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Application information for the SJD program

Applicants to Duke Law's SJD program may begin submitting applications on September 1. The application deadline for the SJD program is March 1.

Admitted Students: Access the Admitted Students Website

 

To monitor your application status, visit the Applicant Status Online (ASO) link. Use your LSAC.org credentials to log in. The status checker has the most recent information available and will be updated when there is new information to report.

Application Review

The application review process includes a thorough evaluation of a candidate's performance in previous law studies. Also of special significance are the applicant's professional experience, areas of special interest and expertise, professional and personal goals, strong letters of recommendation and English proficiency. To be eligible for admission to the SJD program, applicants must hold a first degree in law - the JD, LLB, or the equivalent - from an accredited or comparably recognized foreign law school or law faculty program. Additionally, applicants must hold an LLM degree or equivalent from an English-speaking university in an English-speaking country. 

Admission Decisions

Admission decisions are made beginning in March. Admission to the SJD program is for fall semester only.

SJD Application Procedures

Applicants must select one of the two following options for submitting materials to Duke Law: electronically via LSAC, OR in hard copy format via the Mail-In Option noted on the Application Checklist tab.  Methods may not be combined.

Our preferred method for submitting application materials is electronically via LSAC (Law School Admission Council). Please visit the LSAC website for account access or to create a new account. Complete application instructions are available on the electronic application for the Duke Law SJD program.

You may also submit your application materials directly to our office. The application checklist allows you to investigate the options available for both application types. Please note that you must omit the box number from the address if you plan to send application materials via courier (DHL, FedEx, etc.) to the International Admissions office.  Please note that we do not accept application materials submitted via e-mail.

It is important to review the detailed application procedures.

 

Non-Discrimination Policy 

Duke University is committed to encouraging and sustaining a learning and work community that is free from prohibited discrimination and harassment. Visit the Office of Institutional Equity's website at https://oie.duke.edu/  to learn more and review the full policy. 

Application Checklist

Checklist Mail-in Application Applying Online Through LSAC
Signed Application & Certification Form Download the application form and certification form, complete and sign You must electronically certify your application
$80 Application Fee

Include with application (see detailed procedures here)

You must submit payment via credit card  
Resume Include with application Use electronic attachment
Personal Statement Include with application Use electronic attachment
Recommendation Letters May be submitted with application materials or referees may send directly to International Admissions Utilize LSAC's LOR service or submit directly to International Admissions
Short Statement of Proposed Research Focus  Include with application Use electronic attachment
Writing Sample 
 
Include with application Use electronic attachment
Transcripts May be submitted with application materials or institutions may send directly to International Admissions Included in Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report
TOEFL Score Report Have TOEFL submit your score report to Duke - institution code 5156, department code 03 Included in CAS report

Application Checklist

The following items are required to complete your application for SJD program admission. Application files will not be evaluated until all required items have been received. Applicants will receive an e-mail that contains login and password information to check the status of their application. Please note that e-mails are not sent indicating completion of application files.
 

Application & Certification Form Recommendation Letters 
Fee Short Statement of Proposed Research Focus 
Resume Writing Sample 
Personal Statement TOEFL/IELTS Score Report 
Transcripts   

 

Application Deadline

The recommended application deadline for the SJD program is March 1. 
 

How to Apply

Our preferred method for submitting application materials for the SJD program is electronically via LSAC (Law School Admission Council). Please visit the LSAC website for account access or to create a new account. Complete application instructions are available on the electronic application for the Duke Law SJD program.

You may also submit your application materials in hard copy form directly to the International Admissions office (address below). Please note that you must omit the box number from our mailing address if you plan to send application materials via courier (DHL, FedEx, etc.).  Please note that we do not accept application materials submitted electronically via e-mail.

