S.J.D. students 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 two years, students are not required to be full-time students unless they are residing in the U.S. on a student visa, and may complete the dissertation away from the Washington, DC area.  While in residence, S.J.D. students 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. students take a one-semester, 3-credit seminar course that requires a scholarly paper 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.  Finally, first year S.J.D. students take a 1-credit class on oral presentations their fall semester.

Participate in the core S.J.D. curriculum throughout their time in residence.  The core curriculum has two components:  1) the S.J.D. Colloquium, 3 credits per semester, which is structured around specific themes each semester such as law and society, comparative law, western jurisprudence and research methodology; and 2) the S.J.D. Seminar, 3 credits per semester, where students meet weekly in small sections to present and discuss their work.

Make appropriate and adequate progress towards the completion of a dissertation. At the end of each academic year, students 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 student is not making appropriate progress, that student may be terminated from the program.

Submit a dissertation that is accepted by the student'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.

The normal program length for the SJD program is 5 years.

Special option for students with an interest in international investment law

Georgetown is proud to announce the International Investment Law Center (IILC), a new center for research and teaching in one of the fastest growing fields of international economic law. A primary objective of the Center is to supervise S.J.D. students who have a specific and passionate interest in international investment law, arbitration and policy and wish to become serious scholars. Students complete all the ordinary requirements for the S.J.D. degree while studying with the IILC. The Center seeks to attract 1-2 new S.J.D. students for 2017-18. The IILC offers students the unique opportunity to benefit from the curriculum and faculty who teach in this field and to participate in the activities of the Center. In addition, students will have access to members of the international arbitration community of Washington, D.C., many of whom are on our faculty, and will study in the city where the leading institution in international investment arbitration is located –the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Our supervision team includes IILC members: 

  • Don Wallace, Jr., Professor of Law and Chairman, International Law Institute
  • Dr. Borzu Sabahi, Adjunct Professor of Law and Partner, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP
  • Ian Laird, Adjunct Professor of Law and Partner, Crowell &Moring LLP  

Please note that applicants are evaluated under normal admissions criteria for the S.J.D. program. Applicants interested in being supervised through the IILC must specifically designate their interest in their S.J.D. application.

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