Academic Scholars Program

The Academic Scholars Program identifies and provides academic and financial support for J.D. candidates with strong potential and ambition to become law professors.

PI/PS Fellows sit a long table at event featuring guest James Comey.

About the Program

Columbia Law School Academic Scholars are able to take advantage of both academic and financial support offered through the Program. Academic support includes mentorship by a member of the faculty and support in entering Ph.D. studies, if that will advance the Scholar’s career. The financial award includes research support and, for two Scholars each year, tuition support. The Program welcomes applications from admitted students as well as from current J.D. candidates. Students can be admitted after accepting an offer of admission and at any time during their J.D. studies. Up to ten Scholars will be part of the Program at any given time. Consistent with the Law School's commitment to diversity, equity, and anti-racism, the Program will strive to support the academic careers of students from a wide array of backgrounds, including students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Learn about the 12 students who make up the inaugural cohort of Academic Scholars (2021-2022).

Academic Support

Upon admission to the Program, each Scholar will be assigned a faculty mentor. The mentor will help prepare the Scholar for an academic career. The mentor will also work with the Columbians in Teaching Committee to (a) determine whether the Scholar should be encouraged to pursue a Ph.D. program and, if so, (b) work with the relevant Columbia unit to facilitate admission to its Ph.D. program. Students who have already earned a Ph.D., or are in the process of completing one, are encouraged to apply. 

During 2L and 3L years, Scholars will:

  • Participate in a year-long seminar focused on producing a research portfolio.
  • Be allowed to take up to 6 credits of supervised research per year (not more than 3 per semester)

Financial Support

Every Scholar will receive a $2,000 award for each year in the Program. Additionally, up to two incoming 1L Academic Scholars per year will receive merit scholarships in an amount that, when added to the recipient’s aggregate grants, if any, totals the annual half tuition. In addition, the recipient will receive loans up to the full cost of attendance, which, subject to certain requirements, may be eligible for forgiveness.

How to Apply

The Program accepts applications from admitted students as well as currently-enrolled J.D. candidates. Students may apply to the Program at any point during their J.D. studies and may apply multiple times. Students should submit their application materials to Elizabeth Williams, Attn: Academic Scholars Program Application. 

There will be an in-person information session on the Academic Scholars Program for current CLS students on March 22nd from 12:10-1:10pm as part of the Careers in Law Teaching Program spring series.

For admitted and prospective CLS students, a virtual information session will take place on February 21st from 12:10-1:10. See here for details.

Application materials should include:

  • Official undergraduate transcript and, if a current CLS student, official law school transcript. 
  • Resume.
  • Copies of scholarly publications and/or a sample of your academic writing. Scholarly publications are not required to apply to the program. If you would like to submit scholarly publications and have multiple possible submissions, please select your best 1-2 examples, preferably work that is entirely your own rather than co-authored. If you do not have any publications--or, if you have included publications but they are all co-authored--please submit a sample of your own academic writing, such as an undergraduate paper. 
  • Personal statement, 2-3 single-spaced pages long, that discusses your research interests (e.g., criminal law, legal history, environmental law, etc.) and explains why you think you’d like to become a law professor (you need not be sure!). You do not need to include citations to academic literature, but you may.
  • Names of potential faculty mentors at Columbia Law School. Please include these as a separate document.

Applications should be sent to: Elizabeth Williams at [email protected]

Application Deadlines

  • Admitted Students: March 6, 2023
  • Current Students:  April 10, 2023

Decision Notification

  • Admitted Students: Rolling Notices, beginning on March 24, 2023
  • Current Students: Rolling Notices, beginning on or before April 28, 2023

Acceptance Deadlines

  • Admitted Students: No later than 72 hours following the notice*
  • Current Students: No later than 72 hours following notice

*Admitted students must enroll at Columbia by submitting a deposit at the time they accept the offer.