S.J.D. candidates will:
Be in residence for two years. During this time they follow a course of study, research, and writing under the supervision of a full-time member of the faculty. After these two years, candidates may complete the dissertation away from the Washington, DC area if approved by their faculty supervisor and the Director of the S.J.D. Program to do so. While in residence, S.J.D. candidates are expected to be full-time students and to limit employment (on or off campus) to a maximum of 20 hours per week. This employment restriction applies regardless of whether a student's visa would permit more hours of employment.
Complete first year course requirements. In the first year, S.J.D. candidates take a one-semester, 3-credit seminar course that requires a scholarly paper. The seminar should be on a topic that supports dissertation research. They also spend the fall and spring semesters reading texts related to their research. The reading list is developed and undertaken under the supervision of a member of the faculty, earning 2 credits each semester.
Participate in the core S.J.D. curriculum throughout their time in residence. The core curriculum has three components: 1) the S.J.D. Colloquium, 3 credits per semester, which explores what constitutes effective legal scholarship, with a particular focus on comparative law and frequent guest speakers from the international faculty; 2) the S.J.D. Seminar, 3 credits per semester, which covers methodology for writing a dissertation and involves regular presentations by students; and 3) the Fellows Collaborative, a not-for credit course on U.S. jurisprudence extending over 4 semesters.
Make appropriate and adequate progress towards the completion of a dissertation. At the end of each academic year, candidates report to their supervisors and the Director of the S.J.D. Program on their progress. If, in the opinion of the supervisor and the Director of the S.J.D. Program, a candidate is not making appropriate progress, that candidate may be terminated from the program.
Submit a dissertation that is accepted by the candidate's dissertation committee and complete an oral defense of the dissertation. The dissertation must make an original and substantial contribution to legal scholarship by raising, expanding upon or answering an important question and exercising independent critical ability in making the argument.