Apply to the S.J.D. Program

The UCLA School of Law S.J.D. Program admits only the most highly qualified applicants who complete all elements of the application for admission, provide clear evidence of academic excellence, and demonstrate strong potential for completing a scholarly dissertation that constitutes a substantial contribution to knowledge.

Upon matriculation, applicants must have received a professional degree in law (such as a J.D. or LL.B.), as well as an LL.M. degree. Applications must include or be accompanied by, inter alia, a detailed statement of research purpose and a letter from a UCLA faculty member attesting to the importance of the applicant's proposed research and agreeing to assume full responsibility for supervising the program of study.

Application Process

  • Prior to Applying

    Students interested in applying for admission to the S.J.D. Program must submit a Preliminary Application Inquiry Form. This form will be available between October 15 and January 15. The form will request the following information:

    1. What is your proposed dissertation title?
    2. What is your proposed area of research?
    3. Is there a UCLA School of Law faculty member with whom you are particularly interested in working?
    4. From which school did you receive your first law degree (i.e., J.D. or LL.B.)?
    5. What was your grade point average and/or class rank during your J.D./LL.B. studies?
    6. From which school did you receive your LL.M. degree?
    7. What was your grade point average and/or class rank during your LL.M. studies?
    8. Have you published any academic writing in print (i.e. in a law review, journal, or book)?

    After you submit the form, the Graduate Studies Committee will review your responses and determine whether our small, competitive program is a good fit for you. We will inform you of the Committee's decision within 2-3 weeks.

  • Faculty Supervisor

    If the Committee invites you to formally apply for admission to the S.J.D. Program, we will work with you to locate a UCLA faculty member who is willing to supervise your research. (Please do not contact faculty members without first being granted permission to do so.) Please feel free to review our list of UCLA Law faculty members, which can be sorted by Areas of Focus, to learn more about them. Bear in mind that only a tenure-track faculty member with a title such as "Professor" or "Acting Professor" may serve as an S.J.D. dissertation supervisor. Those with titles such as "Lecturer," "Adjunct Faculty," or "Director" are not eligible to supervise.

  • Application Submission

    Students who are invited to apply for admission will receive instructions for submitting the application form and supporting documentation (résumé, personal statement, academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and TOEFL score (if necessary)).

  • Admissions Policies

    UCLA School of Law will admit no more than two students in its S.J.D. class each year. As this suggests, the admissions process is highly competitive. The Graduate Studies Committee will admit only the most highly qualified applicants who complete all elements of the application for admission, provide clear evidence of academic excellence, and demonstrate high potential for completing a scholarly dissertation that constitutes a substantial contribution to knowledge.

Degree Requirements and Academic Standards

  • 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.

English Language Ability Requirements

  • English Requirements

    Students in the S.J.D. Program must be able to read and discuss in class difficult technical material. S.J.D. students are examined and graded anonymously with the students in their classes. The work of daily class preparation is very demanding. Students with serious English language limitations will have difficulties coping with a new cultural, social, and academic environment, especially if they are enrolled in a discipline like law, which requires a very high level of English reading and writing proficiency. Only those students who feel confident of their English language ability should apply.

    For this reason, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required of foreign applicants seeking admission to the program from nations in which English is not the primary language of instruction. A TOEFL score of 590 on the paper-based test, 243 on the computer-based test, or 96 on the Internet-based test is the minimum score accepted by the University's Graduate Division. The law school usually admits only applicants whose TOEFL scores are well above the minimum range required by the University. In general we expect a score of 600 on the paper-based test, 250 on the computer-based test, or 100 on the Internet-based test, although an outstanding applicant with a slightly lower test score will not be disqualified on this basis.

    If you possess a law degree from an institution at which the primary language of instruction is English, you are not required to submit a TOEFL score with your application. Please ensure that the academic transcripts you submit verify that your degree was obtained from an English-speaking institution.

