Presentation from first Judicial Studies Masters class

Master of Judicial Studies

Master of Judicial Studies

At Duke Law’s Master of Judicial Studies Program, judges learn the analytical skills and research approaches necessary for studying judicial institutions and apply those skills to studies of domestic and international judicial institutions, common and emerging legal issues, general judicial practices, and judicial reform efforts. Dean David Levi’s vision and leadership are evident. Together with several colleagues, he has brought together a remarkable nucleus of scholars and experts to produce an intensive and challenging curriculum touching on a critical array of issues relating to judicial institutions, judicial behavior, and decision-making. 

In addition to teaching substantive law courses, like constitutional and statutory law interpretation, federalism, international law, and analytic methods, leading scholars in the field of bias recognition help judges better identify and understand influences that may affect their decision-making. The program ends by offering judges the singular opportunity to work on a research thesis of publishable quality that may profoundly impact the judiciary.


The program is open to state, federal, and international judges who sit on courts of general jurisdiction. (Municipal judges, administrative law judges, arbitrators, and special masters are not eligible for the program.) We seek to admit a balance of representatives from each sector of the judiciary to create a diversity of ideas and approaches that will enhance the learning experience. The program requires four weeks of coursework in two consecutive summers (total of eight weeks on campus), plus the writing of a thesis based on original research. Courses are highly interactive and taught by scholars from the Duke Law faculty as well as from institutions around the country.

The next class will start in May 2018.  Applications for the 2018-2019 sessions will be reviewed in summer 2017.  The application form is available at The application is a fillable PDF file. You may need to download the application or save it to your computer to use this feature.

Duke Law offers a full scholarship to judges accepted to the program for tuition and room and board.  A detailed list of expenses covered by the scholarship is posted at .

2016-2018 Judicial Studies Master’s Class Has Begun

In May 2016, Duke Law welcomed its third incoming Judicial Studies LLM class of 22 judges, including 6 federal judges, 12 state judges, and 4 international judges.  The diversified group brings perspectives from all levels of the judiciary, including judges assigned to domestic relations, family court, complex business, general- trial jurisdiction, intermediate appellate, and supreme court.   The curriculum is demanding, and the course work is challenging and heavy.  The faculty for the first four-week session consists of ten Duke Law professors, a federal judge, and a U.S. Supreme Court justice.  Many prominent judges, practitioners, and other legal experts provide added views and insights as guest speakers. 2012

Curriculum Admissions Faculty Full Scholarship

Application Form and Instructions


Application information available at

Meet our Student-Judges

Download bios and photos of the 2016-2018 class of the Master of Laws in Judicial Studies program. 

Justice Johnnie B. Rawlinson’s Remarks at Duke Law 2016 Graduation.