S.J.D. Admission Requirements


The S.J.D. program at Penn State Dickinson Law is highly selective with limited admission each year. In order to be accepted into the S.J.D. degree, applicants must have already earned an LL.B., B.A., or J.D. degree in law, or its equivalent, from a duly accredited or recognized national or international institution of higher education, as well as either an LL.M. degree from Dickinson Law or another American Bar Association-accredited law school in the U.S. or a duly accredited or recognized foreign law faculty, or another degree equivalent to at least a master’s degree in law.

For admission into the S.J.D. Program, each applicant must be matched with a primary faculty supervisor responsible for overseeing their dissertation research. Thus, submitting a comprehensive research proposal that aligns with the expertise of a Dickinson Law faculty member is essential. Prospective applicants should identify a faculty supervisor willing to supervise their dissertation research before submitting an application. For a current list of faculty members available to supervise new S.J.D. students, please consult Supervising S.J.D. Faculty.

Admissibility is determined on review of the following materials:

  • LSAC Application
  • Research Proposal
  • Writing Sample
  • Personal Statement
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
  • Official Transcript(s)
  • TOEFL (>88), IELTS (>6.5) or other evidence of English language proficiency.
  • Letters of Recommendation (3 required, 4 accepted)

Applications shall be evaluated by Dickinson Law’s S.J.D. Admissions Committee comprised of Dickinson Law faculty and administrators. Admissible applicants may be interviewed (in person or via Zoom) by the S.J.D. Admissions Committee and appropriate members of the Dickinson Law faculty. The S.J.D. Program Committee reserves the right to appoint a co-supervisor, if needed. Generally, a co-supervisor is appointed in circumstances such as when the proposed area of research is interdisciplinary and extends beyond any one area of disciplinary scholarship or faculty expertise.

Application Deadlines

The admission process for Dickinson Law’s Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program primarily takes place in the fall term, commencing in August. However, in certain circumstances and depending on enrollment capacity, admission in the spring term (January) may be available. It is crucial to note that transferring into the S.J.D. program is not permitted.

For fall semester admission, the application deadline is April 1. International students who require a visa to study in the U.S. should submit their applications at least six months prior to their intended start date to allow ample time for visa processing.

It is important to understand that applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the program reaches its capacity. Once the capacity is reached, the application process will be closed. As the S.J.D. program is highly selective, it is common for enrollment capacity to be reached well before the application deadline. Therefore, early submission of applications is strongly encouraged.

Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law are reunifying to operate as Penn State University’s single law school. While ABA approval for the reunification is pending, both schools are currently fully accredited. We will submit an application for acquiescence to operate as a single law school in July 2024 and plan to enroll a unified class in Fall 2025.