JSD Application Steps For Those Who Have Not Attended Chicago

Although most candidates in the JSD Program first spend a year in the Law School's LLM Program, outstanding LLM or JD 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 JSD Program unless they already have an LLM or JD degree from a law school in the United States or are currently in such a program. LLM degrees earned in other countries, including those using the common law, do not meet this application requirement.

In a typical year approximately 25 -30 JSD applications will be submitted to the Law School from prospective students who have not already been enrolled at Chicago. From this group of candidates the Graduate Studies Committee has annually offered admission to one or two applicants and in some years, none. The profile of those offered admission will generally include the following characteristics: 1) prior attendance at a first tier U.S. Law School (recent JSD. students who did not attend Chicago had degrees from Duke, Harvard and Columbia); 2) an academic record at that law school which places them in the top 10 -15% of their class; 3) very enthusiastic recommendation letters from at least two faculty members who taught them at that law school; and 4) a well constructed dissertation proposal which will tie in with academic interests of full time (not adjunct) Chicago faculty members - please note that applicants should not  contact Chicago faculty members directly until they have been offered admission.

The following procedure describes how candidates for the JSD Program, who have not participated in our LLM Program, may apply. Since we are asking for material which our own current and former students have already submitted, some of the following steps and material will be LLM related. If there are questions about the Law School or these materials please feel free to e-mail Justin Swinsick, Director of Graduate Programs, at jswinsick@uchicago.edu.

Please go HERE to see information about English language proficiency requirements.

Please go HERE to see important dates in the application/decision process.

1) Download the J.S.D. PDF Application (containing the Application for Admission and the Recommendation Form.) Either fill out the Application for Admission on your computer (preferred method) or print the blank Application for Admission first and fill it out manually. If your answers to any of the questions require further explanation, or if there is other information not called for that you think may assist the Graduate Studies Committee considering your application, you are encouraged to attach an additional statement.

2) You will need to provide a copy of your current transcript from the U.S. law school you attended. At this stage in the application process you do not need to submit an official transcript; a pdf copy of the complete transcript made by you will be sufficient. If you are admitted to the Program and decide to attend, you will then need to submit a formal transcript from your law school’s registrar. You do not need to provide transcripts from your other schools at this time but you will be asked to submit them if you are offered admission and decide to enroll at Chicago. 

3) Give copies of the JSD Recommendation Letter Form to at least two and no more than four people at the United States law school you attended for confidential letters of recommendation to be sent to the Law School and indicate the names of those people on the Application for Admission.

Recommendation letters may be submitted in one of three methods: 1) sent as an email attachment by the recommender directly to jswinsick@uchicago.edu; 2) sent in hard copy format by regular mail to the address on the Recommendation Form; or 3) sent by you  in a sealed envelope signed by the recommender on the back of the envelope to the address on the Recommendation Form. Please note that our Recommendation Letter Form requires applicants to provide recommenders with a copy of the dissertation topic proposal and the academic transcript from his or her US law school. Do not submit any recommendation letters from faculty who did not teach you in a U.S. law school.

4) Please enclose with the J.S.D. Application for Admission the following documents:

  • A description - in the form of a resume, curriculum vitae, or similar document - of your academic and professional background. This should include the following items: name, address, e-mail address, phone number, fax number, any academic honors you have received (describe as fully as necessary the significance of any honors or distinctions so that the Graduate Studies Committee may compare your academic performance with others), scholarly publications, employment in law or related fields including employer, title, dates of employment, and description of duties, membership of honorary, professional, or other societies. It may be helpful to look at the sample resume PDF posted on our Web page before preparing this document.
  • A dissertation proposal of the topic you would like to develop in the J.S.D. Program. Include at the end of your proposal the names of the Chicago faculty members you would like to supervise your dissertation. Please do not contact Chicago faculty members until your application has been approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee may consult with those faculty members before making a decision on your application but you are not permitted to do that.  There is no expected length or font size for this document. Dissertation proposals vary in size depending on how detailed a candidate wishes to make the proposal. The norm for proposals is 4-10 pages.
  • A statement describing why you wish to pursue the J.S.D. degree and how that degree will be useful in your future career. There is no expected length or font size for this document. Normally the statement of interest is about 2-3 pages long.

All of the following items – Application for Admission, copy of your current transcript from the U.S. law school you attended, resume/CV, dissertation proposal, and personal statement – should be sent at the same time as attachments to one email message to jswinsick@uchicago.edu. There is no application fee required to apply. Candidates who wish to begin the JSD Program in September may begin to submit their applications on  March 1. They should not submit their applications before this date. The application deadline is April 1. Candidates may only start the Program in September; there is no mid-year admission.