The Gradcafe

  • Financial Aid
  • Scholarships
  • Student Loans
  • Majors & Careers
  • Online Grad School
  • Credit Transfer
  • Preparing For Grad School
  • Student Life
  • Study Abroad

Top 10 Best PhD in Law Programs [2023]

Lisa Marlin

Table of Contents

Yale university, law school, stanford university, the university of chicago, the law school, columbia university, law school, harvard university, law school, the university of pennsylvania, carey law school, the university of arizona, james e. rogers college of law, the university of texas at dallas, school of economic, political, and policy sciences, abraham lincoln university, school of law, walden university, what do you need to get a phd in law, preparing for a law doctorate program, things to consider when choosing a law phd program, jobs for phd in law degree holders, course costs, course length, skills you’ll gain through a phd in law, key takeaways, what is a phd in law called, is a phd in law the same as a jd, what is the highest degree in law, how long is a phd in law, what does a phd in law do.

A PhD in law is an advanced qualification that will make you a true legal expert. You can use that credential to work as a legal research scholar or teach at a post-secondary level. This is not only a prestigious career path but also a lucrative one — today’s law PhD holders have an average salary  of $93,000.

Today’s law schools emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to legal education, equipping students to work in a diverse range of fields.

Interested in an advanced criminal justice  career? Below we’ll cover the top PhD in law programs, universities, and what you need to know before pursuing a doctorate in law.

Top PhD in Law Programs

Yale University logo

Yale University’s Law School ranks first  in the nation, with its 20 legal clinics offering an immersive experience for students. This PhD program has a purely academic focus. To qualify for admission, you’ll need to already have a JD (Juris Doctor) degree. If accepted, you’ll be able to benefit from Yale Law School’s acclaimed “Yale Teaching Program.”

Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD)

Stanford University logo

Stanford University is another highly acclaimed institution in the field of law education with a tough admissions process. Only a few exceptionally gifted students with an international JD or LLB or a SPILS (Stanford Program in International Legal Studies) qualification are accepted into this program every year. The program has an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach to law.

Doctor of Jurisprudence (JSD)

University of Chicago logo

The Law School of the University of Chicago is renowned for its interdisciplinary approach to teaching and cross-lists its courses with other departments. The faculty include philosophers, political scientists, historians, and law scholars. Students also have the option to pursue a Doctorate in Comparative Law (D.Comp.L.) instead of a JSD if they wish.

JSD Program

Columbia University logo

The Columbia Law School emphasizes experiential learning with law clinics, moot courts, and externships, offering opportunities for innovative education and valuable intellectual exchange. Students can conduct independent research with the help of their faculty advisors and they need to submit a DPR (Dissertation Progress Report) at the end of each year.

Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)

Harvard University logo

Harvard University is one of the world’s most famous centers for education, and its Law School  is equally renowned. The school has a unique grading system that uses the classifications honors, pass, low-pass, and fail. This flexible SJD program allows students to design their own study plan and choose faculty supervisors for independent research.

Doctor of Science of Law (SJD)

University of Pennsylvania logo

Carey Law School’s curricula cut across disciplinary and international lines to create law experts in every field, including business, health, technology, education, and social work. For admission to the Carey Law School PhD, you must already hold an LLM or JD from the same school or an institution of similar standing.

University of Arizona logo

The University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law is one of the country’s most affordable top-tier law schools. This PhD law degree offers the choice of two concentrations: International Trade & Business Law, and Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy.

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology

University of Texas logo

The University of Texas’ School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences creates professionals capable of dealing with modern issues like risk management, political violence, social inequality, healthcare, and international trade & conflict resolution. You’ll need a bachelor’s in criminology or a related discipline to apply for this PhD in criminology.

Juris Doctor (JD)

Abraham Lincoln University logo

This school was founded with to provide affordable education to working professionals who cannot attend regular law school. This doctorate in law is a flexible JD degree that can be completed entirely online through the university’s high-level education technology.

