J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights

Juris Scientiae Doctor – Doctor of the Science of Law in Intercultural Human Rights

Goals and Objectives

The J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights aims at providing a premier opportunity for promising human rights scholars to make a lasting contribution to the dynamic and action-oriented field of human rights through researching, analyzing and offering solutions to pertinent cutting-edge issues both globally and domestically.

In particular, the J.S.D. program will be a powerful tool in meeting the diverse interests and career aims of the top quality students.

It will help students develop the ability to analyze critically the inferences that can be drawn from empirical and historical observations of societal developments that engage the operation of the international and regional justice systems.

It will promote and encourage the exchange of ideas and information regarding human rights between scholars all over the world.

It will promote the application of the highest quality research standards and the professional development of the international law of human rights. Students will be able to acquire expert knowledge of the foundations of the universality, interdependence, interrelation and deep empirical grounding of human rights, enabling them to fight effectively for a new society that is capable of giving centrality to the goal of ensuring respect for human dignity.

It will increase visibility and reaffirm the standing of our law school through its commitment to traditional, high academic standards and scholarship at the cutting edge.

It will contribute through the students’ work to the development and implementation of policies and procedures fostering social justice and the protection of human dignity.

It will facilitate and promote the world’s best practices in the quest for a world order of peace, justice and respect for human dignity by providing thorough publications vetted through ongoing peer review.

It will enrich overall knowledge and academic insight in the field of human rights.

The Innovative Component

As any thesis-based doctoral degree, the J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights is the capstone academic achievement indicating ultimate academic specialization and original contribution in the chosen field. Its emphasis is on the imparting, analysis, elaboration and dissemination of knowledge about human rights in the world social process, and the development of recommended solutions to societal problems through interdisciplinary, problem- and policy-oriented research. Intercultural dialogue facilitates this research; it is enhanced by the diversity conspicuous not only in the student body, but also the program faculty as established in the residential LL.M. IHR Program.

The J.S.D. program adds to the values of peace, justice and respect for human dignity promoted in the LL.M. IHR program through, inter alia, empowering its students to conduct in-depth analyses of patterns, models and methods of delivering services in the field of human rights, and increasing the pertinent knowledge by not only assessing policies that determine access of people to their rights, but also by shaping such policies, analyzing “rights,” and contributing to decisions that redress human beings’ grievances and make victims whole.

The J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights also provides a forum to encourage the exchange of information and developments in the theory and practice of human rights in different regions of our planet. There is a plethora of information, newly aggregated in the Internet, regarding various themes of the course components, focusing on successes and failures, weaknesses and strengths, large and small episodes, relating to human rights, involving important and less important national and international actors, major players as well as single individuals and their impact in the society at large. A concise, problem-oriented analytical framework allows for the organization of such wealth of data in pursuit of a solution to societal problems both locally and globally.

The J.S.D. degree in Intercultural Human Rights is conferred upon successful completion of a dissertation, the passing of the rigorosum, and proof of publication of the dissertation. All these elements, as well as the qualifying faculty, are detailed in the subsequent sections.

Enrollment Process

A student who has been advised of his/her admission receives a Registration Form. Information regarding requirements to establish and maintain J.S.D. student status, deadlines for registration, and deadlines for pertinent payments is also included in this communication.


A J.S.D. student is defined as one who is enrolled in a J.S.D. thesis course for a minimum of two (2) years, and a maximum of five (5) years. Failure to enroll in this continuing course at any time and in any semester before the completion of the program will be deemed a resignation from the J.S.D. program.

The J.S.D. thesis course is valued at nine (9) credits per semester (fall and spring only). This course is pass/fail. In order to receive a passing grade in this class, the thesis supervisor needs to submit a statement to the Registrar’s Office that the J.S.D. IHR student has made sufficient progress toward completion of his/her thesis.

Academic Evaluation

Towards completion of the requirements, the J.S.D. candidate has to submit a publishable manuscript of no less than 75,000 words on his or her chosen topic (the dissertation) to his or her supervisor.

The supervisor will submit a substantive report on the dissertation, including the determination of a grade from a slate ranging from summa cum laude (highest honors), to magna cum laude (high honors), to cum laude (honors), to rite (pass), and fail. A second opinion, including a grade from that slate, will then be provided by another qualified faculty as determined by the Director of the Intercultural Human Rights Program. The average of the two grades is carried over into the rigorosum. The rigorosum may break the tie if the average of the two grades for the dissertation lies between two grades, or it may raise or lower the grade by one grade if the two grades resulting from the dissertation review coincide.

In line with the J.D. program, grades can only be changed by the Dean or Associate Dean of the School of Law in case of arithmetical error by a faculty member, upon that faculty member’s request.


The J.S.D. candidate has to enroll in a J.S.D. thesis course for a minimum of two (2) years, and a maximum of five (5) years. Failure to enroll in this continuing course at any time and in any semester before the completion of the program as well as receipt of a failing grade in any semester due to lack of sufficient progress toward the completion of the thesis will be deemed a resignation from the J.S.D. program. Once such a resignation has occurred, the candidate may reapply for admission, which will be decided upon by the J.S.D. Admissions Committee with or without credit for previous semesters.

Teaching and Research Methodology

Every student admitted to the J.S.D. program will be supervised by a qualifying faculty member, who agrees, in advance, to this assignment. The supervising professor should hold the academic equivalent of a J.S.D., S.J.D., Dr. iur. or Ph.D. degree him- or herself. The supervising professors will be either the qualifying St. Thomas University School of Law professors or select faculty outside of St. Thomas University willing to serve, if appropriate, as supervisors/graders of J.S.D. theses in Intercultural Human Rights.

In-house professors will be available as supervisors as agreed upon with J.S.D. candidates. Outside professor-supervisors will come to Miami at least once a year, as they teach in the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, enabling students in Miami to get in touch with them at our place of instruction. As the usual time of completion of thesis is three years, the students would thus meet personally with their supervisor at least three times. Also, modern means of communication such as e-mail, Internet chat, fax, and telephone allow for constant and even instantaneous academic exchanges. The crowning task of the doctoral candidate will be the defense of his/her thesis against the challenges of a three-member faculty committee, including the supervisor, in a one-hour oral interchange, i.e. the rigorosum. The rigorosum may also test the candidate on his knowledge of the general field of human rights law and policy.

Administrative Oversight

In terms of University structure, the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights is a program of the School of Law and its faculty. The J.S.D. program is one component of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights.

The Director and the Executive Director of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights oversee and implement  the program. A full-time Administrative Assistant complements the administration.


Professor Dr. iur. Siegfried Wiessner is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights. He has published widely in the field of international law, constitutional law and jurisprudence; he lectured in the UN/UNITAR International Law Fellowship Programmes at The Hague and Tehran, and has chaired the International Law Association’s Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  With W. Michael Reisman, he has published the leading casebook on International Law in Contemporary Perspective (Foundation Press, 2004). He teaches Constitutional Law, International Law and Introduction to Human Rights Law.

Executive Director

Professor Dr. iur. Roza Pati is Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law, Executive Director the LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights and Director of the Human Trafficking Academy. She is a Member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, at the Vatican; Former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Member--Secretary of State for Youth and Women, in the government of Albania. She has written in the field of international law, international criminal law, human rights law and human trafficking law, including a book on Due Process and International Terrorism: An International Legal Analysis.