Judicial Studies LLM


Why should I seek a Master’s Degree in Judicial Studies?

A better understanding of the judicial process as a whole can lead to better judging. Participants in the program will develop a deeper understanding of social science evidence and statistics that are often present in trials or appeals. Judges interested in appointments to a higher court or up for re-election will benefit from having an advanced degree from Duke Law as a professional credential. Other reasons include the chance to work with other judges from around the country and the world, a chance to study ways to reform the judiciary, and, simply, the opportunity and challenge of pursuing academic study with colleagues and scholars of similar interests.

What time commitment is necessary for the program?

Judges should expect to spend four weeks in residence at Duke during late May and early June for two consecutive summers. Outside of those four-week periods, judges may be tasked with short papers for each course in lieu of final exams following each session, as well as a substantial reading component.  A typical course has 375-400 pages of reading assigned, and each 4-week session has eight courses.  Reading materials are sent in advance. Judges must also submit a thesis paper ranging from 50-100 pages within nine months after the second semester.

Who is eligible for the program?

Only active judges who sit on courts exercising jurisdiction over civil and/or criminal actions are eligible to apply for enrollment. (Note: Executive branch judges, administrative law judges, arbitrators, and special masters are not eligible for this program.)

When should I apply?

We accept applications on a rolling basis, but the review process begins around mid-May so we strongly encourage you to have your application submitted no later than April 30, 2024. Note: this is not a hard deadline. Final decisions will be made by Dec. 15, 2024. The application is available at this link: https://duke.is/r/52sx. If you have questions, require special accommodations, or would like to request a change to your application, please email Ann Yandian at ann.yandian@law.duke.edu.

When will I receive an admission decision?

Admission decisions will be made no later than December 15 of the year prior to the start date.

How much does the program cost?

Duke Law provides a full tuition scholarship, as well as a subsidy for housing costs. The listed tuition, fees, and housing costs are approximately $28,000 per year. Judges are requested to pursue all available funding resources from their court, associated agencies, or other funds that may appropriately be used for educational purposes and contribute to the extent they are financially comfortable to do so.

How much time will I have to complete my thesis?

The thesis must be completed by the end of March in the year of graduation (for instance, for the 2025 entering class, thesis papers will be due in March 2027).