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

The SJD 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. In rendering admissions decisions, strong preference is given to the Law School's own LLM graduates, although applications from external candidates are welcome. Candidates accepted into the SJD 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. Academic Regulations for the SJD Program (pdf) can be accessed in the Student Portal.

There are two options for admission: (i) direct admission as an SJD candidate; or (ii) admission as part of the combined LLM/SJD program.

Direct Admission:

SJD candidates admitted directly into the program (that is, not as part of the combined LLM/SJD Program) are expected to spend the first two academic semesters of the Program in residence at the Law School. For candidates admitted directly into the SJD program, there is no other required coursework apart from defense of the SJD. prospectus during the year in residence.

Applicants seeking direct admissions into the SJD program are required to identify a full-time faculty member at the School of Law to serve as their SJD 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 SJD Advisor at any given time. To obtain a roster of currently available faculty advisors, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program at

Admission as a combined LLM/SJD candidate:

External applicants (i.e., ones who did not receive an LLM from UConn School of Law) should consider applying as a combined LLM/SJD candidate.  This is appropriate even if you have already received an LLM degree from another institution.  The benefit of pursuing an additional LLM at UConn is that it will allow students to make important faculty connections needed for proper supervision in the SJD program.  Through this process, you will apply for admission to the LLM program while simultaneously indicating your interest in completing the combined LLM/SJD degree.  You would be offered admission to the LLM program with a conditional admission to the SJD program, subject to meeting the additional requirements for admissions established by the faculty (see items 4 and 5 under the "Who Can Apply" tab above).  The combined LLM/SJD program will have two benefits: first, it will allow you to make important faculty connections during your LLM year,; and second, it will give you access to support through the International and Graduate Programs Department to help you attain the additional SJD program admissions requirements and strengthen your ability to succeed as an SJD candidate.

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 LLM) 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 SJD program
  2. meet the English Language Requirements for SJD Admissions set out below; and
  3. obtain the agreement of a UConn Law School full-time faculty member to serve as the SJD 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 JD or LLM 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 SJD program should normally:
  4. have attained an overall GPA (or its equivalent) in the course of study leading their advanced law degree (normally an LLM) of at least 3.3/B+ with at least one grade of A- or higher, and have also completed an LLM 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 LLM thesis (or its equivalent) that each applicant must submit as part of the application for admission into the program.

With rare exceptions, the UConn Law SJD program is 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 LLM graduates, although applications from external candidates are welcome. 

SJD 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 LLM, however, there is no other required coursework apart from the SJD dissertation.

English Proficiency Requirement for SJD Admissions

International applicants to UConn Law's SJD program must provide proof of English proficiency or demonstrate qualification for an exemption from this requirement. All international candidates are asked to consult the English Proficiency Requirements page for details. 

Application Process for LLM to SJD Conditional Admission:

Students can apply to an LLM program and request that they be conditionally admitted to the SJD program simultaneously.  Such applicants will be relieved of submitting a dissertation proposal and identifying a specific possible SJD advisor while an external applicant. You may then use your year as an LLM student to identify a research topic and advisor, which will greatly facilitate your success as a future SJD candidate. 

Application Process for SJD Direct Admission:

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 SJD application receipt and status. Should the SJD 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. Click here to pay the application fee via credit card.

3.  A personal statement of no more than 500 words, summarizing the applicant’s background, reasons for pursuing an SJD, 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 LLM 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 LLM semester and have not received final grades, should submit the most current transcript available.

6.  A copy of the applicant’s LLM 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 SJD. 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 LLM degree and this second letter must specifically address the feasibility of the dissertation proposal. For applicants who received their LLM 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 SJD 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.