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PhD Legal Studies

The PhD program in legal studies is designed for students who have advanced research interests in the field of law. With a PhD in legal studies, students are able to examine law within its broad social context. They also draw on the tools and insights from different academic disciplines. Legal studies are closely related to disciplines such as anthropology, public policy, history, political science, philosophy, and human rights. The fundamental areas that are examined in the PhD legal studies program are:

  • The role of law in transforming contemporary modes of regulation.
  • The function of law in the governance at local, national, and global level.
  • The relationship between law, crime, and security.
  • Human rights, global justice, and citizenship in the context of globalization.
  • The shift in transnational linkages and identities.

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Admission Requirements

PhD in legal studies is for those students who have an interest in carrying out a theoretically sound, analytical study of law and society. Although, admission requirements for the doctorate program in legal studies can vary from one institute to another, there are some key requirements, which are similar in  legal institutes.  For a PhD in legal studies, the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institute of higher learning. However, many legal programs necessitate that applicants have a Master of Law degree or a Juris Doctor Degree. Students may be required to fulfill other admission requirements such as graduate level aptitude test and interview.


A doctorate degree in legal studies offers a diverse area of highly developed subjects. The coursework for PhD in legal studies can vary from one institute to another. However, there are some major courses that are a part of most of the doctorate programs. Students acquire courses that provide a sound understanding and skills on subjects such as:

  • Constitutional Proceedings
  • Administrative legal matters
  • Bankruptcy
  • Evidence
  • Arbitration
  • Commercial Restructuring
  • Environmental Legislation
  • Family Litigation
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Criminal Defense

Specialization Fields

PhD in legal studies also allows students to specialize in certain specific legal fields. Students need to complete a number of foundation courses, before moving on to the elective courses related to their area of interest. Some prominent specializations offered in the field include:

  • Law, Regulation and Governance
  • Human Rights, Citizenship and Global Justice
  • Crime, Law and Security

Students need to keep in mind certain factors before selecting a law degree. They must research on the following factors, so that they can acquire quality education and fulfill their career goals as well.


A crucial factor to consider while looking for a law degree is the accreditation of a program. Law degree programs are accredited by the American Bar Association. Accreditation ensures that students acquire quality education and their degree is recognized by prospective employers.

Curriculum and Specializations

It is important for students to spend certain time in finding out about the curriculum and specializations offered by the law school. They must go through the curriculum and specializations of several institutes to find the law degree, which is in line with their interests and career aspirations.

Cost and Scholarships

Another important factor for students is to have an assessment of tuition costs, additional costs, and the availability of scholarships. They must look for a program that provides maximum value for a given education cost. It is also preferable to look for scholarships to cut down on education expenses and acquire maximum benefit.

Feedback from Students

There is a lot of information available about the degree programs, courses, and requirements on the website of an institute. However, students also need to have answers to specific questions. The best way to find detailed information on aspects such as culture of the law school, placements, and extra-curricular activities is by asking the current students and the alumni of that law school.


An advanced education in legal studies can give you critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills needed by a variety of career paths. Students who select a law degree acquire knowledge of politics, law, and international relations. They naturally seek to pursue careers in law, non-governmental agencies, politics, academia, and law school. Besides, legal studies lead to good careers for individuals who wish to be independent. A number of attorneys are owners of their own firms. Graduates of PhD in legal studies can qualify for the following careers, depending on their experience and specialization:

  • Law researcher
  • University Lecturer
  • Attorney
  • Legal Librarian

How Long Does It Take to Complete a PhD in Legal Studies?

If you are passionate about joining the legal profession, then it is advised that you pursue a relevant degree. Many schools in the US, such as Yale University and American University, are offering a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Law or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Justice, Law and Criminology. These degrees can be completed in around 4 years.

What Are the Requirements to Complete a PhD in Legal Studies?

Students opting for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Law will have to study the required coursework in their first two semesters of graduate study. These courses will help them acquire the research skills and knowledge needed to complete their thesis project. During their second year, they will have to start working on a dissertation after preparing a dissertation prospectus. Apart from completing the required modules, they will also have to produce original and authentic research work in order to complete their doctoral studies.

How Much Can I Make after Completing a PhD in Legal Studies?

After graduating with a doctoral in law, individuals can work as Legal Scholars and Lawyers. It has been reported that Lawyers made $120,910 in 2018 in annual median income. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a positive employment growth of 6% in this field from 2018 to 2028. Thus, this line of work offers decent employment prospects.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:How many years does it take to complete the Doctoral Paralegal degree programs?

A:The Doctoral Paralegal degree programs are, like most of the PhD level programs, is for 3 to 5 years. The duration of the program also depends on the region and the university being opted.

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