Mar 05, 2024  

Doctor of Juridical Science, SJD

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The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) is the most advanced degree at the law school. The SJD program brings together aspiring legal academics and other top legal professionals from around the world who wish to pursue sustained independent research and writing under the instruction of faculty members who are recognized experts and leading practitioners in their fields. Each candidate completes a dissertation of publishable quality that represents a valuable, original contribution to the scholarship in that candidate’s field. Each candidate also makes a public presentation and defense of his or her dissertation before an SJD examining committee and members of the law school community.

Admission to the Program

Applicants to this highly selective program must demonstrate a strong intellectual commitment to advanced legal studies and be prepared to write a doctoral dissertation that will make an original, valuable contribution to the legal literature. Applicants must hold an advanced law degree (LLM or equivalent) from a U.S. law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), or from a non-U.S. law school with equivalent standards. Applicants must demonstrate distinguished academic performance in prior legal study; most applicants have at least a 3.3 grade point average on a 4.0 scale in prior legal study. Applicants whose first language is not English must have a score of 100 iBt (250 for computer-based test), with a minimum writing score of 24, on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or 7.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). That requirement may be waived for applicants who have received a bachelors or masters degree (including an LLM) from an accredited institution in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand.

Students are admitted to the SJD program in the fall semester only.

Degree Requirements

The SJD degree requires the completion of a dissertation of publishable quality, an oral defense of that dissertation, and the final approval of the dissertation committee. Each candidate commits to a three- to five-year program of study. Candidates spend the first year in residence at WCL, where they participate in a weekly Doctoral Colloquium (graded on a credit/no credit basis), audit law school courses relating to their dissertation research, and conduct advanced legal research on their dissertation topics. Following the residency year, candidates may remain in Washington, DC or may continue working on dissertation research and writing in another location in the U.S. or abroad. Throughout the program, regardless of location, candidates continue working toward program benchmarks and making progress toward the completion of their dissertations.

Course Requirements

As part of the Doctoral Colloquium, the first-year SJD candidates will prepare literature reviews and dissertation outlines, as well as orally present their work to their peers and the larger WCL community. The Colloquium meets weekly throughout the fall and spring semesters, with three credits awarded in the fall and two credits awarded in the spring. Additional credits are awarded throughout the program to all students for work on dissertation research and writing.

Required courses

Doctoral Colloquium (Fall and Spring semesters), LAW - 999 Doctoral Foundations  

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