 

Application Processing Fee

If you apply electronically through LSAC, you must pay by credit card. If applying directly to the International Admissions office, acceptable forms of payment are 1) checks in USD drawn on a U.S. bank, 2) postal or bank money order in USD, or 3) travelers checks (please sign on both the top and bottom lines if using travelers checks). Non-credit card payment methods should be made payable to Duke Law School. Please contact the International Studies office directly for wire transfer instructions. Duke University School of Law does not waive application fees for SJD applicants
 

Resume

Please submit a resume with your application. If you apply via LSAC, use the electronic attachment.
 

Personal Statement

You are required to submit a 2-5 page personal statement. The personal statement should include your professional and educational experience, special areas of interest, previous international experience, and any other information that supports your application. Please let us know if there is a special reason for applying to Duke Law School, such as family or friends who are living in North Carolina, a spouse or significant other with admission to a nearby school, or who is also applying to another Duke Law program.

All written product must be your own work. This means that the ideas and expressions originated with you, and you wrote all drafts and the final product without the assistance of generative artificial intelligence. It does not preclude asking family members, friends, and others for proofreading assistance or general feedback.

 

Recommendation Letters

A minimum of three letters of recommendation should be submitted on behalf of the SJD applicant. Such letters should not be from relatives or close family friends. The letters should explain the relationship of the writer to the applicant. At least one letter should be from a faculty member familiar with the applicant's LLM experience. 

If applying electronically, LSAC offers an LOR service for letters of recommendations.  Please follow the instructions on the LSAC site. If application materials are being submitted in hard copy format directly to the International Studies office, there are two methods of submitting letters of recommendation. Applicants may include with their application materials recommendation letters in sealed envelopes with the referee's signature across the seal. Referees may also submit recommendation letters directly to the International Studies office. We prefer recommendation letters in hard copy format but will accept electronic letters if referees are unable to submit letters prior to the application deadline. 
 

Academic Transcripts

Transcripts for all previously attended academic institutions must be submitted.

Applying via LSAC: If applying via LSAC, applicants must utilize the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Purchase of the Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service offered by LSAC is optional. Please follow all LSAC instructions for transcript submission.

Applying via the Mail-In option: Applicants may submit original transcripts (or certified copies) either 1) with their application materials, or 2) have their transcripts submitted electronically to international@law.duke.edu directly from their university. All transcripts not in English must include a professional translation containing the seal or signature of a professional translator. An explanation of the grading system should be included.

 

Research Proposal & Writing Sample 

SJD applicants should include a brief (2-5 pages) research proposal describing their research interest. Applicants also should include a writing sample indicative of their scholarship and writing ability. This can be the substantial research paper from the LLM program or a published article.
 

TOEFL / IELTS Score Report

TOEFL and IELTS score results for applicants utilizing LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) will automatically be included in the report.  Students admitted to graduate study normally have scores of at least 100 on the TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT), and 7.0 on the IELTS test.

Candidates who are native English speakers or who have received degrees of at least three years in length from a university where English is the medium of instruction and where English is an official language of the country, may be exempt from this requirement.  All other applicants must submit test scores to complete the application process.

 

Scholarships 

Unless sponsored by home governments or universities, admitted SJD candidates receive full-tuition scholarships.  Please note, however, that Duke Law does not offer scholarships that cover educational fees or living expenses, nor does it offer stipends to SJD candidates.

 

Application Review

The SJD program at Duke has a very small enrollment. Criteria for admission include an outstanding academic record in legal studies. SJD applicants must have completed an LLM degree at an accredited American law school. In exceptional cases, consideration will be given to applicants who have completed LLM programs of study in common law countries. Applicants must also submit a well-structured research proposal on a topic taught by a tenured faculty member. Applicant are requested not to contact individual Duke Law School faculty members. The entire application will be reviewed by faculty members on the SJD committee, and that committee will arrange for an appropriate faculty supervisor for faculty supervisor for applicants whoa are admitted. If further information is necessary, the applicant will be notified. Admissions decisions will be made starting in March. 

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