Basic Features of the JSD Program

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.

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 can include taking classes related to the dissertation, participation in the Junior Scholars Colloquium, regular attendance of faculty workshops and attending the weekly faculty Works in Progress lunches.

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. The Committee will initiate periodic review of J.S.D. candidates’ progress.


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 status will be either in residence for students living in Chicago or not in residence for students living outside of Chicago. Students in residence 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 ( ) 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 ( to make any necessary visa arrangements.

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 (Room 100-B, Regenstein Library) for complete instructions on dissertation formats and submission deadlines:

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.