J.S.D. Requirements

Admission Information and Degree Requirements


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. An applicant with an LL.M. degree from an Association of American Law Schools (AALS) approved school may be provisionally admitted but must successfully complete the course of study for the first semester of a Washington University School of Law LL.M. program to remain a J.S.D. candidate.

The application shall include (1) one significant research paper (which may become a part of the subsequent dissertation); and (2) a dissertation proposal for approval by the J.S.D. admissions committee.

The J.S.D. admissions committee will make its admission decision at some point during the second semester of the applicant’s LL.M program. 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.

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.

The Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal should be approximately ten pages and should include:

  • Astatement of the problem—focus of the study;
  • The significance of this study and how this work is different from other existing research in this area; and
  • The methodology proposed.

The Dissertation

The J.S.D. program emphasizes original research and writing culminating in the preparation of a significant and extensive (book-length) 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, comprised of at least three members, two of whom, including the chair, will be members of the faculty of Washington University School of Law. The chair of the committee will 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. 


J.S.D. students with no J.D. who are obtaining their LL.M. degree in U.S. Law or their LL.M. in Intellectual Property and Technology from Washington University must pay:

  • Year 1 (LL.M.)--one year of full tuition followed by standard semester administrative fee
  • Year 2 (J.S.D.)--one year of full tuition followed by standard semester administrative fee
  • Years 3-5 (until dissertation is completed and approved) -- standard semester administrative fee. (In addition, students will need to pay a per-credit fee whether audited or taken for credit.)

Tuition bills are mailed to students in July for the Fall semester, and in December for the Spring semesters. If you have questions about tuition, please contact JoAnn Eckrich, Director of Financial Aid (314 935 4605), eckrich@wulaw.wustl.edu, Room 303B.