Degree Requirements

A student pursuing the SJD degree must successfully complete the following requirements to attain their degree:

  • Two semesters of residency at Emory Law;
  • Satisfactory completion of thirty semester hours of academic work, including coursework, directed research, and writing credits, as determined by faculty supervisor;
  • Successful preparation of a Research Proposal Outline;
  • Annual progress reports for faculty dissertation committee;
  • Successful preparation and defense of a scholarly dissertation.

SJD Milestones

Working with a faculty supervisor, and two other dissertation committee faculty members, SJD students learn from experienced scholars in fields related to their area of interest. While each SJD student will pursue their own scholarly dissertation work, the major milestones along an SJD student’s path will be common to all SJD students.

Before Classes Begin:

  • Student and Faculty Supervisor meet, and determine required coursework (if any)

Year One: Residency Year

  • Supervisor and candidate establish a three-person Dissertation Committee
  • Complete Research Proposal Outline
  • Begin research and writing on dissertation
  • Engage in coursework
  • Complete and submit Annual Progress Report

Year Two: SJD Candidacy (Residency not required, but often recommended)

  • Complete any required coursework
  • Conduct research and writing
  • Recommended: Present results at a Works in Progress seminar
  • Complete and submit Annual Progress Report

Subsequent Years – Dissertation Submission: SJD Candidacy (Not to
exceed four years upon the completion of the Residency Year)

  • Write, revise and submit dissertation
  • Complete and submit Annual Progress Report

SJD Defense Semester

  • Successfully defend and revise dissertation


Residency, Course and Dissertation Requirements

Students in the SJD program must be in residence for a minimum of one year. The supervising faculty member may strongly recommend a second residency year as needed. The supervising faculty member and the Graduate Legal Studies Committee must approve each program.

Any coursework required as part of the SJD will be determined by the supervising faculty member and the SJD student. Beyond the required thirty semester credit hours of academic work, auditing is permitted with the course instructor’s consent. The choice of courses will be from among those generally offered at the law school and will depend on the particular subject matter and course of study approved for each SJD candidate. Applicants should bear in mind that, due to curriculum scheduling and faculty availability, not every class listed is taught each year. This is most often true in the case of specialized seminars.

Works in Progress Seminars
During their second year, SJD students are strongly encouraged to conduct a Works In Progress Seminar. During this session, an SJD student presents 1 or more chapters of their dissertation for discussion with their SJD peers, supervising faculty, visiting scholars, and other students interested in the research topic. This provides SJD students an opportunity to gain formative feedback on their dissertation, experience presenting their work, and answering questions on their research.

Dissertation Requirements
Within four years of the completion of the residency period, unless for exceptional circumstances an extension is granted by the Graduate Legal Studies Committee, a candidate shall submit, and successfully defend in an oral examination, a dissertation in the of a monograph or a series of closely related essays suitable for publication and constituting a substantial contribution to knowledge in its field.