How to Apply

The SJD admission process is highly competitive. The Graduate Legal Studies Committee will admit only the most highly qualified applicants who complete all elements of the application for admission, provide clear evidence of academic excellence and demonstrate high potential for completing a scholarly dissertation that constitutes substantial contribution to knowledge.  As such, the committee may admit several new SJD students each year, or may choose to admit none at all. 

Summary of SJD Application Deadlines

NOTE: The application period has passed for the 2013-2014 academic year. Information for the next academic year will be posted at a later date.

Sept. 1 – Jan. 20
SJD inquiries accepted by Director of Graduate Programs Admissions; invitations to apply are extended

Jan. 20
SJD Applications Due

Around March 1
SJD Admissions Decisions Communicated

Before Applying

Prior to applying, all prospective students interested in the SJD program must first contact Jessica Dworkin, Assistant Dean, Graduate Programs.  This initial consultation will help determine if there is a good fit between the Emory SJD program and the prospective student.  Initial inquiries should be sent to Jessica Dworkin at jrdworkin(at)

In your email to the Director of Graduate Programs Admission, please number and respond to the following eight questions:

  1. What is your proposed area of research? (500 words or fewer).
  2. Are there one or two School of Law faculty members with whom you are particularly interested in working?
  3. Where did you receive your first law degree (JD or LLB)?
  4. What was your grade point average and/or class rank during your JD/LLB studies?
  5. Where did you receive your LLM degree or comparable Masters of Law degree?
  6. What was your grade point average and/or class rank during your LLM/MA studies?
  7. Do you have any academic writing in print or in progress (e.g., in or for a law review, journal, or book), whether digitally or in print? If so, please list.
  8. Do you have external financial sponsorship for your SJD studies?

Responses to these eight questions will be reviewed by the Director of Graduate Programs Admission and one or more designees from the Graduate Legal Studies committee.  Based on this review, if a prospective student is extended an invitation to apply to the SJD program, he or she will proceed to the next steps of the application process.

Application Submission

If invited to apply, prospective students will be sent an application form for the SJD program.  The application deadline is January 20 each year to begin studies the following fall.  A complete SJD application will include the following elements:

  • Completed and signed SJD application form
  • Official (original) School transcripts evidencing completion of a JD or its foreign equivalent
  • An LLM (or comparable Masters of Law degree) from an American law school
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Research Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • A substantial research paper written in, or translated into English, or in a language that can be read by an Emory faculty member
  • An official TOEFL Score Report (Test of English as a Foreign Language) from Educational Testing Service (if applicable)
  • A non-refundable application fee of $80 payable to Emory University.  This may be a U.S. Dollar check, money order, foreign draft, or American Express Travelers check. All of these should be issued in U.S. funds, payable at a U.S. bank.

All elements of the SJD application should be submitted in a single packet to the Admissions Office by the January 20 deadline.

Materials should be sent to:
Emory University School of Law
Office of Admission – SJD Admission
1301 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30322


  • Application form. The application form asks for basic data regarding career interests, academic qualifications and references.
  • Official school transcripts. Transcripts must show completion of an American JD or its foreign equivalent (first law degree) and an LLM (or its equivalent Masters of Law degree) from an American law school.  The transcript must evidence the quality of the applicant’s exam performance and should include all courses and examinations taken and grades received for all university work.  Transcripts that are not available in English must be submitted for translation and assessment to World Education Services, Inc. For additional information about WES, visit
  • Letters of recommendation. Three letters of recommendation should be provided. They should be from reputable and reliable sources with personal knowledge of applicant's academic abilities and potential for engaging in advanced research. It is preferable that these letters come from the applicant's former law school professors. The letters are most helpful when the writer can provide specific firsthand information on the applicant's academic and professional capacity and performance.
  • Statement of research purpose. Applicants are asked to take particular care in outlining and discussing the purpose of their graduate work. They should describe their principal area of research interest with as much specificity as possible.  The statement should indicate what the applicant wants to accomplish intellectually over the course the program.  There are no limitations as to subject matter-projects can be theoretical or policy-orientated, comparative, international or domestic.
  • Personal statement. The applicant should describe his or her objective in pursuing graduate legal studies. The statement should include any experiences, qualifications or other information that the applicant deems relevant.
  • Substantial research paper. The substantial research paper should exemplify the applicant's best scholarly work. It must be written in, or translated into English language that can be read by an Emory faculty member.

Application Review and Faculty Assignment

During the month of February, the Graduate Legal Studies Committee will review all completed SJD applications, and will render an admissions decision.  As part of this review, applicants who are admitted to the SJD program will be matched with a faculty supervisor. The faculty supervisor assignment will take into account the fit between a student’s area of research interest and faculty expertise, faculty support of the student’s statement of research purpose, faculty member SJD advisee caseload, and any preferences for faculty supervisors indicated by the student. The assigned faculty member will be the student’s primary faculty supervisor throughout the SJD degree program.

Admissions decisions will be finalized and communicated via a notification letter to SJD applicants around March 1. Committee decisions are not given over the phone and will not be reconsidered for the current year, although applicants may be extended an invitation to reapply in subsequent years.