All J.D., J.S.D., LL.M., and M.S.L. students are required to register at the Law School on August 24, 2020. Ph.D. students are required to register with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on the Graduate School’s schedule.
J.D. students may not register for their penultimate term unless they have completed one of the two writing requirements (see Writing Requirements, below).
For the spring term, all students are expected to register, either in person at the Law School or through an online check-in, on January 19, 2021, the date subject to change if guidance about the pandemic changes.
First-term J.D. students will not be allowed to register unless they have provided the registrar with a digital photograph and an official transcript confirming the award of a bachelor’s degree. Incoming first-term students must submit no later than October 15, 2020, a final, official transcript from the institution that awarded their undergraduate degree. Students who fail to do so will be withdrawn from the Law School on that date.
Transfer students must provide the registrar with a digital photograph and official transcripts of a bachelor’s degree and the first year of law school.
A fee of $50 will be charged for late registration. This fee will be waived only with the registrar’s written permission to register late. Written permission must be received prior to the designated registration day.
Classes commence on August 24, 2020, for the fall term and are scheduled to begin on January 19, 2021, for the spring term.
All J.D. students, except first-term students, and all graduate students may sample courses and rearrange course selections for a period of time following registration, as specified by the registrar. After that time period, a student may not add or drop a course unless (a) on application to the instructor, the student can establish good cause for adding or dropping the course; (b) the registrar concurs in the recommendation of the instructor; and (c) the student retains at least 12 units and no more than 16 units for the term, or the assistant dean for academic affairs and the registrar approve another number of units. Forms for adding and dropping courses must be signed by the instructors of the respective courses and filed with the Office of the Registrar. A course requiring an examination must be added or dropped by the final day of classes. The specific dates for filing such requests each term are published on the calendar of the Office of the Registrar. A fee of $20, $40, or $80 will be charged for each late course change, depending on the time of the change. A fee of $200 will be charged for any course change that occurs in a term subsequent to the term in which the course was offered.
A faculty member may set a limit on or special qualifications for enrollment in a course, and these will be specified in the course description. If no such limitations have been set, enrollment in a course will be limited only by the availability of classroom space. If enrollment is limited, then students must apply during a special sign-up period that usually occurs in June for fall-term courses and in October for spring-term courses.
A student applying for more than one course in which enrollment is limited must indicate preferences among these courses by designating a first choice, a second choice, and up to three third choices. This ranking may be used by faculty in making selections among students. A student who is accepted in such a limited enrollment course will be enrolled in that course during the first online enrollment period. Students who decline a place in such a limited enrollment course must remove that course from their schedule during the open enrollment period and notify both the professor and the registrar, so that their place in the course may be offered to someone else. Students may list three choices for courses designated as requiring the permission of the instructor; four choices for courses designated as experiential; and four choices for courses that do not require permission or have other restrictions, other than a designated maximum enrollment.
A faculty member may offer a course or program of individual work on a credit/fail basis if the faculty member believes the work makes it infeasible to give individual grades. A faculty member may offer any course or program of individual work on a credit/fail basis for some or all of the students participating. Similarly, a faculty member may offer the option of taking a designated credit/fail course or clinic on a graded basis for some or all of the students participating. The faculty member should make these determinations at the beginning of the term. If a student is given the option to change the grading basis of a course, clinic, or program of individual work, the student must exercise the option within the first two weeks of the term by filing the appropriate form with the Office of the Registrar by the published deadline for the term. After this deadline, the grade mode may not be changed by the student or the faculty member.
Examinations and Papers
Law School examinations are given during a period (normally two weeks) at the end of the term.
The registrar may, for good cause shown, permit students to take an examination at a time different from that indicated on the official examination schedule. Requests for such permission may be made only during the last week of classes, except in case of sudden emergencies, such as illness. The specific dates for filing such requests each term are published on the calendar of the Office of the Registrar.
The registrar may permit extra time on examinations for students in their first year at the Law School if their native language is not English and if the language of instruction at their undergraduate or previous institution was not English. No extra time will be permitted for any student who attended an undergraduate institution where the language of instruction was English.
All papers assigned during the term, and all papers submitted in lieu of examinations in courses where that is authorized, are due, unless otherwise indicated by the instructor, on the final day of the examination period for that term.
