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

Before enrolling, SJD Candidates should have completed substantial graduate coursework in environmental law, and, ideally, a full LLM degree in environmental law, either at Haub Law or at a comparable institution.

The SJD is designed to be completed in 3 years although it is possible for Candidates to receive permission to spend up to 5 years to complete their Dissertations. The SJD structure is as follows:

1. YEAR 1: preliminary coursework.
2. YEAR 2: research seminar, research and development of Prospectus, and, when appropriate, commence drafting Dissertation.
3. YEAR 3: continuation of research, writing Dissertation and defense.

To be admitted to the SJD program, Candidates must submit a Research Proposal. The Research Proposal is a measure of the Candidate’s scholarly potential.  It should demonstrate the viability of the project as a Dissertation, and allows the Admissions Committee to assess the student’s ability to complete the doctoral degree.

You can find a list of the required application materials and documents in the following link: How to apply to the SJD program

The Research Proposal is the most important component to the SJD application. The Candidate’s Materials and Proposal will be reviewed by the Associate Director of Graduate Programs and International Affairs.  Following preliminary review, the Research Proposal is provided to the Faculty Director of SJD Programs for review and, if satisfactory, for distribution to the environmental faculty.

Members of the faculty will be able to opine about the Candidate and Proposal as well as volunteer to serve as an advisor for a particular Candidate. All members of the full-time faculty are eligible to serve as an advisor.  Depending on the topic and area of expertise, nonfull-time faculty members may serve as a co-advisor with full-time faculty members. No faculty member may advise more than three SJD Candidates at one time.

Once a potential advisor is selected, an interview will be arranged by the Office of Graduate Programs. This interview will be conducted by the Office of Graduate Programs and the potential advisor. The interview is mandatory and an important part of determining whether the Candidate is a good fit and thus may be accepted into the 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.

Prospectus Stage

All SJD Candidates must spend at least one year in residence at Pace University, not counting the year they spend doing preliminary work (i.e., Year 1 above), if applicable.  During this year all SJD Candidates must be enrolled in the research seminar. The research seminar is mandatory for all SJD Candidates in the Prospectus stage. The seminar will cover topics of plagiarism, citation form, and research methodologies.

The Prospectus is a detailed outline of the Dissertation. Candidates must spend their first year in residence at Pace working with their faculty supervisor to create a research plan and outline.


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.

In order for Haub Law to award the SJD degree, the Candidate must complete the SJD Dissertation within five (5) years of matriculation and the student’s Dissertation Committee must approve the Dissertation no later than the last day of final examinations according to the official academic calendar.

The Dissertation presented at the end of the SJD is the product of extensive legal research, offers original ideas and should be an important contribution to the field of environmental legal scholarship. It documents the Candidate’s ability 1) to make substantive contributions to answering a major intellectual question and 2) to communicate research results with professional competence.