Academic Requirements & Policies
Juris Doctor Degree Requirements
The degree 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 the professional skills 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. For an explanation of Washington College of Law residency requirements, which must be satisfied, see p. 46.
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 may be applied toward the 86 credits required for the JD degree. Such credits include but are not limited to those in field components, law journals and reviews, externship fieldwork, non-law classes, independent studies, moot court, and mock trial.
LLM Degree Requirements
International Legal Studies. The LLM degree requires the completion of 24 credit hours with a grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better, successful completion of two research papers that demonstrate a high degree of skill in legal scholarship and writing, and recommendation for the degree by the faculty. In addition to concentrating in one area of specialization, LLM students may complete their degree requirements in one of three ways: (1) entirely by traditional class-room study; (2) classroom study combined with a maximum of 6 semester hours of approved internship credits; or (3) classroom study combined with a maximum of 6 credit hours for the writing of a thesis of publishable quality.
Law and Government. The LLM degree requires the completion of 24 credit hours with a grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better and recommendation for the degree by the faculty. Students may complete degree requirements entirely by traditional classroom study or by classroom study combined with no more than 6 semester hours of externship or independent study credits. Students must complete a special course, The Washington Lawyer, designed specifically for law and government students.
Law and International Affairs: JD/MA. To complete the dual degree, a student is required to earn 86 credit hours of which 80 credits must be earned in law courses. Fifteen of these credits must be appropriate to the student's area of concentration in the MA program. The law school's Legal Rhetoric course must be completed satisfactorily to fulfill 3 of the SIS 6 credit research methodologies requirements. Following the first year of law school, the student will be required to take 21 credit hours of courses offered by the School of International Service, including the seminar Law in International Affairs. A student also must satisfy a language proficiency requirement and write either a thesis or two nonthesis papers. Upon completing the course work requirements, the student must pass two written comprehensive examinations-one in the field of international law and organizations (in their global political setting) and the other in one of the following fields: international relations, international communication, international development, U.S. and comparative foreign policy, or regional systems of either Latin America, Western Europe, former Soviet Union (CIS) and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, or East and Southeast Asia. The program takes three-and-one-half to four years to complete.
Law and Business: JD/MBA. Students must take 80 JD credit hours in the law school and the number of credit hours required by their MBA concentrations in the business school. Of the credits earned in business school courses, 6 will be applied to the JD degree upon approval by the law school.
Law and Business: LLM/MBA. Students must satisfy all requirements for the master of laws at the Washington College of Law and all requirements for the master of business administration at the business school. Students must complete successfully 16 semester hours of law courses and 37.5 semester hours of business courses. Of the business credits, 8 semester credits approved by the law school will be applied to the LLM?degree for a total of 24 credits for the LLM degree.v
Law and Justice: JD/MS. Students must satisfy all requirements for the juris doctor in the Washington College of Law and all requirements for the master of science in justice in the Department of Justice, Law and Society to earn dual degrees. Students may apply 6 semester hours of School of Justice courses toward the JD degree requirements and 6 semester hours of law courses toward the MS in justice degree requirements, with the approval of the program director.
Law and Public Administration: JD/MPA. Students must satisfy all requirements for the juris doctor at the Washington College of Law and all requirements for the master of public administration at the School of Public Affairs. To complete the degree, a student is required to earn 86 credit hours, of which 80 credits must be earned in law school courses. Of the credits earned at the School of Public Affairs, 6 will be applied to the JD degree upon approval of the law school. Following the first year of law school, the student will be required to complete 42 credit hours of courses at the School of Public Affairs. Up to 21 credit hours in law school courses may be credited toward the MPA requirements upon approval by the School of Public Affairs. Students may also apply to the School of Public Affairs for a credit-hour reduction of up to 6 credit hours as described in the degree requirements for the MPA. The law school's Legal Rhetoric I and II, LAW-516 and LAW-517, may fulfill one of the two research course requirements for the MPA. Students must satisfactorily complete LAW-601, Administrative Law, and LAW-550, Legal Ethics, to fulfill the MPA course requirements.
Law and Public Policy: JD/MPP. Students must satisfy all require-ments for the juris doctor at the Washington College of Law and all re-quirements for the master of public policy at the School of Public Affairs. To complete the degree, a student is required to earn 86 credit hours, of which 80 credits must be earned in law school courses. Of the credits earned at the School of Public Affairs, 6 will be applied to the JD degree upon approval of the law school. Following the first year of law school, the student will be required to complete 39 credit hours of courses at the School of Public Affairs. Up to 15 credit hours in law school courses may be credited toward the MPP requirements upon approval by the School of Public Affairs. To receive the full 15 credit hours, students must test out of PUAD-601 Methods of Problem Solving I. The law school's Legal Rhetoric I and II, LAW-516 and LAW-517, may fulfill one of the two research course requirements for the MPP. Students must satisfactorily complete LAW-601 Administrative Law and LAW-550 Legal Ethics to fulfill the MPP course requirements.
