PhD in Law


The PhD program at BDU Law School is launched in 2018 to contribute towards meeting the growing demand for highly qualified legal professionals, educators and researchers at the institutional as well as national levels. The introduction of the Doctoral Program fits within the national policy priorities expressed in the Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II) and ESDPV, which include capacity building for teachers through the expansion of postgraduate programs and attaining a significant increase in staff with terminal degrees. The Program is also in line with the University’s vision to become one of the top research universities in Africa by 2025, which presupposes the promotion of research and scholarship among faculty and students and the development of appropriate infrastructure.
More specifically, the PhD program is designed to:

  • contribute to enhanced capacity in legal education, scholarship, and policy analysis at the national and regional levels;
  • mitigate the phenomenon of brain drain both at the institutional and national levels by offering an alternative to tertiary education abroad;
  • strengthen the research and publication profile of the School of Law and of the University at large and enhancing its regional and international standing; and
  • reinforce and complement the existing LL. M programs at the School.

Structure and philosophy
The doctoral program at BDU Law School is primarily a research degree for those who wish to pursue advanced legal study and original scholarly research of publishable quality under rigorous faculty supervision.
The Program is based on self-directed learning where lectures would be sparingly used to enable students to effectively conduct their research project and acquire academic skills. In order to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Law (በሕግየፍልስፍናዶክትሬትዲግሪ), students must take at least 15 credit hours, successfully complete the upgrade procedure within 18 months of enrolment and write and defend their dissertation. The coursework requirement includes courses from Academic Skills and Jurisprudence Modules and at least one course falling within the rubric of International and Comparative Law.
Students are expected to exercise greater autonomy and assume responsibility for their research as they progress. The Law School will provide an appropriate learning environment and proper assistance to candidates in the above respects.
Learning Objectives
The Program’s learning objectives are to:

  • equip students with the intellectual drive, conceptual and methodological tools as well as the academic skills that would enable them to conduct independent research and make new contribution to knowledge in the field of law;
  • provide students with academic opportunities for deepening their knowledge and becoming experts in their respective fields of research;
  • enable students to critically examine the philosophical, sociological and policy underpinnings of the law as well as the social context in which the law is put into practice; and
  • prepare students for careers in academia and other positions of responsibility in society that rely on legal scholarship.

Professional Profile
Graduates of the PhD Program can assume:

  • Academic/teaching positions at higher education institutions;
  • high-level legal and policy consultancy roles at public, private and non-governmental institutions;
  • leadership role in relevant academic units and institutions;
  • membership as researchers in research institutes and councils;

Graduate Profile
Upon completing the Doctoral Program, graduates are expected to have acquired the following:

  • In-depth knowledge of the specialized academic area of their choice and an acute understanding of the overall field of scholarship;
  • theoretical and comparative insights that would enable them to provide high-end analysis and scholarly deliberation on complex legal and policy issues of national and/or international significance in their respective field; and


  • Capacity to design and undertake sophisticated theoretical inquiry and critical analysis;
  • ability to conduct independent research and produce scholarly work that is of publishable quality;
  • capacity to teach graduate courses in law and provide competent guidance and supervision to students conducting research;


  • An acute understanding of the ethical, legal, social and civic responsibilities involved as a researcher and professional in the field;
  • broader interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives.

Admission Requirements
Admission to the PhD program is open only to applicants with appropriate academic credentials and demonstrable commitment or plans to join an academic or professional career requiring high-level legal scholarship. Applicants must have obtained undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in law or an undergraduate degree in law and a Master’s in related disciplines (political science, philosophy and sociology) from an accredited university with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 or the equivalent thereof in their post-graduate studies.
The Law School will publish a call for applications each year, the specifics of which may vary depending on the priorities and the resources available.
Applicants are, however, generally required to submit the following documentation:

  • A statement of interest describing the applicant’s motivations and career plans;
  • a research statement (3,000 words or 6 pages long, single spaced):
    • stating the proposed research topic and the name of a proposed supervisor;
    • describing the proposed research with sufficient detail to demonstrate the applicant’s familiarity with existing literature on the subject and the dissertation’s potential to make original contribution;
  • a recent curriculum vitae;
  • the applicant’s published work or a writing sample of publishable quality;
  • scanned copies of the degree certificates and academic transcripts from undergraduate and postgraduate studies (selected applicants will have to send official transcripts directly to the Law School’s Registrar Office);
  • two letters of recommendations, at least one of which should be from the applicant’s former professor (to be sent by the referee directly to the PhD Program Coordinator);
  • Proof of English proficiency (6 point and above in IELTS band/ or 60 and above in TOEFL score). However, the Graduate Committee may waive this requirement for applicants who have done their university studies in English and demonstrate high-level proficiency.