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Academic Standards and Related Procedures - J.D.


A. Course Load Requirements and Limits

Every first year student is required to take the full schedule of required first year courses.  Every second and third year student is required to undertake a minimum of twelve (12) units per term and may not take more than sixteen (16) units per term without approval of the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (hereinafter “Dean of Students”). The maximum number of  intensive January term courses a student may take during one January term  is two (2) for a total of no more than three (3) units of credit. ABA Rules allow students to be enrolled in no more than 17 units at any time (one-fifth of the total required for graduation). For purposes of calculating maximum units during spring semester, completed units taken during a UCLA Law January Term shall not be included.  In exceptional circumstances as determined by the Dean of Students in consultation with either the Chair of the Academic Standards Committee or the Chair of the Disability Standards Committee, a second or third year student may take less than 12 units in one term but under no circumstances less than 8 units in one term.  A student taking less than 12 units in one term is still responsible for the full tuition for that semester and is expected to remain on track to graduate within six semesters.

A JD student may not enroll in an MLS elective if more than 1/3 of the class meetings will be taught online unless (a) the ABA has provided the law school with a variance for the relevant semester, exempting the law school from ABA restrictions on online learning, and the Vice and Assistant Deans have agreed that the MLS elective fits into law school plans for online JD course instruction; or (b) the law school has approved standards for online instruction, and the student’s enrollment comports with these standards.

B. Credit Hours for Coursework

UCLA Law adheres to ABA Standards in determining the number of credit hours for coursework.  Each unit of credit reasonably approximates one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student preparation per week, for the length of the semester.  Students are therefore expected to prepare a minimum of two hours outside of class for each hour of class time.  Notwithstanding the above general standard, experiential field work units are calculated as follows:  1 unit of credit = a minimum of 52 hours per semester (4-5 hours per week of clinic work).

C. Procedure for Adding a Course(s)

The deadline for adding a School of Law course to one’s study list is the end of the first week of the semester.  The Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs (hereinafter “Dean of Students”) may permit a student to add a course within three weeks after the deadline, provided that the student presents, in writing, a reasonable (in the sole discretion of the Dean of Students) explanation for not having met the deadline, and has instructor consent.  In the case of late-starting courses, the Dean of Students will have discretion to approve schedule changes through the end of the third week of the late-starting course.  Students who wish to add a course after the relevant deadline has elapsed shall be referred to the Standards Committee.  The Standards Committee will grant such petitions only upon a showing of unusual circumstances.  

D. Procedure for Dropping a Course(s)

Any second or third year student, by written notice in the form of a drop petition submitted to the Records Office, may drop any of his/her non-clinical courses (subject to the restrictions enumerated herein), so long as dropping the course does not reduce his/her course load below 12 units, which is the minimum number of units all second and third year students must undertake per semester.  Unless an earlier date is specified by the professor, a non-clinical course may be dropped through the last day of instruction, or before a graded mid-term or submission of any required interim course work that comprises a portion of the final term grade. Whenever a student has enrolled in or been chosen for participation in a clinical course and has signified his/her agreement to participate in the course, such student may not drop the course without obtaining the instructor’s permission to drop from the course.


E. Independent Research (Law 340/341) and Project (Law 345) Unit Rules

An upper division student may enroll in and receive credit for up to a combined total of nine (9) Law 340/341 independent research/Law 345 independent project units. In Law 340 (for a semester) or Law 341 (for a full academic year), students undertake legal research under the supervision of a faculty member resulting in an original scholarly paper analyzing a particular area of law.  In Law 345 (for a semester only), students undertake original research, usually involving empirical or field study, and produce a paper analyzing their findings.  Students seeking to enroll in a Law 340/341 or 345 course must submit a “Petition for Independent Research/Project form to the Records Office for approval; this form requires the student obtain prior written approval of the sponsoring faculty member, including approval of the proposed topic.  Consultation and supervision between the student and the sponsoring faculty member shall continue throughout the term(s) of enrollment.  Work may begin during the summer, if the professor agrees to this in advance, so long as a substantial portion of the work is undertaken during the term(s) in which credit is awarded.  All 340/341 units shall be graded for a letter grade, not on a P/U/NC basis.  The supervising faculty member shall determine whether Law 345 shall be graded for a letter grade or on a P/U/NC basis.

