Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)

The degree of Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is the highest post-graduate law degree offered by the Dedman School of Law. The S.J.D is primarily a research and writing degree (as opposed to a course-oriented degree such as the LL.M. degree) during which the S.J.D. candidate conducts extensive postgraduate-level legal research with a view toward submitting an acceptable doctoral dissertation of publishable quality within a five-year period.This program is intended for highly qualified candidates seeking a legal academic career or a high level, policy-oriented governmental or inter-governmental position.

For degree requirements

See S.J.D. degree requirements.

Nature of the Degree

The S.J.D. is not a professional degree, such as the Law School's Juris Doctor degree (JD); it is intended to be an intense postgraduate, academic research experience.

Admission Requirements

The S.J.D. is a highly limited access postgraduate degree. The following are criteria for admission:
  1. Career goals. The S.J.D. is primarily intended for highly qualified candidates seeking a legal academic career or a high-level, policy-oriented governmental or intergovernmental position, and the candidate must demonstrate such a career goal.
  2. Academic achievement. An applicant must demonstrate outstanding achievement in previous academic programs.
  3. Research and writing. An applicant must demonstrate the ability to conduct graduate-level legal research and writing in English. Preference is given to Dedman School of Law LL.M. students who have excelled in their LL.M. degree and have shown an ability to conduct graduate-level legal research and write in English as evidenced by a course paper or a directed research paper submitted as an LL.M. candidate at SMU. Applicants holding an LL.M. degree or equivalent from another law school who demonstrate excellent legal research and legal writing abilities in English may be considered for admission. Also, individuals with an established academic, legal professional, governmental or intergovernmental career, who have suitable career objectives for pursuing the S.J.D. degree and who have demonstrated significant legal research and legal writing abilities in English may be considered for direct admission into the S.J.D. (with or without an LL.M. degree).
  4. Primary Supervisor. The applicant must obtain as a Primary Supervisor who is a faculty member of the SMU Dedman School of Law. The Primary Supervisor must have particular expertise in the S.J.D. candidate's general area of doctoral research.
  5. Statement of Subject of Dissertation. The applicant, with the assistance of the Primary Supervisor, must submit a document of no more than 2,000 - 3,000 words explaining the research topic the applicant will undertake for the purpose of preparing the dissertation.

Admission to the S.J.D. Program

An applicant who is granted admission to the S.J.D. program initially is admitted in a probationary status. The S.J.D. candidate must demonstrate progress towards completion of the requirements for the degree to continue as an S.J.D. candidate. The S.J.D. candidate is matriculated as of the first day of the first semester in which the S.J.D. candidate commences the S.J.D. program.

Tuition and Fees

For the first year of the program, S.J.D. candidates will be charged the equivalent of full-time tuition and fees applicable to LL.M. students. Thereafter, S.J.D. candidates will be assessed a special fee for each fall and spring term up until approval of the final dissertation. This fee will be set at the beginning of each term.
There are no Law School scholarships or research/teaching assistantships available for the S.J.D. degree. On an individual basis, an S.J.D. candidate may apply to be the research assistant of a particular faculty member, but any such arrangement must be made individually with the faculty member, who reserves full discretion in such a matter.

Application and Information

To obtain further information and applications for admission, contact the Office of Admissions, Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, PO Box 750111, Dallas, TX 75275-0111; telephone 214-768-2658, toll-free 1-888-768-5291.