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Law and Psychology


There are nearly as many intersections between law and psychology as there are areas of policy regulation. Conflict resolution and negotiation; judgment and decision-making capacity; prejudice and stereotyping; criminal responsibility; competency; assessment of evidence, including the reliability of eyewitnesses, and lie detection; hedonics; developmental psychology and educational policy; addiction and drug policy—these are just a few of the frontiers open to scholars and practitioners educated in both law and psychology.

Stanford has a rich tradition of collaboration between its psychology department and law school, with faculty members co-authoring publications, and students working together and enrolling in interdisciplinary programs. Stanford's psychology department has long been considered the strongest in the nation, with an atypical breadth of scholarly strength that supports a wide range of student interests. Stanford is also one of the nation's leading centers for neuroscience research, bringing together biologists, psychologists, social scientists, and policymaker-lawyers to deepen our understanding of the brain.

Students pursuing a JD/PhD in law and psychology generally go on to academic careers in law schools, psychology departments, policy jobs, and think tanks. However, issues pursued through this joint degree program are also highly relevant to legal practice. Every day, litigators and negotiators make strategic decisions based on accounts of human decision-making. Those who regulate markets make decisions based on accounts of how people process distinct sorts of information. Those who work with medical ethicists make judgments that depend on assumptions about competency or the nature of pain.