University General Course Catalog 2016-2017 
    May 27, 2024  

Judicial Studies, Ph.D.

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I. Contact Information

James T. Richardson, J.D., Ph.D., Director
Phone:  (775)784-6270


Denise Schaar-Buis, MA, Program Officer
Phone:  (775)784-6270

II. Brief Description

The Judicial Studies Program (JS) is a special degree program intended to provide a formal academic setting in which trial judges, administrative law judges, and juvenile and family court judges can integrate technical studies of the judiciary with more academic courses in an effort to provide and intellectual assessment of the role of the American judiciary.  The University of Nevada Reno, (UNR) provides specially designed course that treat judicially-related issues from a liberal arts perspective, including the humanities, social, behavioral and natural sciences, and communications.  The National Judicial College (NJC) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) provide a series of courses treating more technical subject matter.  To this end, the JS program offers a Master of Judicial Studies degree with two majors:  Trial Court Judge and Juvenile and Family Court Judge., and a Doctorate of Judicial Studies degree.   Courses are offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.  New students may begin the program in Fall or Spring terms.

III. Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Theoretical knowledge: Students will become proficient in the diagnosis and analysis of problems through techniques developed by the social, behavioral and natural sciences.
  2. Research/Scholarly knowledge: Students will develop research and problem solving skills.

IV. Admissions Requirement

Prospective students who are full-time sitting judges, graduates of an ABA accredited law school, and meet the general requirements of the University of Nevada, Reno, Graduate School, will be considered.   Exceptions may be made for full-time sitting international judges, full-time judges who graduated from recognized foreign law schools or non-accredited American law school and have been admitted to the Bar. 

Admission to the UNR Graduate School requires an undergraduate grade-point average of at least 2.75 on a scale of 4.0, or an average of at least 3.0 for courses taken during the last half of the undergraduate program, and a completed baccalaureate degree from an appropriately accredited institution.

If the undergraduate GPA does not meet this criteria, admission to graduate standing on a prescribed program may be considered.

Scores of standardized tests such as the GRE are not required for application to the Judicial Studies Program. 

Application Process: 

STEP ONE: Apply to the UNR Graduate School online.  Link:

After your application is complete, request ONE official transcript from the Registrar’s Office at EVERY post-secondary school you’ve attended (community college, university, etc.). Official transcripts are those sent directly from the institution attended; personal copies or “issued to student” are not acceptable even if they are in sealed envelopes.

Request transcripts can be submitted by the institute electronically through the application system or sent to:
University of Nevada, Reno
Graduate School/326
Reno, NV   89557-0326

STEP TWO:  Additional information sent to Judicial Studies Program.

-Provide a personal statement, not exceeding 500 words in length, indicating why you desire to enroll in the JS program, what you believe you will derive from participation, and what contributions to the judiciary you expect to make as a result of participation.

-List year and state of each Bar admission

-List in reverse chronological order all significant work experience (dates, position held, office/firm/agency name and location).

-List any disciplinary actions as attorney and/or judge.

-List names, dates, and sponsoring institutions for judicial/continuing legal education attending lasting four or more days.

-List topic, dates, and sponsoring institution for all legal/judicial related courses which you have been responsible for presenting (faculty, panelist, discussion leader,  etc.)

-Indicate when present term of office expires.

-List and present copies of published writings other than judicial opinions.

-List the names, positions, and address of three professional colleagues sufficiently familiar with your professional work to give a meaningful letters of recommendation.  The letters should be sent directly from the persons writing the letters to the address below. However, recommenders  can be submitted online via the graduate school’s website.

Mail, fax, or email the additional information to:
Judicial Studies Program/311
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

Fax: (775) 784-6273

V. Program Requirements

24 credits (thesis excluded) from the Master’s degree can be transferred to the Ph.D. program.

  • Complete 18 additional elective credits from University of Nevada, Reno, Judicial Studies course offerings
  • Complete 6 additional elective credits from course offered by The National Judicial College
  • Complete and pass a comprehensive examination worth 1 credit
  • Complete an approved dissertation worth 24 credits

The following courses are required:

VI. Program Total Hours

Minimum of 73 credit hours are required for Doctorate in Judicial Studies. 

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