Joint Degree Programs

Law & Philosophy

UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Department of Philosophy offer a joint J.D./Ph.D. program for exceptionally talented and especially committed students who hope to dedicate their careers to research and teaching in law and philosophy.


Admission is extremely competitive, and very few students are admitted. It would be highly unusual for more than one candidate to be admitted in a year, and it is possible for no candidates to be admitted in an admission cycle. 

Before being considered for the J.D./Ph.D. program, applicants must first be admitted independently to the Law School and the Philosophy Department. Each year, the Philosophy Ph.D. program receives approximately 300 applications, and in recent years the starting class has usually numbered between five and seven students.

A good candidate for the J.D./Ph.D. program would normally have a strong undergraduate philosophy background, with demonstrated ability to produce high-quality philosophical writing. One of the most important aspects of an application is a writing sample that displays exceptional aptitude for philosophical analysis. Most applicants have had substantial training in philosophy, or related subjects such as mathematics and logic, as undergraduates. (Without such training, it is possible for an extraordinary candidate to be successful, but high-quality written work in philosophy is essential.) A good candidate will also have a demonstrated interest in the intersection between law and philosophy.

Interested students without much background in philosophy might want to consider the specialization in law & philosophy rather than the joint degree program.

     Candidates for the joint degree program must: 

  1. First apply to the University under the "J.D./Ph.D. Program" listed under Concurrent Programs on the application site.
  2. Apply and be admitted to the Law School (Apply to the J.D. Program). All J.D./Ph.D. in Philosophy applicants are advised to take the LSAT or GRE by November 30, 2019 and apply by January 10, 2020.
  3. Apply and be admitted to the Philosophy Ph.D. program (Philosophy Department Graduate Admission Information). Typically, successful candidates have already completed substantial background coursework in a philosophy department, and have demonstrated an ability to produce high-quality written work in philosophy. (The Law & Philosophy Specialization is designed to serve those students interested in philosophy and law but without much prior background in philosophy.) Please apply by January 4, 2020.
  4. Apply to the joint degree program by both A) indicating on the Law School and Ph.D. program applications that they are applying to be admitted to the joint degree program and B) submitting with each application an essay of between two and five pages explaining their interest in law and philosophy and in the joint degree program.
  5. Be accepted by the Law & Philosophy Program into the joint degree.

(If a student who has been admitted to the J.D. and Ph.D. programs is not admitted to the joint degree program, the student's admissions to the J.D. and Ph.D. programs will not be affected.)

Students already admitted into either the J.D. program or the Ph.D. program who wish to pursue the joint degree may apply to do so by completing the application steps listed above.  


Candidates for the joint degree program must complete all requirements for both degrees as described below; however, a limited number of Philosophy courses will be counted toward the J.D. requirements, and a limited number of Law School courses will be counted toward the Ph.D. requirements.


The J.D. normally takes three years. The Ph.D. normally takes six to seven years.  Depending on their individual circumstances, some students may be able to save time on the coursework component of the program and thereby complete the joint degree program in less time than would be required to complete both degrees separately. 

The program could follow one of many paths. In the typical case, the student would be expected to focus solely on philosophy for the first year of the Philosophy graduate program and solely on law for the first year of the Law School program. Thereafter, the student could take courses in both schools during the same academic year. There are various ways in which the program could be structured, depending on the student’s interests and needs. 


Students in the joint degree program will write a dissertation on a suitable topic related to law and philosophy. 

The joint degree program is part of the UCLA Law & Philosophy Program, directed by Seana Shiffrin. Information on Law & Philosophy Faculty can be found on the UCLA School of Law website.


An unique feature of the program is that it aspires to enable students to graduate with a relatively minimal debt burden to permit them to teach in both humanities programs and law schools. Funding for both the Ph.D. and the J.D. involves a very generous package including grants, teaching assistantships and research assistantships, providing an unparalleled opportunity for the student dedicated to this field.