Law and Communication


This joint degree program offers students the opportunity to pursue academic, public policy, and private practice careers at the intersection of a variety of cutting edge debates in theory and policy, including: legal and normative First Amendment theories of speech and press; media and communications economy and policy issues; questions of the relationship between citizens and the state, especially regarding mass surveillance and big data; and cultural and normative questions about the implications of the shift to the digital realm. These and other questions are best informed by a blended education that draws on the methodological and substantive traditions of communication, coupled with the doctrinal foundation, legal writing skills, and policy plus clinical training uniquely available through a legal educations. This program embodies the belief that many of the most pressing questions in both communication law and policy can be best answered by the scholars who are able to draw on both traditions, and who would be situated to publish top scholarship, weigh in on policy debates, and potentially represent clients whose legal claims could benefit from the scholars’ expertise.

Course Requirements

Broad pieces of each curriculum are relevant to the other field. The Law School shall approve courses from the Communication program that may count toward the JD degree, and the Communication program shall approve courses from the Law School that may count toward the Ph.D. degree in Communication. In either case, approval may consist of a list applicable to all joint degree students or may be tailored to each individual student’s program.

Note to applicants: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards full funding to Stanford graduate students from all disciplines, with additional opportunities for leadership training and collaboration across fields. Joint Degree applicants are encouraged to apply to the KnightHennessy Scholars Program.  Please be aware that the Knight-Hennessy Scholars applications are due in early Autumn one year prior to enrollment. View dates and deadlines:

Pursuing the joint degree has afforded me opportunities to engage in novel scholarship about free expression at the intersection of law and communication, as well as made it possible for me to help shape the outcome of pressing policy issues, including federal shield legislation and network neutrality.

Morgan Weiland, JD '15, PhD '18