Online PhD in Criminal Justice

Walden University logo

Walden University aims to help working professionals pursue advanced degrees and has been ranked #1  in research doctorates for African-American students. This program was one of the first online doctorates in criminal justice and allows students to explore national and international issues in criminal justice administration with a dual emphasis on contemporary theory and practice.

The exact requirements vary depending on the program, but you’ll typically need a LLB, LLM, or JD as a basic prerequisite.

As part of the admission process, you usually need to submit:

To earn your doctorate, you’ll have to complete coursework, qualifying examinations, and usually a dissertation to a high standard.

The best PhD in legal studies programs are competitive, so it’s important to start preparing early. Keep up to date on developments in the field and research the best universities that offer your preferred specialization.

Look into leading faculty members in your areas of interest, and network by joining relevant professional communities. Once you’ve decided on your dream program, check admission requirements to prepare the strongest possible application.

Choosing the best law PhD program will depend on a range of factors, including your passions and interests. However, there are a few general factors that are essential for everyone deciding on a law school for their PhD to consider:

Why Get a Doctorate in Law?

A doctorate degree in law will allow you to pursue roles in the legal field as a scholar, researcher, or academic, and build a worthwhile career.

Several candidates apply for admission to PhD in jurisprudence programs every academic year, but top law schools have low acceptance rates, and only a few are accepted. For example, Harvard only has around 70 SJD students  while hundreds or thousands may apply. Therefore, with this qualification, you’ll belong to an exclusive group of in-demand professionals.

Here are some common roles for PhD holders in law with the average annual salaries for each:

The cost greatly depends on where you study, but prestigious law schools can charge annual tuition of around $65,000. Once you factor in living expenses, books, and facility fees, the total cost can add up to around $100,000 a year. However, you can find programs with tuition and fees for as little as $7,500 a year. Moreover, most top institutions offer full-tuition scholarships, stipends, and similar financial aid that cover almost all of your expenses.

Typically, a PhD in law takes 3-5 years to complete. However, most programs will give you extra time to complete your doctorate if needed.

Aside from giving you in-depth and expansive legal knowledge, PhD in law programs can also help you develop the following skills:

A PhD in law is an excellent choice for legal professionals seeking a career in research or academia. While a JD or Juris Doctor is equivalent to a PhD, the former equips you to become a law practitioner.

On the other hand, if you want to teach at a post-secondary level or conduct further legal research, you will need a PhD. Prepare early and choose a program that will best help you to achieve your career goals.

For more law education advice, take a look at our guide on the best master’s in criminal justice programs , or weigh up your options with the highest-paying PhDs .

PhD in Law FAQs

A PhD in law is usually called a Doctor of Law or Doctor of Laws. Some universities offer a JD (Juris Doctor or Doctor of Jurisprudence) degree, while others offer SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) or JSD (Doctor of Science in Jurisprudence) programs.

A JD (Juris Doctor) degree is suitable for anyone who wants to practice as a licensed legal professional. These programs usually take three years to complete and are mostly coursework-focused.

On the other hand, a PhD in law may take 5-6 years to complete and usually involves a dissertation or major research project. If your aim is professional research or a job in academia in the discipline rather than practicing law, a PhD is better for you.

A PhD in law is generally considered the most advanced law degree. While some universities call it by other names, such as SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) or JSD (Doctor of Jurisprudence degree), this is essentially the same thing.

PhD Law programs typically take 3-5 years to complete. You may take longer for individual reasons, such as if you choose to study part-time.

A PhD in law will equip you to work in legal research or academia.

Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

Top 12 Best Laptops for Graduate Students in 2023

Top 10 best phd in theology programs [2023], related posts.

