Preparing Scholars for Distinguished Academic Careers

The most advanced degree program at UCLA Law, the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is designed for those seeking to pursue careers as teachers and scholars of law.

Apply to the SJD Program

The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) Degree Program is designed for those seeking to pursue careers as teachers and scholars of law. This highly selective program is open only to applicants who possess a distinguished prior academic record in law, show promise of outstanding scholarship, and demonstrate a high potential for completing a scholarly dissertation of required quality. Applicants must hold a J.D. degree or foreign equivalent and an LL.M. degree (or be enrolled in a program leading to an LL.M. degree).

The S.J.D. Program provides a unique opportunity for outstanding international law graduates to study at the UCLA School of Law. In the sixty years since its foundation, UCLA School of Law has grown to an institution of over 1,000 students and approximately 100 full and part-time faculty members. It is recognized by academic surveys to be among the twenty best law schools in the United States. The school is particularly noted for the unsurpassed expertise of its faculty, whose intellectual strength is balanced by commitments to improved instructional programs and an active recognition of social responsibilities.

UCLA is the premier university in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a dynamic, cosmopolitan cultural center of more than ten million people. A vital part of the nine-campus University of California system, UCLA has reached national prominence in a variety of disciplines and consistently ranks in the top half-dozen universities in the nation, as judged by its academic peers and in terms of fellowships and grants awarded. UCLA enrolls approximately 45,000 students across 13 schools and colleges, in over 100 academic departments, and in 23 research units. Its 19 libraries, special collections, and archives hold approximately 12 million print and electronic volumes.

Our distinguished law faculty help prepare these students across an extensive range of law subjects -- using a variety of effective and often interdisciplinary approaches to teaching -- for outstanding careers in academia, transactional and litigation practices, government, international and domestic public policy, business, and nonprofit public interest arenas.

Those who ultimately join us can look forward to a promising future for themselves and for those whom they will teach, inform, and represent.

  • Degree Requirements and Academic Standards

    Students in the S.J.D. program must enter with an LL.M. degree, remain in residence for two semesters, and take a minimum of ten units of graded coursework each semester, which must be approved by the supervising faculty member and Graduate Studies Committee. The choice of courses will be from among those generally offered at the Law School and will depend on the particular subject matter and course of study approved for each S.J.D. student.

    Applicants should bear in mind that, due to curriculum scheduling and faculty availability, not every class listed is taught each year. This is most often true in the case of specialized seminars. The final schedule of law classes will be available shortly before the enrollment process begins in July. The law school academic year begins in the middle of August with a fall semester of 15 weeks. After examinations and vacation in December, classes resume early in January for another 15-week semester that ends in mid-May.

    Upon successful completion of the residency requirement and performance in courses at a level substantially above the quality expected of J.D. candidates, the Graduate Studies Committee, following its favorable review of the candidate's course work and of the developed research proposal, shall constitute a doctoral committee. It shall consist of three faculty members, including the student's supervisor and a member from a department outside the Law School. Upon the successful oral defense of the research proposal before the doctoral committee, the Graduate Studies Committee shall admit the student to full candidacy for the S.J.D. degree.

    Within two years of the completion of the residency period, unless for exceptional circumstances an extension is granted by the Graduate Studies Committee, a candidate shall submit, and successfully defend in an oral examination, a dissertation in the form of a monograph or series of closely related essays suitable for publication and constituting a substantial contribution to knowledge in its field.

  • Student Life

    At UCLA Law, S.J.D. students are part of a diverse, vibrant, and thriving international graduate community, comprised of the best and brightest students from around the globe. Our select group of S.J.D. students - alongside members of the LL.M. community – hail from cultures near and far, representing over 30 different countries each year. Upon completion of the program, our students transition into the next phase of their professional careers having developed strong friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. S.J.D. students will also get to know and work closely with our faculty, who are accessible, open and who create a flourishing collegial environment at the law school. As an S.J.D. student, you are in for one of the most intellectually stimulating, memorable, and exciting times of your life, and we look forward to welcoming YOU to the Bruin family.

