Opening Statements

Higher Ed: Yale Announces a Degree for Those Aiming to Be Law Profs


If you’re thinking about academia as a career path, you might want to head back to school.

Yale Law School has announced a new PhD in Law degree, and it’s aimed squarely at those who want to work as a law professor. The new PhD program, according to a press release from the law school, is designed to prepare students with a juris doctor degree from a U.S. law school for academia by providing them with a broad foundation in the canon of legal scholarship as well as the support and training they need to produce their own scholarship—always a key item for the CV.

Yale, which claims to be the first law school in the country to offer this type of program, also says it has educated approximately 10 percent of the legal academy, including eight of the deans at what many consider to be the nation’s top 10 law schools.

“In the past few decades, legal scholarship has matured as an academic discipline,” wrote Yale dean Robert Post in a prepared statement. “Because the level of scholarship expected of entry-level law professors has risen quite dramatically, increasing numbers of law professors now pursue PhDs in allied disciplines like economics, history, philosophy or political science. Because such disciplines train students in standards and questions that are different from those of the law, the natural next step for the legal academy is to create our own PhD program that can focus on the questions and practices of the law itself.”

Applications for the programs will be accepted this fall to start the PhD program the following year.

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