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Help!! PhD or SJD!!!

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Mary12
Joined: 13 Apr 2008
Posts: 7
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Fri May 29, 2009 08:19 PM
Hello everyone!
I graduated with an LLM degree from a U.S. law school. Nevertheless, I am still wondering should I study a PhD or SJD. I got an acceptance from Indiana University and I applied to a number of law schools in UK. I will appreciate any info you can give me to make my decision.
Thanks
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Ralph Wiggum

Joined: 23 Apr 2006
Posts: 171
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Fri May 29, 2009 08:21 PM
What's the difference between a PhD and a SJD?
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Mary12
Joined: 13 Apr 2008
Posts: 7
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Fri May 29, 2009 08:35 PM
Ph.D. stands for Doctor of Philosophy and SJD stands for a Doctor of Juridical Science
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Santa

Joined: 08 Jan 2009
Posts: 428
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sat May 30, 2009 06:00 AM
Well in Europe a PhD is the way to become a doctor and I heard the equivalent in the US is the SJD/JSD so I really don't see what the difference is =)
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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sat May 30, 2009 07:20 AM
Edited to avoid any confusion between the American and European use of the abbreviation "Ph.D".

Several law schools call their highest law degree a Ph.D even if all you do in it is study/research law. Statements such "Ph.D in Corporate & Economic Law, University of Paris I, Sorbonne" are common for foreign grads.
In this case, "Ph.D" is used as the abbreviation of "Doctorate in Law" and most of these Ph.D holders don't have more knowledge in philosophy than high school students.

If you're hesitating between two law degrees within the same law school, a Ph.D is more convenient when dealing with foreign and/or non legal recruiters.
If you're hesitating between an S.J.D. from one and a law focused Ph.D from another, you should probably weigh in the overall reputation of the university, rather than the denomination of the degree itself.

Several reasons can explain why US law schools are sometimes adopting the European denomination for their highest law research degree. For example, attract foreign scholars who can make better use of a "Ph.D" in their home country. Or create a more interdisciplinary version of the SJD, which seems to be the case at Bloomington.

If you want to specialize in a field of law which is closely tied to philosophical thoughts (e.g. human rights, natural law, international public law, history of law, jurisprudence etc.) then a true philosophy Ph.D would also be a valuable choice.

To get a better idea of the professor job market, visit websites of a few sample law schools (1 top 3, 1 top 14, 1 top 20 and 1 top 50) and count how many professors have SJD and how many PhD (perhaps by narrowing it down to only those who teach in your field of interest).

[Edited by Hedek on 31 May 2009]

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Interalia
Joined: 29 Aug 2008
Posts: 222
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sat May 30, 2009 05:12 PM
In General, there is really no difference between a SJD and phD. In places like the UK, a doctorate in Law is called a phD, in north America such a doctorate is called an SJD.

Furthermore despite its name (Doctor of Philosophy), there is no necessary relation between the title phD and the subject of philosophy. In the UK, almost all doctorates regardless of the subject, are labeled as phD. Thus, there's a phD in chemistry for example.

[Edited by Interalia on 30 May 2009]

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Ralph Wiggum

Joined: 23 Apr 2006
Posts: 171
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sat May 30, 2009 06:19 PM
As I thought. Thanks.
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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sun May 31, 2009 10:19 AM
A PhD does not mean you need to research philosophy/legal history - it's merely a generic, terminal degree title for a research degree in just about any discipline. E.g., you can hold a PhD in corporate law, criminal law, IP law, chemistry, biology or 17th Century English literature...etc. (EDIT: this clarification was in response a poster above who originally stated a PhD in law was aimed at research in legal philosophy).

In essense, there is little difference between the US SJD/JSD and a PhD in law - both involving the production of a substantial thesis.

But at an international level, it is debatable whether the SJD holds the same cachet as a PhD in law. Some SJD programmes are shorter than PhDs, and some don't seem to subscribe to same standards as a PhD.

The SJD is generally utilised by foreign students in the US and is not popular amongst domestic academics because it isn't a necessary credential for pursuing an academic career in an American law school. Therefore, you'd probably be better off studying for the US JD if your intention is to pursue a US academic career. If your intention is to research/teach in another country, then a PhD in law will be more recognisable and thus carry more cachet.

Some American law schools also seem keen to have PhD holders now, eg. if you look at Northwestern Law School they actively show off the number of 'PhD trained' faculty members.

[Edited by Kerfuffle on 31 May 2009]

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Mary12
Joined: 13 Apr 2008
Posts: 7
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sun May 31, 2009 08:57 PM
Thanks everyone for your responds! Nevertheless, I am still confused which one shall I choose. Let me give you the situation my field of my study is criminal law, I have a teaching job in my country and my future plans is to continue teaching in my country. I have an acceptance from Indiana Bloomington and I have applied to several PhD programs in UK such as the one in the University of Nottingham, Birmingham, UCL and king’s college but I still did not hear anything from these schools. Therefore, do you think it is worth it to wait for the PhD? Or shall I go for the SJD? That is Indiana is ranked 23 in the US and no one in my country, holds a SJD.
I really appreciate your help:)
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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 07:34 AM
no one in my country, holds a SJD.


I think you've answered your own question here.

Also consider the fact KCL and UCL are internationally recognised universities (with Notts and B'ham also being top 20 UK uni's), whereas I doubt anyone outside the US knows of Indiana Bloomington (personally I've heard of Indiana Law School, but not Indiana Bloomington).

If you were looking at UCL/KCL versus a top flight US law school then the US would be more attractive.

When it comes to PhDs, researchers are usually more interested in their choice of supervisor and the expertise of the department rather than the 'status/ranking' of the university....so this should also be a major decisive factor.
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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:03 AM
Indeed Kerfuffle.

SJDs seem to be designed for those who intend to live and work in the USA. Unless the SJD is from a university that's really famous abroad: Harvard (perhaps Columbia Yale and Stanford too). But then they probably won't even care what an SJD is, they'll just see "Harvard" and go "you're hired".
I might be oversimplifying, but recruiters hate it when they encounter something they don't know. If they have to look up your degree or your university, you probably won't get hired anyway.
Recruiters will always react more positively to a famous degree from a university he's never heard of or an unknown degree from a famous university.

[Edited by Hedek on 01 Jun 2009]

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Interalia
Joined: 29 Aug 2008
Posts: 222
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:20 AM
Indeed Kerfuffle.

SJDs seem to be designed for those who intend to live and work in the USA. Unless the SJD is from a university that's really famous abroad: Harvard (perhaps Columbia Yale and Stanford too). But then they probably won't even care what an SJD is, they'll just see "Harvard" and go "you're hired". I might be oversimplifying, but you'd be amazed how lazy and/or easily impressed some recruiters are.


I actually disagree with the above on two counts. Firstly, the SJD is not the traditional way of going into the academia in the United States. In the US, the traditional route of entry for law professors is to do a JD together with a phD in another field, for e.g. political science or philosophy. If anything, the SJD is tailored more towards the training of foreign academics who wish to return to teach in their own countries.

Secondly, I'm not sure how the situation is like in the Original Poster's home country, but - at least - from where I'm from, getting a job in academia is a lot more dependent on (i) the quality of the doctoral thesis and (ii) the uniqueness of your field of teaching/research rather than just the brand name of the school. Having a SJD/Phd from a big brand law school does help but it is by no means at automatic route into the academia.

[Edited by Interalia on 01 Jun 2009]

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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:27 AM
I actually disagree with this. I'm not sure how the situation is like in the Original Poster's home country, but - at least - where I'm from, getting a job in academia is a lot more dependent on (i) the quality of the doctoral thesis and (ii) the uniqueness of your field of teaching/research rather than just the brand name of the school.

You're too quick for me Interalia. I had barely posted and was still proofreading when you replied ;-) Agreed, if you apply for positions which receive few applicants, which usually is the case for high level academia, you won't deal with "full time recruiters from the HR department" but with actual professors.
Hopefully they will take the time to read, and where an usual resume would get you filtered out in normal circumstances, in this case it might specifically be what gets you an interview: if only to satisfy his/her curiosity.

And to be perfectly honest, I am myself doing something right now which I hate when others do it: talk about subjects they don't really know of. I wish there were actual SJD and Ph.D grads to answer Mary's questions, but these boards are mostly consulted by prospective LL.M students.
So please take anything I've written with a lot of caution, they are merely feelings and impressions.

