What is a Doctor of Laws? Scientiae Juridicae Doctor Degree

An SJD is a Scientiae Juridicae Doctor degree is also known as a Doctor of Juridicial Science (JSD) that is similar to a PhD level degree in other areas of study. It’s primarily a scholarly research degree for those who teach law. The degree has its roots in the United States, and it is only offered in a few countries, all of which are English speaking. Following the JD and LLM degrees in law, the SJD is the highest degree in law that a person can be awarded.

Accredited Doctor of Law Degrees

The American Bar Association accredits two doctorate level research and academic degrees. Those are the Doctor of Jurisprudence, also known as the Doctor of Judicial Science and the Doctor of Comparative Law. Other interdisciplinary doctoral programs exist, but those don’t necessarily make a person eligible to practice law. The SJD typically takes three to five years to complete. Most programs require the first one or two years to be completed in residence. The curriculum consists of both required and elective classes. Only a small percentage of elite law schools in the United States offer such a degree.

The SJD Dissertation

After passing oral exams on required and elective coursework, an individual becomes eligible for their doctoral degree. A doctoral dissertation is required. It must be an original, scholarly and not previously available contribution to the area of law that it focuses on. Dissertations ordinarily must be defended.

English Language Skills

Most students in SJD programs in the United States are foreign nationals. A high level of English language skill is required. SJD students with limited English language skills will find coursework to be difficult to comprehend. TOEFL scores must be high, and a candidate’s English language skills will be further evaluated upon one or more personal interviews.

SJD candidates are required to work closely with a law school faculty advisor. They are not always available for this purpose. When considering a law school for an SJD degree, contact its director of graduate studies to learn who might be available when you intend on being there. You will want somebody with a background that is consistent with your interests.