The College of Law’s Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) in Law is a research doctorate, comparable to a Ph.D. in other disciplines.

Based primarily on legal research, S.J.D. students will work under the supervision of a College of Law faculty member to produce an original dissertation that makes a substantial contribution to legal scholarship.

The College of Law offers unique academic and research opportunities and resources to S.J.D. students through its renowned fields of study in domestic, international, and comparative disability law, national security and counterterrorism law, intellectual property and technology transfer law, and other disciplines. S.J.D. students also have the ability to pursue interdisciplinary coursework and academic engagement with our 13 academic units, including the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the School of Education, the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, and the Whitman School of Management.


The application for the Fall 2024 term is now open.

Application Submission: A complete application consists of the S.J.D. Application Form (submitted online through the Law School Admissions Council) – and – submission of the applicant’s supplemental materials identified below. Supplemental materials may be submitted with your e-App file in LSAC (preferred) – or – directly to Syracuse University College of Law via email submission to (PDF format only). 

Syracuse Law does not charge an application fee. First-time applicants may be charged a one-time application processing fee by LSAC. Applicants who have already paid this to LSAC may opt to “remove” this and all other fees before submitting their application to Syracuse Law. Questions about fees should be sent to (please include your L-number).  

Eligibility: Applicants to the S.J.D. Program are expected to have successfully completed an LL.M. degree program at an ABA-accredited law school within the United States.  

Timing: For priority consideration, the S.J.D. Admissions Committee will collect and review application materials September through January. Qualified candidates will be contacted for an admissions interview in February. Applications received after January will be considered based on available space in the program. 

Conditional Admission: Applicants who have not yet received a LL.M. degree from an ABA-accredited law school may be conditionally admitted to the S.J.D. Program if the applicant successfully completes the Syracuse University College LL.M. Program requirements. 

Application Requirements:

  • S.J.D. Application Form (submitted through the Law School Admissions Council); 
  • Transcripts from all prior legal education (i.e., LL.B. and LL.M. degrees);
  • CV or resume; 
  • Personal Statement (1-2 pages); 
  • Research Proposal with source list/bibliography (recommended 5-15 pages); 
  • One academic writing sample; 
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (at least one must be from a prior law professor or from a professor at Syracuse University College of Law); 
  • Color copy of passport face-page; and
  • Proof of English Language proficiency (Syracuse Law recommends a TOEFL score of 90+ or an IELTS score of 6.5+ and will consider additional factors when assessing English proficiency. Use our TOEFL School Code 2823 to have your electronic scores directly submitted.).

Applicants should expect to appear for a virtual admissions interview. Decisions by the S.J.D. Admissions Committee are based on a combination of factors, including but not limited to the quality of application materials, the applicant’s academic merit, the compatibility of the applicant’s research goals with the expertise of the College of Law faculty, and the availability by faculty members to serve as the applicant’s adviser. Admitted applicants will learn of their S.J.D. Faculty Adviser at the time of admission. For reference, the full listing of College of Law faculty members can be found here

Admitted students are encouraged to review our S.J.D. Admitted Student Information

Cost of Attendance & Scholarships

Tuition for the S.J.D. program will be charged on a semester basis and will depend on the student’s status in residence or in research.

For the upcoming academic year, the College of Law’s S.J.D. program tuition structure is arranged as follows:

  • In Year 1Anticipated US$27,570* per semester (US$55,140 total);
  • In Subsequent YearsAnticipated $5,000* per semester plus the College of Law ‘per credit rate’ for any substantive Law or graduate-level courses taken beyond the first year. 

*Tuition may adjust slightly from year to year.

Nominal College and University fees will be charged per semester. S.J.D. students will be responsible for personal living and other expenses for textbooks, health insurance, visa fees, travel expenses, dependent expenses (if applicable), throughout their program of study. Students are strongly encouraged to consider their S.J.D. program plan (i.e. time in degree program, courses to take, etc.) to help determine and manage their anticipated costs. Download the S.J.D. Program Cost-of-Attendance information. 

The College of Law will consider all applicants for partial-tuition scholarships to reduce the cost of S.J.D. program tuition. There is no separate scholarship application. Students are encouraged to explore outside sources of funding through organizations such as Fulbright. The College of Law does not provide stipends to cover personal living and other expenses.


The S.J.D. curriculum involves participation in the SJD Colloquium course, thesis research, and elective coursework that will culminate in the preparation of a dissertation and oral dissertation defense. Download and review our Academic Rules for S.J.D. Students

In Year 1: S.J.D. students must complete the following academic requirements during their first two semesters in residence:

  • Enroll in the S.J.D. Colloquium Course (3 credits per semester); and
  • Enroll in a minimum of 6 additional course credits per semester in courses offered at the College of Law or by another graduate program at Syracuse University (with permission of the graduate course instructor).

In Subsequent Years: After the first year in residence, students will have the opportunity to spend semesters engaged in a combination of dissertation research and/or additional coursework described in more detail below. 

  • During optional semesters in residence, S.J.D. students are expected to be in Syracuse, New York, engaged in research activities at Syracuse University and/or enrolled in additional Law or graduate-level courses.
  • During optional semesters in field research, S.J.D. students are in an off-site placement gaining research experience for which S.J.D. students may receive credit. The College maintains relationships with legal education institutions, legal organizations, non-profit organizations, as well as multinational and foreign government agencies. The field research placement will allow the S.J.D. student to pursue research and resources outside the College, and perhaps outside Syracuse, in an academic and/or professional setting. 
  • During any semester of the program where a S.J.D. student is neither enrolled in courses in residence nor enrolled in a field research placement, he or she shall be deemed in research, investigating and studying materials and sources relevant to producing a dissertation of publishable quality that makes a substantial contribution to legal scholarship.

The table below presents a sample 4-year S.J.D. program plan:

Fall SemesterSpring Semester
Year 1 (Mandatory in-residence)S.J.D. Colloquium Course (3 credits) + minimum 6 credits of Law and/or graduate-level coursework.S.J.D. Colloquium Course (3 credits) + minimum 6 credits of Law and/or graduate-level coursework.
Year 2Additional coursework and/or dissertation research.Additional coursework and/or dissertation research.
Year 3Additional coursework and/or dissertation research.Additional coursework and/or dissertation research.
Year 4Additional coursework and/or dissertation research.Dissertation submission and defense before committee.

Dissertation & Defense

Throughout the program, students are expected to collaborate regularly with their faculty adviser and meet dissertation milestones set out in the S.J.D. Student Handbook. 

Upon completion of six semesters, but no more than ten semesters, an S.J.D. student may submit a complete draft of his or her dissertation for oral defense before a committee. S.J.D. students are expected to create theses at a level of quality appropriate for publication and in a format readily adaptable into publishable form. 

The typical dissertation will be similar to that in a traditional doctoral program. The S.J.D. dissertation is to make a substantial and valuable contribution to the scholarship in its field. The dissertation will be considered to constitute such a contribution if, for example, it explores new areas of intellectual inquiry, provides new insights or analyses, or offers a new conceptual or theoretical framework for understanding the subject area. A dissertation that merely surveys, catalogs, or compiles relevant literature, legislation, case material, and/or the ideas of others does not satisfy the standard.

Extensions of time to defend one’s dissertation beyond the completion of 10 semesters will be subject to approval by the S.J.D. Program Director and the student’s S.J.D. adviser.

Request More Information

Email the S.J.D. Program at with any questions you may have. Alternatively, you may write directly to Program Director and Faculty Director of International Programs Professor Arlene Kanter or Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew S. Horsfall.