Law and Sociology


Scholarship in law and sociology is broadly focused on the relationship between law and society, both historically and in the contemporary world. For those whose academic interests lie at the intersection of these disciplines, research opportunities are boundless. For example, sociolegal scholarship may concern the death penalty, racial profiling, abortion, child labor, prostitution, civil rights, international human rights, intellectual property, employment discrimination, and corporate citizenship.

With the goal of enabling new scholarship in these and other areas related to law and society, Stanford’s JD/PhD program in law and sociology combine rigorous training in sociological theory and methodology with a world-class legal education. Stanford Law School and the Stanford University Department of Sociology (share more than a common interest in sociolegal scholarship: Both are ranked among the top academic departments in their respective fields. The high quality of both institutions distinguishes Stanford’s JD/PhD program from those offered by other universities. Stanford is also the only university where a commitment to fostering sociolegal scholarship has been translated into a truly joint JD/PhD program.

Although most students who pursue a joint degree in law and sociology pursue an academic career in law and/or sociology, training in this area may be useful for careers outside the academy—for example, studying race and equality as the foundation for a career in public service, or studying criminology in preparation for a career as a prosecutor or defense attorney.

Course Requirements

Upon admission, students may begin study in either the law school or the department of sociology. Students must complete their first full year of graduate study in one program and their second full year in the other. Thereafter, students may divide their time between programs to suit their individual course of research and graduate training.

As many as 31 quarter units of approved sociology coursework will be counted toward the law degree, and up to 54 quarter units of approved coursework may be counted toward both degrees.

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:

My joint degree in law and sociology let me take advantage of the best of both departments. My professors, who remain valued colleagues, struck just the right balance, providing guidance when I wanted it while allowing me to build an individually tailored joint degree program.

Laura E. Gomez, JD/PhD in Law and Sociology, '92/'91, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Professor of Law & American Studies, University of New Mexico Law School