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The Handbook of Academic Policies (HAP) 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 quick reference guide and should not be considered the absolute authoritative source for all degree requirements, nor does it supersede the official policy written in the Handbook of Academic Policy.

You can check your degree progress toward meeting these requirements in your Degree Audit in HELIOS! Simply navigate to Academic Record>Degree Audit.

Questions?  Contact the Office of the Registrar 

First Year Requirements

Requirements by term
FIRST YEAR COURSES FALL TERM WINTER TERM SPRING TERM
  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law*
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • Property
  • Torts
  • 4 of the required first-year courses (assigned by the Registrar’s Office)
  • First-year Legal Research and Writing
  • 1L Required Winter
  • 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

*Beginning with students matriculating into the J.D. program in the Fall 2019, requirements have changed to include a 1L Constitutional Law course and an Upper-Level International and Comparative Law course. For more details on the Upper-Level International and Comparative Law course requirement, see Other Requirements for the J.D. degree.

Upper-Level Credit Requirements

Credit Type minimum required Notes
Upper Level ≥52* Total required credits across the 2L and 3L years.
LAW classroom ≥36 Credits from HLS courses, seminars, and reading groups. Required as part of the 52 total upper-level credits.

*This may vary for transfer students

Residency Requirement

upper-level J.D. Residency Requirements minimum required* Maximum allowable
Each year 24 35
Each Fall and Spring* 10 16
Each Winter Term 2 3

Students must maintain the minimum credit requirements regardless of the total number of credits taken in any one term/year. For example, front-loading credits to take fewer than 24 credits in your 3L year is not permitted.

*No fewer than 8 credits in each fall and spring upper-level term must be HLS credits. Of those 8, 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

Note: The writing requirement cannot be met using writing completed during the 1L year, or writing completed in a course or clinic that satisfies the Professional Responsibility or Experiential Learning requirements.

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 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
  • For students entering HLS in Fall 2018 and forward: upon completion, 3 credits earned for the January Experiential Term and 2 credits earned for spring term LRW in 1L year
  • Find offerings that will fulfill EL in the course catalog
  • No double counting with Professional Responsibility or Writing requirements
  • Transferable EL credits will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and noted accordingly
Upper-Level International and Comparative Law Course Completion of one international and comparative law course

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.
  • A full list of qualifying courses will be published on the Office of the Registrar’s website by October 1, 2019.
Professional Responsibility (PR) A minimum of 2 classroom credits
  • Generally taken during your 3L year
  • Find offerings that will fulfill PR in the course catalog
  • 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.
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