Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) Degree Program

The J.S.D. (doctor of juridical science or doctor of the science of law) degree is IIT Chicago-Kent's most advanced degree, designed primarily for those who are interested in sustained independent legal research and writing with the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in legal academics. To earn the degree, candidates are required to submit a dissertation and to pass an oral defense of the dissertation within five years of enrollment in the program. The dissertation can take the form of a unified work or a set of articles (at a minimum three) with a unifying essay.

The basic aim of the J.S.D. program is to provide opportunity and encouragement for distinguished scholarship through advanced course work, seminars, colloquia and independent research, under the advice and guidance of members of the Chicago-Kent faculty. Upon admission, J.S.D. candidates will be assigned to a faculty thesis adviser working in their area of interest. Two additional advisers, either from Chicago-Kent, other faculties within IIT, or other universities will join the thesis adviser to form a special committee of faculty advisers.


Admission to the J.S.D. program is highly competitive and typically restricted to applicants who desire a career in law teaching and who can present evidence of impressive achievement in the study of law, in the United States or abroad, or in subsequent scholarly or professional activities. The program is well-suited for international students who wish to pursue doctoral study with the aim of advancing their existing academic careers in their home countries. We do also consider applications from U.S. students.

Applicants must be fluent in English and demonstrate a strong potential for producing legal scholarship that will make a significant scholarly contribution. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview or discussion with a member of the Chicago-Kent faculty prior to acceptance. An LL.M. degree is not a prerequisite but is strongly recommended. Equal consideration is given to applicants who are completing or have completed their LL.M. at Chicago-Kent College of Law and to outside applicants.

In assessing suitability for admission, the J.S.D. Committee considers a range of factors including: prior academic attainment; letters of recommendation; the applicant's rationale for pursuing a J.S.D.; the applicant's career plans; and the availability of faculty to advise in the applicant's area of research. Chicago-Kent is particularly interested in receiving applications in the following areas: intellectual property law; law and technology; privacy and data security; and international and comparative commercial law (with particular emphasis on bankruptcy law and antitrust law).