The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) Program

Welcome From the Director

I am pleased to introduce you to the S.J.D. Program at American University Washington College of Law (WCL). The S.J.D. Program is a vibrant center of intellectual life at WCL. With approximately 20 active S.J.D. candidates from around the world, the S.J.D. Program is designed for aspiring legal academics and other top legal professionals to pursue sustained independent research and writing in a given field of legal specialization. The S.J.D. Program culminates in a dissertation of publishable quality that represents a valuable, original contribution to the scholarship in that candidate's field and a candidate's public presentation and defense of his or her dissertation before an S.J.D. examining committee and members of the WCL community. Upon successful completion of the S.J.D. Program requirements, we are pleased to celebrate our new Doctors of Juridical Science and welcome them to our community of scholars. I hope you will enjoy learning about all of the opportunities WCL has to offer.

Amanda Frost
Professor and Director, S.J.D. Program
American University Washington College of Law

Information Session: Preparing your application

Panel Presentation: Preparing a successful proposal


The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is the most advanced law degree at American University Washington College of Law. The program is designed for highly qualified lawyers seeking to pursue scholarly research and writing in the law. The program selects candidates who are prepared to write a doctoral dissertation, who will make original contributions to the legal literature, and who have a strong intellectual commitment to advanced legal study.

The S.J.D. program covers a breadth of legal topics ranging from international human rights law to international finance and tax law. The program takes pride in its diverse community of candidates, faculty, and legal topics. S.J.D. candidates represent a distinct intellectual community and go on to pursue an array of scholarly, judicial, and political careers in the U.S. and abroad.

Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS)

American University's SJD Program is now a member of The Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS). ATLAS was formed in 2006 with the mission of bringing together talented doctoral students in the field of law. Every year, ATLAS holds a two-week meeting of student and faculty representatives from the partner institutions at which students have a chance to attend seminars and to workshop their research. In addition, ATLAS encourages students from member institutions to engage in research exchanges with partner schools. Next year's annual meeting will be held at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany in late June 2016. More information about ATLAS can be found at:

ATLAS's partner schools currently include University of Montreal (Canada), Bucerius Law School (Germany), the National University of Singapore (Singapore), Bar-Ilan University (Israel), Queen Mary University (London), and Osgood Hall Law School (Canada). Several additional universities may become partners in ATLAS over the coming year, including universities in China, Hong Kong, and Ireland.

If you are interested in a semester exchange with any of these universities, please contact SJD Director Amanda Frost.

Program Stages

The S.J.D. program is a four or five year research and writing focused program. The first year of the program must be completed in full time residence at the Law School. During the residency year, candidates participate in an innovative Doctoral Colloquium, audit law school courses necessary for their dissertation research, and conduct advanced legal research on their dissertation topics. The latter years of the program can either be completed in residence in Washington D.C., or in another location in the U.S. or abroad. Following the residency year, candidates draft their dissertation and receive feedback from their faculty advisors and committee members. In their final year of the program, candidates edit and finalize their dissertations and participate in the rigorous oral defense of their dissertations.

Candidates, Alumni, & Faculty

The S.J.D. program is a small, highly selective program with candidates from countries around the world. Candidates are under the instruction of faculty members who are all recognized experts and leading practitioners in their respective fields.

Graduates have gone on to pursue various prestigious careers in government, academia, and in the non-profit sector. The program takes pride in our alumni and count among them a Supreme Court Justice in Uganda, President of the High Shari'a Court of Appeals in Israel, and a Director within the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance.