Academic Work Load
Juris Doctor candidates must maintain a schedule of at least 12 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time. Candidates without substantial outside employment (no more than 20 hours per week) may take a program of studies of 15 credit hours per semester. After the first year of study, full-time students may take courses in the evening only if they take a majority of their hours in day courses. The dean of students is authorized to approve programs of study of more than 15 credit hours in exceptional cases; however, no program will be approved that would permit the student to complete requirements for the degree in less than 28 months after beginning the first year of law study. Students with more than 20 total hours per week of outside employment must take a limited program of studies not exceeding 11 credit hours; the minimum load is 8 credit hours, except in special cases when fewer hours may be approved by the dean of students for a limited time. A minimum schedule of 12 credit hours is required for students to be considered full-time.
Juris Doctor students may take a maximum of 8 credit hours concurrently in each summer session. Of those credit hours, no more than a total of 6 may be earned at other law schools’ summer programs (see Summer School Credit from Other Law Schools). In exceptional cases the dean of students is authorized to approve summer programs of study of more than 8 concurrent credit hours.
A student taking more than 11 hours of course work must limit outside employment to not more than 20 total hours per week. All full-time students are urged to refrain from engaging in outside employment during their first year, and the Law School will not employ first-year students. Although work in some special areas may contribute to the learning and experience of the student, as a general rule it will compete with the time needed for adequate study and preparation, which are at the heart of a good legal education.
Letter grades are given with numerical equivalents as follows.
A+ = 4.33…
B+ = 3.33…
C+ = 2.33…
D = 1.0
A = 4.0
B = 3.0
C = 2.0
F = 0
A- = 3.66…
B- = 2.66…
C- = 1.66…
Credit toward the J.D. degree is given for all grades between D and A1 (inclusive). A J.D. candidate who receives a grade of F or No Credit in a required course must retake that course from the same or a different instructor. Any student who retakes a required course and receives a grade of F or No Credit will be excluded from further study and may not graduate unless the student petitions for and receives the permission of the Academic Scholarship Committee. A J.D. candidate who receives a grade of F in a non-required course may retake the course once, from the same or a different instructor, but only within the next academic year. All failing and No Credit grades remain on the record. The cumulative average of a student includes all grades earned in courses evaluated on a letter-grade basis and taken at the Law School while a candidate for the degree.
The majority of courses are graded on a letter-grade basis, but for a small number of courses, primarily those that are clinical or skills-oriented, the grade of CR (Credit) or NC (No Credit) is given or the following grading scale is used: H (Honors), P (Pass), LP (Low Pass), and NC (No Credit). For Honors, a student must do work of excellent quality, and no more than 25 percent of the class may earn this grade. For courses graded on a Credit/No Credit or Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or No Credit basis, No Credit is given for work that would receive a grade below C- were evaluation to be made using the letter grade scale.
A student who has been excused from taking a regularly scheduled examination or has been granted an extension of the deadline for a research paper is given the grade of I, Incomplete. (See Failure to Take an Examination, and Deadlines for Courses Graded on the Basis of Methods of Evaluation Other than In-Class Examinations, below.)
No grade may be changed by an instructor after it has been posted or disclosed to the student unless there has been an arithmetic or administrative error certified in writing as such by the instructor. A student has the right of faculty peer review of complaints of “prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation” under the regulations outlined in The George Washington University Guide to Students’ Rights and Responsibilities. To initiate such a review, the student must submit a letter and supporting documentation to the senior associate dean for academic affairs by the last day of classes of the semester following the semester or summer session for which the grade for an examination, paper, or other work product was awarded. The student has the burden of making a prima facie case, with appropriate documentation, that the grade was prejudiced or capricious. Mere disagreement with the grade is not a sufficient basis for initiating a faculty peer review.
Method of Evaluation
The method of evaluation is indicated at the end of each course description in this Bulletin, and a student’s grade in the course will be determined in large part on that basis. In most courses, a final examination is held during the examination period. These courses are marked “examination.” Additional written work requirements are indicated by notations such as “drafting assignments” or “problem assignments.” A small number of courses are marked “take-home examination,” indicating that the instructor will determine the method by which the examination is administered outside of the classroom.
