The Penn Law’s Doctor of the Science of Law (SJD) program’s mission is to advance legal scholarship by producing graduates who have made significant contributions to their chosen area of study, and who are prepared to become leaders in the international academic community.
The SJD is the highest law degree offered by the University of Pennsylvania. All applicants must have already earned an LLM, JD or equivalent degree from Penn Law or another, 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 a candidate’s dissertation, the SJD candidate must defend his or her dissertation in an oral examination before the dissertation committee.
Completion of the SJD must be within three years, although the SJD candidate 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 submitted by a candidate. Find out more about the SJD Prerequisites and Scholarly Proposal.