Curriculum & Requirements

An SJD candidate enrolled before July 1, 2016 must be in residence for one academic year, and an SJD candidate enrolled on or after that date must be in residence for two academic years. During a candidate's first year in the program, he/she must satisfactorily complete 24 credits in the Suffolk University Law School (SULS) curriculum.

An SJD candidate must complete the following 24 credits in year one:

  • SJD Workshop (3 credits per term = 6 credits)
  • Elective Courses chosen with input from your advisors (10 credits over the two terms)
  • Research Credits (4 credits per term = 8 credits)

After year two (or after year one for students enrolled before July 1, 2016), an SJD candidate may continue his or her research away from the law school. During this time, the SJD candidate must continue to communicate regularly with his or her Committee Chair (e.g., several times per semester) to discuss the student's progress and future steps in the research process. The candidate should periodically submit written drafts to the Committee Chair for review, comment, and revision. The candidate should also periodically consult the other members of the committee for research advice and feedback on writing progress.

An SJD candidate must submit a written progress report every semester, both while in residence and while away from the law school.

Attendance at classes, programs, or conferences relating to the candidate's research may be recommended or required by the Committee Chair. An SJD candidate may audit JD courses with the approval of an Associate Dean.

An SJD candidate may be required to present his or her research at a faculty colloquium (either as a work in progress or a finished product).

Upon substantial completion of the dissertation to the satisfaction of the Committee Chair, an SJD candidate will submit his or her dissertation for approval to the whole committee. The final product must be an in depth, publication-quality paper that advances knowledge in the field. At the approval of the candidate's dissertation committee, a candidate may satisfy the dissertation requirement by producing three papers of publishable quality that form a thematic unity. It is expected that the first of these three papers will be submitted by the end of the candidate's second year in the program or the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, whichever is later. Upon submission of the final paper, the candidate will defend his or her dissertation before the 3 member committee (chaired by the Committee Chair). Although quality cannot be measured by quantity, it is expected that the final manuscript or combined length of the candidate's three papers will normally be at least 120 pages; but the length appropriate for the candidate's work is ultimately a matter for the dissertation committee to determine. The presentation and oral defense will be open to the law school community. Upon approval of the committee, the faculty will vote on the conferral of the SJD degree. The degree should be completed in a period of 4 years or less.

Upon a degree candidate's application, or on a dissertation committee's own initiative, a candidate's dissertation committee may determine that the candidate is not making suitable progress in the SJD program. In such case, the candidate will not be permitted to continue in the degree program beyond the end of that current academic semester. If such an individual has completed all of the requirements of either the General LLM or the LLM in Global Law and Technology, the candidate may be awarded such an LLM in lieu of the SJD.

Degrees are awarded by the Board of Trustees of Suffolk University on the recommendation of the Law Faculty. Recommendations may be withheld by the Faculty for good cause.

Student Learning Outcomes - Adopted by the Suffolk University Law Faculty in May 2019

Students who graduate with an SJD degree will:

  • Compose and successfully defend a dissertation of high quality that constitutes an original and substantial scholarly contribution to the area of law in which it is written.