The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is the Law School's most advanced law degree. Designed for exceptional aspiring legal academics who wish to pursue advanced independent study, research and writing, the Law School's S.J.D. program offers candidates the opportunity to become active members of a vibrant legal community.
S.J.D. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS:
Study toward this postdoctoral degree is open only to exceptionally well-qualified students who hold an LL.M. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law or the equivalent at the discretion of the Associate Dean with advice from the Director of the Center for International Legal Education (CILE). The School of Law will accept no more than two S.J.D. students per academic year.
The S.J.D. degree will be completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor, selected by the candidate with the consent of the faculty member. No student may apply for the S.J.D. program without first obtaining permission from the Center for International Legal Education and the approval of the faculty member who will be the advisor and the chair of the dissertation committee. Faculty advisors must be full-time tenured faculty members of the law school. S.J.D. applicants are encouraged to contact the CILE program if they need assistance in contacting a law school faculty member.
The S.J.D. is a research degree. There is no formal requirement for candidates to pursue additional course work. However, a candidate may be required by his advisor to take or audit courses and participate in seminars and discussions which will further the student's understanding of his or her field of knowledge and its relation to other fields. Each candidate will be allowed 2-4 years to complete the program, the first year of which must be spent in residency at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. This year of residency shall be in addition to the LL.M. year, if the candidate was a Pitt Law LL.M. student. A candidate is required to conduct rigorous research and produce an original dissertation that will contribute significantly to legal scholarship and further understanding of the law. Specifically, a candidate is required to submit a dissertation overview, defend that overview, submit a doctoral dissertation, and successfully defend the dissertation.
The degree will be completed under the supervision of a faculty adviser, selected by the candidate with the consent of the faculty member. No student may enter the S.J.D. program without first obtaining permission from the Center for International Legal Education and the approval of the faculty member who will be the adviser and chair of the dissertation committee. Faculty advisers must be full-time tenured faculty members of the law school. The faculty adviser, or "major adviser" as specified in the University of Pittsburgh Regulations for Graduate Study, should consult with the student to plan a program of study and research. The adviser may require coursework within the Law School or outside the department as appropriate. The faculty adviser will also be required to supervise the student's research and approve the dissertation, and must be willing to serve on and to chair the dissertation committee.
The dissertation committee for each candidate shall include a minimum of three and maximum of four members. At least two members of the committee shall be full-time tenured faculty members of the School of Law. At least one other member shall be a full-time tenured member of a graduate faculty of the University of Pittsburgh outside the School of Law. The committee may in addition include a practicing lawyer, judge, or faculty member of another law school. Each candidate will be responsible for selecting and organizing his or her committee. The faculty adviser must approve the dissertation committee, and serve as its chairperson. The faculty adviser is responsible for obtaining approval for the doctoral committee from the Director of the Center for International Legal Education and the Dean of the School of Law.
The dissertation committee's role is to advise a student as the student researches and writes his or her dissertation. The committee has the authority to request revision of the dissertation and will conduct the final oral examination and determine whether the dissertation meets acceptable standards and makes a significant contribution to the legal field. A student must meet at least once a year with the committee. During these meetings, the committee will assess the student's progress and discuss objectives and a timetable to complete degree requirements. This program does not have formal preliminary and comprehensive examinations. That function of this doctoral program will be served by successful completion of an LL.M. degree.
Each student must write a dissertation presenting his or her original and independent research. The dissertation must establish the historical context upon which the research is based and identify how the student's work contributes to the field. The dissertation must analyze and synthesize a broad body of literature and present a clear explanation of the area of research. The work must be of publishable quality and must be of sufficient detail to allow other scholars to build upon this work. The characteristics of the dissertation are set out in the University of Pittsburgh Regulations Pertaining to PhD Degrees. The candidate is required publicly to defend the dissertation overview early in the research process and to defend the dissertation at the conclusion of the process. The overview will provide a complete projection of the body of the dissertation. Both the dissertation overview meeting and the dissertation defense shall be open to the public, with reasonable notice given in advance to the Law School faculty. The announcement of the dissertation defense must appear in the University Times at least five (5) weeks before the scheduled defense. The dissertation shall result from work completed substantially during the student's enrollment in the S.J.D. Program, and shall not be based on work substantially completed prior to admission.
After completion of the year of residency, students must register for one credit (current credit cost: $500 / semester) in each semester (fall and spring) in order to remain in active status and must, in addition, register for one credit in the term of graduation. Students using University facilities must register each term for a minimum of one credit, and may register for courses, if recommended by their advisor. The per credit rate for additional courses will be the same as that of the LL.M. Program. Students must pay mandatory University of Pittsburgh fees for each year of their candidacy (current fees: $650 / year).
S.J.D. students are limited to part-time on-campus employment in the first year, and part-time employment (on- or off- campus) in subsequent years. Upon a showing of need, the CILE Director may waive these limitations.
Link to S.J.D. admissions information.