10 Best Master’s in International Relations Programs

Best PhD Programs in Pennsylvania

10 Best PhD Programs in Pennsylvania

Best Psychology Master's Programs in California

10 Best Psychology Master’s Programs in California

Best Master's in Forensic Science Programs

Top 10 Best Master’s in Forensic Science Programs

Top 10 Best Online CRNA Programs

Top 10 Best Online CRNA Programs

Best Online MBA in Florida

Best Online MBA in Florida: Top 7 Choices [2023 Review]

Theology PhD

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Recent Posts

Join the community

Register for our newsletter to get the inside scoop on graduate application trends, admissions acceptance data, and to receive activity alerts on your graduate school or program.

The Gradcafe

Copyright © 2022 All rights reserved.

Find Your Law PhD

Find Your Law PhD

Phd in law programs.

PhD Programs A PhD in Law involves research and an academic approach to Law study. A PhD in Law is not to be confused with a Juris Doctor, which is a professional degree preparing students to practice. A wide range of research areas is available for a PhD Law program, including international law, comparative law, human rights law, maritime law, international environmental law, and more. Through coursework, teaching, and research, candidates for a PhD Law degree will complete a dissertation to be awarded the degree. The variety of different PhD in Law can be overwhelming - don't let it stop you! Start your search by looking at the most popular PhD in Law listed below.

Most Popular Fields

Law studies.

Top PhD Programs

PhD in Law programs are offered in a number of various fields. Have a look at some of the most popular PhD in Law programs below!

Top PhD Countries

PhD in Law programs are available at universities around the world. Take your PhD in Law in one of these most popular locations!

Top PhD Cities

There are many popular PhD in Law programs offered by some of the highest ranking universities in the cities listed below!

Newly added programs

University of Pécs

More information

Queen's University Belfast

University of Latvia

SOAS University of London

Alfred Nobel Open Business School

Zhetysu State University named after Ilyas Zhansugurov

Universidade Santiago de Compostela

University Of Washington School Of Law

University at Albany

University of Cambridge

The University of Texas at Dallas

UAEU United Arab Emirates University

Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes

L’Université Catholique Du Congo

News and Articles

What Does the Law School Applications Rise Mean for Law School Applicants?

What Does the Law School Applications Rise Mean for Law School Applicants?

May 12, 2021

The last year has been a lot. Many students have taken this as their sign to apply to law school. Here’s what the rise in law school applications means for applicants.

7 Tips for Applying to Law School

7 Tips for Applying to Law School

Aug 21, 2019

Have you finally decided on a career in law? Can you see yourself standing up in a packed courtroom defending the innocent and most vulnerable members of society? Are you inspired to make the world a better (and safer) place by prosecuting those who would do otherwise? Or would you like to sit on one of the highest courts of all, where you can help shape and uphold the standards of justice and liberty for generations to come? If so, then the first thing you'll need is a law degree. Thankfully, we've come up with a few pointers that will make the application process as easy as possible. Here are seven tips for securing yourself a place at law school.

University and Program Search

Reset Filters

More Filters

Tuition Fees in USD/year

No Results Found!

Explore other recommended programs.

Results per page:

1-10 of 1000

best phd law programs

Yale Law School

The Ph.D. in Law Degree

The Ph.D. in Law degree program is designed to prepare J.D. graduates for careers as legal scholars and teachers through a doctoral program aimed at the production of a substantial body of academic research and writing under the close supervision of a three-member faculty dissertation committee. Unlike programs designed for students who wish to learn about law from the disciplinary perspectives of the social sciences or the humanities, the Ph.D. in Law is directed at students who wish to pursue advanced studies in law from the perspective of the law. This program offers emerging scholars an opportunity to contribute to the development of law as an academic field, and it provides an alternate pathway into law teaching alongside existing routes such as fellowships, advanced degrees in cognate fields, legal practice, and clerkships.

