To be eligible for admission to the J.S.D. program, applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master's degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree earned by correspondence course work or distance learning are not eligible.
Admission to candidacy for the J.S.D. degree is normally restricted to applicants who desire a career in law teaching and who can present evidence of impressive achievement in undergraduate law study or in subsequent scholarly or professional activities, with special emphasis on demonstrated capacity for effective legal research and writing. Applicants with experience in government service or law practice before admission are eligible for admission; those who have already begun a career in teaching law are generally preferred. As substantial experience beyond earning the law degree is generally seen as a prerequisite for pursuit of this degree, applications from very recent law school graduates are discouraged. Applicants from the United States and international jurisdictions are given equal consideration in the admissions process. Equal consideration is given to applicants completing or having completed the LL.M. at Columbia and outside applicants.