S.J.D. Application Instructions

To be considered for candidacy for the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree, an applicant must submit:

(1) A dissertation proposal in sufficient detail to permit the Graduate Committee to evaluate the feasibility, originality and likely scholarly contribution of the candidate's research plans. The proposal should be no more than 20 pages in length.

(2) All materials required from LL.M. applicants. (Candidates currently enrolled in the School of Law’s LL.M. program can omit materials already submitted as part of their LL.M. application, but should submit LL.M. transcripts, a statement reflecting their reasons for wishing to pursue the S.J.D., and two reference letters from faculty members at the School of Law. They also must update other materials whenever applicable.)

The deadline for S.J.D. applications is April 1.

Only a few students are admitted to S.J.D. candidacy each year. All candidates must have earned their previous degrees in law with distinction and must demonstrate the capacity for making an original and substantial contribution to the legal literature. In our experience, a successful application should include the following:

  • An academic record that demonstrates high academic standing in the LL.M. program at the School of Law or another leading U.S. law school.
  • A dissertation proposal that articulates a viable research question, situates it within existing scholarship, identifies the methods to be used and the expected scholarly contribution, and corresponds to the interests of at least one full-time member of the School of Law’s faculty. The proposal should be concise (no more than 20 pages), well-structured and clearly written.
  • Application materials that explain the applicant’s reasons for wishing to pursue the S.J.D., including discussion of the degree’s relevance to his or her future career plans.
  • At least two strong recommendation letters from faculty members at the law school where the candidate completed his or her LL.M., attesting specifically to the candidate’s academic performance, research and writing abilities, and prospect of successfully completing a doctoral dissertation. The best letters typically come from faculty members for whom the candidate has written a substantial research paper, taken courses on topics related to his or her proposed research, and/or worked as a research assistant.
  • All offers of admission extended to candidates currently enrolled in an LL.M. or other degree program at another institution are conditional on the candidate providing transcripts and proof of obtaining the degree prior to entering the S.J.D. program.