The doctoral program at the Faculty of Law provides an opportunity for outstanding law graduates to pursue original academic research at the highest level.
It is becoming increasingly common for Canadian and international law schools to hire doctoral graduates as law faculty, and a recent study found the U of T Law graduate program to be the leading source of law profs in Canada. Those aspiring to an academic career in a law faculty should seriously consider pursuing the SJD program. SJD alumni also pursue successful careers in private practice, government, and non-governmental organizations.
The depth of expertise of the law school’s faculty provide graduate students with a rare opportunity to pursue intensive research on a wide range of topics. The school has established several collaborative research programs in recent years, focusing on important and topical branches of legal studies. Our program consistently produces scholars of the highest calibre, and recent graduates of the SJD program are now teaching at our own school, and at other schools in Canada and around the world.
A candidate for the SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) would generally have a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws, with an excellent academic record, from a recognized university. Candidates may be considered for direct entry into the SJD programme following completion of an LLB or JD.
The SJD degree program commences in September of each year. In special circumstances, an application for commencement of a SJD program in January may be considered.
The Faculty offers financial support (academic tuition plus living stipend of approximately $15,000) each year for three years of study to all doctoral students who require assistance and who have not obtained external fellowships. Financial support in the second and third year is conditional upon the student making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree, remaining in residence in Toronto, and other conditions set out in the Awards Policy. Faculty support will be reduced to reflect outside sources of funding.
- Remain in residence for two academic terms (September to April), and as long as you are in receipt of financial assistance.
- Complete the graduate seminar, Alternative Approaches to Legal Scholarship. Other coursework requirements are designed on an individual basis. Students entering the SJD program without an LLM must complete eight credit hours of coursework and remain in residence for four academic terms (September to April for two years).
- Complete the area requirement and SJD presentation (see below).
- Write a dissertation of approximately 300 to 400 pages (approximately 90,000 to 100,000 words) which makes a distinct contribution to legal research or scholarship.
- Pass an oral examination on the dissertation.
Note that the following requirements have been put in place to ensure that our graduate students get the full benefit of supervision and also to assist them to avoid the blocks that can develop if the research and writing process are not demystified as soon as possible.
Area Requirement in the Doctoral Program
Before being allowed to proceed with formal research on a thesis topic, an candidate must demonstrate competence in a broader area within which the topic falls. An Individual Area Committee (established by the student and approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies) assists in framing that area and compiling an appropriate plan, including a reading list, for carrying out the research. The research undertaken by the candidate either culminates in a written exam based on the reading list, or else consists of a research project which is either a draft of a chapter of the thesis, or an overview of the general argument. Both paths lead to an area exam, essentially a thorough discussion with the supervisory committee that is based on written work and a reading list. A candidate must satisfy the area exam requirement by the end of the first year of registration.
Each SJD student will present their own research during their second year in order to focus their dissertation research further. In this SJD workshop series, students present an abstract of their work in progress or a draft chapter to an audience of their peers and interested faculty, in order to get positive feedback and suggestions from a group larger than their committee.
Graduate students choose their other courses from those available in the JD program, which are posted on-line in the summer. Graduate students are expected to choose upper-year and seminar courses. Students are not allowed to select courses from the first year J.D. program.
Students may also enroll in other graduate courses in other faculties of the university. The selection of courses is subject to the approval of the Associate Dean.
The graduate faculty consists of the full-time faculty of the law school.