Hebrew University – Doctoral Studies in Law (LL.D.)
Summary of Regulations
This document contains a summary of the main provisions of the Hebrew University and the Law Faculty Regulations governing studies for a doctorate in law (LL.D.). It is produced in order to inform non-Hebrew speaking applicants about the study procedures; only the Hebrew version of the Regulations is binding on the University and Faculty.
Nature and purpose of studies:
LL.D. candidates studying for a doctorate in law are referred hereinafter as "research students." Their program of studies shall comprise of two main elements: 1) academic courses; 2) a scientific dissertation, referred to hereinafter as the "doctoral dissertation." A doctoral dissertation is a work of research, which makes an original and substantial contribution to the world of science. It shall be written in accordance with the structures, terminology and styles accepted in the relevant academic literature.
The Authority for Research Students
The Authority for Research Students (hereinafter "the Authority") is the University body responsible for overseeing the quality of the doctoral research work. It approves the proposed research plans, the academic courses taken by research students, the identity of supervisors, the composition of academic committees, decisions by academic committees and appeals thereon; it monitors the progress of the research work; it may terminate the studies of a research student; it appoints external referees to review the dissertation; and it confirms dissertations after considering the referees' written evaluations.
The Committee for Graduate Studies
The Committee for Graduate Studies (hereinafter "the Committee") is the Faculty body responsible for doctoral studies in the faculty of law.
Admission of Research Students
The Law Faculty offers three admission tracks for doctoral studies, each with its own specific eligibility conditions. The Committee will review applications of eligible candidates for all tracks and decide whether or not to recommend their admission to the Authority.
a) Ordinary admission track, open for candidates who have graduated from the LLM program at Hebrew University and have written an LL.M. thesis, provided that their grade point average and their thesis evaluation grade are both 85% or more. Graduates of other universities will be considered as eligible if the Committee regards their academic achievements to be comparable to the aforementioned grade requirements. The Committee may also consider admitting students with a first degree in law (LL.B), who have completed a Master's degree in a field other than law, if they have written a thesis on a topic relevant for their proposed doctoral studies.
In exceptional cases, the Committee may admit to the ordinary track candidates who have graduated from an LL.M. program without writing a thesis, if there is alternative proof of exceptional research capabilities.
b) Direct studies track, open for candidates who have graduated from the LL.B. Program at Hebrew University with honors, and are among the top 20% of students graduating in the same year. The Committee may consider graduates of other law faculties, if it regards their academic achievements to be comparable to the aforementioned grade requirements. Direct studies track research students could proceed with their doctoral studies if they finish within one year after the date of admission a 24 credit program of preparatory studies (see below), with a grade point average of 88% or more (no less than 80% in any individual course). While engaged in preparatory studies, direct track students will be registered as LL.M. Students.
Students who have completed the aforementioned 24 credit program may complete, if they so choose, the necessary course credit requirements which shall entitle them to obtain an LL.M. Degree.
Academic committees assigning research students with courses as part of their doctoral studies may exempt direct studies track students from some or all of their courses on the basis of the aforementioned preparatory studies.
c) Research fulfillment track, open for candidates with an LL.M. but without a thesis, whose grade point average is 85% or more. Research fulfillment students could proceed with their doctoral studies if they:
i) complete within 18 months from the date of admission a 12 credit program of preparatory studies (see below) with a grade point average of 85% or more (no less than 80% in any individual course). While engaged in preparatory studies, direct track students will be registered as research fulfillment students; and
ii) write an academic paper comparable in quality and length to an LL.M. thesis, which shall be evaluated by a grade of 85% or more.
If allowed to proceed with their doctoral studies, the thesis-equivalent paper can be incorporated as a chapter of the doctoral dissertation. Academic committees assigning research students with courses as part of their doctoral studies work may exempt research fulfillment track students from some or all of their courses on the basis of the aforementioned preparatory studies.
Applications for admission
Candidates meeting one of the three sets of eligibility criteria may submit an application for admission to the Committee. The Committee will consider applications twice a year, before the beginning of the first and second semesters (deadlines for application are published on the Law Faculty webpage). Applications shall include the following documents:
a) A letter from a faculty member expressing willingness to serve as a doctoral supervisor (supervisors should be full-time professors or full-time senior lecturers; the Chair of the Committee may allow, with the Dean's consent, other faculty members, including emeritus professors, to serve as supervisors; if needed, a doctoral dissertation may be supervised by more than one supervisor).
b) A 1,000 words statement of intent describing the proposed research question and main methodology to be applied.
c) A past academic work authored by the applicant (LL.M. thesis, if available, if not then a law article or seminar paper).
d) Letters of reference (not obligatory).
The application documents will be sent for evaluation by the Chair of the committee to a faculty member, other than the proposed supervisor. The said faculty member will write an evaluation of the application, opining on the quality of the proposed research and the applicant's past work, and in particular, on whether the applicant appears to have the needed research capabilities for writing a doctoral dissertation that would meet the high standards of the Hebrew University.
