Academic Policies Guide

Directed Research

How to Register for Directed Research

  • Students must contact individual instructors and agree on a research project.
  • Students may ask any full-time or visiting faculty member to supervise Directed Research.  A student who would like to have an adjunct faculty member supervise their Directed Research must submit a proposal to their program office to request permission from Vice Dean Randy Hertz.
  • A written proposal must be submitted to and approved by the instructor, then submitted to the student’s program office (i.e., the Office of Academic Services, the Office of Graduate Affairs, or the Office of Graduate Tax Programs) by using the "Add" form in Law Registrar's Service Desk to register.  (An email from the professor may substitute for a signature on the proposal and should be attached to your request in the service desk).

    You will be asked to provide:
    • Student Name
    • Semester you are adding or dropping course(s) Fall 2021 or earlier semesters
    • Course Credits
    • Total credits for the semester after you add/drop course(s)
    • Course Faculty
                NOTE: Please select TBA faculty if the desired faculty name is not part of the drop-down menu
    •  Course Title/ Course Number:|
      (i.e. Directed Research Option A/ LAW-LW. 10737) or                                      
      (i.e. Directed Research Option B/ LAW-LW.12638)
  • The written proposal must be at least 1,000 words and should describe the subject matter of the Directed Research and the issues the student intends to explore in the paper.  All students must state in the proposal how many credits the Directed Research should be for and JD students must state if the paper is for the Option A or Option B writing requirement. JD students, please review the Substantial Writing Requirements webpage for more information on Option A and Option B.
  • Students considering a 3-credit Directed Research should contact their program office by submitting an "Add" form via the Law Registrar's Service Desk with their faculty-approved proposal attached. A three-credit Directed Research project is highly unusual and requires the approval of Vice Dean Randy Hertz. To justify a third credit, a DR project must involve major dimensions of research and writing that make the project a scholarly endeavor that substantially exceeds a traditional Directed Research.
  • Late requests to add a Directed Research will only be considered if your credit load (not including the Directed Research credits) does not drop below the minimum 12 credits at any point in the semester after the add/drop period.
  • Students who are granted permission to late add Directed Research will not be permitted to drop classes if the result is inconsistent with the above.
  1 credit 2 credits
Option A N/A An original, analytical paper of substantial length, ordinarily at least 10,000 words, exclusive of footnotes.
Option B

An Option B writing can take a variety of forms, including for example, a brief, motion, contract or transactional document, policy analysis, or a series of short papers.

Accordingly, it is difficult to set an across-the-board measure for the writing like a specific number of pages or a word count. As a general matter, and subject to whatever specialized requirements are set by the teacher of the course or Directed Research, B writing credit should normally involve a total of 5,000 words of writing (which might be spread across several different short documents).

To justify 2 credits for an Option B Directed Research, a student must do more work than the customary 5,000 words of writing involved in a 1-credit Option B Directed Research. The form of the additional work should be determined by the student and the professor who is supervising the Directed Research.

It might take the form of additional writing (e.g., doubling the word count to 10,000–either in a single paper or across several different documents–would justify the second credit) or additional meetings with the professor to discuss the writing (i.e., a set of regular meetings that is beyond the amount of faculty-student interaction inherent in any Directed Research), or some other type of work (e.g., a labor-intensive form of research, such as interviews of relevant individuals or the use of survey instruments to gather data).

The prospectus for a 2-credit Option B Directed Research should specify the additional work that the student and professor have agreed upon.

Other Considerations 

  • Failure to make academic progress on a Directed Research may result in a student’s withdrawal with a grade of “WD.” See Grading System and Academic Standards.
  • See JD Program Requirements for non-classroom credit caps on Directed Research.
  • While Directed Research does not count toward classroom credit, it does count toward the 52 required full-time faculty credits for the JD degree if it is supervised by a full-time faculty member.
  • After March 15 of the student’s final semester, no faculty member may accept a request from a student to perform directed research or other work for law school credit unless the student has first received the approval of Vice Dean Randy Hertz. Students must send their petitions to their program office, not to Dean Hertz.

The Vice Dean may allow such work if the student needs the credit for May graduation and July bar certification subject to the following:

  • ​No more than two (2) credits can be earned in this matter
  • In making his or her decision, the Vice Dean shall consider (a) the date of the student's request; (b) the nature of the proposal; and (c) whether the missing credits or the timing of the student's request are the result of circumstances that were within the student's ability to avoid. Failure of the student to properly calculate his or her credit at an earlier time, failure in a course, and removal from a course for excessive absences are examples of circumstances within the student's control to avoid. 
  • If the missing credits result from circumstances outside the student's control, the Vice Dean will permit the credit if at all academically reasonable. 
  • If the Vice Dean approves the student's application, it will be the student's responsibility to find a faculty member willing to supervise the student's proposed work and award the credit in a timely matter.