Graduate Program

Jurisprudence & Social Policy Graduate Program

Image credit:
Elena Zhukova

Berkeley Law offers a unique interdisciplinary program of graduate study in law and society, leading to the Ph.D. degree in Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP). The JSP Program promotes the study of law and legal institutions through the perspectives of several disciplines, including economics, political science, philosophy, sociology, history, psychology, and criminal justice

The Jurisprudence and Social Policy Ph.D. is ideal for students interested in:

  • The scholarly study of legal ideas and institutions from the standpoint of one or more of the basic disciplines, such as, history, economics, philosophy, sociology, or political science.

  • Policy analysis and applied research on law-related issues in such fields as criminal justice, poverty and discrimination, human rights, urban planning, and environmental protection.

  • Preparation for teaching legal studies in graduate and undergraduate curriculums.

  • Interdisciplinary preparation for teaching law.

A Note from Associate Dean Dylan Penningroth:


Thanks for visiting our website.  The Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program is a unique doctoral program focused on the interdisciplinary study of law. JSP is housed within the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, but organized under UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division. Established in 1978, JSP was the first law-focused PhD program in the United States and continues to be the leading program of its kind anywhere.

By integrating the study of law with the humanities and social sciences, JSP seeks a broad context for understanding and developing legal policy. While there are many productive ways to link law to the research tools of the disciplines, we are committed to pursuing plural, interdisciplinary scholarship that includes humanistic and social scientific approaches to the study of law. Our students generally specialize in some portion of this spectrum while learning from teachers and peers with diverse research interests. Students take a mix of interdisciplinary courses offered within JSP, as well as classes in the Law School’s traditional JD curriculum. These and other features of our program have become a model for other doctoral programs in interdisciplinary legal studies, many of which have recruited our alumni for their faculties. 

JSP faculty are leading scholars in their field who hail from a variety of disciplines – including political science, sociology, economics, history, philosophy, and psychology. Beginning with the JSP Orientation Seminar and through a range of course offerings in the humanities and social sciences, we offer students training in both empirical and normative analysis of law. Over the past decade, JSP has grown, adding faculty who offer a range of cutting-edge courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods and research design that are specially oriented to the study of law. Our substantive course offerings also have increased in scope, pushing the boundaries of knowledge across multiple fields.

JSP is closely integrated with the Center for the Study of Law and Society (CSLS), which attracts visiting scholars from all over the world, hosts one of the most dynamic speaker series on campus, and provides an intellectual hub for top-notch research on law and legal institutions. CSLS also offers the Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies (BELS) Graduate Fellowship, which brings together doctoral students studying law and social science from JSP and other programs on the Berkeley campus in a year-long research workshop. Berkeley Law is also home to a vibrant array of other research centers dedicated to issues ranging from law, energy, and the environment to reproductive rights and justice; from law and business to law and social justice; from law, morality, and public affairs to law and technology. 

This is an extraordinary time for scholars and students who have interdisciplinary training in law. The collective challenges confronting us today span diverse legal systems, fields of expertise, cultures, and regions of the world. In this context, the training we provide is not only an advantage for a professional career in academia, public service, or policy advocacy, but also urgently needed kindling for innovative theorizing, creative problem-solving, and breakthrough empirical research.

On this website you can get to know our students and our faculty and learn more about the JSP program by viewing recent course offerings and upcoming conferences. I especially urge you to learn more about our advanced graduate students currently on the academic job market, as well as our alumni. Nothing reflects so well on our program as our graduates, and what they are accomplishing with their training here at Berkeley continues to inspire us. 

If you have any questions about the JSP Program, please feel welcome to contact me, our Graduate Advisor, Sarah Song, or our Graduate Student Advisor, Michael Paz.


Dylan C. Penningroth, Associate Dean
Jurisprudence and Social Policy