Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD) Program



Students who have already earned an LLM degree may enroll in our research degree (JSD) program and concentrate on any field of law in which our faculty can provide appropriate guidance for independent work. Students do not follow a general program; rather, a faculty advisor tailors minimal course requirements according to the student's needs. This program emphasizes mature, original research, and writing. A dissertation committee, chaired by a law school faculty member, is appointed for each candidate.

For more information on the JSD program, contact the Graduate Programs office at Washington University School of Law, Campus Box 1120, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899; at (314) 935-3346; or at intllm@wulaw.wustl.edu.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT CONTACT INDIVIDUAL FACULTY MEMBERS. The Admissions office will coordinate this process. 

(1) Eligibility

To file an application for admission to the J.S.D. program, an applicant must hold a foreign law degree or a J.D. and ordinarily also have completed one full semester of one of the Washington University School of Law LL.M. programs. During the first semester of the LL.M. program, the J.S.D. applicant must have had an academic record of distinction with a minimum of 10 hours of academic credit. Mere “passing” grades are not sufficient. Applicants with an LL.M. or a J.D. degree from an Association of American Law Schools (AALS) approved school may also be admitted. Likewise, applicants with an LL.M. or a degree equivalent to a J.D. from a foreign university that teaches common law will be considered for admission to the J.S.D. 

The application shall include (1) a dissertation proposal for approval by the J.S.D. admissions committee. (2) a letter of recommendation from a Washington University faculty member or, if the applicant applies from outside Washington University School of Law, a letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor/mentor/member of the graduating law school. (3) Official Transcripts and English translations of transcripts from the applicant’s graduating law school.

The application should also include one or more of the following:

(1) A significant research paper (in English or translated into English).
(2) Any other sample or portfolio of the applicant’s legal writing (in English or translated into English).
(3) A current CV.

Application Deadline: April 1

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as a year before the application deadline. In extenuating circumstances, an applicant may also submit an application after April 1.

To remain a J.S.D. candidate after admission to the program, the person must, by the end of the second semester in residence, have taken at least one course or seminar in his or her primary field of study and have completed the basic LL.M. degree requirements as required by Washington University School of Law. During the second year in residence, a J.S.D. candidate is permitted to enroll in law school courses for credit (in which case the student would be graded) or to audit courses. During any of the remaining semesters, the candidate may audit courses or may be required to audit courses if the dissertation chair decides that it is necessary for the candidate’s understanding of the dissertation topic.

(2) The Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal should be approximately ten pages in length and should include: a. a statement of the problem—focus of the study; b. the significance of this study and how this work is different from other existing research in this area; and c. the methodology proposed.

(3) The Dissertation
The J.S.D. program emphasizes original research and writing culminating in the preparation of a significant and extensive dissertation of publishable quality. The J.S.D. dissertation should demonstrate not just awareness of a body of material but also synthesis of that material into a rigorous high quality analysis. It should be a work that, when published, will contribute to the field. Upon an applicant’s admission to the J.S.D. program as a J.S.D. candidate, the J.S.D. Admissions Committee will appoint a Dissertation Committee, to comprise of at least three members, two of whom, including the chair, shall be members of the faculty of Washington University School of Law. The chair of the committee shall serve as the primary faculty advisor to the candidate. The dissertation must be completed and accepted by the candidate’s Dissertation Committee within (a) five years of receipt of the LL.M. degree, for students who obtain their LL.M. from WUSL; or (b) five years after admission to the J.S.D. program. All J.S.D. candidates will be expected to defend their dissertation vive voce. In extenuating circumstances, a dissertation can also be defended via a videoconference or similar computer facilitated meeting.

(4) Tuition
J.S.D. students with no J.D. who are obtaining their LL.M. degree in U.S. Law, LL.M. in Intellectual Property and Technology, or any other LL.M. degree from Washington University must pay:
Year 1 (LL.M.) one year of full tuition;
Year 2 (J.S.D.) one year of full tuition;
Years 3-5 (until dissertation is completed and approved) standard semester administrative fee per semester ($4000.00) plus the per credit cost for any additional courses that the student audits.