Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation

The S.J.D. Program: Admission


Application and admission to the S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) program typically is open only to those who have spent at least one academic year as a resident student at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. This typically means that applicants will have earned the LL.M. degree from the Law School. In exceptional circumstances the one-year residence requirement may be satisfied after admission to the S.J.D. program. In the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee, students who have satisfied the one-year residence requirement may be required to spend up to one additional year in residence after admission to the S.J.D. program.

Standards for Admission

Candidate Qualifications

Admission to the S.J.D. program is available only to those who have demonstrated exceptional promise in research and scholarship. Consideration is given to an applicant’s overall academic and professional record (with particular attention given to the Law School record), scholarly publications, and other scholarly writings. In some cases, the nature of an applicant’s scholarly project may be such that an applicant will be admitted only upon a showing of proficiency in one or more relevant languages other than English.

Scholarly Project

An applicant to the S.J.D. program must have a fully developed scholarly project before admission to the program. The development of such a project requires that an applicant invest a substantial amount of time on his or her own in order to accomplish the following:

(a) Select an area for reading of secondary and primary materials. The reading list must be broad enough to permit the applicant to describe the current issues that are being addressed and the status of the scholarly responses to those issues.

(b) Prepare the applicant’s scholarly agenda, which should identify the issues warranting further research, the research methodology that would be employed, and a tentative thesis of the contribution that the work would make. Substantial Commitment and Significant Contribution

Preparing and evaluating an application for the S.J.D. program requires a substantial commitment of time and energy on the part of the applicant and the Graduate Studies Committee. Experience has shown that only students who make these preliminary efforts are reasonably assured that they can complete their dissertations.

An application will be successful only if the Graduate Studies Committee is satisfied that there is a reasonable prospect that an applicant’s scholarly project will make a significant contribution to legal scholarship that would satisfy the dissertation requirements.

S.J.D. Candidate Advisors

Each S.J.D. candidate must have a primary advisor who is a member of the Law School’s standing faculty. Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss their scholarly agendas with members of the faculty. However, a prospective applicant or an applicant should not request a faculty member to agree to serve as an S.J.D. candidate advisor without consulting with the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Time of Application

Applications may be made at any time during an academic year. However, applications made in late spring may not be acted upon until the following academic year. No action will be taken on the application of a current LL.M. candidate prior to the applicant’s completion of the requirements for that degree.

Form of Application

Applications for admission to the S.J.D. program need not follow any particular form. Applications should, however, contain

(1) information concerning the applicant’s prior record in legal education,

(2) the names of all University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School faculty members who have supervised prior scholarly papers written by the applicant,

(3) copies of the applicant’s prior scholarly papers, and

(4) a statement of the applicant’s proposed scholarly project.

Committee Action

Tentative Admission:

If the Graduate Studies Committee finds that a proposed scholarly project is promising, although further refinement is required, and that an application is otherwise acceptable, the Committee will inform the applicant of tentative admission to degree candidacy and will then act with the applicant to

(i) identify a suitable S.J.D. advisor and

(ii) complete a description of the applicant’s scholarly project.

Final Admission:

When a satisfactory scholarly project has been defined and a primary advisor has been designated, the Committee will inform the applicant of final admission.

Dissertation Committee

Following an applicant’s admission to the program, the Graduate Studies Committee will designate a three-member dissertation committee. The candidate’s primary advisor will be a member of that committee. Other members need not be members of the Law School’s standing faculty and may be selected from outside the University in appropriate cases.