To be awarded the JSD degree, candidates must produce a dissertation, a significant scholarly work in a chosen field of study. This requirement will normally be fulfilled in the form of a monograph or book of 80,000 to 100,000 words in length. As an exception, and typically in the field of economic analysis of law, the dissertation requirement may be met through a series of substantial papers or law review articles. A candidate can only fulfill the dissertation requirement in this manner if granted prior approval by his or her Dissertation Supervisor and the JSD Committee.


Oral Dissertation Defense

It is expected that candidates defend their dissertations orally, viva voce, before their Dissertation Committee upon completion of their dissertation. The oral defense can only be scheduled if at least a majority of the Dissertation Committee, after reading the dissertation, believes that it is of sufficient quality to receive the degree. The Chairman of the Dissertation Committee should write a one to two page report recommending the candidate for the oral defense. If the Dissertation Committee is not in agreement on whether the dissertation is of sufficient quality to receive the degree, then the JSD Committee will make a determination.

Candidates must contact the JSD Office to request that the defense be scheduled, and provide the names of the committee members, the date desired for the defense, and the title of the dissertation. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the Dissertation Committee members are available on a given date. The candidate must also submit one electronic copy and two hard copies of the dissertation to the JSD Office; at least one should be unbound so as to facilitate additional copying.

The time of the dissertation defense is publicly announced and members of the faculty, especially those working in fields related to the candidate’s work, are encouraged to attend the defense and participate in questioning the candidate.

At the defense, the candidate is expected to make a twenty to thirty minute presentation of the central thesis of his or her dissertation. This shall be followed by two rounds of questioning by the Dissertation Committee. At the discretion of the supervisor, questions might be taken from the public. Thereafter, the candidate and members of the public will withdraw while the committee shall discuss the defense in the interest of composing a recommendation to the JSD Committee.


Awarding of the Degree

After the oral defense the Dissertation Committee submits a recommendation to the JSD Committee regarding whether to award the degree, reject the dissertation, or require revision and re-submission of the dissertation. The final decision is in the hands of the JSD Committee.

If the JSD Committee decides to award a degree to a JSD candidate who has successfully defended his or her dissertation, the decision will be communicated to the Dean of NYU School of Law as well as to the Department of Academic Services. The candidate will be eligible to receive his or her degree at the next commencement ceremony. The JSD Committee will fund a celebratory toast for the graduate, their friends and their family on a date to be chosen by the JSD graduate.


Final Submission of the Dissertation

Once a candidate has passed the oral defense, he or she must turn in three bound copies of the final dissertation to the JSD Officer. Upon receipt of these materials, the JSD Officer shall inform the Registrar of the doctoral recipient’s graduation. Doctoral recipients should ensure that the dissertation is free of errors and that any suggestions made by the Dissertation Committee have been incorporated.