  • SJD Candidates

    Suraj GirijashankerSuraj Girijashanker, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Suraj Girijashanker is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. He completed his legal education from the London School of Economics (LL.B.), School of Oriental and African Studies (LL.M.), and Columbia Law School (LL.M.). He is an Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law School, India and Adjunct Faculty at the Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Prior to transitioning to academia, he served as a Legal Advisor with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in New Zealand; Expert on Mission with UNHCR Turkey; Associate Refugee Status Determination Officer with UNHCR Egypt; and Legal Representative at Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Papua New Guinea. His doctoral project traces imperial and racial narratives in international refugee law, focusing on the nexus between foreign intervention and displacement.

    Sofia GrafanakiSofia Grafanaki, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Sofia Grafanaki is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. She previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford and her LL.M. in Corporation Law at New York University School of Law. She also earned an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and a second LL.M. in Intellectual Property and Information Law. She is admitted to the New York State bar, as a solicitor of the Senior Courts in London, and as an attorney in Athens, Greece. Grafanaki writes on the implications of big data on individual autonomy and democracy, as well as on speech and the role of the First Amendment in the online environment.

    Wietske MerisonWietske Merison, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Wietske Merison is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. She has an interdisciplinary educational background with an LLM in Public International Law from Utrecht University, an MA in Theology and Religious Studies from VU Amsterdam and a BA majoring in International Law, Religion and Anthropology from University College Roosevelt. She previously worked as a lecturer in International and European Law at Utrecht University and is currently employed as a Research Assistant to Professor Abou El Fadl. In her dissertation she will be working on the articulation of an Islamic framework for environmental justice, specializing in the fields of Islamic Law, Environmental Law and International Human Rights Law.

    Maria Fernanda Muñoz Rojas, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Maria Fernanda Muñoz Rojas is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. Her research focuses on the regulation of emerging technologies. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws Degree at the University of Chile and her LL.M. at UCLA School of Law. Prior to UCLA, she worked in Chile as an associate attorney at the Antitrust and Regulated Markets group of Carey & Cia. She then worked as a researcher and lecturer for the Center of Competition Law at Adolfo Ibañez University, where she focused her research on competition policy and regulation of digital technologies. At present, she works as a student researcher at the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law & Policy.

    Diego Nicolás Pardo MottaDiego Nicolás Pardo Motta, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Diego Nicolás Pardo Motta is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. He earned his LL.B. at the Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá, Colombia) with specializations in Administrative and Constitutional Law. Diego then earned a Master’s in Philosophy and a Master’s in Law with an emphasis in legal research from the Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá). Finally, he obtained an LL.M. at UCLA School of Law with specializations in Law & Philosophy, International & Comparative Law, and Human Rights. Diego has served as a Public Worker for the Government of Bogotá, a Law Clerk at the Colombian Council of State, and a Lecturer at the Universidad El Bosque and Universidad del Rosario. His research is focused on the philosophical, historical, and comparative significance of the Consultive Function of the Council of State.

    Marina ReisMarina Reis, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Marina Reis is a current S.J.D. candidate at UCLA School of Law. She previously earned her LL.B. from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a concentration in criminal law and an LL.M. from UCLA Law. While a student, Reis worked at UCLA's Prison Education Program  and was involved in the development of an academic curriculum for incarcerated persons in California. Reis currently works as a research assistant at the African American Policy Forum. Her research uses an intersectional lens to analyze gender-based violence in Brazil and the United States. She is particularly interested in investigating the (in)effectiveness of colorblind legislation to combat gender-based violence and the protection of women of color.

    Alessia ZornettaAlessia Zornetta, UCLA Law S.J.D. Candidate

    Alessia Zornetta is a current S.J.D candidate at UCLA School of Law. She is affiliated with the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law & Policy. Alessia obtained her LL.B at the University of Trento (Italy) and her LL.M at McGill University (Canada). Prior to UCLA, she worked as external researcher for the Institute for Legal Informatics at the University of Saarland (Germany). At present, she works as a student researcher at the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law & Policy and as graduate research assistant at the McGill Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy (Canada). Her research focuses mainly on platform governance, content moderation, privacy and data protection. During the S.J.D. program, Alessia will focus on the legal challenges concerning end-to-end encrypted platforms.

  • SJD Graduates

    Hilal ElverHilal Elver, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2009

    Hilal Elver is a 2009 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. She earned her J.D. as well as a Ph.D. in Law from the University of Ankara. During the S.J.D. program, her work was focused on the Critical Race Studies program and comparative constitutional law. She published her S.J.D. thesis: The Headscarf Controversy: Secularism and Freedom of Religion (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012). She was a member of the Academic Council of the UN Least Developed Countries as well as a member of the official delegation of Turkey's UN Climate Change Framework Convention. Elver taught in the UC Santa Barbara Global Studies department until she was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. She held this position from 2014 until May 2020. She is currently in the process of writing a book on the right to food and food policies on a global level.

