Law, J.S.D (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Program Description

The Doctor of Science of Law degree is intended for students who want to become legal scholars and to pursue original investigations into the function, administration, history, and progress of law.

The minimum residence requirement is two full terms; the program normally requires at least three to four terms. Candidates ordinarily concentrate on one legal field and do a substantial amount of work in at least one other field.

The catalog of the Law School contains descriptions of subject areas and of the Graduate Legal Studies.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-5141

Suite G40 Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • law


2017-2018: $29,500

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, May 1; spring, check with field

Requirements Summary:

All applicants should state, in as much detail as possible, why they want to do advanced graduate work and the particular fields of study they want to pursue.

Applicants from the United States are expected to hold both a bachelor's degree, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) degree (or degrees of equivalent rank) from an approved law school. Applicants must also have professional practice or experience in teaching or advanced research.

Applicants from other countries will be considered for degree candidacy only if they have completed with distinction all the studies necessary for admission, or have been licensed for the practice of law in their own country.

The J.S.D program has extremely limited enrollment; approximately two or three students are admitted each year, most following completion of the LL.M. degree at Cornell Law School. Students who wish to continue their studies after the LL.M. degree from Cornell Law School must generally have all honors grades and must secure the agreement of a faculty member to be the Chairperson of their Special Committee.

Students who meet the requirements for admission but who do not want to become candidates for a degree may, at the discretion of the faculty, be admitted as non-degree students. Further information on the LL.M. degree may be obtained from the Law School Web site.


  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • two recommendations
  • J.D. and LL.M. or equivalents

Note: Contact field directly for application


Students completing a Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) degree should be able to:

  • Produce original, publishable scholarship in the field of law, demonstrate independent thinking to select topics of inquiry, and develop concepts and methods.
  • Demonstrate a thorough command of theoretical and empirical knowledge across several distinct subareas of the field of law, such as comparative law, international law, comparative legal history, legal anthropology and other fields related to the student’s primary area of research.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of a major area of expertise in the field of law, including a thorough knowledge of the relevant literature.  
  • Show effective mastery of the appropriate methodologies and techniques necessary for research, such as functionalism, legal transpant theory, critical legal studies, empirical studies, and the like. 
  • Show effective professional skills:  keeping abreast of scholarship within the field, clear and concise writing, well-organized presentations in conference and classroom settings, and job search preparation.
  •  Demonstrate a commitment to advancing the values of scholarship: participate in field colloquia and conferences, adhere to ethical standards, engagement in professional societies (AALS, L&S, etc.), and other professional activities.