University of Pittsburgh

Admissions to the S.J.D. Program

Admission Information:
The S.J.D. program is only open to exceptionally well-qualified candidates who have an LL.M. degree, or the equivalent.  We generally require that the LL.M. degree was completed in English, and preference will be given to students who have completed their LL.M. degree at the University of Pittsburgh.  Applicants who have completed a non-English language LL.M. Program are strongly encouraged to enroll in the LL.M. program prior to entering the S.J.D. program. 

APPLICATION: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. You can complete the application here.


The first step in the process is to obtain a faculty member's commitment to serve as your faculty advisor and chair of your dissertation committee. A faculty member's consent to do so must be secured before applying to the program. You should select a faculty member whose research interests fit well with your proposed dissertation topic. You must submit a written (email is acceptable) statement from the faculty member committing to be your adviser and to chair your committee with your SJD application. No student may enter the S.J.D. program without first obtaining consent from the faculty memberr who will serve as the faculty adviser and chair of the disseration committee. Faculty advisers must be full-time tenured members of the law school. A directory of the School of Law's full-time faculty members can be found here.

Along with the statement of faculty commitment and the S.J.D. program application, the following documents are required to complete your admission packet:    

Academic Records
Submit original or certified (notarized) copies of all original language academic records/mark sheets/transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. Copies or student copies of transcripts are not acceptable. Applicants must include certified copies of their LL.M. degree and transcript. Applicants who are graduates of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law LL.M. program need not submit academic records for post-secondary institutions attended prior to attending the University of Pittsburgh LL.M. program.

Writing Sample
The writing sample, the legal subject matter of which does not need to be related to the dissertation proposal, must be in English, typed and double-spaced. There is no page limit.

Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal must be typed, double-spaced, and in the range of 2,500 words (ten pages), with a two-page bibliography attached that lists relevant works that proved significant in the formulation of the applicant's thinking about his or her proposal. The substance of the proposal should: (a) demonstrate the originality of the research project; (b) indicate the importance of the project within the applicant's field of study; and (c) indicate the methodology the applicant expects to employ in the development of the dissertation.

Statement of Interest
S.J.D. applicants are required to provide a narrative statement (approximately 2 - 3 pages) detailing why he or she wishes to pursue a S.J.D.

Curriculum Vitae or Resume
S.J.D. applicants are required to enclose a current curriculum vitae or resume with his or her application.

Certification of English Language Skills
University of Pittsburgh School of Law course work, and related academic activities, require written and spoken fluency in English. Official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) must be sent directly to the University of Pittsburgh by the Educational Testing Service. Copies of TOEFL test results are not acceptable.

S.J.D. applicants who are graduates of the University of Pittsburgh LL.M. program do not need to resubmit TOEFL results. Applicants may request a waiver of the TOEFL if they have received an LL.M. degree from an English-speaking institution.

For information or to apply for the TOEFL, contact the Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, New Jersey, 08541-6151, U.S.A. ( The University of Pittsburgh ETS code is 2927 and the department code for Law is 03.

Prior to applying for the S.J.D. program, S.J.D. applicants are required to obtain a recommendation from a University of Pittsburgh School of Law faculty member who is interested and available to supervise the applicant's S.J.D. and to serve as the chair of the applicant's dissertation committee if admitted to the S.J.D. program.

Additionally, S.J.D. applicants must identify and seek the recommendations of two other individuals who are in a position to evaluate the applicant's ability, motivation and potential for succeeding in the University of Pittsburgh S.J.D. program.

All completed recommendation forms must be submitted by the individual completing the Recommendation Form. For their convenience in assessing your skills, please provide those persons from whom you seek recommendations with a copy of your dissertation proposal. Also, please provide those persons from whom you seek recommendations with a stamped envelope addressed to the Center for International Legal Education. The recommendation form, a component of the S.J.D. application, may be downloaded in PDF format.

During the first year of the S.J.D. program, the one required year in residence, the tuition will be the same as the tuition for the LL.M. program. See the University's tuition page for the current rate. Tuition beyond the first year of the S.J.D. program is charged based on the full time dissertation credit rate.

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Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC