About the Program

The Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Berkeley Law offers a unique program of graduate study in law and society, leading to the Ph.D. degree in Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP). The JSP Program promotes the study of law and legal institutions through the perspectives of several disciplines, including economics, political science, philosophy, sociology, history, psychology, and criminal justice. While the JSP Program is interdisciplinary in its concerns and ambitions, the program recognizes that most knowledge begins as a disciplinary knowledge, and a critical understanding requires a deep awareness of how the disciplines shape their research agendas. Accordingly, the program’s core faculty consists of humanists and social scientists who combine scholarship and teaching in their own disciplines with the study of law. Among current law and society programs, JSP is unrivalled in its faculty resources and in its scholarly accomplishment. The program offers a rich and challenging course of training for students pursuing a variety of career goals including academic teaching and scholarship, public policy, and activism.

JSP at Berkeley

The program’s institutional location within Berkeley Law means that JSP students enjoy direct access to the pedagogy and research resources of one of the country’s premier law schools. The Berkeley Law faculty in general contributes significantly to the JSP Program, and provides special expertise in such important subject matter areas as public and environmental law, law and economics, human rights law, immigration law and policy, law and technology, and critical race theory. Members of the law faculty with primary responsibility for the JSP Program are trained in a variety of academic disciplines, and also are affiliated with other Berkeley departments and research centers. JSP students are admitted by the Graduate Division of UC Berkeley, and form part of the general cohort of Berkeley graduate students. They routinely take classes and work with faculty outside the law school, and thus benefit no less directly from the unrivalled depth and excellence of UC Berkeley’s graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the schools of business, journalism, public policy, and information sciences.

Since its founding in 1977, the JSP Program has enjoyed outstanding success in preparing graduate students in the social and philosophical study of law, legal institutions, and legal discourse. JSP students have undertaken research in such diverse subject matter areas as law and social change, criminal justice and social control, political and legal theory, legal history, law and the economy, comparative constitutionalism, and law and political development.