Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)

The Penn State Law S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) is intended for lawyers practicing outside of the U.S. who seek advanced and specialized knowledge in a particular area of law. It is also recommended for those who seek a career in academic law or in other scholarly, research, policy, or professional enterprises, or career advancement through the acquisition of a doctorate in law. The course of study required for the degree offers students with outstanding academic or professional credentials an opportunity to pursue sustained, supervised study, and research and writing leading to the production of a dissertation that makes an original and valuable contribution to legal scholarship. S.J.D. candidates are required to be physically resident at Penn State Law, on the University Park campus, for two academic years (excluding summer session), as full-time students.


During the required two academic years of residency, the candidate should expect to do the following: conduct research on, or off site from, Penn State Law, as required by the candidate’s research proposal; prepare a candidacy paper; and, complete annually a Self-Evaluation report that explains progress toward completion of the degree requirements. In addition, the following are course requirements for all S.J.D. candidates:

  • During the first fall semester, enroll in SJD 902 Research Methods Seminar (2 cr.). This seminar introduces S.J.D. candidates to social science and legal research methodologies and provides them an opportunity to present their work to faculty and others.
  • First academic year, during fall or spring semester, S.J.D. candidates that are not holders of an LL.M. degree from Penn State Law, or another ABA-accredited American law school, must enroll in, and pass, LLM 901 LL.M. Legal Analysis, Writing and Research (2 cr.). The course will be taken on a pass-fail basis.
  • During the required two academic years of residency at Penn State Law, S.J.D. candidates will register for SJD 904 (SJD Candidacy) and must enroll in and pass two law school courses of at least 3-credits each that are related to their field of S.J.D. research and are recommended and approved by their lead supervisor.



To be eligible for admission:

  • An applicant must hold an LL.B. or B.A. in law from a law school outside the U.S. and an LL.M. from Penn State Law; or another U.S. ABA-accredited law school; or, a foreign university LL.M. degree program, provided that the university maintains academic standards substantially equivalent to Penn State Law for conferral of the LL.M. degree.
  • The applicant’s professional objectives and proposed course of study must align with the expertise and capacity of a Penn State Law faculty member who is willing to serve as an S.J.D. candidate faculty adviser.
  • The applicant must demonstrate English language proficiency sufficient for the advanced study of law in English.