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SJD in Health Law

Doctor of Juridical Science: SJD in Health Law

The S.J.D. in Health Law is designed to give lawyers an opportunity to complete the highest degree in law in the specialized field of Health Law.

The program is designed primarily for those who wish to work in academia, research, or health policy. The two-year program requires full-time attendance in residence for the first year and a second year (that need not be in residence) during which the candidate will complete a doctoral dissertation. The program is open only to candidates who have completed a J.D. or equivalent law degree, and who demonstrate the ability to successfully engage in rigorous scholarly work by holding a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in Health Law or by having other suitable academic or work experience.

Degree requirements
The first year requires residency and 20 hours of thesis credit. The thesis advisor may require the S.J.D. candidate to take additional courses applicable to the student's thesis topic. By the end of the year, the candidate must submit a thesis proposal, a preliminary thesis outline, and a bibliography that is accepted by the candidate's thesis committee. The candidate then must complete at least one additional year, which need not be in residence, during which the candidate must complete and submit the thesis to the thesis committee, and following approval by the thesis committee, appear before the thesis committee and successfully defend the thesis. The candidate may take up to two additional years to complete the thesis, for a total of four years, including the first year of classroom work, if required, and time spent designing the thesis proposal. For each year that the candidate is in residence after the first year, the candidate must register for 3 thesis credits per semester.

If the candidate is not in residence, the candidate must be available to meet with the thesis advisor in the year(s) prior to submission of the completed thesis, as determined by the thesis advisor. Following approval of the thesis by the candidate's committee, the candidate must appear before the committee to defend the thesis. The completed thesis must be of publishable quality.

Potential thesis advisors will be tenured faculty specializing in Health Law, who now comprise Professor Maxwell Mehlman, Arthur E. Petersilge Professor of Law, Director of the Law-Medicine Center, and Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Case Western Reserve University; Sharona Hoffman, Edgar E. Hahn Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Law-Medicine Center; Jessica Berg, Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Biomedical Ethics and Public Health and Associate Director of the Law-Medicine Center; and Ruqaiijah Yearby, Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Law-Medicine Center.

Application Requirements
Candidates must demonstrate their ability to successfully complete high-level legal academic work. This may be demonstrated by successful completion of an LL.M. in Health Law, a masters degree in a related field such as Health Administration or Public Health, or the equivalent.

Application Process
To be considered as an applicant for the S.J.D. program in Health Law, a candidate must submit by April 1st:

  • Completed the printed application form.
  • Fifty dollar application fee made out to "Case Western Reserve University."
  • Personal statement.
  • Two letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters may be enclosed with the application form in sealed and signed envelopes or mailed separately by the recommenders.
  • Official copy of transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions with notarized translations into English where applicable; the transcripts may be included in sealed envelopes or mailed directly from the institutions.
  • Thesis proposal of up to 5000 words explaining why your topic merits the type and depth of research that will result in production of a monograph-length thesis. Focus on the existing unresolved legal issues. Include a review of the existing literature on your topic, a bibliography of the literature that you have consulted, and an explanation of how your thesis will contribute substantially to the existing literature. The proposal must present a convincing case that the topic presents a current, unresolved issue worthy of an SJD thesis in health law, and that the applicant has the potential to produce a work of publishable quality. Include at the end of the proposal whether you have been in touch with any Case Western Reserve University School of Law professors about supervising your thesis.
  • We expect you to engage in a thorough review of literature concerning your topic in preparation for your thesis, which will result in a complete bibliography of the literature in the applicable field.

Additional Requirements for Foreign students

  • An official TOEFL or IELTS score required of all applicants whose native language is not English. Our TOEFL institutional code is 1105, dept. 03. Copy of same may be included in initial application packet with indication that the original score has been requested by the applicant.
  • Affidavit of financial support required for visa documents.
  • Candidates must have at least a foreign university-level degree in law, and LL.M. degree and a TOEFL of 100 or IELTS of 6.5. In the case of multiple TOEFL scores, we will rely on the most recent score.

Send your completed application to:
Professor Sharona Hoffman
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
11075 East Boulevard, Room 227
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7148 U.S.A.

Admission decisions are made starting April 1. Admissions decisions will be made by a committee consisting of the Dean of the Law School and the faculty of the Law-Medicine Center. A member of the faculty will agree to serve as the candidate's thesis advisor. The Dean and the thesis advisor will appoint a thesis committee for the candidate.

Admitted students will be required to submit a nonrefundable deposit of $500 by May 15th in order to secure their position in the class. The deposit is deductible from the first semester's tuition.
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