Sep 27, 2021  
Graduate Record 2010-2011 
Graduate Record 2010-2011 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)

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Admission Requirements The Graduate Study Program is designed primarily for graduates of foreign law schools wishing to study U.S. law and legal methods, and for foreign and U.S. law graduates seeking careers in legal education or government service. Admission is limited to qualified students who have proven ability in the study of law.

Applicants to the Program must prepare an application including, among other things, their objectives in pursuing graduate study. For details on what is required to apply, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies, University of Virginia School of Law, 580 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903, or access the Law School Web site at

Foreign students whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Such students are required to submit results on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam as part of their complete application. For details regarding this requirement, including the minimum scores the graduate program looks for, see the Law School Web site.

All graduate students are normally admitted initially as candidates for the LL.M. degree. To be considered for S.J.D. candidacy, students must hold an LL.M. from a U.S. school or have taught or practiced for some time. Students who do not hold an LL.M. degree from the University of Virginia must also spend a year in residence before final admission to the S.J.D. program. Admission to candidacy for the S.J.D. degree does not follow automatically from admission to the graduate program, but depends upon the judgment of the candidate’s qualifications by the graduate committee.

Application Deadline Applications must be received by February 1. However, candidates are strongly advised to submit their applications earlier in the fall semester.

Financial Aid Financial Aid is based on merit and need. LL.M. students may compete for financial aid awards which are normally granted for one year and are limited in number.

Degree Requirements for Master of Laws (LL.M.)

The Master of Laws degree is conferred upon students who have satisfactorily completed at least two semesters of residence and a minimum of 24 credits, maintaining at least a 2.3 grade point average. With the exception of required first-year courses and graduation requirements, all policies and regulations listed in the Academic Policies manual apply to graduate students. At least one credit must be earned in producing a substantial written work, either within a seminar or as supervised research. Foreign students may be required to attend one or more orientation sessions specifically designed for them.

Degree Requirements for Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)

The Doctor of Juridical Science degree is conferred upon students who have:

  1. completed and received the University’s LL.M. degree at an honors level; or
  2. if not a holder of the University’s LL.M., have completed two semesters of residence at the Law School demonstrating honors ability in a program of study covering 12-16 credits to be divided between classroom and research as prescribed and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The research component requires completion of the dissertation proposal and/or written work demonstrating progress towards the dissertation. Final acceptance in the S.J.D. program is conditioned upon the work completed during the one year period of study;
  3. completed a dissertation that is an original contribution to the literature of law, demonstrating mastery of the principles of scholarly research, critical analysis, and reasoned presentation of results. The doctoral dissertation is normally the length of a book or monograph, or suitable for a series of law review articles. The subject must be approved by the student’s advisor;
  4. passed an oral examination by a special committee appointed for that purpose. After the dissertation has been approved by the faculty member supervising the student’s research, three examiners are appointed to question the applicant orally and report to the law faculty regarding the candidate’s fitness for the degree.

After completing the required residency, candidates for the S.J.D. degree must usually take additional time, either in residence or absentia, to prepare for the oral examination and submit a satisfactory dissertation. The dissertation may be submitted, and the oral examination held, any time within five years after the completion of the required period of residency. Candidates seeking an extension may present their case in writing for the graduate committee’s consideration.

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