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J.S.D. Program and Curriculum

Join the next generation of leading legal scholars.

The Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.), Columbia Law’s most advanced law degree program, prepares students with exceptional academic aptitude for careers in legal scholarship. The program fosters opportunities for distinguished scholarship through advanced seminars and colloquia, facilities for independent research, and guidance from faculty advisers.

Columbia Law J.S.D. students benefit from Columbia University’s abundant resources, world-class faculty, and commitment to cultivating a richly diverse and intellectually curious scholarly community.

During the fall term, the chairperson for each J.S.D. candidate will determine a study plan and milestones for research and writing deliverables.

The chairperson for each J.S.D. candidate will approve the study plan and determine whether the J.S.D. candidate has met such milestones.

For each successive year, the candidate shall include the next year’s study plan in the annual Dissertation Progress Report (see below for more information).

Each J.S.D. candidate’s advisory committee will consist of three full-time faculty members, one of whom will be the candidate’s chairperson. As part of the application process, the J.S.D. candidate identifies, communicates with, and obtains the agreement of Columbia Law professors to serve as chair and members of the advisory committee. Refer to the Application Process section for more information.

J.S.D. candidates typically do not register for other classroom work, though they are free to audit any course or seminar pertinent to their area of study with the instructor’s consent.

In consultation with their chair, candidates will undertake substantial preliminary research to determine the scope of their proposed dissertation. While they must take the initiative in consulting with their advisory committee chair, the advisory committee decides whether, and how many, formal meetings to hold each year. The candidate is encouraged to seek meetings with their advisory committee on a regular basis. At a later stage, the advisory committee will become the examination committee.