“New and improved” may be a stretch. After all, Berkeley Law’s three-year Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) has long been a mark of distinction for international legal scholars. Nevertheless, recent updates are invigorating the school’s most advanced degree program.
“We’ve tightened up our admissions process to ensure that the people we admit truly fit Berkeley Law,” says Evelyn Borchert, associate director of the J.S.D. and LL.M. programs. “We’ve also reshaped J.S.D. coursework and candidacy requirements to provide students more structure and support.”
Previously based mainly on a single faculty member’s recommendation, admission is now determined by a committee, and applicant screening includes an invitation to interview.
Designed to foster global scholarly training, the J.S.D now requires a dissertation committee of three members, including one from an outside department. Each committee member must belong to the UC Berkeley Academic Senate. As a rule, only tenure-track faculty may chair such committees and serve as faculty advisers.
The program also now makes second- and third-year students eligible for instate tuition and recently developed a yearlong J.S.D. Legal Scholarship seminar.
Berkeley Law’s 23 current J.S.D. students hail from 14 countries. This year’s graduates include a law professor from Colombia’s Externado University, a commercial law lecturer from Egypt’s Alexandria University, and a legal advisor to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly.
“We train students in legal theory and innovative research methodologies in law and other disciplines, including public policy, political science, economics, and information management,” Borchert says. “Through our graduates’ contributions, this program influences legal systems in jurisdictions around the world.”