The Georgetown University students, some of whom have already graduated but are continuing with the Pearl Project, say they hope their lawsuit will unearth documents or new sources in time for them to finish their final paper next spring.
Their assignment, begun in 2007, was to investigate Pearl's death and write the story he was reporting when he was kidnapped.
"It's not only a really personal story ... but a story really pertinent to current events and, well, to humanity," Rebecca Tapscott, a 2008 graduate, told The Washington Post.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 2001, attacks, confessed at a closed military hearing to beheading Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan, while investigating alleged links between al-Qaida and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.
But "there hasn't been any publicly disclosed corroborating evidence," Georgetown Associate Dean Barbara Feinman Todd told the Post.
Among the Pearl Project's goals is to determine if there is any evidence linking Mohammed to the murder, Todd said.