photo of a student studying in the law library.

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

The Curriculum

The J.S.D. program requires a minimum of 27 academic credits which include:

LAW 762 Colloquium: Advanced Law and Society Research (6 credits)
This required one-year course is a colloquium for J.S.D. students (advanced graduate students in other disciplines such as sociology and law students are also welcome to enroll), culminating in the preparation of a substantial work of original legal scholarship. The course builds upon an ongoing distinguished speaker and workshop series sponsored by the Baldy Center, the School of Law, and affiliated UB departments, and thus serves as a social as well as an intellectual home for the J.S.D. experience. Substantive topics will vary with speakers and student interests, but are likely to include administrative regulation, criminal law, environmental governance, human rights, international trade, legal profession, race, and a variety of other subjects.

LAW 799 Independent Study (6 credits)
While enrolled in the Colloquium each student will also undertake a year-long independent study under the supervision of their thesis faculty advisor.

Concentration Electives (12 credits)
Electives (in the law school or other departments across the University) are chosen by the student with the consultation and approval of their thesis advisor in order to meet needs specific to a student’s research topic. Electives cover a broad range of interests and include more than 75 courses options on topics such as:

  • Administrative Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Environmental Law
  • Health Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Business Transactions
  • International Human Rights
  • Labor Law
  • Law and Technology
  • Law, Economics, and Racial Justice
  • Tax Policy

LAW 899 Thesis Guidance (3 credits)    
Thesis guidance provides individualized assistance specifically directed to a student’s particular dissertation project. Dissertation Committee members will provide supervision in support of any remaining research for, and the writing of, the dissertation. Review of chapters as produced will be required. Candidates must enroll in this course for one credit until the completion of the degree.

Request More Information