Because our entering Ph.D. students will have already completed their J.D. degrees, the anticipated course of study toward the Ph.D. in Law degree is three academic years and two summers in residence. In their first two semesters, Ph.D. students will enroll in courses designed to help them acquire the background and research skills needed to complete a dissertation in their field of interest and to prepare them for qualifying examinations that test the depth and breadth of the literacies and skills they have acquired. During their second year, students will prepare a dissertation prospectus and begin work on a dissertation. The dissertation may take the form of either three law review articles or a book-length manuscript and will make up a portfolio of writing that will be essential for success in the job market. Ph.D. students will also gain experience in the classroom, and receive the full support of Yale Law School’s Law Teaching Program , which has had remarkable success in placing graduates in tenure-track positions at leading law schools.

Ph.D. students receive a full-tuition waiver, a health award for health insurance coverage, and a stipend to cover their year-round living expenses, as well as support for participation in national and international conferences.

Applications for admission to the Ph.D. in Law program are available starting on August 15. The deadline for submission of all materials is December 15. Applicants to the Ph.D. in Law program must complete a J.D. degree at a U.S. law school before they matriculate and begin the Ph.D. program. Any questions about the program may be directed to Gordon Silverstein, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, at [email protected] .

Watch Gordon Silverstein, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, describe the Ph.D. program at Yale Law School.

Student Profile Videos

best phd law programs

Amanda Shanor

A student perspective on the PhD in Law program and graduate programs. 

best phd law programs

Molly Brady

A student perspective on property law, the PhD degree, and the job market process.

Thomas Kadri

Thomas Kadri

A student perspective on the Ph.D. in Law program and his research on tort liability.

Graduate Student Life

2020 and 2021 Graduate Programs alumni before their in-person ceremony in May 2022

“ 1L year is really hard.…You’re just grinding all the time. And when you come out the other end, you realize that you’ve got skills to make changes in the world. And that feeling is so cool.”

Rebecca Wexler

Class of 2016

Doctoral Programs

group of students converse outside class

best phd law programs

10 PhD Programs in Law Studies in USA 2023

What are Law Studies? Law studies are academic fields that focus on the legal system and its operation. Law studies cover a wide range of topics, including constitutional law, civil law, criminal law, and international law. Students who pursue law studies typically do so with the goal of becoming lawyers, but the skills and knowledge gained can be applied to a variety of careers.Why Study Law? There are many reasons why someone might choose to study law. For some, it is a way to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. For others, it is an opportunity to learn about the legal system and how it works or gain skills that can be applied in a variety of different careers. Some of the skills that law students learn include critical thinking, problem-solving, and research. These skills are not only useful for those who want to become lawyers, but for anyone who wants to work in a field where they will need to deal with complex issues or interpret information. In addition, law students also gain an understanding of the operation of the legal system, which can be helpful in a variety of different professions. How to Study Law? At the undergraduate level, law degrees typically take three or four years to complete and are generally taken in preparation for a graduate or professional qualification in law. During this time, students take a variety of courses that cover different aspects of the law. After completing an undergraduate law degree, many students go on to complete a graduate law degree, which can take an additional two or three years.

Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: state, local, and federal, in that order. The common requirements to study at a higher education level in United States will include your admissions essay (also known as the statement of purpose or personal statement), transcript of records, recommendation/reference letters, language tests

The PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is a doctoral or post-graduate degree. PhD holders are not necessarily philosophers (unless they earned their degree in philosophy), and PhD recipients are able to engage in thought experiments, reason about problems, and solve problems in sophisticated ways. To receive a PhD a student must demonstrate original research in their chosen field of study, produce a dissertation on that research, and defend their dissertation in front of other experts.

Related fields of study

2023 Best Law Schools

Ranked in 2022

Where you attend law school and how you use your legal education are among the most

Where you attend law school and how you use your legal education are among the most critical decisions of your life. Click here to read our letter about the upcoming 2023-2024 Best Law School Rankings. A career in law starts with finding the school that fits you best. With the U.S. News rankings of the top law schools, narrow your search by location, tuition, school size and test scores. Read the methodology »

For full rankings, LSAT scores and employment statistics, sign up for the U.S. News Law School Compass .