    Willmai Rivera-PérezWillmai Rivera-Pérez, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2011
    Southern University Law Center

    Willmai Rivera-Pérez is a 2011 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. In 2006 she earned her LL.M. from UC Berkeley School of Law. Her doctoral dissertation explored the role that the international human rights discourse has had in the adoption and development of the direct application of constitutional norms to relations arising from disputes between private parties in Latin America. Rivera-Pérez practiced as an attorney at Marchand Quintero Law Offices focusing on First Amendment litigation. She also clerked for Associate Justice Antonio S. Negrón García at the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Rivera-Pérez is currently the Kendall Vick Endowed Professor of Public Law at the Southern University Law Center, where she teaches constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, federal civil procedure, succession, donations, and comparative law.

    Martin PetrinMartin Petrin, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2011
    Western University School of Law

    Martin Petrin is a 2011 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. Petrin earned his LL.M. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of St. Gallen. During his time at UCLA, Petrin worked on corporate directors' and officers' liability, exploring various aspects of managers' liability towards shareholders as well as third parties. Petrin previously practiced law with a leading international business law firm and is admitted to the bar in New York and Switzerland. He has been a visiting professor at NYU London and a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private Law in Hamburg. He is currently the Dancap Private Equity Chair in Corporate Governance at Western University in Canada, having moved there from University College London in the UK, where he served as Associate Professor and Vice Dean (Innovation).

    Astrid Liliana Sánchez-MejíaAstrid Liliana Sánchez-Mejía, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2015

    Astrid Liliana Sánchez-Mejía is a 2015 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. She earned her law degree from Javeriana University, Colombia and her LL.M. from Los Andes University, Colombia. She earned another LL.M. in legal theory from New York University. During her time at UCLA, her research examined the effects of adversarial criminal justice reforms on victims' rights by specifically analyzing the Colombian criminal justice reform of the early 2000s. She published her thesis: Victims' Rights in Flux: Criminal Justice Reform in Colombia, (new York, NY: Springer, 2017). Sánchez-Mejía has taught at various universities and training centers for state representatives in Colombia and Latin America. She is currently a Professor of Law at Javeriana University, Colombia.

    Sumit BaudhSumit Baudh, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2016
    The Center for International and Comparative Law, Emory Law School

    Sumit Baudh is a 2016 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and LL.B. from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and graduated with honors. He earned his LL.M. from the London School of Economics. Baudh is qualified to practice law in India and enrolled as a solicitor n.p. with the Law Society in England and Wales. He was formerly an assistant professor at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. As an independent consultant, Baudh has advised national and international organizations including the U.S.-based Arcus Foundation, the United Nations Development Program, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, and the Government of India (among others). Currently, he is a Visiting Scholar, The Center for International and Comparative Law at Emory Law School.

    Catarina Amaral PrataCatarina Amaral Prata, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2017

    Catarina Prata is a 2017 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. She earned her first law degree with a specialization in international law and a Master's degree in International Legal Sciences, both from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. Prata was a Fulbright Scholar at New York University School of Law, where she obtained her LL.M. degree with a specialization in International Legal Studies. Prata conducted her research on the law of armed conflicts. She focused on private security and military companies and the possible alternatives for their regulation under international law. Prata has worked for Amnesty International in Portugal as a research and advocacy coordinator, and she currently works as a consultant in her field of expertise.

    Yang LiuYang Liu, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2018
    Renmin University of China Law School

    Yang Liu is a 2018 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. Liu previously earned law degrees from Harvard Law School and Tsinghua University, China. His doctoral dissertation focused on judicial politics within and among international courts. Liu also clerked at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Liu continues to research the judicial politics of international courts, theory and history of international law, and comparative foreign relations law. He currently serves as an assistant professor at Renmin University of China Law School, where he teaches international law and comparative politics.

