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J.S.D. Program

The Doctor of Juridical Science is the law school’s most advanced degree. It makes full use of our creative and interdisciplinary faculty to prepare students for careers as law professors, judicial and other public offices, as well as high-level policy positions in international organizations.

In their doctoral dissertation, the successful J.S.D. student will produce an original, innovative piece of scholarship that makes a contribution to our understanding of law.

Our Program

The University at Buffalo's research doctorate is for lawyers throughout the world interested in analyzing, understanding, assessing and using law as a mode of social organization and an instrument of governance.  Our program trains legal scholars to employ interdisciplinary tools to observe, analyze and assess legal doctrines, policies and institutions. Located within a leading U.S. university (UB is a member of the Association of American Universities, composed of prominent research institutions), our program is designed to enable students to:

  • explore law in its social context and from a comparative perspective in an American setting; 
  • understand different schools of legal theory and bring them into dialogue with their previous legal training;
  • apply such theoretical approaches to the analysis of legal problems and institutions; 
  • understand and critically assess the full range of research methods used in legal scholarship; and 
  • identify and master those methods most appropriate to their proposed project.

The program draws on the strengths of our research centers and our welcoming and interdisciplinary faculty. Students are encouraged to address legal issues and institutions theoretically and comparatively, topically and from an interdisciplinary policy perspective. The program inculcates the research skills most relevant to each student's research agenda and culminates in the preparation of a substantial work of original legal scholarship.

Our Approach The Curriculum Program Timing Admission Tuition

Admission to the J.S.D. Program

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Admissions Requirements

The University at Buffalo’s J.S.D. degree is designed for the student who has already earned a first law degree (a J.D. or LL.B.) and an LL.M. degree, who has strong English language skills, and who already has identified a well-defined research problem to pursue. The requirement of an LL.M. may be waived where an applicant with an outstanding academic record has demonstrated the capacity to undertake sophisticated scholarly research by submitting original written work of high quality.

Application Requirements

Applicants are required to submit the following:

  • an online application form
  • a CV
  • a written personal statement of educational and career goals
  • a draft thesis proposal
  • official transcripts from each college or university attended as a full-time student (verified by the Law School Admissions Council)
  • two letters of recommendation
  • Official English proficiency scores meeting University standards (for applicants who are not native English speakers)*
  • Writing Sample (highly recommended, but not required): This item is separate from your thesis proposal and does not have to be the same topic. We recommended selecting a research paper from a previous seminar course, typically between 15-30 pages
  • Identify 1-2 tenured professor(s) who you feel are suited to supervise your research.
  • Contact potential faculty research supervisors (highly recommended).

* Graduates of an academic degree program taught in English may seek waiver of the submission of  English proficiency scores from the University’s Office of International Admissions.

No standardized test of ability or knowledge will be required.  All applicants will be permitted to submit a sample of scholarly writing.  Any applicant wishing to be considered for admission to the J.S.D. without an LL.M. will be required to submit a sample of scholarly writing. All such applicants for admission to the J.S.D. program will also be considered for admission to the LL.M. program.

The Review Process

The Admissions Committee collects and reviews JSD application materials for priority consideration September 1 through February 1. Applications submitted after the February 1 priority deadline will be considered only as space allows. Applications are put into review with the Admissions Committee as they become complete, and final decisions are usually made within four to six weeks of the February 1 priority deadline. Important: It is essential to submit all required documents. Incomplete applications will not go into review with the Admissions Committee.

Completed applications to the J.S.D. degree program will be evaluated by the program director and a Graduate Admissions Committee. Consideration will be given not only to each applicant’s achievements and promise, but also to their research interests as described in the applicant’s draft thesis proposal.   No student will be admitted to the program unless one member of the faculty agrees beforehand to act as thesis advisor, and a second faculty member agrees to serve as a second reader. 

[Learn more about our faculty and their areas of scholarly interest]

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