Master of Laws and Public Administration: LLM/MPA. Students must satisfy all requirements for the master of laws at the Washington College of Law and all requirements for the master of public administration at the School of Public Affairs. Students must complete successfully 16 se-mester hours of law courses and 42 semester hours of MPA courses. Of the MPA courses, 8 semester credits approved by the law school will be applied to the LLM degree for a total of 24 credits for the LLM degree. Up to 18 credit hours in law school courses may be credited toward the MPA requirements upon approval by the School of Public Affairs. Students may also apply to the School of Public Affairs for a credit-hour reduction of up to 6 credit hours as described in the degree requirements for the MPA. The law school's Washington Lawyer seminar, LAW-892, or Introduction to American Legal Institutions, LAW-580, may fulfill one of the two research course requirements for the MPA. One of the law school's administrative law courses approved by the LLM Program must be com-pleted satisfactorily to fulfill the MPA's core requirements. Students may begin their studies at the School of Public Affairs after completing one semester of full-time study or the equivalent (i.e., a total of 8 credit hours) at the law school. Students may not count internship or externship credits towards the LLM degree.
Master of Laws and Public Policy: LLM/MPP. Students must satisfy all requirements for the master of laws at the Washington College of Law and all requirements for the master of public policy at the School of Pub-lic Affairs. Students must complete successfully 16 semester hours of law courses and 39 semester hours of MPP courses. Of the MPP courses, 8 semester credits approved by the law school will be applied to the LLM degree for a total of 24 credits for the LLM degree. Up to 15 credit hours in law school courses may be credited toward the MPP requirements upon approval by the School of Public Affairs. To receive the full 15 credit hours, students must test out of PUAD-601 Methods of Problem Solving I. The law school's Washington Lawyer seminar, LAW-892, or Introduction to American Legal Institutions, LAW-580, may fulfill one of the two research course requirements for the MPP. One of the law school's administrative law courses approved by the LLM Program must be completed satisfactorily to fulfill the MPP's core requirements. Students may begin their studies at the School of Public Affairs after com-pleting one semester of full-time study or the equivalent (i.e., a total of 8 credit hours) at the law school. Students may not count internship or externship credits towards the LLM degree.
Latin honors will be awarded to the top 40 percent of graduating classes. Summa cum laude will be awarded to no more than the top 3 percent of the members of a graduating class. Magna cum laude will be awarded to no more than 7 percent of the graduating class. Cum laude will be awarded to the remaining 30 percent. Transfer students with only one year in residence will be entitled to have "honors" printed on the diploma for the work done at this law school if the record for that year is equivalent to magna cum laude.
The Order of the Coif, American University Chapter
The Order of the Coif was established to recognize graduating students for high attainments in the study of law. Students whose cumulative grade point average at graduation places them in the highest 10 percent of the class and who complete no less than 75 percent of their semester credits at WCL may be elected to membership in the American University chapter of the order.
Degree candidates must maintain continuous registration until all re-quirements are satisfied. Registration for all students is not complete until fees have been paid or proper arrangements for payment are made with the Office of Student Accounts. A student who was previously registered but did not attend during the most recent semester and was not granted a leave of absence may seek readmission only by filing an application for readmission with the WCL admissions office for action by the admissions committee. A student seeking readmission must satisfy existing admissions standards and, if readmitted, must satisfy the curriculum requirements existing at the time of readmission.
Normal Course Load
Full-time students may not register for more than 16 nor fewer than 12 semester hours in any semester without the written permission of the registrar. Part-time students are expected to register for 8 or 9 semester hours each semester and may not register for more than 11 semester hours. No student may register for more than 7 semester hours in a summer session without the written permission of the registrar. Appropriate petition forms are available in the registrar's office.
No student may transfer from the full-time to the part-time division or vice versa without the written permission of the dean. Students transferring between divisions should be certain that their course loads satisfy American Bar Association and Washington College of Law residency requirements, below, and are urged to consult the registrar to determine the effect a shift will have on their future credit hour loads and number of semesters required by these requirements.
Washington College of Law Residency Requirements
Washington College of Law residency requirements provide that full-time JD students must complete degree requirements in a minimum of 6 semesters or the equivalent of 12 or more successfully completed hours per semester; part-time JD students must do so in a minimum of 8 semesters or the equivalent of 8 or more (not exceeding 11) successfully completed semester hours. To comply with residency requirements, students must have 5 regular semesters (7 for part-time students) and 2 summer sessions of at least 35 class days each in which a total of 12 (for full-time students) or 8 (for part-time students) semester credits are earned. It is possible to combine a semester of fewer than the required number of credits with a summer session in which the necessary additional credits are earned to form an equivalent semester. Residency requirements cannot be waived. Resident semesters must be taken at WCL unless waived by the registrar on the basis of extraordinary, compelling personal circumstances.
