The first graduating class of the Washington College of Law consisted of nine students, including its first male student in 1898.
Hardly contrasting from the first catalog in 1898, the WCL's catalog of 1923-1924's course of study only required students to complete three years of study to receive their Bachelor of Law degree.
Today, in 2003, requirements are much stricter. A degee of juris doctor (JD) is conferred upon students who satisfactorily complete no fewer than 86 semester hours, including all required courses, with a quality point index of 2.0 (C) or better, who are in residence at this law school for at least three full academic years or the equivalent, who have fulfilled the upper-level writing requirement, and who are recommended for the degree by the faculty. Credit hour requirements are normally met in six semesters (three academic years) of full-time study or in eight semesters (four academic years plus at least one summer session) of part-time study.
Degree requirements make it mandatory that resident semesters be taken at the law school unless waived by the registrar on the basis of extraordinary, compelling personal circumstances. A semester is a period of instruction of at least 70 class days, excluding reading and examination periods, or the equivalent. A semester credit requires one hour of classroom contact per week for one semester.
A maximum of 12 nonclassroom credits (18 if enrolled in a clinic) may be applied toward the 86 credits required for the JD degree. Such credits include but are not limited to those in clinical programs, externship fieldwork, independent studies, and moot court.
- Washington College of Law Brochure: 1896-1996 Celebrating a Century of Excellence. University Publications, American University, 1996