford University, the letters of recommendation may be forwarded to that program for review.

LLM Applicants

It is suggested that LLM applicants obtain one letter from someone familiar with their work in legal practice (or related professional experience) and one letter from someone familiar with their academic work. At least one letter should be from someone with whom the applicant has worked who can address the applicant’s English-language proficiency.

SPILS Applicants

It is suggested that SPILS applicants obtain one letter from someone familiar with their research work, one letter from someone familiar with their non-academic work, and if possible, one letter from someone familiar with their academic or professional work outside the United States. At least one letter should be from someone with whom the applicant has worked who can address the applicant’s English-language proficiency.

JSD Applicants

Applicants should submit three letters from scholars familiar with and able to comment on their research as a general matter.  In addition, at least some of these letters should specifically discuss the examples of scholarly writing that the applicant submits as part of the JSD application process.  And at least one letter should be from someone with whom the applicant has worked who can address the applicant’s English-language proficiency.

Official Transcripts

Stanford Law School requires all LLM and SPILS applicants submit their official transcripts through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS). This service is an easy and convenient means of submitting transcripts to a number of different institutions. LSAC, in cooperation with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), provides law schools with verification, authentication, and evaluation of transcripts and allows our office to more efficiently proceed with the review of your application.

Transcripts submitted through the LSAC LLM Credential Assembly Service should show all courses taken and marks earned, and receipt of any degree from each university and any institution of higher education at which the applicant has been in residence for one year or more. Transcripts submitted directly to the Stanford Law Admissions Office will not be accepted.

Please note that should you choose to apply for other programs at Stanford University, the CAS report may be forwarded to that program for review.

English Language Skills and Practical Experience

Stanford Law School course work and related academic activities require written and spoken fluency in English. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based test) or 620 (paper-based test) is required for admission. This exam is administered worldwide. For more information regarding TOEFL, please contact the Educational Testing Service.

All applicants must submit valid TOEFL scores through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service. The TOEFL score should be directed to LSAC. The Institution Code for LSAC is 8395.

Applicants whose native language is English still must formally request a TOEFL waiver to complete the requirement.

Applicants may request a waiver of the TOEFL if they have studied previously in an English-speaking academic institution or have used English extensively in their professional work. Waivers may be granted to those applicants who have studied or worked in English full time for two years or more. Applicants seeking a waiver should furnish a formal letter requesting such an exemption, as well as evidence of their linguistic competence (e.g., a letter from an employer or an article written and published in English).

The waiver request must be submitted with your application.

English Language Study

For students who are less than fully fluent in English, we may recommend or require, as a condition for admission, attendance at an intensive English language course prior to beginning studies at Stanford Law School. Stanford University offers an eight-week intensive English course typically beginning in late June.  Please visit the Stanford’s English for Foreign Students program for more information.

Practical Experience

We believe that the LLM program is most valuable for students who already have significant law practice experience. Except under unusual circumstances, candidates must have at least two years of professional legal experience before commencing the LLM program. Applicants seeking a waiver of this requirement should explain in their application materials the personal or professional circumstances that they believe justify a waiver.

Reapplication Procedure

Applicants who wish to reapply for admission must submit the following:

  1. New application
  2. Application fee
  3. Updated resume
  4. Updated personal statement
  5. Research proposal (SPILS applicants),
  6. New letter of recommendation to LSAC utilizing the Letter of Recommendation Service
  7. Updated transcripts reflecting grades that were not included in the previous application review
  8. New TOEFL scores through LSAC

Please note that recommendations already on file need not be duplicated. Applications for Fall 2021, 2022, and 2023, have been retained.

Application Status Check

In order to keep you apprised of your application status, we are providing an online status page. To view the status of your application, please click on the following link in order to access the password protected online status page:

Check your status online

Notification of Acceptance

The Office of Admissions will make every effort to send applicants final admissions decision by mid-April 2024.

To secure a place in the entering class, applicants accepted for admission must pay a deposit.

If you are offered admission, Stanford reserves the right to withdraw that offer of admission (even after enrolled attendance) if: 1) you show a significant drop in academic performance or fail to graduate from your current program; 2) there has been a misrepresentation in the Stanford Law School (SLS) application process; 3) we learn that you have engaged in behavior prior to the first day of enrolled SLS attendance that indicates a serious lack of judgment or integrity; or 4) you reserve a place in our entering class and make an enrollment commitment or place a deposit at another law school. Stanford further reserves the right to require you to provide additional information and/or authorization for the release of information about such matter.

We look forward to reviewing your application materials. We know that getting feedback, whether from a friend, parent, instructor, or other resource, is a potential aspect of drafting and revising creative work. We recognize you may seek feedback in developing your application to Stanford Law School; however, the work itself must ultimately be your own. Before completing your application and in accordance with the spirit of Stanford’s Honor Code, we ask you to acknowledge that the work submitted in your application is ultimately your own.

Additional Matters

In order to register as students, Stanford University requires that all those who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. registered permanent residents must obtain and maintain an appropriate visa status for their stay in the United States.  For more information, please visit the Bechtel International Center website.

Nondiscrimination Policy

Stanford University admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or marital status to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the University. Consistent with its obligations under the law, in the administration of the University’s programs and activities, Stanford prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, marital status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law; Stanford also prohibits unlawful harassment including sexual harassment and sexual violence.  This policy applies to Stanford programs and activities both on and off-campus, including overseas programs.

The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding this nondiscrimination policy: Stanford’s Director of the Diversity and Access Office, Krista Martinelli, Kingscote Gardens, 419 Lagunita Drive, Suite 130, Stanford, CA 94305-8550; (650) 723-0755 (voice), (650) 723-1791 (fax), (email). Stanford’s Title IX Coordinator, Stephen Chen, has been designated to handle inquiries regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence: Kingscote Gardens (2nd floor), 419 Lagunita Drive, Stanford, CA 94305, (650) 497-4955 (voice), (650) 497-9257 (fax), (email).  Individuals may also file complaints directly with the Office for Civil Rights, within the United States Department of Education, by following the information on this website:

Last revised September 12, 2023For the most recent policy, please visit the Diversity and Access Office.

Campus Security

Stanford University complies with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act. Stanford’s policies and statistics under this act are posted on the Department of Public Safety website at A paper copy can be obtained by calling the Stanford Department of Public Safety at (650) 723-9633.