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J.D. / Ph.D. Program in American Legal History

Training the Next Generation of Legal Historians

The field of American legal history has become more thoroughly interdisciplinary in recent years, in part because of the contribution of scholars who have training in law and history. The future of legal history lies with scholars schooled in the two component disciplines. The J.D. / Ph.D. Program in American Legal History is designed to train students to teach American legal history in law schools, history departments, specialized graduate programs and undergraduate legal studies departments. The combination of faculty in the Department of History who work in or are interested in legal history with Law School faculty that also have appointments in the Department of History make the University of Pennsylvania uniquely qualified to offer this program.

The program design is interdisciplinary. The seven-year course of study is comprised of four years of course work followed by three years of dissertation research and writing. The first year of the program is spent entirely in the Department of History and the second is full-time immersion in the first year curriculum of the Law School. The remaining two years of course work are combined, with the student taking courses in the Law School and the Department of History. At the end of this period the student should be ready to take the Ph.D. qualifying examinations and receive the J.D. from the Law School. The ability to work toward the degrees concurrently, as opposed to sequentially, is an important part of this program, allowing course work to be condensed within a reasonable number of years and emphasizing the interdisciplinary aspects of legal history.

Students must apply competitively for admission to both the Department of History and the Law School. In the case of the Law School, where full-time study will not commence until the second year of the program, this will require an early decision on admission to a class one-year removed. Students interested in the program will be asked to identify themselves to both the Law School and the Department of History as joint-degree applicants so that their admissions may be coordinated.

Inquiries about the program should be directed to the Law School Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, or by calling 215 898.7400, and/or the Graduate Chair of the Department of History.