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What will I learn?

The Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) Program provides opportunity and encouragement for distinguished scholarship through advanced seminars and colloquia, facilities for independent research, and the advice and guidance of members of the Faculty of Law.

The J.S.D. Degree is awarded to persons who have completed an approved program of study, research and writing with distinction. To earn the degree, candidates are required to submit a dissertation and to pass an oral defense of the dissertation within six years of enrollment in the program. The dissertation can take the form of a unified work or a set of three articles with a unifying essay. Doctoral candidates are provided workspace at the Law School during their period of residence at Columbia. In addition to the special committee of faculty advisors designated for each candidate, other members of the Faculty of Law and other faculties of the University are generally prepared to offer assistance to J.S.D. candidates when called upon to do so.

Fall Term Program (First Year of Residence)

During the fall term, the Graduate Committee assigns an Advisory Committee to each J.S.D. candidate and candidates are expected to register for the J.S.D. Workshop as well as a seminar or directed reading course in the candidate’s area of research under the direction of a member of the candidate’s faculty Advisory Committee. They typically do not register for other classroom work. In close and frequent consultation with the chair and other members of the Advisory Committee, the candidate is expected to undertake substantial preliminary research to determine the scope of the proposed dissertation. The candidate should take the initiative in consulting with the chair of his or her Advisory Committee. Two formal meetings of the Advisory Committee are held each year during the candidate’s period of residence, in December and April.

The balance of a J.S.D. candidate’s program consists of research on the dissertation topic. At a later stage, the Advisory Committee may become the candidate’s examination committee. With the instructor’s consent, J.S.D. candidates are free to audit any law course or seminar pertinent to their areas of study.

Appraisal of Candidates in Residence

A J.S.D. candidate receives no grades for academic work; the only transcript notation being that work either was or was not of doctoral caliber. J.S.D. candidacy is subject to termination at any time by the Graduate Committee acting upon the advice of those colleagues most familiar with the candidate's work. In case of such termination, the candidate may be permitted to continue in residence until the end of the academic year in the status either of an LL.M. candidate or of a Special Student (non-degree status).

Residence Period

J.S.D. candidates are required to spend one academic year of full-time study and research in residence at the Law School. They are encouraged, but not required, to spend a second year in residence. Extended presence at Columbia without formal residence can also be arranged, as it can for other University doctoral candidates; financial support ordinarily cannot be provided for these periods, however.

Which department am I in?

School of Law

Study options

Full Time (Within six years)

Tuition fees
US$69,896.00 per year
Start date

Expected September 2022


Columbia University

116th Street, 2960 Broadway,

New York,

10027, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Other English Language Requirements:  The minimum TOEFL score expected is 600 (written) or 250 (computer version).

For international students

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.

English Language Requirement

Applicant must have TOEFL score of 600 on paper-and-pencil test, 100 on the internet-based test and IELTS score of 7.5

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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