Courses that require the preparation of a major research paper in lieu of an examination are marked “research paper.” The satisfactory completion of such a paper by a student individually will satisfy the Legal Writing curriculum requirement for the J.D. degree. Some courses are marked “examination or research paper with permission of the instructor.” In such cases an examination will be scheduled, but the instructor may grant permission for a number of students to write a research paper in lieu of the examination. Research papers satisfactorily completed in these courses will also satisfy the Legal Writing requirement for the J.D. degree.
Skills courses are usually graded on the basis of simulation, role-playing, and/or some form of written assignment and may be marked, for example, “drafting assignments” or “simulation and paper.” In clinical courses no method of evaluation is indicated. In such courses it is the student’s performance in carrying out his or her clinical responsibilities that forms the basis for the grade.
Participation—Once a student has been evaluated in a course using the method indicated in the course description, the instructor may raise or lower the student’s grade on the basis of class participation. For courses in which the sole method of evaluation listed in this Bulletin is an examination (whether in-class or take-home), a student’s grade may be raised or lowered for class participation by only one grade step, e.g., from B to B+, or B to B-, provided that the instructor so notifies the students in the syllabus. For all other courses (excluding skills and clinical courses), instructors intending to consider class participation in determining final grades must state in the syllabus the weight it will be accorded.
The distinction of “George Washington Scholar” is indicated for those students whose cumulative grade-point average at the end of any semester places them among the top 15 percent of their class. The distinction of “Thurgood Marshall Scholar” is indicated for those students whose cumulative grade-point average at the end of the semester places them between the top 15 and 35 percent of their class. A notation of these distinctions is entered onto students’ transcripts each semester after all grades have been reported in all courses.
The degree of Juris Doctor “With Highest Honors” is awarded to those students, not exceeding three percent of the graduating class, who have obtained the highest cumulative averages of at least 3.67.
The degree of Juris Doctor “With High Honors” is awarded to those students with the highest cumulative averages of 3.33 or better. The number of students receiving degrees “With High Honors,” when added to the total number of students receiving degrees “With Highest Honors,” may not exceed 10 percent of the graduating class.
The degree of Juris Doctor “With Honors” is awarded to those students with the highest cumulative averages of 3.0 or better. The number of students receiving degrees “With Honors,” when added to the total number of students receiv-ing degrees “With High Honors” and “With Highest Honors,” may not exceed 40 percent of the graduating class.
For students who receive their degrees in September and January, eligibility for honors will be determined based upon the student’s grade-point average in comparison with those students who graduated the previous May.
Order of the Coif
The Order of the Coif, a national legal honor society, aims “to foster a spirit of careful study and to mark in a fitting manner those who have attained a high grade of scholarship.” The George Washington University chapter was established in 1926. Members are elected each year from the highest-ranking 10 percent of the graduating Juris Doctor candidates. Ordinarily, only students who have completed their full course of study in residence at the Law School are eligible for membership in the Order of the Coif. However, exceptions may be made by the Order of the Coif adviser for unusual circumstances. Any student admitted to the Law School as a transfer student after the first year of study will not be eligible. Similarly, students who take more than one semester of classes at another institution (excluding summer course work) will not be eligible.
Credit/No Credit Limit and Credit/No Credit Option
A number of the Law School’s elective courses are graded on a Credit/No Credit basis or an Honors/Pass/Low Pass/No Credit basis. After the first year of study, students may take up to a total of 17 credit hours of courses graded on a Credit/No Credit or Honors/Pass/Low Pass/No Credit basis.
The Credit/No Credit option allows J.D. students to take up to 6 credit hours of non-required law courses that are regularly graded on a letter-grade basis on a Credit/No Credit basis. Course credit earned under the Credit/No Credit option counts toward the 17-hour limit. In courses where the Credit/No Credit option has been elected, the following rules apply: (1) the option may be elected for only one course during a semester or summer session; (2) the final day for an election of Credit/No Credit in a regularly graded course will be the Friday of the third week of a semester or summer session; (3) the decision to exercise the Credit/No Credit option is irrevocable after the final day of the Credit/No Credit election period; (4) a student must earn a grade of C- or better to earn a grade of CR; if a student earns less than a C- in a course in which the option is exercised, a grade of NC will appear on the student’s transcript; (5) an unexcused failure to take an examination or submit a required research paper in a course taken on a Credit/No Credit basis will result in a grade of F.
