How to Apply
Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)
Visit the tabs below to learn about the application requirements for the S.J.D. program:
Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year will be accepted beginning September 1, 2019. The deadline for completed applications is February 15, 2020. All applications must be submitted through the LSAC.org website.
Note that our review of all SJD applications includes an internal process to identify a faculty committee chair for each candidate admitted to the SJD program. If you are admitted to our SJD program, your offer of admission will indicate your assigned faculty chair.
Do not contact KU Law faculty directly seeking an advisor or admission.
KU Law uses the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to process S.J.D. applications. CAS will compile all your documents and verify foreign transcripts. This is a great convenience for both the applicant and KU Law. All applications, other than the dissertation proposal, must be submitted through the LSAC.org website.
To find our application, you will choose the KU Law LL.M. application. Be sure to check the “SJD” box on the LL.M. application. The deadline to apply to the program is February 15, 2019. Students must submit all available documents by that date, including the following documents:
- Official transcripts from all undergraduate and law school programs attended
- At least two letters of recommendation attesting to your ability to complete the S.J.D. program
- Dissertation proposal - Must be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions
- A statement of interest describing your purpose for pursuing the S.J.D. as well as your professional goals
- C.V. or resume
- $55 application fee
If any transcripts or letters of recommendation are missing or unavailable, candidates will have until March 15, 2020 to submit them to LSAC. These are the only documents that may be submitted after February 15. Note that submitting these documents after February 15 may negatively affect a candidate's chances for admission. In all cases, applications must be fully completed by March 15, 2020. Applications that are incomplete at that date will be denied. In that event, students may reapply for the following academic year.
Please note that, upon admission, you will be required to submit financial documents verifying that you have sufficient resources to cover the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, living expenses and mandatory health insurance) for the academic year in which you will be enrolling. You will be required to submit these documents before an I-20 form will be issued to you.
In exceptional circumstances, admitted students may be permitted to defer admission for up to one year. Deferral requests should be submitted to the Office of Admissions as soon as possible prior to the start of the fall semester. Because candidates must start the S.J.D. program during the fall semester, all deferrals will be for the fall of the following academic year, rather than for the spring semester.
Every candidate must submit a dissertation proposal. The proposal should include a title, table of contents, explanation and sample bibliography. This is the most important component of the application and should reveal why the candidate wants to study the dissertation topic and what arguments are likely to be raised in defense of the proposal.
Dissertation proposals must be be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are emailing your proposal, please add copies of your CV and two letters of recommendation. All applications, other than the dissertation proposal, may be submitted through the LSAC website at www.lsac.org.
Each S.J.D. candidate pursues the degree under the supervision of an overall faculty supervisor known as the dissertation chair, who must be a full-time member of the KU Law faculty. Although candidates may suggest potential dissertation chairs, they are not permitted to contact KU Law faculty for the purpose of seeking a chair. The S.J.D. candidates will be assigned a dissertation chair prior to their arrival at KU Law.
Dissertation chair information can be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions at email@example.com.
A minimum residency period of two years at KU is required. During this time, the candidate completes KU Law courses necessary for dissertation research. The successful completion of 16 credit hours of coursework is required in the first year. However, all students remain continuously enrolled — whether or not in residence at KU — until the degree is completed. Continuous enrollment is defined as enrollment during the fall and spring semesters as described in the S.J.D. program structure. Candidates whose defenses are held in the summer must be enrolled during the summer semester.
Following the required two-year residency period, some candidates obtain or return to prominent jobs in the U.S. or their home countries and write their dissertation remotely. However, all students must remain continuously enrolled – whether or not in residence at KU – until the degree is completed.
After the candidate has earned 16 credits of coursework during the residence period, he or she will need 6 more credits (22 total) to complete the S.J.D. degree. The final 6 credits are obtained through dissertation research and preparation.
Proof of English Proficiency
Applicants must establish English proficiency as evidenced by TOEFL exam scores or successful completion of a basic law degree, or master’s degree, from a program conducted in English. KU Law may require the submission of a TOEFL score or request a personal interview for a candidate who holds an LL.M. degree
See complete Dissertation & Academic Requirements for SJD students.
Dissertation Passage Requirements
- Successful completion of all required courses with a grade of C or better.
- Successful completion of the Interim Review after the end of the first year.
