In collaboration with the Graduate School, Duke Law School offers the opportunity to pursue a JD/PhD dual degree. Formal JD/PhD programs are in place with the departments of Political Science and Philosophy, and arrangements with other departments may be available on an ad hoc basis. Candidates apply separately to the Law School and the Graduate School and receive independent admission decisions.

In most cases, the JD/PhD can be completed in six years. However, the timeline is flexible, varying most significantly with the amount of time it takes to complete the doctoral dissertation. Students must complete 72 law credits (rather than the 84 required for JD-only candidates), including the full first-year curriculum, and satisfy all other Law School graduation requirements.

PhD in Political Science

Since its inception, the Department of Political Science has aimed to integrate normative, empirical, theoretical, and policy concerns. The department offers training in five broad sub-fields: Behavior and Identities; Political Institutions; Political Economy; Security, Peace & Conflict; Political Methodology; and Normative Political Theory. Students can also integrate courses of study around a common theme, such as Race, Ethnicity, and Politics; or Religion and Politics.

Learn more about the PhD in Political Science

PhD in Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy has a faculty with expertise in the philosophy of law, political philosophy, science policy studies, bioethics, normative ethics and metaethics, and moral psychology. Students may specialize in the philosophy of mind, psychology, biology, or science; the history of philosophy; epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of law.

Learn more about the PhD in Philosophy

Dual degree students who matriculate in the Law School before summer 2013 are required to complete 72 credits in the Law School. Students who matriculate in a dual degree program on or after summer 2013 are required to complete 75 law credits.

Other requirements include:

  1. Taking all required 1L courses (view 1st Year Curriculum)
  2. Two credits of ethics courses (view JD Ethic Requirements)
  3. Professional Skills Requirement
  4. 4. JD upper-level writing requirement (See Law School Rule 3-31)
  5. Requirements specific to degree program and department

General Requirements

For all dual degrees, the Law School and the joint department or school each reduce the number of required credits in recognition of the students' coursework completed in the joint discipline. JD/PhD candidates who matriculate in the Law School on or after summer 2013 must complete 75 law credits, rather than the 87 law credits required for JD-only candidates. (Dual degree students who matriculated prior to summer 2013 must earn 72 law credits.)  The other school within Duke awarding the dual degree typically reduces its requirements in similar fashion. (For details regarding the non-law credit requirements for a specific dual degree program, please visit the web site of the particular University department or school involved.) Dual degree candidates generally save a full year of study that would otherwise be required if they earned their two degrees consecutively.

Pursuing a PhD jointly with a JD is an extremely rigorous undertaking reserved for students with high levels of focus, commitment, and dedication to their academic goals. PhD requirements vary from department to department, but most require at least two years of coursework plus a doctoral dissertation. Unlike JD/MA programs, all JD/PhD programs require applications to both the Law School and the appropriate Graduate School department. Most JD/PhD students earn their dual degrees in five or six years of study.


Candidates for the JD/PhD dual degree apply separately to Duke Law School and the Graduate School. Each school will complete its normal application review process, and you will receive a separate decision for each degree.

Many JD/PhD candidates apply simultaneously to the Law School and the Graduate School. It is also possible to apply to one program during the first year of study in the other, although admission to the dual degree is not guaranteed at any time.

If you are admitted to the Law School, but will not begin your legal studies that year, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can manage our class appropriately.

JD application information
PhD application information
Additional application information for the PhD in Political Science

Standardized Testing

The LSAT is required for all Law School dual degree applicants. The GRE is required for all PhD applicants.

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