Yale Law School's first-ever Ph.D. in Law for aspiring law professors was met with both applause and skepticism when announced in July; many legal educators wonder whether the program is really necessary.
Now it is clear there is an appetite for a course of study to prepare lawyers to be legal scholars and teachers: Yale has received 82 applications for the first five spots in the program. The Yale Daily News was the first to report the total last week.
That tuition and a cost-of-living stipend were being paid for through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and alumna Meridee Moore, who founded Watershed Asset Management LLC, might be a contributing factor in the flood of applications, Silverstein said.
The number of law professors with Ph.D.s has been on the rise, with many coming into the academy with doctorates in economics, political science, history or other social sciences. A handful of law schools offer Ph.D.s that combine law and another academic area. Yale's will be the first to focus exclusively on the law.
Dean Robert Post said in July that getting a foot into the door of law faculties has become tougher as hiring committees demand more robust portfolios of research and writing. "People require you to show your abilities as a scholar by what you've written," Post said. "Where do you get that training?"
The three-year program will be shorter than a typical doctorate, which tends to take at least six years. Students will write a dissertation, sit for qualifying exams, take classes on teaching and teach two courses.
"There's a great deal of variety in the applicants," said Gordon Silverstein, assistant dean for graduate programs. "We've got people who are one year out of law school and someone who has been out for 30 years. … We're looking for people from a range of backgrounds."