Eligible students may receive credit for independent research projects resulting in substantial research papers supervised and graded by eligible Law School faculty members.
NOTE: Independent research projects are subject to the same policies as other courses. Policies governing withdrawal, paper deadline extensions, the upper-level writing requirement, grading, etc., with the exception of class attendance all apply.
Independent research projects are subject to the following restrictions:
1) First-year students are not eligible to enroll in independent research projects.
2) Only full-time resident law faculty members may supervise independent research projects (see section I.G). Emeriti and visiting faculty members may supervise with the permission of the vice dean. Supervision by a member of the faculty of another school in the University is permitted with consultation by a member of the law faculty and with permission of the assistant dean for academic services.
3) Enrollment in semester-long and fall/spring yearlong research projects must be completed through the Student Records Office by submitting a form (available in Student Records or on LawWeb). NOTE: The form requires confirmation from the supervising faculty member that he or she is willing to supervise the project.
4) Students may earn one, two or three credits for each project based upon the substantiality of the paper produced. The number of credits to be earned is specified at the time of application. Students need to realistically plan the number of credits a given research project can support.
5) Credit for a single independent research project of two or three credits may be spread over two consecutive semesters for students whose actual work on the project extends over this period.
6) The supervising faculty member, in consultation with the assistant dean for academic services, may approve credit and time period changes to the project. However, no changes can be made after November 1 for projects due in the fall or April 1 for projects due in the spring.
7) Unless the supervising faculty member establishes an earlier deadline, the research paper must be submitted no later than noon on the last day of the exam period in the semester in which the paper is to be graded. Exceptions to this deadline may be granted only by the assistant dean for academic services or the assistant dean for student affairs.
8) Guidelines for paper length by number of credits are provided here. Typed, letter-sized (8 1/2” x 11”), double-spaced pages, footnotes included, are assumed. These are intended only as guidelines; final determination of requirements is left to the supervising faculty member.
9) The final research paper must be submitted through the Law School’s online exam/paper submission system in accordance with the announced deadline. Late paper submissions will be penalized in accordance with section IV.D. of the Academic Policies.
10) No independent research credit may be earned in an academic year during which the student is enrolled in a third-year thesis (see section III.D).
11) Any paper submitted for academic credit as independent research and also to satisfy membership or publication requirements of a journal must be completed and submitted before the editorial process begins. Papers submitted after editorial work has begun will not be accepted for academic credit. This does not mean a student cannot discuss the project with anyone; quite the contrary. It is desirable to discuss the research and findings with others, including the journal editor who might know about the topic. The writing, however, should be entirely and exclusively the student’s own work.
12) Independent research credits will be combined with directed research credits for purposes of applying the overall ceilings on independent research credit (see section VI.E.F); i.e., students may earn a maximum of eight credits; a maximum of four credits per academic year; and a maximum of six credits under the supervision of any one faculty member. The hour limits described above are prescribed by the faculty and will not be waived except in very unusual circumstances, and then only upon request of the supervising professor to the assistant dean for academic services.
I. January Term Courses
The January Term is a distinct short course term separate from the fall and spring semesters. As such, January Term courses are not included in calculating course loads for the fall or spring semesters, but the credits are included in calculating the 86 credits required for graduation. January Term courses are offered each year during the weeks immediately preceding the start of spring semester courses. Typically, they meet for 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) per day for five consecutive days. Students earn one credit in each course. Courses are offered in both the morning (9:30-noon) and the afternoon (1:30-4), but students may enroll in only one January Term course each year.
EXCEPTION: While considered January Term courses, the rules for the Trial Advocacy College and study-abroad January term courses differ. As long as there is no time conflict, eligible students can enroll in the Trial Advocacy College and one regular week-long January Term course.
Exams and papers for January Term courses are due no later than two weeks after the course ends; final grades are due no later than four weeks after assignments are due (six weeks after the course ends). Students are expected to attend 100 percent of class sessions. The instructor may reduce a student’s grade for any absence and a student who misses more than one class session risks receiving a WF grade. Special add/drop rules apply to January Term courses as follows:
1) Adding a January Term Course:
a) A student can self-add a J-term course via SIS from mid-November until just a few days before the class starts when the SIS add deadline occurs. Once the SIS add deadline passes, if seats are available in a J-term course, students seeking to enroll must make a written request to enroll to the Student Records Office. If a student submits such a request after the first class session but before the second, confirmation of first-session attendance will be required by instructor signature on the form.