As a general rule, most students who do not change divisions or who do not attempt to accelerate their graduation are able to satisfy residency requirements. Students considering a transfer among divisions of the university or acceleration of graduation date should consult with the registrar and obtain a comprehensive information sheet from that office.
Students are expected to attend classes regularly, a minimum of 75 percent of the time, to receive credit. If a student accumulates an excessive number of absences without good cause, such as illness, he or she may be denied credit for that semester or be barred from taking a final examination in the particular course or courses. Excessive absence means failure to attend a substantial number of classes, indicating a lack of seriousness of purpose on the part of the student. Faculty members may set more stringent standards as a matter of discretion, in which case the more stringent standard will apply.
Full-time students may not engage in employment in excess of 20 hours per week. Students who are employed in excess of 20 hours per week must register for the part-time program. Full-time students are prohibited from working during their first year of law school and should arrange access to funds sufficient to allow them to complete the first year without working.
Change of Courses
A student may drop or add a course or a seminar within one week after the beginning of the semester. An additional week is permitted for adding independent study projects and externships. Add/drop forms are available at the registrar's office. Students are not permitted to change from one section to another in any required course. Dropping a course after the designated add/drop period will be permitted only in cases of compelling personal circumstance and may result in a prorata return of tuition, in accordance with university refund policies, and a W on the student's transcript for the course(s) dropped. Permission of the course instructor and the registrar is required to add or drop a course after the designated add/drop period.
Change of Status
Students may change their course enrollment status from "credit" to "audit" only during the designated add/drop period and with the per-mission of the registrar. Exceptions will be made only in special cases of compelling personal circumstance.
A student may not register for any course or seminar without meeting the stated corequisite(s) or prerequisite(s), unless the student demonstrates reasons satisfactory to the dean and the instructor for exception.
Credit for Courses at Other Law Schools
No student registered at the law school will be given any credit toward the JD degree for courses taken prior to law school matriculation. Students will not receive credit for courses taken at another law school, unless it is an approved law school, specific written permission is ob-tained in advance from the registrar, and the student earns a passing grade in any such work. Only the credit hours earned and not the grade will be transferred and noted on the student's permanent transcript. A student is not permitted to take for credit at another school a required course or any course in which he or she received a grade of F at the Washington College of Law. Permission to study as a visiting student at another law school will be granted only on the basis of extraordinary, compelling personal circumstances and for no more than one academic year.
Credit for Courses in Other Schools of the University
Law students may take up to 6 credits of work toward their JD degree requirements in other schools of the university. Before undertaking such work the student must demonstrate the appropriateness of the particular course and obtain the written permission of the registrar. In determining whether a course is "appropriate," consideration is given to the relationship the course bears to the study of law and to the student's intended area of practice. Only the credit hours earned and not the grade are accepted for credit toward JD degree requirements. Generally, nonlaw courses taken under this policy must be -graduate-level courses. Law students enrolled in one of the college's dual degree programs may only transfer nonlaw courses for JD credit in accordance with the regu-lations of those programs. Credits for non-law classes are included in the 12 nonclassroom credits (18 for students enrolled in the law school's dual degree programs within American University) allowed toward the JD degree.
Written examinations are required at the end of most courses; however, research papers may be required in lieu of written examinations in seminars and certain elective courses. All students are required to take examinations as scheduled but are able to defer examinations if they have (1) a physical inability to take the examination; (2) a personal necessity, including emergency situations and religious observances; (3) three examinations scheduled on three consecutive days, in which case, one of the three may be deferred; (4) an examination scheduled at 9:00 a.m., after having taken an examination beginning at 6:00 p.m. the prior evening; or (5) two examinations scheduled on the same calendar day.
When an examination is deferred, it may be deferred only to one of the next two available examination periods during which deferred examinations are scheduled and in which the rescheduled examination would not again be subject to deferral under the grounds outlined above. For further information on the administration of the deferred examination policy, students should contact the registrar's office.
A student's performance in each course is expressed normally in terms of the following letter grades which have numerical equivalents for computation purposes: A or 4.0; A- or 3.7; B+ or 3.3; B or 3.0; B- or 2.7; C+ or 2.3; C or 2.0; D or 1.0; and F or 0. A minimum course grade of D or 1.0 is required before credit may be received for a particular course. Students who do not receive passing grades in required courses must repeat them and earn passing grades. Students may not repeat courses for which they earned passing grades.
