Academic Policies Guide

Degree Requirements

Credit Requirements

The JD Program requires the completion of 83 credits. Please review the Program Requirements for more details.

The Law School maintains no part-time program in the JD division. Candidates for the JD degree are required to register for a full-time program, 12 credits minimum, unless permission of the Vice Dean or the Executive Committee is secured. Such permission will be considered only for reasons of health, family-care responsibilities, or other unusual cases of personal hardship.

Additionally, students may take no more than fifteen credit hours per semester, except by advance permission (through a Credit Load Permission Form) of the Office of Academic Services, FH 400, the Vice Dean, or the Executive Committee, a joint committee of law professors, law students, and administrators.

All students need permission to register for fewer than 12 credits, or for more than 15 credits. You must obtain approval from the Office of Academic Services for any exception before you select courses; use the Credit Load Increase/Decrease Request Forms found on this page to request approval.

Class Attendance and Residence Requirements

Rules of the American Bar Association, the New York State Court of Appeals, other state high courts, and the Law School itself all require regular classroom attendance. Students are advised that excessive absenteeism can result without warning in: 1) grade lowering or 2) denial of permission to complete course work and/or sit for the exam, or receipt of a grade of WD (withdrawn) or FAB (failed for absence). Missing more than one-fifth of classes is presumptively excessive. Any student who finds herself at risk of missing more than one-fifth of classes for any course should immediately speak with the instructor and/or the Dean of Students.

Faculty members may establish a higher standard of regular attendance than that described above, and may also take this higher standard of attendance, class participation, and the quality of class performance into account in determining the student’s grade as long as the faculty member has, during the first week of classes, announced an intention to do so or has included that intention in the syllabus or other class materials distributed in the first week of class.

The student’s obligation to be in regular attendance derives both from faculty rule and the rule of state bar examiners. As a prerequisite to a student’s admission to the bar, the Dean must certify to state boards of law examiners that the student has been in regular attendance. The Law School must be the student’s principal commitment during each semester. Extensive employment is disfavored because of its tendency to interfere with the student’s academic life at the Law School. In accordance with Law School rules, in no event may a student devote more than 20 hours in any week to such employment during the semester.

Students must complete six full-time semesters within five years of their initial registration at and through the Law School unless extended or modified by the Vice Dean or vote of the Executive Committee consistent with ABA and Court rules. This requirement is a prerequisite to receipt of the Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Certification of attendance and graduation is a prerequisite for admission to the bar examination.

LLM students must complete their degree requirements within five years of their initial registration at and through the Law School unless extended or modified through the Vice Dean or vote of the Executive Committee. This requirement is a prerequisite to receipt of the Master of Laws (LLM) degree. If the LLM is needed for bar eligibility, certification of attendance and graduation is a prerequisite for admission to the bar examination. Further, note that if the LLM is needed for New York bar eligibility, the rules of the New York Court of Appeals require the degree to be completed within two years

Students will not be registered for courses with overlapping times. This is against the attendance policies of the ABA and the Court of Appeals.

Time Allowed For Completing Degree Requirements

A candidate is allowed no more than five years to complete all degree requirements. International students should keep in mind their Visa requirements when considering the time allowed for completing degree requirements. 

Requirement of Continuous Registration/Leave of Absence

Every candidate for the JD degree must be in continuous full-time attendance by successfully completing at least 12 credits each semester (excluding the summer session), unless a leave of absence is granted before the start of the semester by the Dean of Students. Leaves of absence are granted only for adequate reason and only to students who are in good academic standing. A maintenance of matriculation and services fee is charged for each semester a student is on leave of absence. A leave of absence does not extend the five-year period allotted for obtaining the JD degree.