To apply to the program,  you must meet one of the following:

  • Have completed an LLM degree at the University of Iowa or at another law school of comparable rigor, or be currently enrolled in such a program and on track to receive the LLM degree before starting the SJD program.
  • Have completed a JD degree in the United States, or be currently enrolled in a JD program and on track to receive the JD degree before starting the SJD program.

All applicants must show strong evidence of scholarly research and writing abilities.


  1. Apply online with LSAC.  The application deadline is May 1.
  2. Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose form is part of the online application.  All applicants must complete the statement of purpose.
  3. Letters of recommendation:  You must submit three letters of recommendation.  At least two should be from law professors who can comment on your critical thinking, writing skills, and potential for success in writing a doctoral dissertation.
  4. Official Transcripts: Official copies of academic records of coursework completed in colleges, universities, technical institutes, and professional institutions are required, in English, regardless of the duration of study or whether you obtained a degree.  The College of Law participates in LSAC's Credential Assembly Service.  You are responsible for submitting to LSAC an official transcript from each institution you have attended.
  5. Writing Sample: Submit a significant academic paper showing your research and analysis in English.
  6. TOEFL: This exam is not required but documentation of English capability strengthens your application.
  7. Thesis Proposal: A concise statement should identify the issues, explain why they are important, show how your dissertation will tackle them, state what you hope to argue with respect to the issues, what theoretical frameworks and methodologies you will use, and identify what original contribution to world literature your thesis will make with respect to those issues.  The proposal should also identify one or more Iowa Law faculty members who you believe would be appropriate, based on their scholarship, to chair your thesis committee.  The thesis proposal and writing sample should be no more than 50 pages combined counting footnotes and headings, and shorter than 50 pages if possible.
  8. Personal statement: Attach a personal statement describing any life experiences that reflect on your ability to excel in the advanced study of law and explain how the SJD degree will help you in your future career plans.  The statement should be no more than three pages and address why you want to study at Iowa Law.
  9. Financial Statement: If you are admitted to the program, you will need to submit evidence of adequate financial support to cover the costs of one full year of study at the University of Iowa.  You can complete the financial statement with your application to move through the visa process more quickly.  Your admission cannot be finalized without proper certification of financial ability to provide support.

Additional information about the program is available under Academics.