School of Law Launches New Research-oriented Doctorate

The University of Connecticut School of Law is launching a new Doctor of the Science of Law degree (SJD) program, becoming the only public university in the Northeast to offer that advanced credential.

The SJD is a research-oriented degree, and qualified applicants will already have earned a Master of Laws (LLM) degree and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree or the equivalent of a JD in another nation.

UConn plans to enroll about five SJD students annually, and has accepted its first degree candidate, a student from the country of Georgia who starts his studies at UConn later this month. Most applicants are expected to be international students who earned their LLM degrees at UConn or elsewhere in the U.S. and want the SJD for teaching, legal practice, government work, or other service in their native countries.

This new degree signals to the world that the University of Connecticut School of Law continues to offer the sort of sophisticated training and research associated with the very best law schools both here and abroad.

“Every LLM and SJD graduate is an ambassador not only of the University, but also of Connecticut and of the United States,” says Professor Peter L. Lindseth, the Olimpiad S. Ioffe Professor of International and Comparative Law, director of international programs at the law school and academic advisor to the SJD program.

“Educating these students contributes to establishing a broader reliance upon a common legal language across the world,” he says.

China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and several other countries encourage their most promising law graduates to obtain the SJD in addition to the LLM before returning home to resume their academic careers. A significant number of UConn’s LLM students come from those countries.

“Foreign graduate law students play a critical role in making UConn a global law school, and SJD students studying insurance and financial services law will reinforce Connecticut’s reputation as a national and worldwide center of expertise in these areas,” says Peter Kochenburger, executive director of the Insurance Law Center, director of graduate programs, and associate clinical professor of law.

Interim dean of the law school Willajeanne F. McLean says the addition of the SJD degree allows the law school to recruit outstanding foreign students: “This new degree signals to the world that the University of Connecticut School of Law continues to offer the sort of sophisticated training and research associated with the very best law schools both here and abroad.”

UConn’s School of Law currently offers the JD; LLM programs in U.S. Legal Studies and Insurance Law; and several certificate programs in both the JD and U.S. Legal Studies LLM programs. No other public law schools in New England, New York, or New Jersey currently offer an SJD program.

Professor Mark Weston Janis, the William F. Starr Professor of Law, initiated the law school’s LLM Program in U.S. Legal Studies in 1985.

SJD candidates at UConn will focus on preparing and defending a dissertation, differing from the academic focus on legal theory and skills found in JD programs. Since students will focus on their dissertations and not serve as teaching assistants, they will not be eligible to receive salaries, benefits, or tuition waivers.

Plans for the SJD program have been in the works for several years, and began coming to fruition last year with approvals from the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees and the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education.