Doctor of Science of Law (JSD)

June 2017 JSD cohort with our beloved mentor, Professor Deborah Hensler
June 2017 JSD cohort with their beloved mentor, Professor Deborah Hensler

The Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) is the Law School’s most advanced law degree, and is considered a doctorate equivalent to a Ph.D. It is designed for those interested in becoming scholars and teachers of law and social sciences.

Study toward this degree is open only to a small number of exceptionally well-qualified students who hold a JD or an LL.B. Students in the program pursue a course of advanced empirical research, develop substantive expertise in one or more fields of law, and produce a dissertation under the personal supervision of a Faculty committee comprised of law school professors. In some cases, the doctoral committee includes Faculty from other departments of the University.

Only students who have completed the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS) at Stanford Law School are eligible to apply for the JSD Program. For those interested in eventually pursuing a JSD at Stanford, SPILS offers a good opportunity to develop a promising dissertation topic, to expand knowledge in empirical methods, and to demonstrate the intellectual qualifications and scholarly ability that are required of doctoral candidates.

Admission to the JSD program is on a highly selective basis. Please note that admission to SPILS does not imply a commitment by Stanford Law School to accept a student into the JSD program. An applicant whose prior performance in law school and SPILS was not outstanding has little chance of being admitted.

Need-based funding, research funding and conference allowance is available to admitted JSDs for four years.

Questions concerning the JSD program should be directed to

JSD Alumni

Having a JSD from Stanford Law School opens up countless career opportunities.

Our alumni hold faculty positions in top universities in the United States and around the world, secure positions in the private sector and in non-profit organizations. Together they comprise a tight network of Stanford JSD graduates.