- Production of a dissertation that is between 150 and 200 single-spaced pages, including front material, footnotes, and bibliography. Paper type, font, margins, and other format and style matters must conform to KU's Graduate School Instructions to Candidates for Doctoral Degrees in order for the dissertation to be deposited in the KU Libraries.
- Evidence that the candidate has identified a legal issue of relevance; constructed an original argument about that legal issue; defended that argument in a manner that is clear, organized, well-written and well-reasoned; and produced a work that would be publishable as a book, extended law review article, or linked series of law review articles.
- Successful, public defense of the dissertation to committee.
Basic S.J.D. Dissertation Guidelines
- 200 single-spaced pages maximum (with some flexibility to go longer).
- The 200 pages include front material, footnotes, and bibliography.
- Dissertation must follow general University of Kansas Graduate School Instructions to Candidates for Doctoral Degrees, for both manuscript production and binding, so that the final bound product may be deposited in the KU Libraries.
- All footnotes must be in Law School Blue Book Style.
- Neither the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, nor any other Law School faculty member will edit the dissertation to correct format mistakes.
- Please contact the KU Wheat Law Library for help on formatting details.
- Explain any and all technical jargon.
- No paragraph should go on longer than 1/3 of a page. Each paragraph should have 1, and only 1, idea.
- Transition sentences. The last sentence of one paragraph should flow nicely into the first sentence of the next paragraph.
- The dissertation must be free of grammatical errors.
- Neither the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, nor any other Law School faculty member will edit the dissertation to correct English mistakes.
- Your Dissertation Committee consists of 4 persons in total: your Chair, 2 KU Law School Faculty members, and 1 External Examiner. Co-Chairs are not permitted.
- Aside from your Chair, you are responsible for identifying and assembling your Committee.
- The External Examiner may be an academic or practitioner anywhere in the world other than KU Law School. If appropriate, the External Examiner may be a non-legal academic or non-practicing lawyer.
- Public oral examination is required.
- You are responsible for scheduling this defense at a time suitable for the Committee members.
Remote Defense Policy
S.J.D. candidates are required to defend their dissertation at the law school. However, in exceptional circumstances, candidates may request an exemption from this requirement in order to defend their dissertation remotely via videoconference, upon prior approval of the Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law, in consultation with their chairperson. To request an exemption, candidates must:
- have demonstrated the ability to complete their dissertation and schedule the defense within the timeframe approved by their chairperson.
- be in compliance with any degree completion plan established by their chair.
- submit a request to both their chairperson indicating (A) the reason for the requested exemption; (B) where and how they propose to set up the videoconference necessary for a remote defense; and (C) the feasibility for a remote defense in light of the needs of their external committee member, the nature of their project, the technology described in (D) and any other relevant considerations. Candidates are encouraged to submit this request as early as possible and must do so no later than two (2) weeks prior to their departure from the United States.
Candidates who have been approved to defend their dissertation remotely must provide electronic copies of any slides or handouts they intend to use to their committee members in advance and will be required to test the proposed technology thoroughly with KU staff in advance of their defense.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: If technological or other reasons not within the control of the candidate’s chair, committee or the law school prevent the remote defense from occurring, the candidate will be required to defend their dissertation at the law school within a reasonable time period established by the chair. Candidates should be aware that this may delay their graduation and require them to enroll for an additional semester if the defense cannot be rescheduled within the same semester, as candidates must be enrolled in the semester they graduate.
Tuition & Fees
All S.J.D. students are required to take 16 credits during their one-year residency. In addition, students are assessed a $5,000-per-semester S.J.D. fee for two semesters each year. After the first year, students must enroll in 1 credit per semester. Below is an example of a typical tuition schedule for an S.J.D. student. Note that tuition rates are based on the 2018-19 academic year, and are subject to change.
|Estimated Annual Expenses - First Year||S.J.D. Students|
|Tuition per credit hour
(16 hours in first year)
|S.J.D. Semester Fees ($5,000 per semester)||$10,000|
|Total for Tuition/Fees||$31,220|
|Room and Board||$9,164|
|Estimated Annual Expenses - Subsequent Years||S.J.D. Students|
|Tuition (1 credit per fall, spring semester)||$3,807|
|S.J.D. Fee ($5,000 per fall, spring semester)||$10,000|
|Total for Tuition/Fees||$13,807|
*Costs for room and board, personal expenses, transportation and books are estimates determined by the KU Office of Student Financial Aid.