Doctor of Juridical Sciences (SJD)

The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree is a post-LL.M. degree that is awarded upon the completion of an in-depth, publication-quality, dissertation which makes an original and creative contribution to the legal literature.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the SJD program is based on an evaluation of the candidate's ability to pursue sustained and rigorous research that will culminate in completion of the proposed dissertation. In making this determination, the SJD committee may consider

  1. The strength of the applicant's academic record;
  2. Whether the student has successfully engaged in serious research and writing projects in the past;
  3. The strength of the applicant's research proposal and/or the proposed Committee Chair's evaluation of the applicant's proposal; and
  4. The strength of the applicant's letters of recommendation.

Minimum TOEFL scores

We require for admission to the SJD program minimum TOEFL scores of 100 for the internet-based test, 250 for the computer-based test or 600 for the paper-based test.

Application Process

Deadline: March 1 for fall admission

A candidate for the SJD program must:

  1. Submit a 10-15 page substantive research proposal that will serve as the basis for beginning the dissertation research. It is very important that this research proposal be carefully written and well-organized. The research proposal should:
    1. describe the specific issues to be investigated and the candidate's tentative thesis;
    2. describe the nature, scope, and methodology of the research to be undertaken in support of the dissertation;
    3. explain how the proposed research would add to the existing literature;
    4. provide a preliminary chapter outline; and
    5. include detailed footnotes supporting the text of the research proposal and a bibliography.
  2. The research proposal may build upon an LL.M. thesis (either from Suffolk or elsewhere). The research proposal should be a comprehensive document that will form the basis for admission into the SJD program. Applicants may wish to refer to resource materials, which may provide guidance on how to prepare a dissertation proposal. One such example is Eugene Volokh's book, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review [PDF].
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation, at least one of which must be from a full-time member of a law school faculty and another of which must be from a professor or faculty advisor of your LL.M. program.
  4. Current Suffolk students should identify 3 faculty members who are willing to serve on the candidate's dissertation committee, one of whom shall serve as the chair of the committee ("Committee Chair"). Non-Suffolk students should contact Director Bridgett C. Sandusky at 617-573-8171 or by email for assistance with this requirement. The Committee Chair must have expertise in the primary field of the proposed study. The Committee Chair and at least one of the other members of the proposed dissertation committee must be full-time members of the resident faculty of the law school. The third member may be a full-time member of another law school or university faculty with expertise relevant to the candidate's proposed research. All proposed committee members must agree to supervise the dissertation work of the applicant.
  5. Submit a letter or email from the proposed Committee Chair. The Committee Chair should agree to serve as the Committee Chair for the applicant's dissertation committee, recommend admission, and provide comment on evaluating the research proposal.
  6. Submit undergraduate and graduate transcripts (including your first degree in law and your LL.M. degree or equivalent from a U.S. law school accredited from the ABA, or from a non-U.S. law school with equivalent standards). Applicants who graduated from a non-U.S. law school with equivalent standards must utilize either the Law School Admission Council's Credential Assembly Service (CAS) or World Evaluation Services (WES) at  for a credential evaluation.
  7. Submit a completed application form [PDF].
  8. Provide a curriculum vitae.
  9. Provide TOEFL or IELTS scores (if English is a second language); The TOEFL/IELTS score used in conjunction with your LL.M. application is sufficient. If you did not submit a score with your LL.M. application, please sit for one of these tests.
  10. Submit the application fee of $60.