The JSP Program offers an ambitious program of graduate study and promotes a distinctive scholarly orientation. As in the case of other law-and-society centers, JSP approaches the study of law and its social functions from a variety of social science perspectives and methodologies. But the program equally seeks to engage traditional humanistic questions concerning the aspirations and values ascribed to the institutions of law and justice. And it aims to advance the integration of these discrete disciplinary perspectives. The program’s title – Jurisprudence and Social Policy – reflects this expansive effort to link the scholarly examination of legal ideas and institutions with empirical research on issues of public policy.

Career Goals

The Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program serves students planning to embark on many career goals. These include:

  •  teaching law-related subjects in traditional disciplinary programs, such as political science, history, sociology and other humanities and social science departments;
  •  teaching in interdisciplinary legal studies programs and in criminal justice programs;
  •  law school teaching;
  •  applied research in such fields as regulation, criminal justice, environmental protection, educational policy, employment discrimination.

Academic Goals

During their first two to three years of study, JSP students take a basic number of seminars and classes, and complete most of the program’s pre-dissertation requirements. A full account of the JSP curriculum and a detailed list of requirements are set out in the section on Degree Requirements.

This initial program of study at JSP is designed to:

  •  enable students to understand and evaluate legal discourse. Students without prior legal education are required to take a basic J.D. course, such as torts, property or contracts, and a course in legal research;
  •  prepare students in basic social science research design. Students without such knowledge are required to take appropriate coursework;
  •  develop competence in two fields of specialization, one disciplinary field and one individually devised topical field; and
  •  familiarize students with the major disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and legal institutions.