Have you tried asking the deans and/or professors of the universities you'll want to work for after you graduate?

[Edited by Hedek on 01 Jun 2009]

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Pharrell

Joined: 02 Nov 2006
Posts: 124
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 02:14 PM
I'd like to ask how much does a Ph.D / SJD Student earn in USA/UK/AUS? (average)...
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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 02:44 PM
I'd like to ask how much does a Ph.D / SJD Student earn in USA/UK/AUS? (average)...


Do you mean during research or after attaining the degree?

If you mean during the degree, a PhD researcher 'earns' nothing unless they take on teaching commitments, or non-academic work.

If you're refering to funding, then this can vary. A UK student who wins funding will get tuition fees paid and a £10,000-£14,000 per annum maintenance grant.
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tnuchpiam
Joined: 31 May 2009
Posts: 74
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 05:16 PM
In my understanding, an SJD/JSD is a professional doctorate (like a DBA), whereas a PhD may perhaps be designated as an academic doctorate. That's why a legal research programme (like the one at Indiana Bloomington -- an interdiciplinary programme) that is more academic in orientation, is likely to be designated as a PhD programme.

A holder of an SJD has kind of subscribed to different standards (presumably less rigorous?) than those normally required for a PhD. If I was not mistaken, professional doctorates originted in the United States, and they are now being adopted more widely in the UK (and elsewhere in Europe?). Anyway, my feeling is that a PhD (in America) is far more prestigious than an SJD/JSD (very few Americans have taken the trouble to earn this qualification). As someone has said, a JD is enough for them. For a foreigner it's OK: back home he or she will be entitled as "Dr"!
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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 06:37 PM
In my understanding, an SJD/JSD is a professional doctorate (like a DBA), whereas a PhD may perhaps be designated as an academic doctorate. That's why a legal research programme (like the one at Indiana Bloomington -- an interdiciplinary programme) that is more academic in orientation, is likely to be designated as a PhD programme.

A holder of an SJD has kind of subscribed to different standards (presumably less rigorous?) than those normally required for a PhD. If I was not mistaken, professional doctorates originted in the United States, and they are now being adopted more widely in the UK (and elsewhere in Europe?).
When Mary first mentioned a Ph.D from Indiana University, I thought it was a Ph.D in the usual american sense: economy, philosophy, sociology, etc. (virtually every field except Law and Medicine), until I checked their website and noticed they offered a "Ph.D in law" despite being an american university.

It makes no sense for American law schools to use the abbreviation "Ph.D". Technically speaking, JD is the law equivalent of a Ph.D in other fields (and MD in medicine).
The JSD is higher than a Ph.D.
A JSD is at least 10 years of study (4 years of undergrad, 3 years of JD, 1 year LL.M and 2 years of JSD). A Ph.D can be completed in 6 years (4 years of undergrad and 2 years of Ph.D).
The Harvard Law School JD admission requirement is the same as the Ph.D in Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: a bachelor's degree.
www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/economics.php

In most European universities, there is no undergrad requirement to enter law school. Hence a Ph.D in law is the same length/worth as a Ph.D in any other field: 4 years of Bachelor's degree, 1 year of Master's degree and 3 years of Ph.D.

Anyway, my feeling is that a PhD (in America) is far more prestigious than an SJD/JSD (very few Americans have taken the trouble to earn this qualification). As someone has said, a JD is enough for them.
True if the Ph.D is in something else than law. For example, a Ph.D in philosophy or in economics on top of a JD proves that you are proficient in at least two intellectual fields.

[Edited by Hedek on 01 Jun 2009]

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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 07:47 PM
In my understanding, an SJD/JSD is a professional doctorate (like a DBA), whereas a PhD may perhaps be designated as an academic doctorate. That's why a legal research programme (like the one at Indiana Bloomington -- an interdiciplinary programme) that is more academic in orientation, is likely to be designated as a PhD programme.

A holder of an SJD has kind of subscribed to different standards (presumably less rigorous?) than those normally required for a PhD. If I was not mistaken, professional doctorates originted in the United States, and they are now being adopted more widely in the UK (and elsewhere in Europe?). Anyway, my feeling is that a PhD (in America) is far more prestigious than an SJD/JSD (very few Americans have taken the trouble to earn this qualification). As someone has said, a JD is enough for them. For a foreigner it's OK: back home he or she will be entitled as "Dr"!


