The Handbook of Academic Policies is the official source of academic policy and requirements at HLS. Please refer to the HAP for additional information on degree requirements and academic policy. The following is provided as a reference guide.
Students can can check their degree progress toward meeting these requirements in their Degree Audit in HELIOS. Simply navigate to Academic Record > Degree Audit.
Questions? Contact the Office of the Registrar
First Year Requirements
|TOTAL FIRST YEAR CREDITS RANGE FROM 36-39||REQUIREMENTS BY TERM|
|REQUIRED FIRST YEAR COURSES||FALL TERM||WINTER TERM||SPRING TERM|
|– Civil Procedure |
– Constitutional Law*
– Criminal Law
– Legislation and Regulation
– January Experiential Term course
– Legal Research and Writing
– Upper-level Elective
|– 4 of the required first-year courses (assigned by the Registrar’s Office)|
– First-year Legal Research and Writing
|– January Experiential Term (JET) course (2 or 3 credits depending on offering)||– The 3 remaining required first-year courses (assigned by the Registrar’s Office)|
– First-year Legal Research and Writing
– First-year course in international or comparative law*
– An upper-level elective with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 credits
Upper-Level Credit Requirements
|CREDIT TYPE||MINIMUM REQUIRED||NOTES|
|Upper Level Credits||≥52*||Total required credits across the 2L and 3L years.|
|LAW school classroom credits||≥36||Credits from HLS courses, seminars, and reading groups. Required as part of the 52 total upper-level credits.|
Within the required 52 upper-level credits, in addition to classroom credit, students may also earn credit towards their degree in the following categories:
|CREDIT TYPE||MAXIMUM ALLOWED||NOTES|
|Clinical credits||Up to 16||Limit of 1 clinic per term|
|Writing credits||Up to 12||See below for information about the writing requirement|
|Cross-registration credits||Up to 12||HLS Registrar’s Office will determine how many credits a cross-reg class is worth|
|UPPER-LEVEL J.D. RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS||MINIMUM REQUIRED*||MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE|
|Each Fall and Spring*||10||16|
|Each Winter Term||2||3|
Students must maintain the annual and semester minimum credit requirements regardless of the total number of credits taken. For example, front-loading credits to take fewer than 24 credits in the 3L year is not permitted.
*No fewer than 8 credits in each fall and spring upper-level term must be HLS credits, of which no fewer than 4 must be classroom or clinical credits.
Upper-level Written Work Requirement*
|OPTION 1||OPTION 2|
|Writing for degree credit, supervised by HLS faculty.|
The requirement is fulfilled with 2 credits of Independent Writing OR 1 credit of writing In Conjunction with a course. Writing must be substantial and of publishable/professional quality; generally:
15-30 pages for 1 credit
30+ pages for 2 credits – allowances for length for empirical research or nontraditional writing. Consult with your faculty supervisor and the Registrar’s Office to determine credits.
|Generally, writing for which you are not receiving additional degree credit, encompassing:|
Writing done as part of an HLS course, seminar, or clinic (faculty supervised)
Moot court briefs (unsupervised)
Law journal writing (unsupervised)
2 pieces of writing required; 1 must be faculty supervised
*For JD students entering as 1Ls in Fall 2023, the written work requirement has been modified. Information regarding the requirement can be found here and additional details will be forthcoming during the 2023-24 academic year.
Other Requirements for the J.D. Degree
|REQUIREMENT||TO FULFILL||ADDITIONAL INFORMATION|
|Experiential Learning (EL)||No fewer than 6 credits. Note: Requirement does not apply to students who began law school prior to Fall 2016||For students entering HLS in Fall 2018 and forward: upon completion, 2-3 credits earned for the January Experiential Term and 2 credits earned for spring term LRW in 1L year.|
For students who entered HLS prior to Fall 2018: upon completion, 2 credits earned for PSW and 2 credits earned for spring term LRW in 1L year.
Find offerings that will fulfill Experiential Learning requirements in the course catalog using the search filter under “Requirements”.
No double counting with Professional Responsibility or Writing requirements.
Transferable EL credits will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and noted accordingly.
|International and Comparative Law Course||Completion of one international and comparative law course with a minimum of 3 classroom credits. Note: Requirement does not apply to students who began law school prior to Fall 2019||Beginning with students matriculating into the J.D. program in the Fall 2019, J.D. students must complete one course that satisfies the Upper-Level International and Comparative Law Course Requirement.|
All transfer students must also complete one course that satisfies this requirement.
Find offerings that will fulfill International and Comparative Law requirements in the course catalog using the search filter under “Requirements”.
|Negotiation/Leadership||Completion of one course or clinic of at least 2 credits that satisfies the Negotiation/Leadership Requirement. Note: Requirement does not apply to students who began law school prior to Fall 2023||Beginning with students matriculating into the J.D. program as 1Ls in Fall 2023, J.D. students must complete one course or clinic of at least 2 credits that satisfies the Negotiation/Leadership Requirement. |
Offerings satisfying this requirement are designated in the HLS Course Catalog, some of which may be taken in the 1L January Experiential Term or Spring Term.
|Pro Bono||50 hours. Note: Requirement for students admitted to HLS prior to Fall 2015 is 40 hours||Can receive a stipend for Pro Bono work if you receive SPIF; HLS pro bono hours may ≠ state bar pro bono hours; confirm minimum hours required with the state bar for which you are sitting.|
|Professional Responsibility||A minimum of 2 classroom credits||Generally taken during your 3L year; Find offerings that will fulfill Professional Responsibility in the course catalog using the search filter under “Requirements”.|
No double counting with Experiential Learning or Writing requirements.
Some clinical seminars may satisfy this requirement, check course description in the catalog. If using a clinical seminar for PR, it cannot be used for the WWR or EL requirements.