F. Courses with Time Conflicts

The American Bar Association requires the equivalent of 750 minutes of instruction for each unit of coursework.  As a result, students may not enroll in courses with overlapping class times if the 750 minutes per unit rule is not satisfied for each of the classes.   This rule applies to course overlaps with courses outside the law school as well, unless the student is not seeking credit for the outside course and attends the law course whenever there is a time conflict.  If a student can demonstrate compliance with the ABA requirement and the instructors both consent, the overlap may be permitted; however, as a practical matter, even very small overlaps usually end up being impermissible.  An overlapping course petition must be completed and submitted to the Records Office.

G. Credit for Courses Taken Outside the UCLA School of Law

  1. TRANSFER CREDIT – Students matriculating as transfer students must have successfully completed an entire first-year curriculum at another ABA-approved law school. The law school will award a maximum of 39 credits earned at another institution. Transfer students must spend at least four (4) full-time semesters at UCLA School of Law upon transferring.
  2. COURSES AT UCLA—Upon approval of the Dean of Students, candidates for the Juris Doctor degree are permitted to take, during regular law session only, two courses in UCLA departments other than the School of Law for a maximum of six semester units of Law School credit.  (All quarter unit courses will convert to semester units at the following rate: [Total quarter units] * 2 divided by 3).  This option is not available to joint degree students, or to students on probation or subject to special requirements (see Sections V.B and V.C).  A course so taken must be supplementary to a student’s legal studies and the prior written approval of the Dean of Students must be obtained.  Such outside courses must be graded on an “A, B, C, D” or “F” basis, and the grade of “B-” or better in the outside course and satisfactory completion of the law course are required in order to receive units and proportional residency credit toward the Juris Doctor degree. The outside course with the earned letter grade will appear on the transcript.  In addition, when the course is applied for law credit, the grade of “B-” or better is recorded on the academic record as a Pass and no grade points are calculated into the grade point average.

If a student receives an outside course grade inferior to the grade of “B-”, and has petitioned for outside course credit, the following rules shall apply in determining the nature and amount, if any, of credit that will be awarded the outside course as well as the effect the grade will have for retention and other purposes:

  1. In all outside courses, a grade of “D+” or below will be treated by the School of Law as the grade of “F” for all purposes.
  2. In all outside courses, a grade of “C+”, “C” or “C-“  will be treated by the School of Law as the grade of “D” for all purposes.
  3. Units earned outside the School of Law during the Fall quarter apply to the law course load requirement for the Fall semester in the same calendar year.  Units earned outside the School of Law for either the Winter or Spring quarter apply to the law course load requirement for the Spring semester of the same calendar year.
  1. SUMMER SESSION RULES—Students wishing to earn credit at UCLA Law School for summer session attendance elsewhere must submit their proposed summer program to the Dean of Students for review, evaluation and approval.
    1.  Summer school unit credit may be earned only by attending a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.  One unit of credit will be given for every 700 minutes of instruction, which in most cases will correlate to the number of units assigned by the summer school.
    2. Students attending summer session at another law school may not repeat courses previously taken and completed at the School of Law.  Similarly, courses taken and completed in summer session at another law school may not be repeated at the School of Law in subsequent regular session semesters. Students completing an externship/internship during a summer session will have those completed units count toward their externship unit limits at UCLA Law School.
    3. Definitions:
      1. A summer school grade of “C­-” or better is a credit grade for all purposes. The letter grade will be posted on the transcript, but not calculated into the student's grade point average.
      2. A summer school grade of “D+” or below will be treated as the grade of “F” for all purposes.

H. Limit on Credit for Units Earned Outside Regularly Scheduled Law Class Sessions

The American Bar Association requires that a minimum of 64 semester units be earned in regularly scheduled law class sessions.  In some circumstances, this requirement will limit the total number of units that a student may earn in the aggregate in independent research (Law 340, 341, 345, and 346), externships (both full and part-time) and courses outside the law school (including MLS electives approved for JD enrollment, which shall not count for these purposes as regularly scheduled law class sessions).  Students who graduate with the minimum of 87 units required for the J.D. degree are limited to a total of 23 semester units in those course categories.