    The TOEFL is offered daily at test centers throughout the world. When you take the examination, it is important that you indicate School Code No. 4837, Dept. 03, to ensure that your score is sent to UCLA School of Law. Information about the examination should be available at your own university, and can also be found on the TOEFL website, or by writing directly to:

    TOEFL Services
    Educational Testing Service
    P.O. Box 6151
    Princeton, NJ 08541-6151 USA

    Contacts for Test Takers
    Phone: +1.609.771.7100
    Fax: +1.609.290.8972

Tuition & Visa Information

  • 2024-2025 S.J.D. Tuition

    2024-2025 tuition fees for S.J.D. students who are not California residents and have not advanced to doctoral candidacy (typically during the first two years of attendance in the program) are $37,110.14. See below for an itemized breakdown of these fees and estimated living expense budget.

    2024-2025 tuition fees for S.J.D. students who are California residents and/or who have advanced to doctoral candidacy (after satisfying the residency requirement and completing the initial oral defense of their dissertation, typically after two years of attendance in the program) are $22,008.14. See below for an itemized breakdown of these fees and estimated living expense budget.

    These figures include health insurance fees, which are $6,631.84.*

    *Health insurance coverage is mandatory. Students who have health insurance coverage may apply for a waiver of the UCSHIP health insurance fees. The annual waiver application is available in early July and due in early August. Before purchasing alternative insurance coverage, students should carefully review the university's waiver criteria.

    Fee Disclaimer: The tuition, fees, and charges posted to the student billing statement are estimates based on existing amounts. These figures may not be final. Actual tuition, fees, and charges are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by state funding reductions. Accordingly, final approved tuition and fee levels (and thus a student’s final balance due) may differ from the amounts shown.

    2024-2025 S.J.D. fee breakdown for non-California residents who have not advanced to candidacy:

    Fee Type Total Fee Amount Per Semester Fee Amount
    Tuition  $12,762.00 $6,381.00
    Student Services Fee $1,254.00 $627.00
    Ackerman Student Union Fee $81.00 $40.50
    Ackerman/Kerckhoff Seismic Fee $113.00 $56.50
    Graduate Students Association Fee $38.25 $19.13
    Graduate Writing Center Fee $21.90 $10.95
    Law Materials Fee $900.00 $450.00
    UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UCSHIP) $6,631.84 $3,315.92
    Student Programs, Activities, and Resources Complex (SPARC) Fee $135.00 $67.50
    Wooden Center Fee $37.00 $18.50
    BruinGo Universal Access Transit Pass Fee $34.15 $17.08
    Nonresident Supplemental Tuition $15,102.00 $7,551.00
    Total $37,110.14 $18,555.08

    2024-2025 S.J.D. fee breakdown for non-California residents who have advanced to candidacy and for California residents:

    Fee Type Total Fee Amount Per Semester Fee Amount
    Tuition  $12,762.00 $6,381.00
    Student Services Fee $1,254.00 $627.00
    Ackerman Student Union Fee $81.00 $40.50
    Ackerman/Kerckhoff Seismic Fee $113.00 $56.50
    Graduate Students Association Fee $38.25 $19.13
    Graduate Writing Center Fee $21.90 $10.95
    Law Materials Fee $900.00 $450.00
    UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UCSHIP) $6,631.84 $3,315.92
    Student Programs, Activities, and Resources Complex (SPARC) Fee $135.00 $67.50
    Wooden Center Fee $37.00 $18.50
    BruinGo Universal Access Transit Pass Fee $34.15 $17.08
    Total $22,008.14 $11,004.08

    2024-2025 estimated living expense budget (for informational use only):

    Fee Type Monthly Annually
    Food and Housing    
     Rent $1,659  
     Food $780  
     Utilities $206  
    Books, Course Materials, Supplies, and Equipment   $1,806
    Transportation $370  
    Personal $294  
    Loan Origination Fees   $1,339




  • Visa Information

    If you are an international student and accept UCLA's offer of admission, you will be subject to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations prior to entering the United States. You will be required to comply with health insurance and health coverage clearance rules and must be found eligible for a U.S. student visa before being permitted to attend the S.J.D. Program. Most international students enter the U.S. on an F-1 student visa.

    Admitted students will receive instructions for applying for the visa I-20 form. After receiving the I-20 form, you must make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence in order to apply for an F-1 student visa to travel to the United States. Please make an appointment well in advance of the date you intend to travel to the United States, as some embassies and consulates take several weeks (or even months) to process visa requests.

