Apply J.S.D.

The College of Law offers an advanced program leading to the J.S.D. degree to qualified LL.M. graduates of accredited U.S. law schools. The J.S.D. is primarily for students who intend to pursue an academic career. The program provides an opportunity for extended study, research, and scholarly development. Applications for the Illinois J.S.D. program will only be accepted through the link below.

Program Overview

The J.S.D. program normally takes a minimum of three years, including up to four semesters of course work. J.S.D. candidates are assigned a primary faculty Advisor with expertise in the student's research area.

First Year

Following the first year of the J.S.D. program, candidates are required to pass a qualifying examination demonstrating general proficiency in the student’s field of study. This examination is administered by a qualifying orals committee consisting of three faculty members in addition to the primary Advisor. The field of study, for the purposes of the oral examination, encompasses, but is broader than, the topic of the student’s dissertation topic.

  • For example, a student planning to write a dissertation on the no-fault accident system in New Zealand may (in consultation with the primary Advisor) define the field of study to be tort law, or an interdisciplinary approach of interest to the student (including, but not limited to, law and economics, law and history, law and psychology, or empirical methods), or some combination thereof.

The requirement of general proficiency in the student’s field of study is intended to ensure breadth as well as depth in the student’s training, and reflects the J.S.D. program’s objective of equipping students to become well-rounded citizens of the global scholarly community, as well as experts in the topic of their dissertation research.

Second Year

Following the qualifying examination, candidates will pursue their research under the guidance of their primary Advisor and an additional three faculty members who form the student's doctoral committee. This may, but need not, be composed of the same faculty members as the qualifying examination committee.

Third Year

The student’s doctoral committee will conduct a second oral preliminary examination on the student’s research proposal. The student’s doctoral committee then will assess the student’s thesis research and writing progress, make recommendations, and conduct a final oral examination on the final draft of the dissertation. The final dissertation will then be completed and deposited with the Graduate College of the University of Illinois.

Illinois has a wide, rich and diverse faculty. Faculty members with particular interest in working with J.S.D. students:

Professor Paul Heald
I would welcome a student with the ability to make an original contribution to the empirical, comparative, or theoretical economic scholarship of intellectual property law. The University of Illinois has particularly strong resources in this area and is an ideal place to push the boundaries of IP law. Potential candidates should feel free to send me a one-page abstract of their proposed dissertation topic.

Professor Robert Lawless
My expectations for J.S.D. students are the same expectations I have for any legal academic. From the first day of the program, I want our J.S.D. students to be thinking like a scholar. This means having intellectual curiosity, drive, initiative, maturity, and a willingness to learn on your own. My J.S.D. students should expect to do interdisciplinary study in the law and social sciences, either sampling from our many research-oriented courses at the College of Law or enrolling in graduate-level courses in other departments. For the J.S.D. students with whom I work, my goal is for them to produce a top-quality database they not only can use to support their dissertation but also to take with them to begin their academic careers.

Professors Nuno Garoupa and Robert Lawless are also co-directors for the Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Science. Many of our J.S.D. students are a part of this program. Learn more about the Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Science.

Ms. Carolina Arlota (Brazil): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Garoupa
Tentative Thesis Title: Federalism in the United States and in Brazil: A Law and Politics Perspective

Ms. Yu-An Chen (Taiwan): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Davey

Ms. Xiaoqi Dai (China): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Ross

Mr. Ye Feng (China): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Dharmapala
Tentative Thesis Title: Law and Economics Analysis of the Status Quo and Reform of the Land Ownership System in China

Mr. Anthony Kakooza (Uganda): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Kesan
Tentative Thesis Title: THE CULTURAL DIVIDE: Traditional Cultural Expressions and the Entertainment Industry in Developing Economies

Mr. Carlos Rubio (Colombia): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Aviram
Tentative Thesis Title: Reexaming the 'Literary Property' Debates with the help of Blackstone and Hohfeld

Ms. Romin Tamanna (Bangladesh): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Freyfogle
Tentative Thesis Title: Rivers of Life: International Watercourses, the Berlin Rules, and Trans-boundary Harm

Ms. Runhua Wang (China): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Kesan
Mr. Tzu-Te Wen (Taiwan): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Leipold
Tentative Thesis Topic: Reformation of Screening Mechanism to Prosecutorial Charging Decision in the Republic of China (Taiwan)

Ms. Yingying Wu (China): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Davey

Ms. Aisi Zhang
(China): J.S.D. Candidate
Thesis Advisor: Professor Garoupa
Tentative Thesis Title: Developing Constitutional Review in China from a Comparative Perspective

Application Timeline

Admission to the J.S.D. program is for the fall semester only.

Fall 2014 Applications Accepted: Beginning January 31, 2014
Fall 2014 Application Deadline: March 1, 2014

Application Requirements

Those admitted to the highly selective program must demonstrate analytic and research ability, possess outstanding academic credentials, and have completed the LL.M. at an accredited U.S. law school. The successful candidate will also have excellent English reading and writing ability, a demonstrated commitment to developing the skills and background of a successful scholar, and have a research interest in one of the College of Law’s specialty programs.

Application requirements include:

  • 5-10 page research proposal with evidence of preliminary research on the topic and anticipated research methodology
  • Personal statement indicating career goals, relevant past experience, and reasons for selecting the Illinois program
  • Current curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of reference including at least one from an accredited U.S. law school
  • Copies of academic transcripts
  • Statement of financial resources available to support this program
  • TOEFL/IELTS score
  • An oral interview may be required

English Proficiency

All applicants from countries where English is not the official language are required to submit the scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Preference will be given to applicants with a TOEFL score of 95 internet-based or higher or an IELTS score of 7.0 or higher. Test must be taken within two years of program term of entry (August).

Tuition & Fees

Tuition and fees for the J.S.D. program for the 2013-2014 academic year are $53,157. Tuition and fees for 2014-15 will be set in the spring. Dissertation fellowships cover full tuition for University of Illinois J.S.D. students in good standing during the third year of the program. For students who do not have financial support from outside sources, a limited amount of additional partial support towards tuition may be available, based on need, scholarly merit, and the availability of resources. The estimated living expenses, which include room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses are $16,583. The amount applicants will be required to verify for purposes of obtaining a visa is $69,740. Please note that tuition, fees, and expenses are subject to increase without notice.

For LL.M. and J.S.D. Admissions, please contact:

Office of Graduate and International Legal Studies
University of Illinois College of Law
244 Law Building
504 East Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-6066

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