    Ricardo LilloRicardo Lillo, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2020
    Universidad Adolfo Ibañez School of Law

    Ricardo Lillo is a 2020 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. Lillo earned his LL.B. from Universidad Diego Portales School of Law in Santiago, Chile. He also earned his LL.M. in Public Interest Law and Policy from UCLA. His doctoral thesis explored the relation between the right to a fair trial and access to justice, and he proposed a new theoretical approach for its understanding in non-criminal matters. Lillo served as a Hoffenberg Research Fellow and as a fellow at UCLA's Transnational Program on Criminal Justice. Lillo is currently a faculty member at Universidad Adolfo Ibañez School of Law, where he teaches procedural law, and is a member of the Law and Society Research Centre.

    Qin XiaQin Xia, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2020

    Qin Xia is a 2020 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. She previously earned her LL.B. with a minor in English Literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University and her LL.M. from the University of Michigan. Xia also earned another master's degree in international economic law from Beijing Foreign Studies University. During her time in the S.J.D. program, she focused her studies on information disclosure and investor protection in the securities markets. Xia is admitted as an attorney in China and is also admitted to the New York State bar. Prior to coming to UCLA, she practiced as a corporate attorney with China Orient Asset Management Corporation. Xia later joined Nanjing University Law School as an assistant professor.

    Andrés CaicedoAndrés Caicedo, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2021

    Andrés Caicedo is a 2021 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law, and he is a Fulbright Scholar. He earned his first law degree from Rosario University in Colombia. Caicedo also holds an LL.M. with a specialization in Critical Race Studies from UCLA School of Law, as well as a Master of Public Law from Charles III University of Madrid in Spain. He has worked as a law professor at two universities in Colombia, teaching human rights, constitutional law and sociology of law. During his time in the S.J.D. program, his research focused on issues related to Critical Race Theory, affirmative action, civil rights, equality, constitutional law, and human rights. His doctoral thesis focused on Critical Race Theory and race-conscious remedies to address racial subordination in Colombia.

    Zezen Zaenal MutaqinZezen Zaenal Mutaqin, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2021

    Zezen Zaenal Mutaqin is a 2021 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. He previously earned his LL.B from the State Islamic University Jakarta School of Shari'a and Law and his LL.M from Melbourne University School of Law. Prior to the S.J.D. program, Mutaqin worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as an assistant to the Asia Pacific Adviser on Humanitarian Affairs and a lecturer at UIN. During the S.J.D. program he focused his studies on the interpretation, articulation, and enforcement of Islamic jus in bello (Islamic law regulation on the use force) and its relation to international humanitarian law. He is now head of the Master Degree Program in the Faculty of Islamic Studies at the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia.

    Bryan HanceBryan Hance, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2022
    National University

    Bryan Hance is a 2022 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. He previously earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA, his J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law, and his LL.M. degree from UCLA School of Law. Hance clerked for Justice Edward Panelli of the California Supreme Court. Previously, he taught at Glendale University College of Law in Los Angeles and was a partner at the law firm of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, where he handled litigation and transactional matters. He also served as Associate General Counsel at Pepperdine University and as Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution, where he handled training, arbitrations, and mediations. In addition to his law practice, Hance  serves as a professor and program director of the pre-law and paralegal studies programs at National University in San Diego.

    Qin Sky MaQin Sky Ma, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2023

    Qin Sky Ma is a 2023 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. Ma earned her J.D. from Tsinghua University in China and her LL.M. from UCLA School of Law with a specialization in international and comparative law. Ma passed the Chinese Bar Exam and worked as an assistant lawyer for several Chinese defense attorneys. As a student, Ma served as one of the executive editors for the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs at UCLA. She was a judicial extern at the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District in 2017. Ma taught criminal procedure at a local high school in Los Angeles through the UCLA Street Law Clinic. Ma is focusing her studies on comparative criminal justice and the international justice system.

    Hazim H. AlnemariHazim H. Alnemari, UCLA Law S.J.D. 2024

    Hazim Alnemari is a 2024 graduate of the S.J.D. program at UCLA School of Law. In addition to his classical training in Islamic law, Alnemari earned his LL.B. from Taif University and his LL.M. from the University of Washington. He is an academic and legal counselor as well as a lecturer in constitutional law at the Islamic University of Madinah. Alnemari's research focuses on constitutionalism in Arab monarchies by tackling the intersection of law, religion, and monarchy. His research covers areas of comparative constitutional law, constitutional theory, political theory, and jurisprudence.

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