You are here

Degree Overview

Each year the College of Law welcomes students to pursue studies leading to the SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) degree. We invite you to consider the ways in which graduate study in law at Iowa might meet your needs. We provide opportunities for in-depth research in a world-class setting. Our comfortable environment and affordable cost of living mean our graduate students get high value and support. Please explore the options below and consider the Iowa SJD Advantages.

Here is a downloadable application.  Applications must be printed and mailed to the Office of Admissions.  They are not available to submit online.

As a top public law school, The University of Iowa College of Law offers a great deal for prospective graduate students.

  • In-depth Research: If you are interested in research, the Iowa SJD provides a setting that encourages close collaboration with renowned experts in comparative law, antitrust law, law and economics, law and society and international law. Your thesis will represent the culmination of research conducted in our world-class law library, which includes an extensive international and comparative law collection.
  • Academic Collegiality: As a member of our academic community, you will interact with our JD candidates, other graduate students and international visiting scholars. You will be invited to participate in faculty workshops, and can present your own work for comment.
  • World Class Setting: The University of Iowa is a top public institution with world renowned business, engineering, health, and liberal arts specialties. Our tradition of interdisciplinary work provides exciting opportunities for students to collaborate with scholars from other disciplines. The small size of our program allows you to get to know the law school and university academic community well.
  • Comfortable Environment and Affordable Cost of Living: The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, a comfortable, friendly community that is known equally for its academic excellence and cultural environment. Iowa City is a manageable size, but more affordable—both in terms of tuition and living expenses—than many of the large cities that are a close drive away. Immerse yourself in the environment of our vibrant campus, the literary culture of this UNESCO City of Literature, or in the music and art of the many festivals that occur throughout the year. Or travel the short distances to Chicago, Minneapolis or St. Louis to enjoy the offerings of a big city environment. (Wondering what it's like to visit Iowa?  Check out this video.)
  • Value and Support: Tuition costs and costs of living at Iowa are significantly lower than at peer institutions. Tuition discounts are provided for students employed by faculty as research assistants, and some scholarships are available as well.  

The Iowa Advantages: Iowa Law’s graduate programs offer many advantages

  • A top-ranked law faculty teaching issues at the forefront of today's legal developments
  • The College of Law being part of a major research university
  • Special facilities for foreign and international work, including one of the largest law libraries in the country and a Writing Resource Center for help with legal writing
  • Availability of English as a Second Language (ESL) assistance, including the possibility of conditional admittance
  • Tuition costs and cost of living that are below peer institutions
  • A small program that allows close interaction between faculty and students
  • A university town that combines the friendliness and ease of living—for which the region is justly famous—with first-class cultural and sporting events

Degree Requirements

To earn the SJD degree, each student must successfully complete a course of a minimum of 24 hours of academic credit, as approved by his or her faculty advisor, and complete a doctoral thesis. The 24 credit hours are to be earned from the law school's general course offerings, with the exception of specific graduate courses noted below.

  • SJD candidates without a JD degree must take the LLM orientation course to the US legal system (two credits in August before the start of the fall semester).
  • LLM Seminar, a research and writing course which will serve as the foundation for the SJD thesis.

With the exception of the LLM orientation course and the LLM Seminar, courses will be selected in close consultation with the faculty advisor. While SJD students take most courses, alongside regular JD students, from the law school's regular offerings—especially its rich offerings on US, international, and comparative law—students may also explore studies in other university departments.

The thesis topic will be developed with the advice of the candidate’s faculty advisor and thesis committee. Ordinarily a candidate will complete his or her thesis and other degree requirements within three years of starting the program.