Jurisprudence and Social Policy

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Berkeley Law is unique among major US law schools in housing its own interdisciplinary graduate program in the social, philosophical, and humanistic study of law, leading to MA and PhD degrees in Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP). The JSP Program promotes the study of law and legal institutions through the perspectives of several disciplines, including history, economics, philosophy, sociology, and political science. The first law and society program of its kind in North America, the JSP Program remains the clear leader of a vibrant and growing body of such programs, because of its deep curricular resources and its scholarly accomplishment.

Members of the Berkeley 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.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements


LAW 209, sect 1: JSP Orientation Seminar
Select three of the following Graduate Elective Foundation Seminars:
Introduction to Law & Economics
Law & Society (Law & Sociology)
Legal Institutions (Law & Political Science)
Courts & Social Policy (Law & Political Science)
Law & Political Philosophy (Law & Philosophy)
Foundations of Legal Philosophy (Law & Philosophy)
Law & History Foundation Seminar
Select two Graduate Elective JSP Seminars per approved study list in area of specialization
Select two Law Elective courses in basic law
LAW 208, sect. 1: Advanced Legal Research
LAW 209.3, sect. 1: Introductory Statistics
LAW 209.5, sect 1: JSP Research Methods
Electives per approved study list

Faculty and Instructors


Catherine R. Albiston, Professor. Inequality, social change, law, employment, legal profession, public interest law, gender discrimination.
Research Profile

Robert D. Cooter, Professor. Economic development, constitutional law, private law.
Research Profile

Malcolm M. Feeley, Professor. Criminal law, punishment, social policy.
Research Profile

Kinch Hoekstra, Associate Professor.

Christopher Kutz, Professor. Criminal law, moral, legal and political philosophy.
Research Profile

Kristin Luker, Professor. Social policy, jurisprudence.
Research Profile

Robert J. Maccoun, Professor. Jury decision making, alternative dispute resolution, illicit drug dealing, alternative drug laws, harm reduction, gays and lesbians in the military, media biases, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence.
Research Profile

Justin Mccrary, Professor. Statistics, law and economics, labor economics, business law.
Research Profile

Victoria Plaut, Professor.

Kevin Quinn, Professor.

Sarah Song, Professor. Gender, race, citizenship, multiculturalism, immigration law and politics.
Research Profile

Franklin E. Zimring, Professor. Deterrence, capital punishment, imprisonment, drug control.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program (School of Law)

2240 Piedmont Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94720-2150

Phone: 510-642-3771

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Program Chair and Associate Dean

Calvin Morrill, PhD

Phone: 510-643-9988


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