The Ph.D. in Law Degree

The Ph.D. in Law degree program is designed to prepare J.D. graduates for careers as legal scholars and teachers through a three-year program aimed at the production of a substantial body of academic research and writing under the close supervision of a three-member faculty dissertation committee. Unlike programs designed for students who wish to learn about law from the disciplinary perspectives of the social sciences or the humanities, the Ph.D. in Law program is directed at students who wish to pursue advanced studies in law from the perspective of law. This program offers young scholars an opportunity to contribute to the development of law as an academic field, and it provides an alternate pathway into law teaching alongside existing routes such as fellowships, advanced degrees in cognate fields, legal practice, and clerkships.

Because our entering Ph.D. candidates will have already completed their J.D. degrees, the anticipated course of study toward the Ph.D. in Law degree is three academic years and two summers in residence. In their first two semesters, Ph.D. candidates will enroll in courses designed to help them acquire the background and research skills needed to complete a dissertation in their field of interest and to prepare them for qualifying examinations that test the depth and breadth of the literacies and skills they have acquired. During their second year, candidates will prepare a dissertation prospectus and begin work on a dissertation. The dissertation may take the form of either three law review articles or a book-length manuscript and will make up a portfolio of writing that will be essential for success in the job market. Ph.D. candidates will gain experience in the classroom, and receive the full support of Yale Law School’s Law Teaching Program, which has had remarkable success in placing graduates in tenure-track positions at leading law schools.

Ph.D. candidates receive a full-tuition waiver, health insurance coverage, and a stipend to cover their year-round living expenses, as well as support for participation in national and international conferences.

Applications for admission to the Ph.D. in Law program will be available starting on August 15. The deadline for submission of all materials is December 15. Applicants to the Ph.D. in Law program must complete a J.D. degree at a U.S. law school before they matriculate and begin the Ph.D. program. Any questions about the program may be directed to Gordon Silverstein, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, at

The breadth and depth of public interest opportunities at Yale Law School are incredible, and the unique curriculum allows us to dive in as first-year students.”

Stephanie Kim

Class of 2014