The SJD program at the University of Toronto provides an opportunity for outstanding law graduates to pursue original academic research at the highest level. At the University of Toronto, our doctoral students find a rich intellectual environment, unique opportunities to develop as scholars and teachers, and a well-established, funded pathway to an academic career at law schools and other institutions across Canada and internationally. Our graduate program offers an unparalleled student experience: the quality of supervision by our world renowned law school’s faculty, our rich and vibrant peer community, housed in beautiful Falconer Hall, and our excellent job placement rates are among the best in the world. University of Toronto is the leading institution from which law professors across Canada hold their terminal graduate degrees in law.   

In addition to affiliation with our various research groups, University of Toronto offers several collaborative research programs for doctoral students in important and topical branches of legal studies. 

Eligible candidates generally hold a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD) and a Master of Laws (LLM) from recognized universities with an excellent academic record (at least a University of Toronto B+ standing or equivalent) and have demonstrated, through substantive writing, their ability to engage in and generate high-level quality research and writing. Candidates who have achieved a minimum A- average in their Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD) may be considered for direct entry into the SJD program.

Successful applicants commence this program in September. In special circumstances, an application for commencement of the program in January may be considered.

The Faculty of Law offers internal financial support (covering at minimum tuition and incidental fees plus a $17,500 living stipend) each year for all three years of study to all doctoral students. Details of financial support, and additional fellowships or research assistanceships, will be confirmed in the letter of admission to successful applicants. Financial support in the second and third year is conditional upon the student making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree and other conditions set out within the Faculty's Awards Policy.


Doctoral students must:

  • 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.


Area Requirement in the Doctoral Program

Candidates must demonstrate competence in the broader area of their research in their first year of the doctoral program. An Individual Committee (established by the student and approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Programs) assists in framing that area and developing 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 a research project, which may consist either in a draft of a chapter of the thesis or a written overview of the general argument of the thesis, informed by the reading list. Both paths lead to an oral 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.

SJD Presentation

Each SJD student is required to give a formal presentation in their second year in the program: a presentation of an overview of their work in progress or a draft chapter to an audience of their peers and interested faculty. The SJD presentation is designed to provide students with experience presenting in a formal workshop setting and to gain valuable feedback 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 JD 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.

Graduate Faculty

The graduate faculty consists of the full-time faculty of the law school.

Application Information