The SJD is the highest law degree offered by the University of Pennsylvania Law School. All applicants must have already earned an LLM, JD, or equivalent degree from Penn Law or a comparable institution.
The principal requirement of the SJD is a dissertation that makes an original and substantive contribution to legal scholarship. This contemplates a book or extended monograph 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 and normally must have been submitted and accepted for publication either as an extensive article (or series of articles) in a law review or a book.
After the dissertation committee accepts your dissertation, you must defend it in an oral examination before the dissertation committee.
The SJD degree must be completed within three years, although you may petition for an extension.
All SJD applicants must have a well-stated scholarly proposal, with an area of research and appropriate research methodology clearly outlined. Admission is largely based on the faculty’s evaluation of the scholarly proposal that you submit. Find out more about the SJD Prerequisites and Scholarly Proposal.