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SJD Requirements

The principal requirement for the Doctor of the Science of Law (SJD) is a dissertation that makes an original and substantive contribution to legal scholarship and an oral defense of that dissertation before the dissertation committee. This requirement can be satisfied by work equivalent in scale and quality to a book, extended monograph, or series of scholarly articles reflecting intensive and creative research with respect to a specific topic, problem, or area of law. The work, both in content and form, must be of publishable quality.

All SJD candidates are required to be in residence at Penn for the first year of the program.  Residency after this period is encouraged as it is highly conducive to completion of the dissertation.

During their first year, SJD candidates must enroll in six semester hours of course work, which will be graded and appear on their law school transcripts.  With faculty permission, SJDs may unofficially audit law school classes.  Auditing students will receive access to Canvas course materials, but the course will not appear on their transcripts.

Ideally, the SJD dissertation will be completed within three years of matriculation. At their discretion, advisors may grant an extension of up to one year. Under exceptional circumstances, additional extensions are permissible if a candidate is making adequate progress toward completion of the degree.