Here are the 2023 Best Law Schools

Yale university, stanford university, university of chicago, columbia university, harvard university, university of pennsylvania (carey), new york university, university of virginia, university of california, berkeley.


best phd law programs

New Haven, CT


$69,433 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The Law School at Yale University has an application deadline of Feb. 15. The full-time program application fee at the... Read More »


Cost (Type)

$69,433 (full-time)


Median lsat (full-time).

best phd law programs

Stanford, CA

$66,396 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The Law School at Stanford University has an application deadline of Feb. 15. The full-time program application fee at... Read More »

$66,396 (full-time)

best phd law programs

Chicago, IL

$72,081 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The Law School at University of Chicago has an application deadline of March 1. The full-time program application fee... Read More »

$72,081 (full-time)

best phd law programs

New York, NY

$76,088 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The Law School at Columbia University has an application deadline of Feb. 15. The full-time program application fee at... Read More »

$76,088 (full-time)

best phd law programs

Cambridge, MA

$68,962 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The law school at Harvard University has an application deadline of March 1. The full-time program application fee at... Read More »

$68,962 (full-time)

best phd law programs

Philadelphia, PA

$70,042 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The law school at University of Pennsylvania (Carey) has an application deadline of March 1. The full-time program... Read More »

$70,042 (full-time)

best phd law programs

$73,414 (full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The School of Law at New York University has an application deadline of Feb. 15. The full-time program application fee... Read More »

$73,414 (full-time)

best phd law programs

Charlottesville, VA

$66,500 (in-state, full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The School of Law at University of Virginia has an application deadline of March 3. The full-time program application... Read More »

$66,500 (in-state, full-time)

best phd law programs

Berkeley, CA

$56,858 (in-state, full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The School of Law at University of California, Berkeley has an application deadline of Feb. 15. The full-time program... Read More »

$56,858 (in-state, full-time)

best phd law programs

University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

$64,098 (in-state, full-time) TUITION AND FEES


The Law School at University of Michigan--Ann Arbor has an application deadline of Feb. 28. The full-time program... Read More »

$64,098 (in-state, full-time)

U.S. News Grad Compass

See expanded profiles for more than 2,000 programs. Unlock entering class stats including LSAT, MCAT, GMAT and GRE scores for business, law, medicine, engineering, education and nursing programs.

best phd law programs

PHD in Legal Studies Graduate Programs

What is a phd in law called.

A Doctor of Jurisprudence, or Juris Doctor or J.D. is a PhD in law. This is a professional doctorate program.

How long is a PhD in law?

Though programs differ based on the student’s specific needs, a PhD in law typically takes three years to earn. This is a focused area of law that often requires classroom work. Some programs may take as long as six years to earn.

What are some subject options in a PhD in Law?

Students may wish to take any area that is interesting to them when considering a PhD in law. Some examples including legal studies , civil law, environmental law, jurisprudence, cyber law , or dispute resolution.

A Doctorate of Legal Studies includes JD Juris Doctorate, S.J.D. Doctor of Juridical Science, and other Doctorate level Professional Law Degrees. Explore for a range of Graduate Schools and Programs for Doctorates in Legal Studies.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Information about PHD in Legal Studies

Popular Schools with PHD Legal Studies offers 71 phd in legal studies, northwestern university school of continuing studies, cornell university, university of oregon, brigham young university, columbia university, nova southeastern university, university of nottingham, newcastle university, irvine university, new york law school, lancaster university, barry university.



Specialty Selection

Program Level

By Location:

Select a State

Popular City

Sponsored meaning explained.

EducationDynamics receives compensation for the featured schools on our website (see "Sponsored Schools" or "Sponsored Listings" or "Sponsored Results" or "Featured Schools'). So what does this mean for you?

