Graduate Programs

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Graduate Programs


Students from all over the world come to Yale Law School to deepen their understanding of the law. The LL.M. program is truly global—both in the breadth of resources available through Yale Law School and in the composition of its student body. For the 2015-16 academic year, for example, the 23 LL.M. students come from 14 different countries.

The Law School admits a limited number of graduate students each year to pursue studies in law beyond the first professional degree. Admission is generally open only to those committed to a career in teaching law.

No uniform course of study is prescribed for LL.M. candidates; courses are elective, and students tailor their studies to their own interests. Subject to meeting degree requirements, each LL.M. candidate is invited to use the resources of the Law School in whatever program of study will best prepare that individual for a career in research and teaching.

Please visit the LL.M. link to the left for more information.

Check your LL.M. online application status here.


The Law School has established the Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) degree program for a small number of nonlawyers who want to obtain a basic familiarity with legal thought and to explore the relation of law to their disciplines. It is a one-year terminal program designed for those who do not desire a professional law degree, but who are interested in a more formal relationship to the Law School and a more rigorous curriculum than that offered by the visiting researcher program. Candidates in the M.S.L. program are ordinarily experienced scholars with doctorates who have research or teaching objectives in mind, or mid-career journalists seeking an intensive immersion in legal thinking so that they are better able to educate their audiences upon their return to journalism. Those who have completed a professional law degree are not eligible for the program.

Information about the M.S.L. application

Academic Requirements

Candidates for the M.S.L. degree are required to complete the first year of the J.D. program (27 units). There are four required first-term courses (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Procedure, and Torts; see First Term, in the chapter Academic Requirements and Options). First-term small groups are open only with the approval of the instructor. The M.S.L. candidate may substitute an elective for one of the first-term courses. The second term is entirely elective and affords opportunities for independent research and clinical experience in addition to regular courses and seminars. In the second term, students must take at least 10 graded units of the 12 units required. Typically no more than 6 units of credit for courses outside the Law School can be counted toward the degree. Students will be disqualified as M.S.L. candidates if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms.

Participants in the M.S.L. program are not eligible for subsequent admission to the J.D. program. M.S.L. candidates are expected to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring term. If an extension is warranted, M.S.L. work must be completed by December 1 of the year in which the student was to have graduated.


The Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) program is designed for LL.M. graduates of Yale Law School who intend to teach law and would like to pursue a research project promising a “substantial contribution to legal scholarship.” To qualify for the J.S.D. degree, an admitted candidate must submit a dissertation that is a substantial contribution to legal scholarship. If the dissertation or any portion of it is thereafter published, it shall state that it has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate law degree at Yale Law School. The J.S.D. dissertation must ordinarily be completed within five years from the date of J.S.D. admission. Extensions may be granted with the approval of the dissertation supervisor.

Continue reading on the main J.S.D. page


The Ph.D. in Law is designed to prepare J.D. graduates for careers in legal scholarship through three years of supervised study. The first such degree program in the country, the Ph.D. in Law will contribute to law’s continuing maturation as an academic discipline by creating a space within the academy for reflection on and training in the methodologies of legal scholarship. As such, the Ph.D. program will also provide an important opportunity for a small number of J.D. graduates to acquire the skills and the portfolio of writing necessary to begin careers as legal scholars.

Applicants to the Ph.D. in Law program must have completed a J.D. degree at a United States law school before they matriculate and begin the Ph.D. Program.

Continue reading on the main Ph.D. page.

Visiting Researchers

Each year the Law School has in residence a few visiting researchers engaged in nondegree research. Visiting researchers may audit one or two courses per term (with the consent of individual instructors) and make use of library facilities for their work. Each visiting researcher is charged a registration fee. For academic year 2015–2016 the fee is $4,000 per term, or $8,000 per academic year. No financial aid from the Law School is available for participants in this program.

Information about the Visiting Researcher Application

Applications must include a résumé or c.v.; a description of the proposed research, including a statement explaining why Yale Law School is a particularly appropriate application for the proposed work; two letters of recommendation; official transcript(s) of the applicant’s academic record; the proposed length and dates of stay; an official TOEFL report, if English is not the applicant’s primary language; and the $75 application fee. Official transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope, signed across the seal. All documents must be in English or accompanied by certified English translation.

The application deadlines are April 1 for the fall term and September 1 for the spring term.