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S.J.D. Admissions


To be eligible for admission:

  • An applicant must hold an LL.B. or B.A. in law from a law school outside the U.S. and an LL.M. from
    • Penn State Law; or
    • Another U.S. ABA-approved law school; or
    • A foreign university LL.M. degree program, provided that the university maintains academic standards substantially equivalent to Penn State Law for conferral of the LL.M. degree.  
  • The applicant’s professional objectives and proposed course of study must align with the expertise and capacity of a Penn State Law faculty member who is willing to serve as an S.J.D. Candidate Faculty Advisor. Please review the faculty biography pages; and 
  • The applicant must demonstrate English language proficiency sufficient for the advanced study of law in English. 

Admission Process

For an applicant to be considered for admission, the Penn State Law Admissions Office must receive the following:

  1. Completed Application and Fee. Applicants may download an application and mail it to Penn State Law with supporting documents or submit an electronic application through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Document Assembly Service. The $75  (75 U.S. dollars) application fee can be paid by credit card, check or international money order drawn on U.S. funds and made payable to Penn State University.
  2. Transcripts. Official academic transcripts documenting the applicant’s LL.M. degree and prior law studies (certified translations into English).
  3. Proof of English Proficiency. If applicant has received a J.D. or LL.M. degree from Penn State Law a proof of English proficiency is not required. Otherwise an official TOEFL report is required with a minimum score of 100. The Penn State Law institutional code for the TOEFL test is 2187.  An IELTS score of 7 is also acceptable.   
  4. Three letters of recommendation in English (or certified translations into English) from law faculty/professors/employers, including one from a law professor in the applicant’s country where he/she received a law degree with knowledge of the applicant’s academic achievement and potential for scholarly research and writing.  Each recommender should evaluate the applicant’s capacity for advanced legal research and scholarship and potential for fulfilling the professional objectives for which the applicant seeks the degree (i.e., as a legal academic or in another law-related professional enterprise);
  5. A writing sample in English written entirely by the applicant without assistance, usually in the form of a legal research paper;
  6. A brief (5-10 pages) proposal of study in English in sufficient detail to demonstrate the potential of the applicant to make an original and significant contribution to a particular field of legal scholarship. The proposal should describe the research topic, the research questions to be pursued, and the proposed research methodology;
  7. CV/resume in English

The S.J.D. Admissions Committee will review applications periodically during the year, with most applications expected between mid-January and May.