Students, faculty and staff discussing SJD program around a table in a classroom.
Doctor of Laws (S.J.D.)

The S.J.D. Program is intended for individuals who have demonstrated evidence of superior scholarly potential and who are engaged in, or plan to pursue, careers in academia, government service, or the judiciary. Candidates accepted into the Program must have the ability to conduct sustained and original academic or professional research at a high intellectual level, culminating in the submission of a doctoral dissertation.

Prior to applying to the S.J.D. program, all applicants are required to identify a full-time faculty member at the School of Law to serve as their S.J.D. Advisor. The purpose of this requirement is to limit admission to only those applicants familiar with the research strengths of the faculty at the School of Law and hence who have a compelling reason to pursue their doctoral research here, under the guidance of one or more of our faculty members. Not all faculty members are available to serve as an S.J.D. Advisor at any given time. To obtain a roster of currently available faculty advisors, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program at

With rare exceptions, we are unlikely to admit any more than one or two candidates per academic year, in order to ensure sufficient attention for the demanding task of successfully completing a doctoral dissertation.  In rendering admissions decisions, preference is given to the Law School’s own LL.M. graduates, although applications from external candidates are welcome. 

S.J.D. candidates are expected to spend the first two academic semesters of the Program in residence at the Law School. Because all candidates will have completed an LL.M., however, there is no other required coursework apart from the S.J.D. dissertation.

To be eligible for admission to the SJD Program, an applicant must:

  1. have obtained or be enrolled in a program leading to the equivalent of an advanced law degree (normally an LL.M.) from either an accredited law school within the United States or a recognized university outside of the United States, which advanced degree must be obtained prior to matriculation in the S.J.D. program
  2. meet the English Language Requirements for S.J.D. Admissions set out below; and
  3. obtain the agreement of a UConn Law School full-time faculty member to serve as the S.J.D. dissertation adviser (please include with your application the letter or email from that person evidencing that agreement). If you are an external applicant (i.e., someone who did not receive their J.D. or LL.M. from UConn School of Law), please contact the Director of the Graduate Program at for assistance in fulfilling this requirement prior to submitting your application. Under no circumstances should an applicant contact faculty directly to serve as an advisor without first contacting the Director of the Graduate Program.
    Applicants should take note, as well, that it is the sense of the faculty of the School of Law that any candidate admitted into the S.J.D. program should normally:
  4. have attained an overall GPA (or its equivalent) in the course of study leading their advanced law degree (normally an LL.M.) of at least 3.3/B+ with at least one grade of A- or higher, and have also completed an LL.M. thesis (or its equivalent) attaining an “Honors” designation (or its equivalent);
  5. or, in the alternative, have submitted evidence of outstanding professional achievement directly relating to the proposed topic of the dissertation that warrants admission in lieu of the academic standards set out in Section 4 above.  Such evidence must be specifically addressed in the personal statement and dissertation proposal and also reflected in LL.M. thesis (or its equivalent) that each applicant must submit as part of the application for admission into the program.
English Language Requirement for S.J.D. Admissions

Unless the applicant qualifies for an exemption as outlined below, any international applicant who earned his or her first law degree outside the U.S. must obtain a minimum TOEFL IBT® score of 95 or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0, in order to be considered for admission to the S.J.D. Program at the University of Connecticut School of Law.  However, if the applicant meets this required minimum but does not attain a score of 100 or higher on the TOEFL IBT® or 7.5 or higher on the IELTS, the applicant must further substantiate proficiency in English through additional evidence of English language skills. This substantiation must include, but is not limited to, a strong S.J.D. proposal in conjunction with an interview with an Admissions representative, conducted in-person, by phone, or online (using Skype or similar service). 

The applicant may request an exemption from the TOEFL IBT® or IELTS requirement if:

• the applicant obtained his or her LL.M. degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law; or

• the language of instruction at the university where the applicant obtained his or her first or advanced law degree was English. 

Please note that any international applicant requesting exemption from the TOEFL IBT®/IELTS requirement must submit a written request with his or her application for admission that includes an explanation of the applicant’s proficiency in English along with original documentation supporting the requested exemption on the basis of one or more of the above categories.  Exemptions are not automatic and require the approval of the Admissions Committee.

In all instances, regardless of TOEFL IBT® or IELTS score, the Admissions Committee reserves the right to deny an application or to require an online, phone, or in-person interview as part of the application process. 

