Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Graduate Record represents the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

LL.M. Degree Requirements

To receive a master of Laws degree, candidates must complete at least two semesters of residence and a minimum of 24 credit hours. At least one of these hours must by earned by producing a substantial research paper. Students may complete the writing requirement by taking a seminar that requires a long paper, or through arranging a research project that results in a substantial paper. Students must have at least a 2.7 grade-point average to graduate.

LL.M. students are generally enrolled in courses and seminars with upper-level J.D. students. To learn more about our curriculum, visit the Academics department of the Law School website.

S.J.D. Degree Requirements

Only a few students are admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree. Because the S.J.D. is primarily a research degree, evaluation of the applicant's proposed research agenda is the primary factor considered for admission.

Many applicants for admission to the S.J.D. program have already completed the Law School's LL.M. program. In some cases, the Graduate Committee considers applicants who have received the LL.M. or its equivalent from another U.S. law school and from those who have already achieved professional distinction in law teaching, private practice or government service. Applicants who do not already hold the Law School's LL.M. must complete two semesters in residence as a "Provisional" S.J.D. student demonstrating honors ability in a program of study consisting of 24 hours of courses, seminars and/or independent study as may be prescribed and approved by the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.

All candidates must have earned their previous degree or degrees in law with distinction and must demonstrate the capacity for making an original and substantial contribution to the legal literature. To be considered for candidacy, applicants must submit a detailed dissertation proposal that allows the Graduate Committee to evaluate the feasibility, originality and likely scholarly contribution of the candidate's research plans.

In addition, applicants for the S.J.D. program should submit the same materials required for LL.M. applications, taking particular care to describe the applicant's reasons for wanting to pursue the degree and its relevance to his or her planned career.

S.J.D. candidates must complete a dissertation in an oral exam by a committee consisting of the dissertation supervisor and two other faculty members experienced in the field of the student’s research. The dissertation must make an original contribution to legal literature and demonstrate mastery of the principles of scholarly research and critical analysis. The dissertation should be publishable as a book or a series of law review articles. After the oral exam, the committee will report to the faculty its opinion of the candidate’s work and fitness for the degree. The dissertation may be submitted and the oral exam held at any time within five years of the student’s admission to the S.J.D. program. This period may be extended if the student shows good cause submitted in writing to the graduate committee.

The Law School does not typically offer financial aid to S.J.D. students.

University of Virginia School of Law
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Carlos Ibarguengoitia Zugarramurdi

“There were many reasons for me to come to UVA, among others: its academic excellence; its flexibility to design a high-quality, multi-disciplinary program; and the fact that UVA seeks to create a true community (with all that that implies). Although in the past I came many times to the United States as a tourist, the experience of being part of the community has been wonderful — so much to learn, contribute and enjoy.”

—Carlos Ibarguengoitia Zugarramurdi '16, Mexico