S.J.D. Degree Requirements

Students in classroom

The requirements in fulfillment of the S.J.D. degree at Penn State Dickinson Law include a residency period, coursework, a candidacy defense and a dissertation defense. Students must also maintain satisfactory progress throughout the duration of the S.J.D. degree program.

  • Residency. S.J.D. students are required to be in residence at Dickinson Law for one academic year (or two semesters), preferably during year one of the S.J.D. program. All are encouraged to remain in residence throughout their studies.
  • Coursework. S.J.D. students are required to successfully complete Research Methods (2 credits) and Research Colloquium (2 credits). With approval, S.J.D. students may enroll in additional Dickinson Law courses. The S.J.D. Program Committee and/or the appropriate faculty supervisor may require additional coursework. S.J.D. students are required to remain enrolled in full-time status throughout the duration of their studies.
  • Candidacy Defense. In order to move into candidacy, each S.J.D. student must pass an oral defense to an appointed Candidacy Committee. Toward the end of the first year of residency, or when the S.J.D. faculty supervisor believes the draft of a chapter/article of the dissertation and bibliography are ready for review, the oral defense will be scheduled. Students who successfully satisfy the Candidacy Committee as to their progress will be considered “Candidates” for the duration of their S.J.D. studies. Individuals unable to successfully complete the candidacy defense within two full-time academic years must seek S.J.D. Program Committee approval to continue in good standing. Until such time as one becomes a Candidate, standard year one tuition rates apply.
  • Annual Progress Report. Candidates are encouraged to remain in residence throughout their studies. Each must submit an Annual Progress Report, usually in April or November, that the faculty supervisor and the S.J.D. Program Committee will review and deem satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If a candidate does not show satisfactory progress, the S.J.D. Program Committee may decide to remove the candidate from the program.
  • Dissertation Defense. When appropriate, the faculty supervisor will recommend to the S.J.D. Program Committee that a candidate be advanced to the final dissertation defense. At this time, the faculty supervisor will provide nominations of those to serve on Committee of Examiners. The final structure of the dissertation is jointly determined by the faculty supervisor and S.J.D. candidate as appropriate to the needs of the dissertation and the focus of research. The dissertation must be approved by the S.J.D. Program Committee.

Degree completion generally requires three years but must be completed within a maximum of five years. The S.J.D. Program Committee may elect to remove any student that does not complete the degree within five years.