Doctor of Laws in Health Law
A doctoral program designed for graduates of either a Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) or a Master of Juridical Science (MSJ) in Health Law program. The Doctor of Laws (DL) will enhance your expertise in health law. In this program, you will engage in exhaustive research and immerse yourself in an individualized program while working towards the completion of your dissertation. The DL candidate will also enroll in at least eight (8) credits worth of in-class, JD courses with a specific emphasis on health law.

Admission Criteria:
In any one academic year, no more than one student will be admitted into the DL program. Admission will be restricted to those select students who demonstrate all of the following:
  • a strong undergraduate record.
  • excellence throughout the Health Law MJ or MSJ program, placing the student at or near the very top of the class.
  • a demonstrated ability to do intensive writing, research and analysis.

D.L. Application Procedure:
  • official transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions attended, whether or not a degree was conferred
  • writing sample of at least twenty pages which demonstrates the candidate's ability to do intensive writing, research and analysis
  • a well-developed, clearly thought-out research proposal, with bibliography that promises a paper of significance
  • at least two strong letters of recommendation from those in a position to assess the candidate's analytical, research, and writing skills.

The full curriculum, including assignment of credits for course work, and for researching and writing the dissertation, is set forth below (12 credits needed to obtain the degree):

Year One, Fall
Law 998: Dissertation Research I (1 credit)
Law 709: Health Law I (3 credits)*
Year One, Spring
Law 998: Dissertation Research II (1 credit)
Law 710: Health Law II (3 credits)*
Year Two, Fall
Law 6074: Dissertation Supervision (1 credit)
Law xxx: Health Law Elective (2 credits)
Year Two, Spring
Law 6074: Dissertation Supervision (1 credit**)

The following requirements and rules apply to the dissertation:

  1. The candidate must complete a dissertation of at least 50,000 words, including notes. (At 250 words per page, this minimum requirement represents about 200 pages). The dissertation may be in the form of a book or article, and may consist of up to three non-duplicative articles or chapters. The dissertation must be of publishable quality, in the judgment of the candidate’s dissertation committee, and must be published, or accepted for publication, unless the Director of the Health Law Institute determines, in his or her discretion, to waive that publication requirement.

  2. Completion of the dissertation and other elements of the DL program must be supervised by a three-member dissertation committee, which must include (i) a Law School faculty member serving as primary advisor, (ii) a second Law School faculty member, and (iii) another person who may be a Law School faculty member or a jurist or senior practitioner of scholarly accomplishment.

  3. The candidate must submit annual written progress reports to the primary advisor describing research and writing activities and performance in course work. Failure to submit such reports in a fashion that is timely and substantively sufficient, as determined in the discretion of the Director of the relevant Institute, shall be a basis for dismissal from the degree program.

  4. The candidate must make a satisfactory oral defense of the dissertation before, and as determined by, the three-member dissertation committee.

  5. The candidate must orally present the dissertation in a forum open to the Law School community and the public.

  6. Degree requirements (including the dissertation) shall be completed within five years from enrollment in the degree program. 

Your doctoral dissertation must be on a subject matter within the expertise of the health law faculty. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Healthcare Liability
  • Managed Care Legal Issues
  • Healthcare Antitrust
  • Bioethics, including Reproductive technology and Issues in Death and Dying
  • Public Health
  • Law and Science
  • Toxic Torts
  • Healthcare Regulations and Finance
  • Bioterrorism

Contact Information
Director: Professor John G. Culhane
Phone: (302)-477-2107

Widener Law
Graduate Programs
4601 Concord Pike Box 7474
Wilmington, Delaware 19803

Phone: +1 302.477.2704
Fax: +1 302.477.2067