S.J.D. Applicants

How to Apply: Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)

Please review the application instructions, English proficiency requirements and tuition information on this page as you the application process for the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program.

Application Instructions

Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year will be accepted beginning September 1, 2023. The deadline for completed applications is February 15, 2024. All applications must be submitted through LSAC.org.

Note that our review of all S.J.D. applications includes an internal process to identify a faculty committee chair for each candidate admitted to the S.J.D. program. If you are admitted to our S.J.D. 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 LSAC.org.

To find our application, you will choose the KU Law LL.M. application. Be sure to check the “S.J.D.” box on the LL.M. application. The deadline to apply to the program is Feb. 15. 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 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. 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.

Dissertation Proposal

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 may be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions at admitlaw@ku.edu.

Dissertation Chair

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 admitlaw@ku.edu.


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, the candidate 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

Legal English Program

The KU School of Law offers an intensive Legal English Program for entering international students through KU's Applied English Center. The four-week summer program helps students develop specialized training, presentation, legal research and legal writing skills to prepare them for law school coursework and for legal practice.

The program is available to students who have been admitted or provisionally admitted to the LL.M. in American Legal Studies, Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.), Two-Year J.D. for Foreign-Trained Lawyers, or J.D. programs at KU Law.

To learn more, visit the Applied English Center's webpage for the program.

Dissertation Passage Requirements

Review the S.J.D. Program Information for complete dissertation and academic requirements for S.J.D. 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.

Page Length

  1. 200 single-spaced pages maximum (with some flexibility to go longer).
  2. The 200 pages include front material, footnotes, and bibliography.


  1. 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.
  2. All footnotes must be in Law School Blue Book Style.
  3. Neither the chair of the Dissertation Committee, nor any other School of Law faculty member will edit the dissertation to correct format mistakes.
  4. Please contact the KU Wheat Law Library for help on formatting details.


  1. Explain any and all technical jargon.
  2. No paragraph should go on longer than 1/3 of a page. Each paragraph should have 1, and only 1, idea.
  3. Transition sentences. The last sentence of one paragraph should flow nicely into the first sentence of the next paragraph.


  1. The dissertation must be free of grammatical errors.
  2. Neither the chair of the Dissertation Committee, nor any other School of Law faculty member will edit the dissertation to correct English mistakes.


  1. Your Dissertation Committee consists of four people in total: your chair, two KU School of Law faculty members, and one external examiner. Co-chairs are not permitted.
  2. Aside from your chair, you are responsible for identifying and assembling your committee.
  3. 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.


  1. Public oral examination is required.
  2. 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:

  1. Have demonstrated the ability to complete their dissertation and schedule the defense within the timeframe approved by their chairperson.
  2. Be in compliance with any degree completion plan established by their chair.
  3. 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.

Wheat Law Library S.J.D. Student Resources

Tuition & Fees for S.J.D. Students

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.

    S.J.D. Tuition & Fees Summary: 2023-2024

    Below is an example of a typical tuition schedule for an S.J.D. student. Note that tuition rates apply to newly enrolled students and are based on the 2023-2024 academic year, and are subject to change.

    S.J.D. Estimated Annual Expenses - First Year
    Expense DescriptionEstimated Annual Expenses - First Year
    Tuition per credit hour (16 hours in first year)$991
    S.J.D. Semester Fees ($5,000 per semester)$10,000
    Campus Fees$1,014
    Total for Tuition/Fees$26,870
    Room and Board$11,758
    Personal Expenses$2,602
    Cost of Attendance*$46,068


    S.J.D. Estimated Annual Expenses - Subsequent Years
    Expense DescriptionEstimated Annual Expenses - Subsequent Years
    Tuition (1 credit per fall, spring semester)$2,996
    S.J.D. Fee ($5,000 per fall, spring semester)$10,000
    Total for Tuition/Fees$12,996

    *Costs for room and board, personal expenses, transportation and books are estimates determined by the KU Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships. Review the Estimated Cost of Attendance from the Office of Financial Aid.

    Applicant Resources

    S.J.D. Application Timeline

    • Sept. 1: Application available

    • Feb. 15: Application deadline


    Steven Freedman, Associate Dean

    103 Green Hall

    Admissions Calendar

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