The Credit/No Credit option is intended to facilitate course experimentation. It is not a license for inadequate class preparation or participation. The faculty advises students to consider carefully whether to elect to take courses on a Credit/No Credit basis. Exercising the option may adversely affect employment opportunities because of the importance attached to grades by prospective employers. In addition, students should exercise great caution when electing the Credit/No Credit option during their final semester. Students who receive the otherwise passing grade of D in a course in which the Credit/No Credit option is exercised in the final semester will receive no credit. Such students may not have sufficient credits to graduate in a timely fashion.
Transfer students enrolling at the Law School may not register on a Credit/No Credit basis in any course regularly graded on a letter-graded basis; however, such students may take up to a total of 8 credits in courses regularly granded on a Credit/No Credit or Honors/Pass/Low Pass/No Credit basis. The dean of students must grant any exceptions to this rule, in writting, in advance of the semester or session in which the registration is planned.
Failure to Take an Examination
Written examinations are held at the end of most courses. Every student is required to take the regular examinations at their scheduled dates and times unless excused. If a student fails to take an examination, a grade of F will be recorded unless the student has been excused from the examination or has obtained the dean of students’ permission to drop the course. No excuse for absence will be granted except by the dean of students and then only for illness or other emergency. Travel or scheduling conflicts do not constitute an emergency, nor do multiple examinations on the same date or examinations on several consecutive dates. Application for excuse must be made in writing as soon as possible but not later than one month after the date of the examination.
An instructor may, at his or her discretion, permit a student who has been granted an excused absence by the dean of students for an in-class examination to take the examination on a graded basis later in the same examination period or as soon thereafter as can be arranged in consultation with the dean of students and the Records Office. If the student is not permitted to make up the examination in this way, and in the case of all other excused absences in graded courses, the following regulations apply: A student who has received an excused absence for a graded course will have the temporary grade of I (Incomplete) entered on the record and must elect, in writing, one of the following options. First, the student may comply with the instructor’s procedure of evaluation (make-up examination, research paper, or other procedure, as determined by the instructor) to be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis (for credit, a minimum grade of C- is required for J.D. candidates) before the end of the semester following the excused absence. Second, the student may take the next regularly scheduled examination in the same course, taught by the same or a different instructor, for a letter grade. The examination, however, may not be taken after a student has been excluded for low scholarship, and permission to take an examination before the regularly scheduled date and time will not be granted. If the student fails to complete the elected option within the prescribed period, without an approved absence, the grade of I for the course will be changed to a grade of F.
Deadlines for Courses Graded by Evaluations Other than In-Class Examinations
As indicated in course descriptions, many courses are graded on the basis of research papers, take-home examinations, appellate briefs, drafting assignments, litigation exercises, negotiation exercises, oral arguments, oral presentations, problem assignments, projects, short papers, simulations, or writing assignments.
To receive a letter grade for a research paper, a student must submit the paper by the date specified by the instructor, or, if the instructor has not specified a due date, by the last day of classes in the semester. For courses taken in the fall semester, the instructor may extend the due date to no later than January 15. For courses taken in the spring semester, the instructor may extend the due date to no later than June 15, unless the student intends to graduate at the end of the semester, in which case the paper must be submitted by the last day of the examination period. For courses taken in the summer session, the deadline will be August 15.
To receive a letter grade for any required assignment other than a research paper, a student must submit the assignment by the date specified by the instructor, or, if the instructor has not specified a due date, by the last day of classes. An instructor may extend the due date to the last day of the examination period in the semester.
Although no letter grade can be awarded for extensions beyond the foregoing deadlines, the instructor may, for sufficient reason, extend a deadline for the submission up to the last day of the examination period of the following semester; further extensions may be granted only in exceptional circumstances and must be approved in writing by the instructor and the dean of students. When the deadline is extended beyond those indicated for receiving a letter grade, the following conditions apply: (1) no student will earn any credit for the course for any purpose until assignments acceptable to the instructor have been submitted; (2) the only grade the student may receive for the course is CR (Credit) or NC (No Credit). To earn a grade of CR, a minimum evaluation of C- is required for J.D. candidates, unless the assignment is a research paper intended to fulfill the legal writing requirement, in which case a minimum evaluation of B- is required. Failure to submit all required assignments within the extended deadline will result in a grade of F.