Compensation may impact where the Sponsored Schools appear on our websites, including whether they appear as a match through our education matching services tool, the order in which they appear in a listing, and/or their ranking. Our websites do not provide, nor are they intended to provide, a comprehensive list of all schools (a) in the United States, (b) located in a specific geographic area or (c) that offer a particular program of study. By providing information or agreeing to be contacted by a Sponsored School, you are in no way obligated to apply to or enroll with the school.

Your trust is our priority. We at EducationDynamics believe you should make decisions about your education with confidence. That's why EducationDynamics is also proud to offer free information on its websites, which has been used by millions of prospective students to explore their education goals and interests.


  1. Download Free: Getting a PhD in Law by Caroline Morris PDF

    best phd law programs

  2. PhD in Law

    best phd law programs

  3. 25 best phd programs 2016

    best phd law programs

  4. PhD in Law

    best phd law programs

  5. 25 best phd programs 2016

    best phd law programs

  6. Top Rated PhD Programs in the U.S

    best phd law programs


  1. The PhD Project & Increasing Minority Completion

  2. P 2 Harvard university law

  3. Happy Birthday To Dr Sushma Sangle PHD(Law)

  4. PhD Course Work 4




  1. Why Are Laws Important?

    The law is important because it serves as a norm of conduct for citizens and residents. It acts as a guideline for acceptable behavior, and ensures equality within communities and social groups by an outline for the consequences of law viol...

  2. What Percentage of Americans Have a PhD?

    According to U.S. Census 2013 data, 1.68 percent of Americans over the age of 25 have a PhD. This equates to approximately 2.5 million people. People with professional degrees such as MD or DDS make up 1.48 percent of the U.S.

  3. What Are Examples of a Scientific Law?

    Kepler’s laws of planetary motion provide examples of clearly formulated scientific laws that have been in continuous use since the 17th century. Kepler’s first law states that planets orbit stars along elliptical paths.

  4. Top 10 Best PhD in Law Programs [2023]

    Top PhD in Law Programs · Yale University, Law School · Stanford University · The University of Chicago, The Law School · Columbia University, Law

  5. Best PhD in Law Degrees 2023

    Top PhD Programs · PhD in Law Studies · PhD in Legal Studies · PhD in Jurisprudence · PhD in Administrative Law Studies · PhD in International Law Studies · PhD in

  6. List of PHD Programs in Law And Legal Studies

    Find the list of all PHD Programs in Law And Legal Studies with our interactive Program search tool. Use the filters to list programs by subject, location

  7. Ph.D. Program

    The Ph.D. in Law degree program is designed to prepare J.D. graduates for careers as legal scholars and teachers through a doctoral program aimed at the

  8. Doctoral Programs

    Berkeley Law's highest law degree is a 3-year doctoral program aimed at training legal scholars. Learn more here. Berkeley

  9. Best Doctors of Philosophy (PhD) Programs in Law 2023

    Filters · Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Global Humanistic University · Ph.D. · Ph.D. · PhD (School of Law). University of Bradford · PhD in Law. Universidade Católica

  10. Best Doctors of Philosophy (PhD) Programs in Law Studies in USA

    During this time, students take a variety of courses that cover different aspects of the law. After completing an undergraduate law degree, many students go on

  11. 2023 Best Law Schools

    Here are the 2023 Best Law Schools · Yale University · Stanford University · University of Chicago · Columbia University · Harvard University · University of

  12. Best 30 Legal Studies PhD Programmes in United States 2023

    Legal Studies degrees. Legal Studies cover a broad range of degree subjects focused on the relationship between law and society, leading to the creation of

  13. 198 PhD programmes in Law

    Find the best PhDs in the field of Law from top universities worldwide. Check all 198 programmes.

  14. PHD in Legal Studies Graduate Programs

    Popular Schools with PHD Legal Studies ; Law – Doctorate · Cornell University, DCL ; Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree · University of Oregon, PhD ; Law School