The Washington University Law Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD) program is designed for attorneys pursuing a career in academia, policy, or scholarly legal research. The JSD program is very small and is focused on exceptional candidates with a sophisticated scholarly focus. The JSD degree program requires two years of residency on campus in St. Louis, Missouri, and typically takes an additional year or more to complete.

For attorneys interested in a broad-based understanding of the U.S. legal system or in developing a specialty in a particular area, please contact our Admissions Office to discuss the LLM programs.

Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD)

Year 1 Residency - LLM Course Work

During the first year of residency, each JSD student must complete course work sufficient to earn an LLM degree at Washington University Law. JSD students may elect to pursue course work in any of the LLM programs offered by Washington University Law, allowing students to choose between broad exposure to U.S. Law and pursuing a specialty in a particular substantive area. JSD admissions advisers are available to assist prospective JSD students in identifying the most beneficial LLM degree path.

Continuation to the second year of residency in the JSD program is contingent upon successful completion of the course work for an LLM degree.

Year 2 Residency - JSD Research and Dissertation

In the second year of residency in the JSD program, JSD students focus on refining and advancing their dissertation proposals with the assistance of an assigned faculty adviser. The JSD program emphasizes original research and writing culminating in the preparation of a significant and extensive dissertation of publishable quality. In consultation with the faculty adviser, each JSD student will identify any advantageous additional course work; however, additional course work is not a requirement of the program.


The JSD dissertation should demonstrate not just awareness of a body of material but also synthesis of that material into a rigorous high quality analysis. It should be a work that, when published, will contribute to the field.

JSD Dissertation Committee: Following admission to the JSD program, the JSD Admissions Committee will appoint a Dissertation Committee. Each Dissertation Committee is made up of at least three members, and the chair of the committee serves as the primary faculty adviser to the JSD candidate.

The dissertation must be completed and accepted by the candidate's Dissertation Committee within (a) five years of receipt of the LLM degree, for students who obtain their LLM from Washington University Law; or (b) five years after admission to the JSD program. All JSD candidates will be expected to defend their dissertation vive voce. In extenuating circumstances, a dissertation can also be defended via a videoconference or similar computer-facilitated meeting.