Changes in Program of Study
Juris Doctor degree candidates may make changes in their class schedules during the first six days of classes. After that time, students may add or drop courses only with the written approval of the instructor, the dean of students, and the director of the Records Office. Under no circumstances may a student add a course or credits to a course for which the student is registered after the Friday of the eleventh week of class. A student is not permitted to drop a course or credits from a course for which the student is registered after the Friday of the eleventh week of class unless the dean of students certifies that extraordinary events warrant doing so.
Regular attendance at classes is required and is necessary for successful work. A student who is shown by the instructor to be deficient in class attendance or -participation will, after the instructor first attempts to communicate with the student, have a grade of No Credit entered on the record absent an excuse. (Here, as elsewhere in the Bulletin, email correspondence to a student's official Law School address is one fully acceptable means for student notification.) No excuse for deficient attendance or participation will be granted except by the dean of students and then only for illness or other emergency. A student whose excuse is accepted by the dean of students will be withdrawn administratively from the course.
Registration Holds—Students may not attend classes in any semester or summer session without the express written permission of the dean of students if they have not registered due to a hold on their student account. Failure to adhere to registration and enrollment procedures could result in a violation of the Academic Integrity Code and/or the University’s Code of Student Conduct, both of which are reported to bar examiners.
Exclusion and Probation for Low Scholarship
A student whose cumulative average at the end of any semester falls below 1.67 but is above 1.6 will be put on probation. If such a student fails to raise the cumulative average to 1.67 at the end of the next semester, the student will not be permitted to register for any succeeding semester unless he or she petitions for and receives the permission of the Academic Scholarship Committee.
A student whose cumulative average at the end of any semester falls below 1.6 will be excluded from further study unless the student petitions for and receives the permission of the Academic Scholarship Committee.
A student who fails or receives a grade of NC (No Credit) more than once over the entire period of law study (receiving, that is, two failing grades of F, two grades of NC, or one of each) will be excluded from further study and may not graduate unless the student petitions for and receives the permission of the Academic Scholarship Committee. This rule applies to all students including those in their first year of study.
Students who are registered at the time they receive notice that they will not be permitted to continue their legal studies may receive a full refund of the tuition paid for the semester in which the notice is received.
For this purpose the term “semester” includes the summer session.
Procedure for Reinstatement
Any student excluded for reason of low scholarship may petition the Academic Scholarship Committee for reinstatement. The Committee will reinstate the student if he or she can demonstrate (1) that the low grades were due to circumstances beyond his or her control and (2) that he or she has the capacity to pursue the study of law with a definite likelihood of success. The Committee may place conditions on a student’s reinstatement; for example, the Committee may require that the student take specific courses, or it may place limits on outside employment.
Exclusion and Probation for Law School or University Codes
A student who is excluded from further study due to indefinite suspension and/or conditional suspension under the Law School Academic Integrity Code, or a student who is suspended for violation of the University Code of Student Conduct, must petition the Academic Scholarship Committee for reinstatement to the Law School. A student who has been excluded should contact the Office of the Dean of Students for guidance on the procedure for readmission. There is no guarantee of readmission to the Law School.
Procedure for Reinstatement
Any student excluded from study for reasons outlined above or in the section University Regulations—Right to Dismiss Students, may petition the Academic Scholarship Committee for reinstatement in accordance with the petition guidelines available from the Office of the Dean of Students.
The review of any such petition may include, among others, the following considerations in appropriate cases:
- whether the excluded student has the capacity to pursue the study of law with a definite likelihood of success;
- whether the excluded student demonstrates the requisite character and fitness to earn the endorsement of the Law School in the application process for admission to a state bar for a license to practice law;
- whether the conditions leading to the exclusion from study have abated or come under sufficient control to allow complete and constructive engagement in the study of law and with members of the Law School and University community;
- whether the excluded student has met the conditions stipulated in the decision of the relevant committee or authority, whether the Law School, University, or other relevant authortiy; and
- whether the student can persuasively demonstrate that he or she will comply with the highest standards of academic integrity during future work at the law school.
