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).
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.
LL.M. Degree for J.S.D. Candidates
A J.S.D. candidate who submits a satisfactory research paper or Master's Essay in proper form based on doctoral research by Dec. 31 of the calendar year in which the candidate completed his or her first year of residence is eligible for award of the LL.M. degree without termination of the doctoral candidacy. This essay may, but need not, be an integral and verbatim portion of the dissertation. The essay must fulfill the criteria for the LL.M. by Writing (see the LL.M.-Associate Program), i.e., it must constitute a very substantial piece of original research and writing that is equivalent to a lead article in a law review, as determined by a member of the J.S.D. candidate’s Advisory Committee and a second faculty reader not previously involved in the student’s research. The paper or Master's Essay will not be graded on a letter basis, but rather, on a credit/fail basis. If the candidate submits a Master’s Essay, it need not be published but will be deposited in the Law Library. The deadline for obtaining the LL.M. degree cannot be extended under any circumstances.
Application Procedure for J.S.D. Admissions:
Applications for admission to our 2016-2017 J.S.D. program and all supporting documents must be submitted through LSAC. We will no longer accept supporting documents by mail or email. Regretfully, any application items submitted directly to the Graduate Legal Studies office will be discarded.
For additional information on applying through LSAC and other services LSAC offers, please visit the LSAC website. Columbia's online application through LSAC will be available in mid-September. Until then, applicants are encouraged to begin gathering (and submitting) their supporting documents for their LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Report.
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