Program Overview

The accredited Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree at Golden Gate University School of Law is taught in a 100% online format that combines both self-paced (asynchronous) and live-sessions (synchronous) components to ensure student success. This program is designed for law graduates residing outside the United States of America who are interested in pursuing extensive, independent research on a specific topic with the expectation to make a substantial contribution to legal scholarship. Admission into the program is for anyone who holds a bachelor’s degree in Law (LLB) or equivalent degree in law. SJD students are expected to complete their degree within three years after commencing the program.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from the Doctor of Juridical Science program will acquire:

  • Improved Intellectual Skills: Graduates will demonstrate the ability to understand legal concepts, rules, and procedures.
  • Cognitive Ability: Graduates will demonstrate they possess critical thinking skills and are able to think strategically, organize, and behave professionally.
  • Pedagogy Skills: Graduates will demonstrate the ability to acquire and advance their pedagogical skills to be able to teach and impact knowledge to other students.
  • Scholarly Writing: Graduates will demonstrate they possess research and writing skills necessary for writing publishable scholarly works.
  • Professional and Career Attitude: Graduates will demonstrate they possess the necessary skills for a successful career in whatever career path they choose. They will demonstrate they possess the interpersonal skills and networking abilities to pursue enhanced career options.


The Doctor of Juridical Science program requires the completion of 24 units of required academic coursework and 32 units of dissertation research for a total of 56 units. In addition, students must attend live class sessions and successfully defend their dissertations orally before their dissertation committees.

During the first semester of the Foundational Phase, students must complete the “Legal Research and Writing Practicum I & II” courses. The courses offer intense preparation of fundamentals that are essential for researching and writing the SJD dissertation. This includes: choosing and revising dissertation topics; legal and academic research methods, tools and strategies; ethical use of research materials; working with dissertation committee members; developing legal analysis skills. Through Subject Matter Experts’ lectures students will learn about practical examples of legal research and academic writing on specific subjects and areas of law.

During the second semester of the Foundational Phase, students must formulate a detailed dissertation plan, a comprehensive bibliography, and write the first chapter of their dissertation. By the end of the second semester, students must submit the documents above and be prepared to successfully present them at the first oral exam before the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee decides whether or not to advance students to the next phase.

Foundation Phase – 24 units

During the candidacy phase, students will complete 32 units of dissertation research. Candidates will work on their dissertation under the guidance of their dissertation committee. Candidates must remain in contact with the members of their dissertation committee. Upon completion of the dissertation, students are expected to successfully defend it orally before the dissertation committee.