Financial Aid Information

When it comes to financing your education, there are a number of options to consider for securing funding. While this list is not exhaustive, it provides links to a variety of resources for learning more about scholarship, fellowship, grant, and loan opportunities through private, non-profit, and governmental sources. International students are encouraged to seek financial aid funds from additional sources in their home countries. Consider contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country to inquire about sponsoring organizations and agencies.

  • UCLA School of Law Resources

    Dean's Tuition Fellowship Awards

    All applicants receive full consideration for our very limited number of Dean's Tuition Fellowship awards. No application is necessary; grantees will be notified by the S.J.D. Program after receiving their offer of admission. Awards are granted on both a need-based and merit-based basis. You are welcome supplement your S.J.D. Program application with any additional information that will assist the Graduate Studies Committee in making a determination regarding a financial aid award.

    Law Library Research Assistant-ships

    Research Assistants are occasionally hired to help law professors with their research needs. Students typically work 10 hours per week for a rate of approximately $25.00 per hour. Successful candidates must demonstrate academic excellence as well as research proficiency. The number of positions available in a given year is dependent on the needs of the faculty, and thus is highly variable. In some years, there may be no open positions. Openings for Research Assistant positions are posted with the Office of Career Services and/or the Law Library, and applications will be accepted after the start of the academic year in August.

  • Financial Aid Resources for US Citizens and Permanent Residents

    Eugene V. Costa-Robles Fellowship
    Four-year fellowship program supporting PhD students interested in a career in college or university teaching and research. Only open to U.S. citizens.

    Federal Student Aid
    Federal Student Aid provides a useful guide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Resources include an aid and FAFSA checklist, how to apply, deadlines, other financial aid resources, and more.

    FinAid provides detailed information about scholarships, grants, loans, military aid, and other funding opportunities and resources for U.S. students seeking financial assistance for graduate study.

    NHFA Scholarship
    Offers scholarships for US citizens, who are of Hispanic heritage. Must be pursuing entertainment and/or media-related law fields.

  • Financial Aid Resources for International Students

    Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCKF) Dissertation Fellowships for Republic of China (ROC) Students Abroad
    Offers fellowships to Chinese citizens to support research on topics related to Chinese culture and society, the development of the Republic of China, or Taiwan Studies.

    UC MexUS
    The UC MEXUS-CONACYT doctoral fellowships provide up to five years of funding for Mexican students doing their doctoral studies at any one of the ten University of California campuses. Students may pursue doctoral studies in most of the academic disciplines, with the exception of the arts.

  • Funding Opportunities Without Citizenship Requirements

    Conference, Professional Development, and Off-Campus Research Travel Grants
    UCLA doctoral students are eligible to request up to $1,000 to reimburse travel expenses for attending professional conferences, engaging in off-campus fieldwork or collaborative research, or taking advantage of off-campus professional development opportunities. Details are available on page 45 of the Graduate Student Financial Support guide.

    Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation - HFG Emerging Scholar Awards
    Offers yearlong fellowships to students writing a dissertation surrounding issues of human violence and aggression. Preferred topics of interest to the Foundation include social change, intergroup conflict, war, terrorism, crime, and family relationships, among other subjects. Only appropriate for students approaching their final doctoral year.

    Hiroshi Wagatsuma Memorial Fellowships
    The UCLA International Institute Asia Pacific Institute Hiroshi Wagatsuma Memorial Fellowship offers awards to UCLA graduate students working on a comparative or cross-cultural dissertation, preferably concerning Japan or another Asian country and North America.

    MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program
    The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund offers scholarships to law students who are committed to advancing Latino civil rights in the U.S. throughout their careers. A merit and need-based scholarship open to any enrolled law student.

    Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships
    Offers fellowships for students in their final dissertation year to support research that is original and makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the proposed field of study.

    Paula Stone Legal Research Fellowship 
    Offers fellowships for promising UCLA law students pursuing research focusing on women and the law, with preference towards topics surrounding women in the criminal/legal justice system.

    Social Science Research Council (SSRC) International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) Program
    Funded by the Mellon Foundation, IDRF offers six to twelve months of support to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in U.S.-based PhD programs. Dissertation research should cover Native American or non-US topics. Award amounts vary, but average around $23,000 per fellowship.

  • Additional Resources

    For further funding opportunities open to Doctoral students, please visit UCLA Graduate Education's Fellowships, Scholarships & Grants for Entering Students and its main funding resources page.

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