J.S.D. Program Curriculum and Academic Standards

Year One

The J.S.D. program is a focused research and writing program. The first year of the program must be completed in residence at Chicago-Kent. During the residency year, candidates participate in a J.S.D. Colloquium, enroll in courses necessary or useful for their dissertation research, and conduct advanced legal research on their dissertation topics. The primary aim of this first year will be to ensure the candidate has sufficient background education to pursue his or her chosen research and sufficient time to make significant headway on the research. Candidates are expected to finalize the scope of their proposed dissertation and must present it to their Advisory Committee by the end of the compulsory year in residence.

Individual Study Plan

Each candidate will develop, with the assistance of his or her Advisory Committee, a study plan for the first year. The study plan will differ for each candidate and may include up to 24 credit hours of course work. Both the J.S.D. committee and the candidate's Advisory Committee must approve the study plan. Accepted J.S.D. students who have no U.S. law school or practice experience may be required to take an Introduction to the American Legal System class at the beginning of the fall term.

J.S.D. Colloquium

Every candidate will participate in a 2-credit, yearlong J.S.D. Colloquium that will be devoted to discussions and presentations on research and writing and substantive presentations by the candidates in their areas of research. 

Participation in Faculty Workshops

Candidates are welcome to attend all faculty workshops and expected to attend at least those workshops that fall within their area of research.

Years Two Through Five

After the first year, candidates will focus on developing their dissertation and building on the preliminary research they conducted during the first stage. Candidates will continue to meet, either in person or by remote means, with their Advisory Committee twice a year. J.S.D. candidates must be in residence for their first year only but may remain in residence thereafter if they so wish.

Each candidate must submit his or her final dissertation to his or her Advisory Committee within four years of his or her initial enrollment. The Advisory Committee will approve the written dissertation if it is satisfactory, organize the oral defense, and pass the dissertation on to the J.S.D. Committee for final approval.