Dissertation-only JSD

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sanantone, Apr 26, 2024.

  1. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    UC Berkeley Law offers a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy that, were I 40 years younger and fancy-free, I'd maybe apply to. The Ph.D. isn't a "law" degree per se but you work a lot with law professors.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There was a time when you couldn't swing a mop without hitting an unaccredited school in California offering a Bar-registered (not Bar-accredited) "executive" JD along with their Bar-qualifying JD.

    Very, very few of these schools saw anyone passing the Baby Bar, much less the actual Bar exam. I'm not even sure how much actual education was delivered at most of them. (There were a few exceptions.) The JD took four years while the executive JD would take three. The difference: you didn't do the 4th year. It seemed weird that you could get the same degree (although not Bar-qualifying) simply by skipping the final year of study. (Unlike the Bar-qualifying students, executive JD students didn't need to pass the Baby Bar to progress with their studies.) So, no Baby Bar and a year lopped off at the end got you the same degree (with lowered tuition to boot). And since almost no one actually passed the Bar at these schools, the degrees had the same outcomes.

    An early exception to this was Northwestern California University School of Law. They saw immediate success for their students on the Baby Bar and the Bar exam. They still do.* When California began accrediting DL law schools, this school was (and remains) Cal Bar-accredited. Oh, and it remains really low in tuition--absurdly so. And no, the degree won't get you into a top-flight law firm (and I can't really speak authoritatively about what kind of law firm might hire their graduates), if you have some other reason for becoming a practicing attorney in California, it sure seems a viable approach. Like if you were later in your career and you weren't interested in relying on what others think about your credentials, and you wanted to practice the law in some way....

    (*Northwestern California students admitted with regular qualifications are exempt from the Baby Bar because the school is Cal Bar-accredited. If the admitted student doesn't meet the regular criteria--two years of college study or passing an array of CLEP tests--then he/she will still have to pass the Baby Bar with all of its restrictions. But I suspect this is rather rare.)
  3. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    We've got a couple of lawyers posting here who got there through a California correspondence school.

    It wasn't just a matter of not taking the Baby Bar and losing a year off the program. A year in a Bar qualifying program required logging 864 hours in a twelve month period. You couldn't get ahead or fall behind. I can tell you from my experience with Taft Law that studying law by correspondence is harder than sitting in a classroom. Doing it to an artificial schedule would be that much harder I think.
    sideman and Rich Douglas like this.
  4. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Reading Northwestern California's website, I think this is still (largely) true. They have specific engagements at specific times you simply must meet to progress.
    It sure seems so. But there's some variance here. Some people thrive in a self-study methodology.
    sideman likes this.
  6. life_learner

    life_learner Member

    I benefitted from that low tuition. For the most part, it's self study anyway.
    As someone who just wanted to get a law license for side business and as a backup plan, my plan has been working as expected.
    Suss, sideman, datby98 and 2 others like this.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Excellent. Thanks for that post.
  8. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    I'd suggest a PhD in International Law over a SJD. Has a lot more utility and is applicable cross border as international law is the same everywhere. Also more utility in finding a job with a university, IGO, NGO, etc.
    SteveFoerster and nosborne48 like this.
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I understand that for U. S. academics in particular that's good advice.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    SJD and JSD are generic titles for the type of degree; it doesn't communicate what the program is focused on. You can earn an SJD in international law. The problem is that PhDs in any field of law are not very common - at least not in the U.S. I'm still searching for a U.S. school that offers a PhD in international law. It was very easy to find multiple SJDs in international law.

    Last edited: May 1, 2024
  11. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yes, and mostly for foreign trained law professors.

    Part of the problem here in the U.S. is that the J.S.D. isn't a requirement for being a law professor. Any law school that tried to impose such a requirement might run up against the ABA's absurd policy statement about Ph.D. and J.D. equivalence for purposes of employment and tenure.

    Another part of the problem is that hiring committees for law schools comprise J.D. holders. If they are largely unwilling to hire from any but a handful of schools, all the more would they balk at hiring on the basis of a higher law degree than they possess.

    Throughout most of my law career, I didn't think all this mattered much. Since 2016, I don’t think that anymore. There's a good bit of jurisprudence nonsense going on nowadays and it's a serious matter. Actual scholarship might help reestablish a baseline of common understanding in a way that courts cannot.
  12. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I think you will find that the faculty list includes more PhDs as you ascend the law school tiers...
  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yes but not Ph.D.s in law.
  14. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    United States is one of the most hostile jurisdictions to IL as the Constitution is considered the highest law. And US had done much to erode the authority of the ICJ, ICC, and InterAmerican court.

    Consequently, the Europeans and Asians offer a lot of PhD in International Law programs, here just a couple:



    In the US international law is also considered a subfield of political science, so a PhD in poli sci with an emphasis on international law and a dissertation on IL would do the trick. You would not need a JD, since a JD is about national law.

    This abstract sums up the relationship:

  15. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Not sure I agree with that, jonlevy. China acts with much greater disregard of the Rules of the Game. I do agree with you about the Poli Sci Ph.D. though.
  16. Asymptote

    Asymptote Active Member

    How about the J.C.D. ?
  17. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Canon Law or Civil Law?
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Last edited: May 4, 2024

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