Joint JD & PhD in Philosophy Programs

Joint JD & PhD in Philosophy programs are very competitive. They can lead to a career teaching political and legal philosophy at a variety of institutions. See below for degree requirements and common courses students will take in a Joint JD & PhD in Philosophy program. Schools offering Liberal Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Degree Information for Joint JD & PhD in Philosophy Programs

Joint JD & PhD in Philosophy programs typically take six to seven years to complete. To enroll in these programs, aspiring students must apply to both their university's law school and philosophy department expressing an interest in completing a joint degree. To be admitted into a JD program, the prospective student must have a bachelor's degree and submit their LSAT scores. To be admitted into a PhD in Philosophy program, students must have a bachelor's degree and provide their GRE scores. Students will typically spend their first year fully immersed in either the law or philosophy curriculum followed by the other curriculum in the following year. Law and philosophy courses may be taken consecutively the following years. Below are a few common courses joint JD & PhD in Philosophy students may take.

Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to philosophy courses provide an intensive introduction to philosophy theories and techniques through the exploration of philosophical queries. Do we have free will? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to have a mind? Students will come away from this course with the ability to examine these difficult questions utilizing philosophical theories and techniques.

World Philosophy

In world philosophy courses students will study thought systems or philosophies from around the world. These will be analyzed in terms of political, historical and cultural contexts and answer questions about memory and knowledge, human nature and the nature of reality. This course will compare and contrast philosophies from China, India, the Middle East, Africa and the classical Greco-Roman world. After completion of this course, students will have a greater understanding of the contemporary world through the analysis of many great philosophical traditions.

Philosophy of Law

Philosophy of law courses will teach students how to examine recent writings in philosophy, including the relationship between law and morals, obligation over the law, the nature of law, punishment and legal reasoning. This course will ask questions such as what is law? What gives law its authority? How do we respond to unjust laws? What is the purpose of punishment? Is this ever justifiable by the state? Students will come away from this course with an understanding of legal positivism, realism, natural law theory and how law relates to reality.


Courses on justice explore what it means to have a just society through analysis of equality, liberty and reconciliation. Students will analyze contemporary works on capitalism, liberalism, distributive justice and democracy. After completion of this course, students will be able to provide answers to questions such as what is equality? Does capitalism fairly distribute wealth and income? What is socialism? Is it just or unjust? Are equality and liberty in conflict? These questions will be answered by looking at competition theories of justice: egalitarian liberals, classical liberalism/libertarianism and utilitarianism.

Criminal Law

Criminal law is a required course and is offered by a plethora of law schools. These types of courses will teach students the role of the law in civilized society through mechanisms of social control and how it is used as a device for the definition and control of human behavior. An emphasis is placed on basic theory such as the relationship between justifications of punishment and doctrines within criminal law. Students will also learn principles of justification by looking at doctrines around intoxication, necessity, insanity, automatism and diminished capacity and look at excuses. Offenses such as theft and homicide are also analyzed.


Torts is a required course within law school. This course looks at personal injury and negligence law by looking at intangible interests, institutional, theoretical doctrinal and policy dimensions. Students will examine intentional torts, strict liability, contemporary rules, no-fault, basic purposes the tort system should achieve, victim compensation, causation, insurance, damages and workmen's compensation.

International Human Rights

International human rights is a common course offered by law schools. These courses analyze domestic and international laws, as well as political and legal theories with an emphasis on disputatious topics. Students will examine how human rights are interpreted and implemented by various bodies and take a look at those who have been violated and those who commit rights violations. This course also looks at the philosophical origins of human rights, the development and implementation of various subject-specific and regional human rights systems and problems encountered in an attempt to invoke human rights standards. Students will develop multidisciplinary human rights advocacy skills and be able to answer foundational questions such as where the human rights movement is heading and what it means to be a human rights activist.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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