Please only send us your complete application, meaning that you have included in one submission every document required below for the application. We cannot accept or save incomplete applications that require further documentation; failure to submit a completed application will require a new, complete resubmission on the part of the applicant. Upon receipt, we will send a one-time acknowledgement indicating whether the application is complete or not. Thereafter, due to the volume of applications we receive, we will not be able to respond to further inquiries about S.J.D. application receipt and status. Should the S.J.D. Admissions Committee need additional information about your application we will be sure to contact you. You will receive both an email and a letter informing you of the admissions decision once the Committee has acted. 

Required Materials:

To apply, applicants must send the following materials, in electronic form, to Applications will be considered on a rolling basis but should generally be submitted by May 1 for fall admission and November 1 for spring admission. Attach all of the documents requested in items 1-9 below in one email and label the attached files according to the descriptions indicated below:

1.  A completed application form. Please label this file “1. last name,first name (application form)”. The application form also includes a checklist which will help ensure that your application is complete. We cannot accept or save incomplete applications pending further documentation. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application is complete.

2. A (non-refundable) check (in U.S Dollars) travelers check or international money order payable to "UConn School of Law" in the amount of $100 (US) for the application processing fee.

3.  A personal statement of no more than 500 words, summarizing the applicant’s background, reasons for pursuing an S.J.D., and how the degree will further the applicant’s professional aspirations. Please label this file “2. last name, first name (personal statement)”. 

4.  A resume or curriculum vitae. Please label this file: “3. last name, first name (CV)”.

5.  Electronic (scanned) copies of official transcripts from each university and law school attended with English translations. Please label this file: “4. last name, first name (transcripts)”. Please then send us as soon as possible a hard copy of certified original transcripts from each university and law school attended with English translations. Transcripts from law schools outside the United States must be submitted through LSAC (please provide your LSAC number on the space provided on the Application Form, if applicable). If you have received your LL.M. from UConn Law School you simply need to have the registrar send us your official transcript. Applicants who apply prior to the end of their last LL.M. semester and have not received final grades, should submit the most current transcript available.

6.  A copy of the applicant’s LL.M. thesis (or its equivalent). Please label this file: “5. last name, first name (LLM thesis)”. 

7.  A dissertation proposal of not less than 2,000 words (including footnotes). Please label this file: “6. last name, first name (dissertation proposal)”. The dissertation proposal must include the following:

(a) A clear, law-related research question or problem that will be addressed;

(b) A review of the literature addressing the question or problem (including any relevant literature from other disciplines, such as economics, sociology, or history) that demonstrates an ongoing debate among scholars, policy makers or other professional groups on the proposed question, or a lack of recognition of, or attention to, the problem;

(c) An explanation of the methods, theories or approaches to be used to answer the question or resolve the problem and, if an empirical or comparative project, a discussion of the kind of evidence to be produced that will answer the question or resolve the problem; and
(d) An explanation of the expected contribution of the independent research project to the scholarly literature.

8. A copy of the letter or email from a UConn Law School full-time faculty member stating that he or she agrees to serve as the S.J.D. dissertation adviser. Please label this file: “7. Last name, first name (UConn dissertation adviser).

International applicants must also submit the following:

9.  Financial Declaration Form. Please label this file: “8. last name, first name (financial declaration form)”.

10.  Evidence that the applicant meets the requirements for English language proficiency (below). Please label this file: “9. last name, first name (English language proficiency).”

Recommendation Letters:

Please arrange to have two recommendation letters sent separately (or directly by the recommender) to or through LSAC. The two letters must arrive no later than the designated application due date. One letter may be from an individual familiar with the applicant’s professional work. The second letter must come from a faculty member at the law school from which the applicant obtained their LL.M. degree and this second letter must specifically address the feasibility of the dissertation proposal. For applicants who received their LL.M. degree from UConn Law, this second letter should generally be from the UConn Law School full-time faculty member who has agreed to serve as the S.J.D. dissertation adviser.



S.J.D. candidates are expected to spend the first two academic semesters of the Program in residence at the Law School, registered for “LAW7974 SJD Dissertation.”  For each semester thereafter, until the completion of the Program, the candidate need not be in residence but must be registered for “LAW7976 SJD Continuous Registration.”  For tuition and fees for the residential and continuing registration semesters, see the law school’s schedule for tuition and fees here.