S.J.D. Admission Requirements
Application Deadline: February 1st
The application cycle for the Fall 2013 SJD Program is now closed. The application cycle for Fall 2014 will be from August 1, 2013 - February 1, 2014.
- All applications must be complete by February 1st. No applications will be considered after the deadline. The S.J.D. Program accepts applicants only for the fall semester.
- Applicants must hold an advanced law degree (LL.M. or equivalent) from a U.S. law school accredited by the American Bar Association, or from a non-U.S. law school with equivalent standards.
- Demonstrate distinguished academic performance in prior legal study. Most applicants have at least a 3.3 grade average on a 4.0 scale in prior legal study.
- Submit a completed application form, with supporting materials, before the application deadline.
S.J.D. Application Procedure
To be considered for admission to the S.J.D. Program, applicants must submit the following documents by the application deadline:
Applicants must complete and submit the S.J.D. application form. We strongly encourage applicants to complete and submit the application online.
Each application for admission must be accompanied by a non-refundable $75 application fee, which is payable by credit card through our website or through checks, U.S. money order, and traveler’s checks. Make checks or U.S. money orders payable to "American University Washington College of Law." All checks must be drawn on a bank that has a branch in the United States. We also accept American Express, Thomas Cook, and Barclay's traveler's checks. Postal money orders from other countries and cash are not acceptable.
Applicants must submit official transcripts or notarized full-sized copies of all law, graduate, and undergraduate schools attended, including a record of all your courses, examinations, and marks, and an official certification of the law degree received from a U.S. law school or from a recognized international institution. "Official" means a copy of your original document certified by an officer of your school or by a notary public. Faxed copies and photocopies of academic records will not be accepted. Transcripts must be written in the native language of the school. If this language is not English, the documents must be accompanied by a certified translation. Institutions must send the required documents directly to S.J.D. Program.
Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation from law professors, employers, or other persons familiar with the applicant’s academic and professional qualifications, using the official recommendation form. The recommendations must be sent directly to the S.J.D. Program in sealed and signed envelopes.The applicant should explain to references that the committee gives considerable weight to recommendation letters and thus thoughtful, candid evaluations of an applicant’s research and writing abilities, English proficiency, and any notable achievements that the reference deems significant are especially helpful.
Applicants must submit a one-page single-spaced essay explaining why he or she is seeking the S.J.D. degree and how it will advance his or her professional objectives. This essay can include reference to a specific position that the applicant seeks to attain, or to an area of law where the applicant plans to make a novel contribution. The S.J.D. dissertation should add to the existing legal literature in the chosen field.
Applicants must submit a dissertation proposal using the following five headings. A dissertation proposal lacking these five subparts will not be considered. The proposal must be 10 – 15 pages long, double spaced, with Times New Roman 12 point font, and 1 inch margins on all sides.
- The topic of the proposed dissertation
- A preliminary literature review, including:
- discussion of the existing literature on the subject and overview of what other scholars have already addressed; and .
- Explanation of how the applicant’s dissertation will differ from, and add to, the existing literature;
- A clear statement of the proposed hypothesis to be explored in the dissertation:
- Identification of a dissertation statement to be developed in the course of research and writing. The statement should not simply say you want to investigate a topic, study an area, or summarize a field. Rather, the dissertation statement requires a developed perspective that takes a particular approach or analyzes a specific theme in the desired topic of study.
- Faculty Advisor
- List up to five Law School faculty members who the applicant believes would be suitable Faculty Advisors based on the applicant’s chosen field of study.
Applicants who are accepted into the SJD Program will be assigned a Faculty Advisor in the candidate’s field of study. Faculty Advisor determinations are made solely by the Law School Faculty and Administration. Applicants should not contact faculty members requesting that they serve as a faculty advisor. Instead, applicants may list up to five faculty members in their dissertation proposal. The Law School will take these lists into account when pairing admitted SJD candidates and Faculty Advisors but cannot guarantee that any of the listed faculty members ultimately will be appointed to serve as a candidate’s Faculty Advisor.
Applicants whose first language is not English must take one of three tests for English competency, as described below. It is not necessary to take more than one.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum TOEFL score of 100 iBt (250 for computer based test), with a minimum writing score of 24, is required for admission. The institution code for the S.J.D. application is 8188, and the department code is 03.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required for admission.
- Pearson Test of English – Academic (PearsonPTE). A minimum score of 68 is required for admission. The institution code for the S.J.D. application is X1Q-XN-76.
If you are unsure whether you must take an English competency exam, please call 202-274-4268 or email the Program directly.
Non-U.S. citizens must submit the Certification of Finances for International Students (CFIS) and appropriate financial documentation to receive an I-20 form upon admission. The I-20 allows the student to apply for the F-1 (student) visa. Failure to return the CFIS will result in a delay in the issuance of the I-20. Candidates may submit these materials once a final admissions decision has been made. Students studying under other non-immigrant visa categories will be contacted if issues arise with their visa status. All students must be in the United States and prepared to begin the program by Orientation, which is held several days before classes begin. This is a non-waivable requirement, so plan accordingly.
Most international students attend WCL on an F-1 visa. A new visa can be acquired only at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Visa application procedures vary by location, so contact the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa.
Required documents for your visa application:
- Signed and valid I-20
- Valid passport
- Financial documents for at least one full academic year, dated within three months
- Official admission letter
- Application and application fee (provided at the U.S. embassy or consulate)
- Supporting documents to provide evidence of intent to return to your home country, such as family ties, property, or a job in your country
Please contact the Office of International Student & Scholar Services for more information.