The JSD/SJD is to my understanding an academic degree, like a PhD in law, and not a professional doctorate.

A professional doctorate is a degree that is tied to the practice of one's profession e.g. nursing, business, social work, and often involves more than just the production of a thesis e.g., formal learning, workplace research, R&D training. For the US, the professional law doctorate is the JD (albeit no longer the terminal degree in the field of law).

In contrast, the JSD is a scholarly pursuit, like the PhD i.e. it involves the production of a substantive thesis. One would not generally pursue a JSD to practice law, but rather to pursue an academic career.

With respect to comparing an JSD to a US PhD, then I would also agree the PhD is far more prestigious. US PhDs are generally excellent - often requiring five years of research which is a lot longer than the residence terms for a JSD.

If one was faced with the prospect of a UK PhD in law versus a multidiscipinary US PhD (say law and economics), the I'd opt for the latter as the training to become an academic is much more thorough. But faced with a UK PhD versus JSD/SJD, I'd plump for the UK PhD.

[Edited by Kerfuffle on 01 Jun 2009]

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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Mon Jun 01, 2009 08:17 PM
"It makes no sense for American law schools to use the abbreviation "Ph.D". Technically speaking, JD is the law equivalent of a Ph.D in other fields (and MD in medicine).
The JSD is higher than a Ph.D.
A JSD is at least 10 years of study (4 years of undergrad, 3 years of JD, 1 year LL.M and 2 years of JSD). A Ph.D can be completed in 6 years (4 years of undergrad and 2 years of Ph.D).
The Harvard Law School JD admission requirement is the same as the Ph.D in Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: a bachelor's degree.
www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/economics.php"

The JD is not equivalent to a PhD (the two are not comparable), and an JSD is simply not higher than a PhD.

Simply very few US academics pursue the JSD, it is generally a foreign-student degree ...directed at those that probably hold an LLB (or equivalent) and an LLM. Contary to the practice of most other countries, US law academics don't pursue an academic research degree for entry into an academic career, and obvioulsy this relates to the fact that their first law degree (JD) is taken at a postgraduate level.

A standard US PhD does not take two years, but five years.

[Edited by Kerfuffle on 01 Jun 2009]

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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Tue Jun 02, 2009 08:43 AM
With respect to comparing an JSD to a US PhD, then I would also agree the PhD is far more prestigious. US PhDs are generally excellent - often requiring five years of research which is a lot longer than the residence terms for a JSD.

The American educational system has almost no mandatory standards. Quality, length, and rigor vary greatly according to the university. All US Ph.D aren't worth the same and one should be cautious when giving general advice such as this.

When I say a JD is the equivalent of a Ph.D in other fields than law, I'm talking in terms of admission requirements. Furthermore, I could argue that since a Ph.D is a degree designed for those who wish to pursue a career in academia and since every year law professors are recruited with just a JD (albeit with prestigious clerkships in most cases), then a JD fills the same economic purpose.

"Prestige" and "academic level" are two different things.
As a matter of fact, a Princeton Bachelor's degree is more prestigious than a JD from CUNY Queens College (with all due respect). Still the CUNY JD is a "higher" degree.

A JSD is a higher degree. Americans are famous for being no-nonsense people. Otherwise why would the best law schools choose not to call it a Ph.D?
The degrees required to apply to a JSD are usually higher than a Ph.D. It's a higher level degree, but I agree it's not necessarily more prestigious. For example, a Ph.D in engineering from MIT on top a JD is far more prestigious than a JSD, I agree.

The fact a Ph.D is far more famous, especially abroad only means it's a more convenient degree. Just because most people haven't heard of the JSD doesn't mean it's an inferior degree. You could argue quite the opposite: it's a very rare degree, awarded to only a very select few every year, whereas thousands of Ph.D are awarded each year in the world. Only 2 JSD graduated from Georgetown this year (one of the largest law schools in the US), and on average no more than 5 JSD are admitted each year in top 14 law schools.

