Applying to the Research Program

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The information below is for students apply to the Research LLM and PhD degrees.  There is a different application and process for the Professional LLM Programs offered through Osgoode Professional Development (including the Canadian Common Law and the International Business LLM programs).

Admission to the Research LLM and PhD degrees is offered on a competitive basis. In evaluating applications, the following factors are considered:

  • Complete academic record, which includes grades (usually a B average or higher) and scholarly awards
  • Merits of the applicant’s research proposal outline
  • Research capacities and potential as demonstrated by previous academic writing and qualifications
  • Quality and strength of letters of reference
  • Alignment of proposed research outline with faculty’s interest and capacity for supervision

Please note, the Research LLM and PhD degrees do not qualify students to practise law in Canada. Students interested in practising law in Canada should review the licensing rules of the Law Society of the province in which they intend to practice.

Special Opportunities for 2022-23 Entry:

  • Graduate studies in law for (non-lawyer) technologists
    Dr. Sean Rehaag is seeking non-lawyer technologists to pursue a Research LLM while serving as a Graduate Student Fellow at the Refugee Law Laboratory. No background in law is required. Click here for more details.
  • Smart Autonomous Robotic Technology for Space Exploration
    Dr. Roxanne Mykitiuk is looking for a prospective Master of Laws (LLM) student for the 2022-2023 academic year who will pursue a research thesis on equity, diversity and inclusion in aerospace engineering. Ideally, such a student would carry out interdisciplinary legal, law-and-humanities or socio-legal research for their thesis, including engagement with critical science and technology studies, critical disability studies and/or feminist theory. Click here for more details.
  • Graduate Fellow in Indigenous law, jurisdiction and resistance to extractive infrastructures
    Professor Dayna N Scott is looking for prospective Master of Laws (LLM) and/or PhD students to begin in the 2022-2023 academic year who will pursue graduate level research in law on themes related to Indigenous law, jurisdiction and resistance to extractive infrastructures. Ideally, such a student would carry out interdisciplinary legal, law-and-geography or socio-legal research for their thesis/dissertation, including engagement with community-based methods in partnership with Indigenous communities. Click here for more details.

Applicants without a Law Degree

Generally, it is expected that applicants will have a law degree prior to applying. For the Research LLM, it is expected that applicants will have a LLB or JD. Similarly, it is assumed that most applicants to our PhD program will have already have completed an LLM.

However, a limited number of places in the LLM and PhD program are available to candidates with outstanding academic records, but without an academic degree in law. Such students typically have completed a graduate degree in another discipline, and studies that are related to law. Students entering the LLM program in Law who do not have an LLB or JD must attend the non-credit course entitled Introduction to Graduate Legal Studies. They may also be required to take additional courses, at the discretion of the Graduate Program Director on the advice of the student’s supervisor.

Application Requirements

The Research LLM and PhD degrees require the same application documents.

  1. Transcripts
  2. Writing Sample
  3. Two Letters of Recommendation
  4. Resume or Curriculum vitae
  5. Statement of Interest (Research Proposal)
  6. Supplemental Information Form (SIF)

To be uploaded to the application, all documents must be in a PDF format. 

1. Transcripts

Transcripts (a record of grades) are required from each post-secondary institution attended, regardless of whether or not a degree was granted. This includes transcripts from institutions attended while on an exchange program or similar arrangements.  In the first phase of the application, unofficial transcripts are acceptable.  Final admission into the program will require that submission of official transcripts.

2. Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a writing sample that is between 5,000 to 10,000 words (approximately 15 to 30 pages double-spaced). In selecting writing samples, applicants should submit work published in scholarly publications or academic papers written for a university course or seminar.  Work prepared in the area of law or a closely related field is preferred.  It is recommended that the work of a high quality and that it demonstrates analytic skill and writing ability.

3. Two Letters of Recommendation

The application for admission requires the names and contact information for two referees.  Referees will be contacted via email and asked to complete a York University Reference Form.

In choosing referees, applicants should select people who are familiar with their academic achievements and strengths in law or a related discipline.  At least one of these referees should be from an academic or someone who is in a position to evaluate your potential for success in research-intensive academic work.

4. Resume or Curriculum vitae

A Resume or CV must provide details on academic, extracurricular and professional activities. The document will normally be no more than three to four pages.

5. Statement of Interest (Research Proposal)

This component of the application is the most important.

Applicants must submit a brief thesis proposal that includes five keywords or short phrases that best describes the proposed area of research.  The statement should detail a research question, proposed methodology and theoretical orientation. The proposal should indicate the body of scholarship that the student wishes to engage with in the research, and a bibliography or reference list.

The length of the statement should be two to three pages for Research LLM applicants and five to six pages for PhD applicants.

6. Supplementary Information Form (SIF)

The Supplementary Information Form asks for additional information that will assist the Graduate Program in Law in determining alignment of supervisor and  eligibility for any Osgoode financial awards (scholarships and fellowships).  In advance of completing this form, applicants should review Osgoode’s full-time faculty profiles. Applicants should also view the list Funded Research Opportunities to determine if any current research project is aligned with the research interests of the applicant, as this may assist in supervisor selection. This list may be requested emailing

All applicants must complete the Supplementary Information Form. After completing the form, you will receive a PDF copy that will be uploaded into your online application.

Proof of English-Language Proficiency

Proof of English-language proficiency  is required if the applicant does not either a) live in an English-speaking jurisdiction or b) hold a degree for which the language of instruction was English.  Applicants can provide proof in the form of scores on one of a list of English proficiency examinations, including the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the YELT (York English Language Test). Minimum requirements are listed on the the York University Admissions webpage under the Degrees Offered and Application Requirements tab.