S.J.D. students will:
Be in residence for two years. During this time they follow a course of study, research, and writing under the supervision of a full-time member of the faculty. After two years, students are not required to be full-time students unless they are residing in the U.S. on a student visa, and may complete the dissertation away from the Washington, DC area. While in residence, S.J.D. students are expected to be full-time students and to limit employment (on or off campus) to a maximum of 20 hours per week. This employment restriction applies regardless of whether a student's visa would permit more hours of employment.
Complete first year course requirements. In the first year, S.J.D. students take a one-semester, 3-credit seminar course that requires a scholarly paper on a topic that supports dissertation research. They also spend the fall and spring semesters reading texts related to their research. The reading list is developed and undertaken under the supervision of a member of the faculty, earning 2 credits each semester. Finally, first year S.J.D. students take a 1-credit class on oral presentations their fall semester.
Participate in the core S.J.D. curriculum throughout their time in residence. The core curriculum has two components: 1) the S.J.D. Colloquium, 3 credits per semester, which is structured around specific themes each semester such as law and society, comparative law, western jurisprudence and research methodology; and 2) the S.J.D. Seminar, 3 credits per semester, where students meet weekly in small sections to present and discuss their work.
Make appropriate and adequate progress towards the completion of a dissertation. At the end of each academic year, students report to their supervisors and the Director of the S.J.D. Program on their progress. If, in the opinion of the supervisor and the Director of the S.J.D. Program, a student is not making appropriate progress, that student may be terminated from the program.
Submit a dissertation that is accepted by the student's dissertation committee and complete an oral defense of the dissertation. The dissertation must make an original and substantial contribution to legal scholarship by raising, expanding upon or answering an important question and exercising independent critical ability in making the argument.
The normal program length for the SJD program is 5 years.