Yale launches Ph.D. program for law school grads

July 11, 2012 - 3:36 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Yale Law School is starting a Ph.D. in law, calling it the first such degree program in the country.

The program is designed to prepare students who have earned a degree from an American law school to become law professors.

The first class of Ph.D. students will begin next year with applications accepted this fall. Students will be entitled to a waiver of tuition and receive a stipend to cover living expenses.

Yale says the level of scholarship expected of entry-level law professors has risen dramatically, so law professors increasingly pursue Ph.D.'s in related disciplines such as economics, history, philosophy or political science. Yale says the natural next step is to create a Ph.D. program that can focus on the questions and practices of the law itself.

The program will give students a broad foundation in legal scholarship and provide them the support and specialized training they need to produce their own scholarship, Yale officials said. Entry-level law professors are expected to have a substantial portfolio of legal writings.

"Yale Law School's Ph.D. in law will offer a new, alternative route into a career in law teaching and legal scholarship," said Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School.

Yale says the program will help solidify the university's pre-eminence in placing its graduates in teaching positions. About 10 percent of law professors teaching in the United States, including the deans of eight of the top ten law schools, received their legal education at Yale, the university said.