Final grades are based primarily on written examinations in those courses in which they are required. In addition, an instructor may give appropriate weight to written assignments, classroom performance, and attendance records. Final written examinations are conducted according to an anonymous grading system. Students are assigned anonymous grading numbers by the registrar and only the anonymous grading number should appear on the final examination for identification. Students must obtain anonymous grading numbers for the academic year from the registrar's office.
To maintain the integrity of the anonymous grading system, students should check with the registrar to determine in what way a particular course instructor wishes to receive a request for grade change before contacting the course instructor directly. If a course instructor changes a grade, a detailed statement of the reasons must be provided to the registrar's office.
Any course for which an "Incomplete" (I) or "In Progress" (IP) has been entered must be made up by the end of the next semester or the grade automatically is converted to an F, unless the dean grants an extension. Students on academic probation may not receive "Incomplete" or "In Progress" grades, nor may "I" or "IP" grades be issued if an exam was not taken or is incomplete.
Probation and Exclusion for Academic Deficiency
Students must maintain a cumulative average of 2.0 or greater at the end of the first year of law study or be dismissed unconditionally from the Washington College of Law. The only exception to this policy is the following: a student who maintains a 2.0 or greater average in any semester of the first year but ends the year with a cumulative average of less than 2.0 but greater than 1.9 will be placed on academic probation for one semester. While on probation, the student must raise his or her cumulative average to 2.0 or greater by the end of that semester or be dismissed unconditionally.
Students who are dismissed for academic deficiency at the end of the first year of law study and are reinstated by the admissions committee (see "Reinstatement," below) must bring their cumulative average to 2.0 or greater in the two semesters immediately following their readmission and maintain a cumulative average of 2.0 or greater, or they will be dismissed unconditionally.
Students who obtain a 2.0 or greater cumulative average at the end of the first year but fail to maintain that average in any subsequent semester shall be placed on a one-semester probation ("probationary semester"). Failure to bring this cumulative average to a 2.0 or greater at the end of the probationary semester shall result in unconditional dismissal.
In some cases grades for work done in the probationary semester(s) will not be available until after the next academic period has begun. Whenever this situation occurs and the grades, when received, would not have permitted a probationary student to have continued, the student will be dismissed retroactively to the first day of classes of that academic period and will receive a full refund of tuition paid.
Any student on probation shall be dismissed unconditionally if his or her cumulative average falls below 2.0 in any subsequent semester. For purposes of this regulation, "end of the first year of study" means comple-tion of the first two (fall and spring) semesters of course work. "Semester" is defined as the completion of at least 14 credit hours of courses for full-time students and 9 credit hours of courses for part-time students over 14 weeks of class and an examination period.
The cumulative grade point average (GPA) is based only upon law school courses taken for a grade (A-F) at the Washington College of Law. The quality point (credit hours x letter grade numerical value) total is divided by the total number of credits earned for graded WCL law courses. The cumulative GPA is derived by carrying the quotient three places to the right of the decimal point and truncating that number at the second (hundredths) place. Figures are not rounded up to the next highest hundredths position. The semester grade point average is computed in the same manner but includes only courses taken in that academic term.
Once dismissed for academic deficiency, a student may be reinstated only by petitioning the admissions committee for readmission. Readmission is granted only in extraordinary cases of demonstrated, substantial improvement in a student's potential for continuing the study of law successfully. As a matter of policy, the admissions committee generally requires that a student dismissed for academic deficiency remain out of school for a minimum of two semesters (a summer session does not constitute a semester for this purpose) before a petition for readmission is acted upon. In cases where a substantial period of time has elapsed between dismissal and readmission, the "five-year rule" may result in the loss of some or all of the credits earned prior to readmission (see "Leave of Absence" below).
Upon approval of the dean, a student who has completed at least one full semester and is in good standing may obtain a leave of absence from the law school for a stated period of time. Students on leave are not required to maintain continuous registration; however, a student who fails to observe the terms and conditions of the leave granted must file an application for readmission to the law school with the admissions committee. Moreover, the law school follows a five-year rule under which any credits earned more than five years prior to being readmitted will not be credited toward degree requirements, and the student will be required to replace these disallowed credits after readmission. All credits earned in required courses that are disallowed because of the application of this rule can only be replaced by repeating the same required courses in which the credits are disallowed. Students who maintain their connections with the law school by an approved leave of absence generally are not subject to this five-year rule.
A student who wishes to withdraw from the law school must notify the dean in writing. To withdraw in good standing, a student must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above, or otherwise be doing satisfactory work in all courses in which he or she is registered. Upon receiving the dean's approval of the withdrawal, the student may apply to the Office of Student Accounts for any refund to which he or she is entitled under the refund regulations of that office.