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J.S.D. Application Process

Your journey to the J.S.D., Columbia Law School’s most advanced degree, starts here.

The J.S.D. program is designed for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional intellectual and academic aptitude. Applicants should be able to present ample evidence of their legal research and writing achievements as well as their ability to work independently on a substantial research project.

Because diversity of all kinds deeply enriches the Columbia student body, our admissions process accommodates applicants with varied backgrounds and life experiences, which are integral to the social and intellectual life of our community.

J.S.D. applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law generally does not suffice for admission, nor does a degree earned through correspondence coursework or distance learning.

Admission Standards
Admission for the J.S.D. degree is normally restricted to applicants who are interested in a career in law teaching. You must present evidence of impressive achievements in undergraduate law study or in subsequent scholarly or professional activities, with special emphasis on your capacity for innovative legal research and writing.

Columbia Law School has a strong preference for applicants who have some experience in law teaching, whether as a teaching assistant, adjunct professor, or have otherwise already begun a career in teaching law. Applicants with experience in government service, as a court clerk, or legal practice are also eligible. We discourage applications from very recent law school graduates, who typically have not amassed enough experience in the field to develop a competitive dissertation proposal.

Equal consideration is given in the admissions process to applicants who are completing or have completed the LL.M. at either Columbia Law School or at another institution, as well as to applicants from both the United States and international jurisdictions.