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School of Law

The graduate programs in the School of Law include the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree, the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree, and a Certificate in Disability Legal Studies. Descriptions of the programs and their requirements are detailed below.

See the First-Professional Programs section of this bulletin for a listing of the School of Law's other degree offerings and for a brief description of the School of Law's mission and goals.

MSL Program

The School of Law’s Master of Studies in Law degree (MSL) provides education about law to people who use law—or will use law—in their careers and who want to learn more about it, but who do not want to become lawyers. The degree can be obtained in one year full time, or part time over the course of up to four years. Details on the requirements for this program can be found below and on our web site.

Contact Information

Director. MSL Program
University of Pittsburgh
School of Law
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Applicants to the MSL program must submit the following materials to be considered for admission:

  • Application
  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate study
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Applications are available online at Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applications are accepted until all places are filled.

    Financial Assistance

    No University of Pittsburgh School of Law stipends or loans are available for students in the MSL program. For information on other sources of financial aid, including Stafford Loans, see the Financial Aid section of this bulletin.

    Academic Standards

    To obtain the MSL degree, students must attain a grade of Satisfactory or better in at least 30 credits of coursework. They must complete degree requirements within four years of commencement of the degree program. An Honors/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading system is used. MSL students are bound by the same general academic policies as students in the Juris Doctor (JD) program (see the School of Law's entry in the First-Professional Programs section of this bulletin). The School of Law policy on Written Work for Credit, its Standards of Academic Integrity, and other academic policies of the school are posted on the School of Law's web site.

    Advising and Placement

    A faculty concentration advisor is assigned to each MSL student. Faculty concentration advisors may provide informal career counseling.

    Degree Requirements

    Students must complete 30 course credits in the School of Law to receive the MSL degree. Students are required to take Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning, one first-year course, and a minimum of 12 credits in their selected concentration.

    Degree Concentration Options

    The concentrations from which students may choose are as follows:

    Business Law
    Commercial Law
    Corporate Law
    General Business Law
    International Business Law
    Tax Law
    Constitutional Law and Civil Rights
    Criminal Law and Justice
    Disability Law
    Education Law
    Elder and Estate Planning Law
    Employment and Labor Law
              Energy Law
    Environmental and Real Estate Law
    Family Law
    Health Law
    Intellectual Property and Technology Law
    International and Human Rights Law
    Personal Injury and Civil Litigation
    Regulatory Law
    Sports and Entertainment Law
    Self-Designed Concentration

    Students may also design their own unique concentration.

    Certificate in Disability Legal Studies

    Law exerts a powerful and direct impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. It is estimated that close to 20 percent of the U.S. population, nearly 54 million people, have a disability, with a dramatic increase in the proportion since 1970. People with disabilities constitute one of the largest, least employed, and most disenfranchised minority groups in society. Universally accessible social and physical environments will demolish barriers to employment, and increase the health and well-being of millions of people in our society.

    In recognition of these needs, the School of Law has created a 15-credit Certificate in Disability Legal Studies. This program is available to both students enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in non-School of Law graduate programs and candidates with an earned master's degree.

    The Certificate in Disability Legal Studies requires four courses (amounting to 12 credits) of all participants: Health Law and Policy, Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning, Law of Disability Discrimination, and Torts. Students also take an elective in a wide range of relevant areas, including bioethics and law, elderly and the law, employment discrimination, mental health law, nonprofit tax-exempt organizations, Veterans Practicum, and workers' compensation

    Contact Information     

    Director, Disability Certificate Program
    University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    3900 Forbes Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA


    Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) Program

    The Doctor of Juridical Science degree is the University of Pittsburgh’s most advanced law degree. It is designed for law graduates who wish to pursue advanced independent research and writing. Study toward this postdoctoral degree is open only to exceptionally well-qualified students who hold an LLM from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, or the equivalent at the discretion of the Associate Dean with advice from the Academic Director of the Center for International Legal Education (CILE).

    Contact Information     

    Center for International Legal Education
    University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    3900 Forbes Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA
    Fax: 412-648-2648


    Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For information on application requirements, visit SJD Program:

    Program Information

    The SJD degree will be completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor, selected by the candidate with the consent of the faculty member. No student may apply for the SJD program without first obtaining the approval of the faculty member who will be the advisor and the chair of the dissertation committee. Faculty advisors must be full-time tenured faculty members of the Law School. SJD applicants are expected to arrange for faculty supervision without the assistance of CILE.

    Degree Requirements           

    The SJD degree is a research degree. There is no formal requirement for candidates to pursue additional course work. However, during the first year of the SJD program, candidates may be required by their advisor to take or audit courses and participate in seminars and discussions that will further their understanding of their field of study.

    Students in the SJD program will not have any formal preliminary or comprehensive examinations. Students must write a dissertation presenting their original and independent research. The dissertation must establish the historical context upon which the research is based and identify how the student’s work goes beyond reflecting existing secondary literature, and constitutes an original contribution to the field. The dissertation must analyze and synthesize a broad body of literature and present a clear explanation of the area of research. The dissertation must be of publishable quality and of sufficient detail to allow other scholars to build upon the work. The candidate will be required to publicly defend the proposal for the dissertation by the end of the first year and the completed dissertation at the conclusion of the process.

    The dissertation committee for each candidate will include a minimum of three and a maximum of four committee members, of whom the faculty advisor will serve as the committee’s chair. The candidate must meet with the committee at least once per year. During these meetings, the committee will assess the student’s progress and discuss objectives and a timetable for completing degree requirements.

    Each candidate will be allowed 2 to 4 years to complete the program. At least the first year of the program must be spent in residency at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The degree must be completed within four years. 

    School of Law Faculty

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