The Committee will decide on the application on the basis of the application materials and the evaluation report. It may, if it so chooses, ask for another evaluation by another faculty member.
Course of studies
The doctoral studies program is comprised of three stages: preparatory course work, preparation of a proposed research plan (Stage A) and writing of the doctoral dissertation (Stage B).
Preparatory courses: Doctoral students are required to study 12 credits. All research students, in all tracks, are required to enroll for the following courses towards the fulfillment of their studies quota:
Doctoral students and junior researchers' workshop (2 credits)
Academic reading – Masterclass (2 credits)
Introduction to social science research methods (2 credits)
Introduction to statistics (2 credits)
Academic writing in English (2 credits)
In addition, all research students are required to participate throughout their studies in the doctoral students and junior researchers' workshop (without the need to submit written works for grade evaluation).
Research students in the research fulfillment track are required to fill out the remainder of their credit quota by selecting courses from the following list (with the supervisor's, and where applicable, the academic committee's consent):
One LLM obligatory course (2 credits)
One or more of the obligatory courses in the different LLM specialization tracks (4 credits)
Two of the courses offered in English by visiting professors (2 credits)
One seminar in the field of specialization (4 credits)
One research workshop in the field of specialization (2-3 credits)
Research students shall submit their proposed research plans to the Authority no later than 18 months from the time of enrollment. (Research plans are typically 7,500 word documents describing the field of study, the state of research, the research question, the methodology applied, the proposed contribution of the dissertation and a selective bibliography).
The Authority will designate, at that stage, an academic committee comprising of 3 or more academics, that will meet with the student, review the proposal, and decide whether to authorize it (as is or subject to modifications). The academic committee may require the research student to undertake more studies or may release him from some or all of his additional study requirements. It may also release non-Hebrew speakers from the need to study Hebrew. The student may appeal before the Authority any decision of the academic committee.
During this stage, the supervisor will periodically advise the student and monitor his or her progress. The academic committee will meet the student at least once more before submission of the dissertation, and in any event, whenever a significant change in the direction of the research is considered. The student shall report in writing on his/her progress at the end of every academic year to the academic committee and the supervisor.
The academic committee will authorize the submission of the dissertation to the Authority. It may hold in this context a public or closed session in which the research student will be required to defend his dissertation.
The academic committee may recommend that the Authority terminates the student's doctoral studies, if the aforementioned progress report was not submitted at the end of the academic year, and if 60 days from the date in which the student was reminded about this omission have passed. The supervisor or the academic committee may also recommend termination of studies if they are of the view that the student's progress in the last year has not been sufficient. The student will be entitled to appear before the committee and present his or her claims regarding the grounds for termination.
Research students may approach the Authority and ask for the replacement of their supervisor.
Conduct of doctoral research outside the University
Doctoral studies shall be conducted at the Hebrew University. However, the Authority may permit a research student to conduct his or her research at another university or research institution in or outside Israel, provided that the University recognizes the said university or research institution as a suitable environment for the conduct of doctoral research. In this event, the studies will be co-supervised by supervisors from the Hebrew University and host university or research institution, who were approved by the Authority.
Duration of studies
A research student must enroll and pay tuition for at least two consecutive years. The period of studies commences on the date of enrollment most proximate to the decision to admit the student to the doctoral studies program. Research students must re-enroll every new academic year.
Research students may request the Authority to suspend their studies for a specified period of time. Suspension without authorization, or suspension exceeding the period authorized, may result in termination of studies.
The total duration of studies (Stage A and Stage B) shall not exceed six consecutive academic years. In exceptional cases, the Authority may permit research students to extend their studies by one more year.
The doctoral dissertation
Dissertations shall not exceed 350 A4-size double spaced pages (630,000 symbols). Annexes, index, and bibliography are not included in this size quota. The academic committee may authorize in exceptional cases deviations from this size quota.
The dissertation shall be written in Hebrew or English, or another language authorized by the Authority, at the request of the research student (with the consent of the supervisor). A dissertation not written in Hebrew shall include a summary, table of contents and cover pages in Hebrew.
There is an option of writing the dissertation as a compilation of several independent (but related) articles, with the consent of the supervisor and academic committee.
The dissertation will be submitted to the Authority in 4 printed copies.
The dissertation will be refereed by two anonymous referees other than the supervisor. One of the referees may be a member of the academic committee; at least one of the referees should not belong to the Faculty in which the doctoral studies were conducted. The process of refereeing shall not exceed two months (during the summer break, a third month may be afforded to the referees by the Authority). The Authority will decide whether to confirm the award of a doctoral degree on the basis of the referees' reports; it may request modifications of the dissertation before confirmation of the degree. No grades are awarded for dissertations. Research students may appeal before the University Rector a decision to refuse to confirm a doctoral degree.