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. In order to maintain candidacy, each S.J.D. candidate must submit an Annual Progress Report at the end of each academic year (usually in May). This is a detailed report of the candidate’s research, writing and professional activities submitted to the faculty supervisor for approval and feedback. The Annual Progress Report must provide a detailed accounting of the candidate’s progress in alignment with the initial research plan submitted at the time of the candidacy defense. Any modifications to the dissertation research, its methodology or the research plan should be noted and discussed. Additionally, the candidate should acknowledge and discuss any particular challenges or barriers to progressing without delay to the dissertation defense.
  • 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.

For more information on the S.J.D. degree program requirements, please see the S.J.D. Student Academic Handbook, Supplemental.