The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree at the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program offers candidates an intellectually challenging opportunity for academic specialization. Candidates for the SJD conduct research and produce original scholarship under the guidance of IPLP's internationally renowned faculty. SJD Students must complete a full-time, two semester year in residency to complete a minimum of 24 credits.
The SJD program trains students to be specialists through rigorous research and advocacy work. Graduate students receive professional training to address the complex issues facing Indigenous peoples today, allowing them to develop a proficiency in fields like federal Indian law, Indigenous peoples' human rights advocacy, environmental law, Indigenous community and economic development, and the protection of cultural and natural resources. The superior learning experience provided by IPLP is reflected by the fact that we are the only program in the world with two of our SJD graduates who served on the two UN Bodies with the specific mandate to promote Indigenous peoples' human rights within the UN system.
IPLP faculty engage students in major human rights advocacy projects and litigation on behalf of Indigenous peoples. Our faculty and students have represented the Rio Yaqui of Mexico, Maya of Belize, the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group of Canada, and other Indigenous and tribal communities in human rights cases and petitions with far-ranging international reach and impact. For students interested in academic careers, IPLP allows you to conduct pioneering research under the guidance of leading scholars in their respective fields.
"During my time with the IPLP Program, I have been very fortunate to be mentored and taught by some of the mot gifted faculty in the world. I have benefited immensely from the meorship and support of Professors Williams and Tatum in particular. Coming from a different part of the world as a historically lower caste citizen of India, I knew pursuing a doctoral law degree in the US would be the biggest challenge I ever faced. Professor Tatum taught me to speak and write for my community and encouraged me to be myself and view my identity as special. I have also benefitted from the support of fellow students. Based on my experience, IPLP is a community that understands students' backgrounds and how to support them. More than teaching, IPLP nurtures students to be the leaders in their own communities."
Vishal Gaikwad, IPLP SJD Alumnus (Class of 2023)
Students in the program are required to successfully complete Federal Indian Law and International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, international students must complete Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research and Introduction to the U.S. legal System. After the year in residency, students have a maximum of three years to complete their research, writing, and oral defense of their dissertation.
In order to promote Indigenous peoples’ human rights and to disseminate the program's research and advocacy, the IPLP Program has created a digital dissertation database of some of our SJD graduates' dissertations to assist legal practitioners and advocates.