That said, Mary12 is hesitating between a Ph.D in law from a US law school, a JSD from the same law school, or a Ph.D in law from a UK law school. Her situation is different.
I guess the decision depends on which UK university accepts her, and whatever the people she wants to work for believe. In other words, even if a JSD were 10 times more prestigious and difficult, and everyone in the US agreed so, if the people she wants to work for will only hire her with a Ph.D, that's the only opinion that matters.
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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:29 AM
We seem to be going around in circles here - partially agreeing and disagreeing with each other's views :).

But I would like to reiterate, a SJD is not higher than a PhD, but is equivalent and in some respects arguably lower than a PHD. I base this opinion on:

A. the fact some (indeed not all) US institutions may not offer a SJD with the same structural vigour as their PhD programmes i.e. a standard five year research programme with teacher training and formal learning. A friend of mine pursued an SJD at Indy Law (not Bloomington which Mary is interested in) and simply had to be in residence for two semesters and submit within three years.

B. The SJD is less recognisable than the PhD...now, of course, this doesn't mean the SJD is inferior in terms of quality and intellectual vigour, but it does mean in terms it is less valuable if a lawyer returns to a country where the SJD is unheard of. Coincidentally, I know of one American lawyer pursing a PhD in the UK who had never heard of the SJD.

The reason so few graduate for the SJD is not due to its 'higher' nature but rather simply the lack of demand for it.

While I respect your opinions Hedek, you're providing the OP with some misinformation here. I.e. you assume a US PhD involves two years of reseach (it doesn't), and earlier in your posts (which you edited) you assumed a PhD was affiliated to research in philosophy and thus should only be pursued if one is interested in legal history/philosophy
(there is relation between a PhD and philiosophy).

[Edited by Kerfuffle on 02 Jun 2009]

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Hedek

Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 152
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:45 PM
you assume a US PhD involves two years of reseach (it doesn't)

That is correct. This is the official minimum amount of semesters that most universities require you to attend (and I provided a link to the GSAS Ph.D admission page as an example). It typically lasts more but it is not an obligation.

Professor Bebchuk (probably one of the greatest legal minds of his generation) obtained his Harvard LLM in 1980, his SJD in 1984, his MA in economics in 1992 and his Ph.D in Economics only one year later in 1993. As far as I know it was not a honorary degree therefore he had to actual work and submit a thesis to obtain it.
www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/index.html?id=6

and earlier in your posts (which you edited) you assumed a PhD was affiliated to research in philosophy and thus should only be pursued if one is interested in legal history/philosophy.

I interpreted "Ph.D" in the common american sense: a non-law graduate level research degree, typically taken by lawyers in the field of philosophy or economics as these are arguably the 2 most useful fields for a prospective law professor.
When I realized Mary12 was talking about a US Ph.D in law, I edited my message to avoid any confusion between the use of the abbreviation "Ph.D" which is commonly used for law in Europe. A "US Ph.D in law" is something unusual which I had indeed never heard of before.
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Kerfuffle
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 219
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Tue Jun 02, 2009 01:45 PM
Hedek, PhDs in the US take much longer than 2 years - just ask any PhD student (the average age of completion is 37, the mean completion time is 5 years).

Most residence requirements are beyond two years (at least extending to three years), your link seems to be exception, particularly as the standard Harvard PhD in Economics stipulates 3 years of residency and completion in five.
www.economics.harvard.edu/graduate/phd

Just because a Professor completed a PhD after attaining an MA the year before means nothing - he could have been registered for his PhD many years prior, as is often the case.

Anyway, I better stop debating this issue and continue working on my own doctorate.
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Judge Dredd
Joined: 25 May 2009
Posts: 11
Help!! PhD or SJD!!!
Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:38 AM
I'm currently doing my SJD in Australia. Here the SJD and PhD are described as equivalents.

The difference is in the type of assessment. The SJD is a combination of coursework and thesis. masters level course work and thesis of about 60-70000 words.

PhD's can be three or four years in length (full-time).

The advantage of the Australian system is that the stringency of education is relatively homogenous and the standard is high because with few exceptions the universities are government owned.

The value of completingf an SJD is that it provides expertise in a particular area of law.

I have designed my own thesis so that it will be commercial. The anticpated resultant expertise will cover the field of management and law. The thesis is an action study. All these attributes should provide a set of marketable skills.

[Edited by Judge Dredd on 09 Jan 2011]

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