Presentation from first Judicial Studies Masters class

Master of Judicial Studies

Master of Judicial Studies

At Duke Law’s Master of Judicial Studies Program, judges learn the analytical skills and research approaches necessary for studying judicial institutions and apply those skills to studies of domestic and international judicial institutions, common and emerging legal issues, general judicial practices, and judicial reform efforts. Dean David Levi’s vision and leadership are evident. Together with several colleagues, he has brought together a remarkable nucleus of scholars and experts to produce an intensive and challenging curriculum touching on a critical array of issues relating to judicial institutions, judicial behavior, and decision-making. 

In addition to teaching substantive law courses, like constitutional and statutory law interpretation, federalism, international law, and analytic methods, leading scholars in the field of bias recognition help judges better identify and understand influences that may affect their decision-making. The program ends by offering judges the singular opportunity to work on a research thesis of publishable quality that may profoundly impact the judiciary.

Applications Being Reviewed Now

The program is open to state, federal, and international judges who sit on courts of general jurisdiction. We seek to admit a balance of representatives from each sector of the judiciary to create a diversity of ideas and approaches that will enhance the learning experience. The program requires four weeks of coursework in two consecutive summers (total of eight weeks on campus), plus the writing of a thesis based on original research. Courses are highly interactive and taught by scholars from the Duke Law faculty as well as from institutions around the country.

The next class will start in May 2016.  Applications for the 2016-2017 sessions will be reviewed in summer 2015.  The application form is posted at .

Duke Law offers a full scholarship to judges accepted to the program for tuition and room and board.  A detailed list of expenses covered by the scholarship is posted at .

First Judicial Studies Master’s Program a Success

The inaugural class, which enrolled in summer 2012, included 18 judges -- 12 state court judges, 4 federal court judges, and 2 international judges. The judges uniformly praised the first two sessions, which ended on June 14, 2013. The judges completed the work on their research theses and graduated in spring 2014.  The rigorous demands of the course work and thesis submission are heavy, but the judges enthusiastically acknowledge that the rewards of participation are well worth the efforts.  

Curriculum Admissions Faculty Full Scholarship

Application Form and Instructions

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2016-2017 sessions.  The next program will begin May 2018.

Courses begin May 23 and run through June 17, 2016. Applications for the 2016-2017 sessions will be reviewed in summer 2015.

Meet our Student-Judges

Duke Law Judicial Studies 2014 Class Photo
Download bios and photos of the 2014-2016 class of the Master of Laws in Judicial Studies program.


Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson at Graduation 2014

Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson’s Remarks at Duke Law 2014 Graduation.