2) Dropping a January Term Course:
a) A student can self-drop a J-term course via SIS from mid-November until just a few days before the class starts when the SIS drop deadline occurs. However, after the SIS drop deadline passes, an enrolled student is committed to attend the course. If, after attending the first session, the student wishes to drop the course, and if the course is not fully enrolled, the student must make a written request to the Student Records Office no later than the start of the second session. If the course is full when the student makes the request, the student cannot drop the course.
Each year the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School invites law students to enroll in a few of their courses. While the JAG School is not a department at the University, their courses are treated as courses in other University departments (section VI.E.) as follows:
- Students who wish to enroll in a JAG School course must submit a completed JAG School course request form.
- Students may enroll in a maximum of three one-credit JAG short courses in a given semester, or in a single semester-long course.
- JAG School course forms will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- With the approval of the assistant dean for academic services, students may apply up to six JAG School credits toward the J.D. degree. Students who wish to receive more than six JAG School degree credits must submit a petition to the assistant dean for academic services to be approved by the Curriculum Committee. This petition must describe the direct relevance of the additional JAG School courses to the student’s intellectual development in the study of law. A maximum of 12 JAG School course credits may be applied toward the J.D. degree.
- With the approval of the assistant dean for graduate studies, LL.M. students may apply a total of three non-law/JAG School credits toward the LL.M. degree.
- JAG School courses often begin and end on different dates than Law School courses.
- It is the student’s responsibility to arrange courses so that full attendance is possible. Students may not enroll in a JAG School course that has a time conflict with another course in which the student is enrolled, no matter how minuscule the overlap. At least 10 minutes must be allowed between consecutively scheduled courses at the Law School and the JAG School.
- JAG School courses shorter than a full semester in length are considered “short courses.” Students may add and drop JAG short courses in accordance with Law School short course policy (section VI.N.).
- JAG School course grades are not included in the calculation of Law School grade point averages or in the consideration of Law School honors.
K. Mutually Exclusive Courses
Mutually exclusive courses are courses that cover material so duplicative of each other that only one of the courses may be completed for credit. Students may not enroll in mutually exclusive courses including multiple sections of the same course (e.g., two sections of Evidence). Mutually exclusive courses are listed in the online course descriptions on the Law School’s website.
Many courses have prerequisites (or, in a few cases, concurrent requisites or "co-requisites"). Pre- or co-requisites are listed in the online course descriptions on the Law School’s website. Students must meet all such requirements for courses they wish to enroll in or have an appropriate written waiver on file in the Student Records Office in order to be enrolled.
Students may not repeat courses in which passing grades were earned. Students may re-enroll in courses in which they earned failing grades. Each enrollment will appear, with associated grades, on the student’s transcript. All grades received are included in GPA calculations. A student who earns a failing grade in a required course may elect to re-enroll in the course with any instructor she or he chooses unless the faculty member assigning the failing grade requires otherwise.
Short courses are designated "(SC)" at the end of the course title. Short courses are specialized courses typically (although not always) offered by visiting experts in a given area of the law. While most are scheduled for a consecutive two-week period, some may be structured differently. Exams and papers for short courses are due no later than two weeks after the course ends; final grades are due no later than four weeks after assignments are due (six weeks after the course ends). Students are expected to attend 100 percent of class sessions. The instructor may reduce a grade for any absence and a student who attends fewer than 80 percent of class sessions risks receiving a WF grade. Special add/drop rules apply to short courses, including JAG School “short courses,” as follows:
Adding a Short Course: After the add/drop period ends, students may add short courses that have seats available at the time the request is submitted to the Student Records Office.
- Dropping a Short Course: After the passage of the add/drop deadline, students may not drop a short course that is fully enrolled at the time the request is made to the Student Records Office. If a student wishes to drop a short course that is not fully enrolled at the time the request is made to the Student Records Office, the student may do so until the second class session begins.
Students may not enroll in courses with overlapping class meeting times no matter how minuscule the overlap. In addition, no credit will be granted for courses scheduled so close together that full attendance is unlikely. At least 15 minutes must be allowed between consecutively scheduled courses not on the same campus (North Grounds and Main Grounds are considered separate campuses for purposes of this rule). Please note that other schools’ enrollment schedules may differ from the Law School’s, and the Student Records Office may not learn of a time conflict until after the add/drop period has ended. Nevertheless, students will be dropped from one of the conflicting courses when a conflict is discovered.
Yearlong courses are designated "(YR)" at the end of the course title. Students typically receive a "CR/NC" grade after the first semester (and are awarded partial credit), and receive a letter grade (and the remaining credit) after completing the second semester. After the add-drop period deadline passes in the fall, students cannot drop either the fall or spring portion of the course.