About the Program

Since its founding in 1977, the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program has enjoyed outstanding success in preparing graduate students in the social and philosophical study of law, legal institutions, and legal discourse. JSP students have undertaken research in such diverse subject matter areas as law and social change, criminal justice and social control, political and legal theory, legal history, law and the economy, comparative constitutionalism, and law and political development.

The program’s institutional location within Berkeley Law means that JSP students enjoy direct access to the pedagogy and research resources of one of the country’s premier law schools. The Berkeley Law faculty in general contributes significantly to the JSP Program, and provides special expertise in such important subject matter areas as public and environmental law, law and economics, human rights law, immigration law and policy, law and technology, and critical race theory. Members of the law faculty with primary responsibility for the JSP Program are trained in a variety of academic disciplines, and also are affiliated with other Berkeley departments and research centers.

JSP is also 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 teeming with other research centers offering programs and expertise on issues ranging from law, energy, and the environment; reproductive rights and justice; law and business; social justice; morality, law, and public affairs; to name just a few. 

JSP students are admitted by the Graduate Division of UC Berkeley, and form part of the general cohort of Berkeley graduate students. They routinely take classes and work with faculty outside the law school, and thus benefit no less directly from the unrivalled depth and excellence of UC Berkeley’s graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the schools of business, journalism, public policy, and information sciences.

A fundamental objective of the JSP Program is to focus the knowledge and perspectives of the social sciences and humanities on the analysis of law, legal discourses, legal institutions, and law-related policies. To this end, JSP’s faculty includes scholars from economics, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.