The Academic Scholarship Committee may place academic or other conditions on a student's reinstatement. For example, to Committee may require that the student take specific courses; maintain a specific grade point average; enroll in limited number of total credits; limit outside employment; have in place adequate health or tuition insurance; or submit evidence of ongoing appropriate medical treatment. Reinstatement is required after a leave of absence for medical or mental health care subject to the procedures provided by the Office of the Dean of Students.
Degree candidates are expected to maintain continuous enrollment until all degree requirements are satisfied. By failing to register for one semester or more, the student is dropped from the University’s rolls and must be readmitted (see Readmission below). A student who has been granted a leave of absence must maintain continuous enrollment by paying the University registration fee and having the appropriate status noted at the time of registration.
Leave of Absence
After completion of the first year of study, a student may petition the dean of students for a leave of absence from the law school for one semester. A leave of absence will be granted only when the request is sufficiently compelling. A student may petition the Academic Scholarship Committee, to request a leave of absence for more than one semester.
A leave of absence during the first year of study may be granted in compelling circumstances such as a student’s medically certified disability requiring absence from classes or a student’s hospitalization and medically certified subsequent period of recovery. A student who has been granted a leave of ab-sence must comply with the University’s registration procedures for main-taining continuous enrollment. Any student who does not maintain continuous enrollment while on a leave of absence will be required to petition the Academic Scholarship Committee for readmission.
Visiting at Another Law School
A student whose personal circumstances necessitate leaving the Washington, D.C., area may be permitted to study at another ABA-accredited law school and apply the credits earned at that school toward his or her J.D. degree at the Law School. A student must petition the Academic Scholarship Committee and demonstrate that compelling personal circumstances warrant study at another institution. The Committee may grant one-semester visits on this basis. Permission to visit for two semesters is granted rarely, and only in the most extraordinary circumstances. In no event will the Committee allow more than 28 credit hours of study taken at another school to be counted toward the degree here. The courses to be taken at another law school must be approved in advance by the dean of students, and a student must earn a grade of C- or better (under the grading system of the other law school) to transfer the credit hours with a grade of Credit to the Law School. Students who register at another law school must provide the director of the Records Office with an official transcript of their work there promptly on its completion.
A student who was previously registered but did not attend during the most recent semester (summer session excluded), and who has not been granted a leave of absence, must apply to the Academic Scholarship Committee for readmission. A readmitted student is required to satisfy the curriculum requirements existing at the time of readmission.
Credit for Courses Taken in Other GW Schools
After the first year and with the approval of the dean of students, students may take a maximum of 6 credit hours of appropriate graduate-level courses in other schools of the University; a grade of at least B- must be received to obtain credit for such courses; and the grade does not count in computing the cumulative average. Grades of Credit or No Credit resulting from courses taken in other schools will count toward the total of 17 hours allowed under the Credit/No Credit option. Law students receive 1 credit hour for each 700 minutes of scheduled class time in a semester; therefore, a law student may in some cases earn only 2 credits for a course offered by another school of the University for 3 credits. For graduate courses offered in the School of Business for 1.5 credits, the Law School will recognize only 1 credit on the student's transcript. Additional work cannot be undertaken to increase the course to 2 credits. Enrollment units will correspond to the existing table of units at .075 for 1 credit.
Summer School Credit from Other Law Schools
Unless granted permission to attend another law school as a visiting student (see Visiting at Another Law School), or participating in a Law School-sponsored exchange program, Juris Doctor students may only earn credits from other law schools during the summer. Students may earn toward their degree no more than a total of 6 credit hours from summer programs offered on the campus of other ABA-accredited law schools, or through summer study abroad programs sponsored by other ABA-accredited law schools. Students planning to attend summer sessions on the campus of other ABA-accredited law schools, or through summer study abroad programs sponored by other ABA-accredited law schools and intending to use the credit toward their Juris Doctor program at the Law School must first have the courses they wish to take approved by the dean of students. Courses offered on the campus of other ABA-accredited law schools during their summer sessions will be credited toward the Juris Doctor degree only if the same course is not being offered at the Law School at any time during the next academic year (for full-time students), or in the evening during the next academic year (for part-time students), unless upon a showing of good cause a waiver of this policy has been granted by the dean of students.
Courses offered through summer study abroad programs sponsored by other ABA-accredit law schools are not subject to this restriction. Internships offered for credit will not be credited toward the Juris Doctor degree.