SJD in Environmental Law

The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law offered by Pace University's Elisabeth Haub School of Law is a graduate research degree intended to prepare legal scholars to research, publish and teach in the field of environmental law, whether in the United States or elsewhere in the world.
Enviro Clinic

Candidates for the SJD work under close faculty supervision to research, write and defend a publishable doctoral dissertation that creates original knowledge about their chosen topics in environmental law. This is a process which requires at least one academic year in residence at Pace Law, although it may take two to three years or even longer.

Admission to the SJD program is competitive and highly selective. Ordinarily, only one new candidate is admitted each year. A primary consideration in the admission of each new SJD candidate is whether a suitable faculty supervisor is available to supervise that particular candidate for the duration of his or her SJD program.

Before enrolling, SJD candidates should have completed substantial graduate coursework in environmental law, and ideally a full LLM degree in environmental law, either at Pace Law or at a comparable institution. A candidate who does not hold an LLM in environmental law may be admitted on condition that he or she complete 24 credits in environmental law subjects, with at least a 3.0 GPA, before progressing to the dissertation stage of the SJD program.

How to apply to the SJD program

Preliminary Coursework Stage

This stage is only required of candidates who have not completed an LLM degree in environmental law before enrolling in the SJD program. The duration of the Preliminary Coursework Stage will depend on the extent of any prior environmental law coursework which the candidate may have completed prior to enrollment.

Dissertation Stage

The Dissertation Stage is the heart of the SJD program. In this stage, candidates spend at least one academic year (two full-time semesters) in residence at Pace Law, working with their faculty supervisor as they create a research plan and outline, and then proceed with the actual research and writing of the doctoral dissertation. Upon completion of the dissertation itself, candidates then prepare for the oral defense of their dissertations before a faculty panel.

Continuation Stage

Absent extraordinary circumstances, all SJD degree candidates must meet the degree requirements within five (5) years of commencing the program, including one year of full-time study in residence at the law school.  After completing the required year in residence, full-time candidates may extend their stay in residence for two (2) additional years with the option for a third additional year at the discretion of their faculty advisor, the Faculty Director of the SJD Program (“Faculty Director”), and the Academic Dean.  A candidate’s continued enrollment in the SJD program is contingent on demonstrating adequate progress toward the degree, with respect to both research and written work-product that meets the standards of the candidate’s faculty advisor and the Faculty Director.

Degree candidates may pursue other commitments while not in residence, but are expected to continue working on the SJD dissertation simultaneously. Candidates must also submit an annual check-in report detailing progress on the dissertation over the past year to their faculty advisor and the Faculty Director.

If, after reviewing a candidate’s annual check-in report and consulting with the Faculty Director, that candidate’s faculty advisor determines that the candidate has not made satisfactory progress on the dissertation, or otherwise demonstrates an inability to complete the degree requirements, the Faculty Director shall have the discretion to dismiss the candidate from the SJD program. That decision is reviewable only by the Academic Dean of the Law School, and only for abuse of discretion.