Graduation Requirements

Hours Required

Under Faculty Rule 5.04, a student must successfully complete 88 semester hours of credit. A student must take on average between fourteen and fifteen hours a semester in the four semesters of the second and third years.

Required Courses

The following is a list of required courses to graduate:

1st Year, Fall Semester (14 hours):

  • Civil Procedure, 4 credits
  • Criminal Law, 4 credits
  • Torts, 4 credits
  • Legal Analysis and Writing I, 2 credits

1st Year, Spring Semester (17 hours):

  • Constitutional Law, 4 credits
  • Contracts, 4 credits
  • Legal Analysis and Writing II, 2 credits
  • Legislation, 3 credits
  • Property, 4 credits

2nd and 3rd Years:

  • Appellate Advocacy or Transactional Lawyering, 2 credits
  • Seminar Course, 2 credits
  • Second Writing/Skills Course, 2-4 credits
  • Legal Profession Course, 2-3

Regularly Scheduled Law Classes – Credit Hours Required

In addition to the 88 law credits required to earn the J.D., students must complete at least 70 credits in regularly scheduled law classes (or at least 67 credits must be in regularly scheduled law school classes for dual-degree students).

Regularly scheduled law school classes include:

  • Moritz College of Law courses and seminars;
  • Moritz College of Law clinics;
  • In-class credits completed at another law school, including transfer credits and credits completed by students visiting away at another school;
  • Credits from approved study in a foreign exchange program.

Regularly scheduled law school classes do not include:

  • Independent study work;
  • Journal or moot court;
  • Non-law classes (even those taken by dual-degree students); and
  • Externships.

Residence Requirements

Under Faculty Rules 5.01 to 5.03, a student must have six semesters of full-time residence, or the equivalent, in order to graduate. Full-time residence is defined as ten or more semester hours of work toward a J.D. degree in a regular academic year semester.

Rule 5.02 provides, in part, that “if a student takes fewer than ten semester hours of work in courses scheduled in the College of Law during any semester or summer session, each hour will count as one-tenth of a full semester for purposes of determining whether the full semester requirements for graduation are met. However, no more than three sessions (semester or summer session) may be aggregated during a student’s law school career for purposes of meeting the full semester requirements for graduation, and students seeking to aggregate semesters or sessions of fewer than 10 hours to more than one full semester must secure the approval of the Academic Affairs Committee.”

Students who wish to accelerate and graduate in December of their third year must take summer courses both summers, together totaling at least ten semester hours, to fulfill the six-semester requirement, because a single summer alone, regardless of the number of hours taken, cannot constitute a full-time semester.

In addition, if a student seeks to combine two summer sessions into a full-time semester, the student must be sure that the summer sessions together contain at least 65 days of classes. A number of summer programs, particularly programs involving study abroad, do not contain a sufficient number of class days to allow students to accelerate graduation.

This is also true of the one-hour mini-courses offered during the summer; students receive residency credit only for class days on which those classes actually meet.

Additional graduation requirements may be found in Faculty Rule 5.14, which provides that “…the requirements for completion of the J.D. degree shall be completed within a maximum total of seven semesters of enrollment, whether that enrollment is part-time or full-time, and shall be completed within a maximum total of five calendar years from the date of first matriculation in the College of Law.” This limitation on the maximum numbers of semesters does not apply to students enrolled in a dual-degree program.

Seminar and Second Writing Requirements

Faculty Rule 5.07 requires all students to take a seminar. Seminars have relatively small enrollments and significant writing components. With the exception of the Mediation Practicum-Seminar, which satisfies the seminar requirement, and the Interprofessional Ethics course, which satisfies the seminar requirement, all seminars bear the 796 course numbers.

The seminar requirement may be satisfied during either the second or the third year. Faculty Rule 5.07 also requires all students to take a second writing course that is, a writing course in addition to a seminar. A student may satisfy this requirement by taking a second seminar. In other words, taking two seminars will satisfy both the seminar and the second writing requirements.

The second writing requirement may also be satisfied by earning four or more hours of writing credit on a law journal or by earning credit for membership on a moot court team that participates in a regional or national competition, if the student participated in writing a brief for the competition and the moot court advisor certifies that the second writing requirement has been met.

It may also be satisfied by completing two or more hours of Independent Study that results in the completion of an original paper of significant length, if the independent study project is certified by a faculty member and by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs as meeting the second writing requirement.

In addition, a number of courses are designated as satisfying the second writing requirement. The second writing requirement may be satisfied during either the second or third year.

Legal Profession Requirement

Faculty Rule 5.08 (and most bar admitting authorities) require every student to complete a Legal Profession course. The Legal Profession requirement may be satisfied during either the second or third year with any number of courses covering professional responsibility and/or legal ethics.

Legal Analysis and Writing I, Legal Analysis and Writing II, and Appellate Advocacy/Transactional Lawyering

Students must take Legal Analysis and Writing I during the fall semester of the first year, Legal Analysis and Writing II during the spring semester of the first year, and Appellate Advocacy or Transactional Lawyering during the fall semester of the second year.

Other Graduation Requirements

The Faculty Rules contain certain other graduation requirements relating to class attendance, necessary grade-point average, limitations on the number of failing grades, and the like.

There are also particular requirements that apply to students enrolled in dual-degree programs and to students who take courses outside the Moritz College of Law for J.D. credit. If you fall into either of these categories, see Faculty Rules 3.06 and 9.47.

Some state bar authorities require completion of particular law school courses. You can check these requirements in the reference guide in the Placement Office. Some bars require students to register during their first year or pay a late fee.