JSD Program



On behalf of our Graduate Studies Committee, I welcome you to this section of the Law School’s web page describing our J.S.D.. Program. The Committee has provided extensive information here about the Program and the application process. We believe that if you will take the time to read this material carefully most of your questions will be answered. The section on Frequently Asked Questions may be especially useful. If you do have questions after reviewing this material, please feel free to write me directly.  Any messages you send to me will eventually be included with your application material if you do decide to apply to Chicago.

Richard Badger, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, rbadger@uchicago.edu


The Law School offers two graduate degrees beyond the masters level: Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.S.D.), and Doctor of Comparative Law (D.Comp.L.). While most students elect to receive the J.S.D., the D.Comp.L. will be awarded at the student's option if the same degree requirements are met.

Although most candidates in the J.S.D. Program first spend a year in the Law School's LL.M. Program, outstanding LL.M. or J.D. graduates of other law school programs in the United States may be admitted to the Chicago J.S.D. Program. Candidates will not be considered for admission to the J.S.D. Program unless they already have an LL.M. or J.D. degree from a law school in the United States or are currently in such a program. LL.M. degrees earned in other countries, including those using the common law, do not meet this application requirement.

Degree Requirements

In order to earn the J.S.D. degree, a candidate must produce a dissertation which makes a creditable contribution to legal scholarship. The dissertation must be supervised by at least two members of the faculty and must be completed within five years of the candidate's first registration in the J.S.D. Program.

A candidate must spend at least two years (six academic quarters) in residence at the Law School while working on the dissertation. Residence requires living in Chicago.

During the years in residence the candidate will be expected to participate in the academic activities at the Law School on a daily basis. This will include 1) taking at least three courses related to the dissertation in the Law School or elsewhere in the University during the two years of residence (this requirement may be waived for students who did their LL.M. studies at Chicago); 2) regular attendance at one of the faculty workshops; 3) regular attendance at the weekly faculty Works in Progress lunches; and 4) active participation in the Research Colloquium for J.S.D. students and fellows.

The Graduate Studies Committee expects that J.S.D. students will make satisfactory progress on their dissertations. They are also expected to keep in regular contact with their faculty supervisors. In June, at the end of the first year of the program, and every six months thereafter, students must submit to their faculty supervisors a progress report describing dissertation specific work they have done since the previous report. Copies of these reports should also be sent to the Dean of the Graduate Studies Program.

Application Process

Please go to this page for a description of the J.S.D. application process. Note that there is one set of procedures for candidates who are current Chicago LL.M. students or graduates, and a different set of application procedures for candidates who are LL.M. students or graduates of other U.S. law schools.


Once a candidate has been admitted to the J.S.D. Program, the student must register with the University for three quarters - usually the Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters  - each academic year until the J.S.D. is awarded or the student is no longer in the Program.  The registration will be Advanced Residence. The University defines Advanced Residence as a full-time student status. Students are eligible for all the benefits associated with full-time registration: access to student housing, full library privileges, use of athletic facilities, quarterly computer time, access to student health insurance and the services of the University's Student Care Center, ability to borrow under federal student loan programs (so long as the student is otherwise eligible), and deferment of payment of past federal loans.

 Students in the J.S.D. Program should contact the Law School Registrar (773.702.9485), each summer to make arrangements for the following academic year.  Please provide the Registrar with a current address, telephone number, and e-mail address if available.  J.S.D. candidates should also contact the Office of International Affairs (773.702.7752) to make any necessary visa arrangements.

Tuition and Fees

All students in the J.S.D. Program receive scholarships to cover their full tuition charges. In addition, J.S.D. students receive $15,000 fellowships for living expenses for each of the two years they are in residence. J.S.D. candidates who are living in Chicago are required to pay the Student Life Fee of $284 per quarter.  Candidates living elsewhere are not required to pay the Student Life Fee.  J.S.D. candidates are also eligible for individual and dependent health insurance.   J.S.D. candidates may audit classes in the Law School and elsewhere in the University with permission of the instructor.

Administrative Requirements for the Dissertation and the Degree

Any student who expects to receive the J.S.D. degree at the end of a quarter must file a degree application with the University, through the student's myUChicago account,  before the beginning of the quarter in which the degree is to be awarded.

The University has set up a central office to receive dissertations and to ensure that the final copy meets the minimum standards before the student is awarded a degree.  This function includes informing students and departments about the University's minimum standards, helping students to understand them and comply with them, and certifying that the copy of the dissertation has been received and that it meets those requirements and has been approved formally by the department.  Please go to the following web page maintained by the Dissertation Office for complete instructions on dissertation formats and submission deadlines: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/phd/  The Dissertation Office is located in Room 100-B, Regenstein Library.  

Candidates submit their dissertations electronically to the web site identified by the Dissertation Office. That Office then asks the Law School to complete an approval form indicating that the Law School accepts the dissertation. Once that approval form has been submitted the Dissertation Office checks that the dissertation meets University-wide requirements.  If there are deficiencies, the office notifies the candidate and the Law School, detailing what must be corrected for the student to be eligible to receive the J.S.D.  degree.