JD Degree Requirements

The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is awarded upon recommendation by the faculty of the law school. Eligibility for the degree requires compliance with all rules and regulations, which are set out in the Student Handbook available to students through our online portal, BLSConnect. For general guidance, however, the J.D. degree requirements are summarized here.

To graduate with the J.D. degree, students must complete at least 85 credits. Please note that minimum and maximum credit loads per semester will apply to spread this credit load across a student’s course of study.

Prior to graduation, all students must complete:

  • the first-year program of instruction,
  • a course in professional responsibility,
  • the upperclass writing requirement, and
  • a skills training requirement.

A full description of the first-year program of instruction may be found under the First-Year Program tab.

Students may fulfill the professional responsibility requirement by completing either the 2-credit course entitled Professional Responsibility or the 3-credit course entitled Legal Profession. Both courses analyze the duties and responsibilities of the legal profession, including its history, goals and structure, and undertake a detailed analysis and discussion of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Students can use various writing experiences to satisfy the upperclass writing requirement (UCWR), including coursework in certain upperclass writing courses and seminars, or independent study. This requirement is intended to provide each student with: 1) a significant research experience; 2) an opportunity for in-depth study and analysis (involving sustained reflection) of a particular area of the law; 3) an opportunity to articulate his or her own ideas and evaluation of the law; and 4) a faculty-supervised writing experience involving at least one re-write of a substantial piece of the student’s writing. All four of these goals must be met for a project to satisfy the UCWR.

The skills training requirement varies by graduating class and date of law school entry. Students must complete at least one live-client experience, which can be fulfilled by either an in-house clinic or an externship placement. Students must complete at least 6 credits in designated skills courses, which can include credits from their live-client experience.

Please note that the upperclass writing requirement and skills training requirement may not be fulfilled using the same course.

Depending on the J.D. program to which a student is admitted, he or she may pursue a degree along a variety of timelines. These options range from our accelerated 2-year program to an extended 4.5 years of study. More details on these alternatives can be found on the Our Degree Options page.