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.

Visit Program Website


Admission to the University

Along with the UC Berkeley Graduate Division application materials noted below, applicants are asked to submit:

  •  transcripts of grades
  •  three letters of recommendation
    • three letters must be submitted for your application to be considered complete
    • additional letters will not be reviewed
  •  a statement of purpose (2-3 pages, double-spaced)
  • a personal statement (2-3 pages, double-spaced)
  • a sample of past written work (25-50 pages)
  • NOTE: Beginning with the 2022-2023 application cycle (entry in Fall 2023), the GRE requirement is no longer required

Please note that the M.A. degree in Jurisprudence and Social Policy  is only available to current Berkeley Law J.D. students or JSP Ph.D. students.


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 has completed a basic degree 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 on a 9-point scale (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 the 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. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  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, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions 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.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements

JSP Orientation Seminar

    LAW 209 JSP Orientation Seminar

Select *three* of the following Foundation Seminars

LAW 208.8 Foundation Seminar in the Sociology of Law

LAW 214.2 Law & Classical Social Theory

LAW 215.4 Foundations of Moral Philosophy

LAW 215.42 Foundations of Legal Philosophy

LAW 215.5 Foundations of Political Philosophy

LAW 217.12 Law and Economics Foundation Seminar

LAW 225.1 Law and Politics Foundation Seminar

LAW 267.4 Law & History Foundation Seminar

Select *two* Graduate Elective JSP Seminars per approved study list in area of specialization

We will accept any 3+ unit course taught by JSP faculty

LAW 375P, LAW 300, LAW 602-603, and LAW 297-299 units would not fulfill this requirement

JSP Statistics Course

LAW 209.3 Quantitative Approaches to Law & Social Science

JSP Research Methods Course

LAW 209.5 Research Design

Select *one* law doctrinal course

A number of courses in the JD curriculum can be used to fulfill the requirement, including but not limited to:

  • Administrative Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Business Organizations
  • The 1L curriculum

Contact Information

Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program (School of Law)

2240 Piedmont Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94720-2150

Phone: 510-642-3771

Visit Program Website

Departmental Email


Back to Top