Jurisprudence & Social Policy (JSP)

Law & Philosophy in JSP is led by Kinch Hoekstra, Christopher Kutz, and Sarah Song, as well as historian of social thought David Lieberman. These faculty are responsible for course offerings and advising in the Law and Philosophy area. While the JSP Program is both multi- and -interdisciplinary, students in the program also choose a specific “Disciplinary Field” of emphasis during their coursework, to mark the depth of their engagement.  Completing the Law & Philosophy disciplinary field involves taking at least one Law & Philosophy Foundation seminar (described below), and either a second Law & Philosophy Foundation seminar or another course offered in the JSP Program or the Philosophy or Political Science departments that provides comparable coverage. Students will also take a third course in legal, moral, or political theory, which may be offered in any academic department (including JSP). When the coursework is completed, students will sit for the Disciplinary Field Exam, which is an eight-hour take home written exam, with questions spanning moral, legal, and political philosophy, developed jointly by the student and the examiners.

Law & Philosophy graduates of JSP have gone on to teaching positions in Law, Political Science, and Legal Studies departments, in the US and abroad.

For information about general JSP Program requirements and admissions procedures, including procedures for those interested in pursuing a joint law degree, please see the main program website.  If you are interested in pursuing a joint degree, please let the Program know during your application process.

Recent Dissertations within the Law & Philosophy field at JSP include:

Benjamin Chen, Essays on the Cost-Benefit Administrative State
Adam Hill, A Behavioral Approach to Contemporary Electoral Accountability
Stephen Galoob, A Liberal Theory of Reparations,
Jenny Denbow, Reproducing Autonomy
Alexander Rosas, Diversification of the Republic: Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France
Ross Astoria, Judging the Decalogue: The Ten Commandments and the Establishment Clause
Anni Kirkland, Personhood and Identity in American Law
Hamsa Murthy, Justice and the Foreigner: Illegal Alienage and the Dilemmas of Law and Government in Modern America
John Park, Legislation Unworthy of a Brave and Manly People: Membership and Belonging in Liberal Political Theory and American Public Law
Shalini Satkunandan, The Turn: Plato, Kant, and Heidegger on the Encounter with the Ground of Obligation


Many graduate students at Berkeley interested in law, philosophy and politics combine a PhD with a JD or MPP. While such combinations can be put together informally, the Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program offers a joint JD/PhD degree, with coordinated admissions, possible JD fee remission, and reduced time in law school classes. About one third of JSP students take a JD at Berkeley Law; another third either have a law degree already or pursue one elsewhere.

JD, LLM and JSD (law doctorate) students at Berkeley Law are also deeply engaged in coursework and writing in the areas of legal theory and philosophy. All JSP courses are open to them (with the exception of the First Year Orientation seminar), including the JSP Foundations seminars in Moral, Legal, and Political Philosophy, as are other specialized Law School seminars, such as courses in Critical Race Theory, Feminist Jurisprudence, and Emotions and the Law.  In addition, Berkeley Law students can take courses outside the Law School, and frequently serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses, both in Legal Studies, and in other departments.

For information about JD admissions, please visit this page.  For information about our graduate law programs, please go here.  And for information about being a Visiting Scholar, please visit here.