Divisional Shifts

Transfer Between Divisions

No student may transfer from the full-time to the part-time division or vice versa without the permission of the Office of the Registrar.

Students interested in a divisional shift must first meet with a member of the academic advising team to discuss the consequential change in residency requirements, the student's plans for adjusting their professional workload (if applicable) and other related issues, then submit a Request for Administrative Action - Divisional Shift form.

First Year Part Time Student Divisional Shift Procedures

1. Petition to shift divisions

  • How to petition: Submit to a Request for Administrative Action - Divisional Shift form to registrationservices@wcl.american.edu. Check the box labeled "Divisional Shift." State in the request section that you want to shift to the full-time division as of the fall semester of your second year and indicate whether or not you worked or volunteered during your first year and if so, for how many hours a week.

  • Decision process: Decisions are made after all first year grades are received by the Registrar, generally in early to mid-June. There is no set minimum cumulative GPA requirement. However, how much time a student spent working or volunteering or engaging in any sustained activity other than studying is an important factor bearing on the final decision. For example, a student who spent the great majority of their time studying and whose cumulative first year GPA is very close to the minimum satisfactory 2.0 level without any, or with very little, improvement in the second semester of the first year would most likely not be allowed to shift to the full-time division.

2. Pre-registration for fall semester of second year and registration for second year required courses

  • Second year fall semester preregistration:  If the petition to shift is received before the end of the fall semester preregistration period, a student may pre-register for a full-time course load. However, if the eventual decision on the petition is a denial, the student will have to reduce their course load 11 or fewer credit hours.

  • Second year required course registration: Required courses (Criminal Procedure I, Civil Procedure I & II, Property I & II, and Legal Ethics, must be taken in the evening in the second year to keep the day sections of these courses at enrollment levels that do not lower the quality of the learning environment for first year full-time students. Criminal Procedure I and Legal Ethics are usually offered in the summer sessions arid may be taken in the summer between the first and second years; see discussion paragraph C, infra.

3. Residency requirements and summer session study

  • Full-time residence requirements: A full-time student must accumulate the 86 credit hours required for the J.D. degree in 6 semesters, or their equivalent, of at least 12 earned credit hours each. "Students must earn a minimum of 2 credits and 3 credits in each of the two summer sessions (although most students take more to avoid a heaver load of credits during the remaining semesters)". The remaining 4 full-time semesters plus these 2 full time equivalent semesters satisfy the full-time requirement of 6 full-time semesters and allow a student who started in the part-time division to graduate in 3 years from the date they started law school.

  • Summer sessions, legal work experience, and financial aid: Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits to be eligible for federal student loans. In addition to the enrollment minimum, all institutional and federal financial aid requirements must be satisfied. For more information on the summer financial aid process, please contact the WCL Financial Aid Office.

    In addition, the first summer session can be used to take two of the 6 required second year courses, Criminal Procedure I and Legal Ethics and leave more space for upper level electives in the second year. Many students will combine an externship for credit and a course in the first summer session to gain legal work experience that will help them obtain part-time jobs and externships during their second and third years and full-time jobs in the summer between their second and third years. Taking at least 6 hours in the first summer session also allows the second summer to be used to take only 1 course while devoting as much time as possible to a full-time summer legal job.

4. Eligibility for WCL Financial Aid (need-based grants)

Full-time JD students are eligible to apply for WCL's need-based grant program. First-year part-time JD students who have applied to shift to full-time may apply for the need-based grant along with their full-time counterparts as long as they have submitted the petition to shift division to the WCL Registrar’s Office. Need-based grant application details and deadline information are found on the WCL Financial Aid website, or by speaking with your financial aid counselor. If the petition to shift divisions is not approved, any grant that was awarded must be rescinded as part-time students are not eligible. Please note: the WCL need-based grant requires enrollment of 12 credits in a given semester for receipt, if eligible.