Bolch Judicial Institute
Bolch Judicial Institute
LLM Program Overview
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LLM Program Overview

At Duke Law’s Master of Judicial Studies Program, judges learn the analytical skills and research approaches necessary for studying judicial institutions and apply those skills to studies of domestic and international judicial institutions, common and emerging legal issues, general judicial practices, and judicial reform efforts.

Under the vision and leadership of the program’s director and founder, David F. Levi, the master’s program offers an intensive and challenging curriculum that addresses an array of issues relating to judicial institutions, judicial behavior, and decision-making. Top scholars and practitioners teach an array of substantive law courses, such as constitutional and statutory law interpretation, federalism, international law, and analytic methods; leading scholars in the field of bias recognition help judges better identify and understand influences that may affect their decision-making. The program ends by offering judges the singular opportunity to work on a research thesis of publishable quality that may profoundly impact the judiciary.

The program is open to state, federal, and international judges who sit on courts of general jurisdiction. (Municipal judges, administrative law judges, arbitrators, and special masters are not eligible for the program.) We seek to admit a balance of representatives from each sector of the judiciary to create a diversity of ideas and approaches that will enhance the learning experience. The program requires four weeks of on-site coursework in two consecutive summers (total of eight weeks on campus), plus the writing of a thesis based on original research. Courses are highly interactive and taught by scholars from the Duke Law faculty as well as from institutions around the country. Duke Law offers a full scholarship to judges accepted to the program for tuition and room and board. 

Admission for the 2020 class is closed, and the entering class for 2020 has been delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Admission to the following class, entering in 2023, will begin in 2022.