JD/PhD Program

Program Category: Dual-Degree Program

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Columbia Law School cooperate in offering combined programs of study leading to the JD degree and the sequential MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees in less time than would be required if each program were pursued separately. GSAS does not offer a JD/PhD dual-degree program with any other university.

Enrollment in the JD/PhD program is limited to a small number of students each year.

Please find detailed information about the JD/PhD program below and in this document.

The following GSAS departments have elected to participate in the JD/PhD program:

Students who wish to take part in this program must submit separate applications and gain admission to both the Law School and a PhD program in a participating department of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. There is no JD/MA dual-degree program.

To take advantage of the reduction of time to degree, students should apply to the second school no later than the fall semester of their first year. In any case, participants in the dual-degree program who begin at the Law School must be admitted to and register at GSAS before completing their Law School coursework. Those who begin at GSAS must be admitted to, and register at the Law School before completing the requirements for the MA. Students accepted to the Law School during their first year at GSAS must enroll at the Law School the following fall and may not defer their admission to the Law School. 

For information regarding the admissions process at each school, please consult the CLS Office of Admissions and the GSAS Office of Admissions.

The JD/PhD program generally consists of eleven semesters of coursework: five at the Law School and six at GSAS, followed by the writing and defense of the dissertation. Please note that the required number of semesters of coursework conducted at GSAS is determined by the department.

Students admitted to the JD/PhD program usually begin their studies at the Law School. After two semesters of study at the Law School, the student then enrolls in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to complete the MA degree, according to the requirements set by the GSAS department.

Upon receiving the MA degree, the student then returns to the Law School to complete the JD requirements. The student is granted advanced standing at the Law School for the conferred MA, reducing the time to complete the JD by one semester. (Note: Advanced standing is granted only to students who earn the MA at Columbia as part of the sequential MA, MPhil, PhD program; advanced standing will not be granted for a master’s degree completed elsewhere or through a standalone Columbia MA program.)

Upon completion of the JD requirements, the student then returns to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and receives two Residence Units (equivalent to two semesters) of advanced standing toward the MPhil degree requirements. The JD and MPhil degrees are conferred simultaneously upon the completion of all requirements for both degrees. The student then completes the requirements for the PhD according to the departmental guidelines, which include the preparation and successful defense of a dissertation.

In certain cases, students may be permitted to vary the sequence of enrollment described above. This will only be granted with the prior approval of the respective advisors at the Law School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

During the GSAS portion of the JD/PhD program, students will receive funding as a GSAS doctoral student, which entails a commitment of multi-year support as indicated in the official letter of admission from the Dean. This multi-year support consists of a combination of fellowships and teaching or research assistantships. For more information, see the Fellowship Information for Doctoral Students page.

Students should contact the Law School Financial Aid Office for information about tuition and educational financing during the Law School portion of the JD/PhD program.

Are there prerequisites for the JD/PhD program?

No, there are no prerequisites for the JD/PhD program. Students from all majors and concentrations are welcome to apply. For information about possible prerequisites for a specific department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, please consult the department website.

I am currently a student in the Law School or GSAS. Am I still able to apply to the JD/PhD program?

First-year students in GSAS or Columbia Law School are eligible to apply to the JD/PhD program partner school for entry into the JD/PhD program.

Does my admission to one program have any effect on admission to the other program?

The Faculty Admissions Committee at each school makes its admissions decisions independently and without knowledge of the decision on the other application.

What if I apply to both the Law School and GSAS simultaneously, but I am admitted to only one program?

Of the applicants who apply simultaneously to both schools, most are admitted to only one program, either the JD program at Columbia Law School or the PhD program at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants who are admitted to only one program are welcome to accept admission to that program.

I would like to pursue the JD/PhD program, but the department in which I would like to earn my PhD is not listed above. Can I create my own program?

All degree programs must be approved by both Columbia University and the State of New York; accordingly, it is not possible for a student to design a custom JD/PhD program.

Students may obtain further information about application for admission to the program by contacting the following offices:

Departments interested in participating in the program should contact Richard Slusarczyk at [email protected]