For good cause, instructors may authorize extensions of time for the completion of papers. The authorization must be in writing, and extensions will be permitted for no more than sixty days after the close of the term in which the paper is assigned. Extensions of time beyond these limits shall be approved only in cases in which the student obtains, in writing, permission from both the instructor and the registrar. Such permission must include a specific due date and must be filed with the registrar. If the student does not meet regular or extended deadlines for a paper or examination, the instructor may award a grade of Failure for the paper or examination.
Grades for All Degree Students
Honors Performance in the course demonstrates superior mastery of the subject.
Pass Successful performance in the course.
Low Pass Performance in the course is below the level expected for the award of a degree.
Credit The course has been completed satisfactorily; no particular level of performance is specified. All first-term courses and certain advanced courses are offered only on a credit/fail basis.
Failure No credit is given for the course.
Requirement Completed (RC) Indicates J.D. preparticipation in Moot Court or Barristers’ Union.
There is no required “curve” for grades in Law School classes. Individual class rank is not computed.
An instructor’s evaluation of the quality of a student’s work is final and may not be appealed, except where a student alleges that the grade resulted from discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or sexual orientation. Students should raise such allegations with the dean of the Law School.
Calculation of Course Credit Units
A “credit hour” is the amount of work that reasonably approximates:
- not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for fifteen weeks, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
- at least an equivalent amount of work as required in subparagraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including simulation, field placement, clinical co-curricular, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
“One hour” of classroom or direct faculty instruction is fifty minutes. An “hour” for out-of-class student work is sixty minutes.
Teaching block times are designed to calculate the 750 minutes per credit unit for thirteen weeks of instruction plus the calculation of either the equivalent of one additional week for the time of a final examination or, for a seminar where a substantial research paper is required, the additional non-seat supervision time that is needed to complete such course requirement.
Requirements for the Degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.)
To qualify for the J.D. degree, students must at all times meet the conditions for continuation as a degree candidate, complete a total of 83 units of satisfactory work, satisfy the writing requirements and other requirements specified below, spend at least six full terms or the equivalent thereof in residence, and be recommended for the degree by the faculty. No degree will be awarded if incomplete work remains on a student’s record.
Attendance at Yale Law School must be full-time for a period of six terms. Each term, including the final term in residence, a student must enroll for no fewer than 12 and no more than 16 units of credit, unless approval is given by the appropriate dean and the registrar. Such approval is granted only in unusual circumstances. During the terms that students are enrolled and in residence at Yale Law School, they cannot be simultaneously enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in any other school or college either within Yale University or at any other institution.
In accordance with American Bar Association accreditation standards and sound educational policy, the Law School requires regular class attendance for a student to receive credit for a course. Instructors have the discretion to have more specific attendance requirements, which they announce at the beginning of the term.
For additional information about requirements for transfer students, see Transfer Policy/Advanced Standing, in the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid. For additional information about requirements for joint-degree programs, see Joint Degrees, below.
Each student must take courses in Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Administration, and Procedure. In one of these subjects, the student is assigned to a small group. This seminar-style course, with about sixteen students, integrates elementary training in legal research and writing with regular course work. All first-term courses are graded on a credit/fail basis.
Curriculum after the First Term
To graduate, students must, after the first term, satisfactorily complete at least 67 units of credit. As a condition for graduation, a student must successfully complete a course of study of not fewer than 83 credit hours. At least 64 of these credit hours shall be in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction.* A maximum of 10 of the 83 units required for graduation may be for supervised research and reading. Students are free to select their own curriculum, but each student must complete (1) the basic course in Criminal Law or Criminal Law and Administration (for students who matriculated in fall 2019 or earlier), or Torts and Regulation (for students who matriculate in fall 2020 or later); (2) a course of at least 2 units substantially devoted to issues of legal ethics or professional responsibility; (3) one or more experiential courses totaling at least 6 credit hours (see below); and (4) the writing requirements described below. Students should consult the YLS:Courses site to ascertain which courses meet the legal ethics/professional responsibility and experiential credit requirements. Students who plan to sit for the New York Bar should consult the YLS:Courses site also to ensure that they enroll in a professional responsibility course that satisfies the New York State Bar requirements.
In order to be designated as a course that meets the experiential requirement, the course must be a simulation course, law clinic, or field placement, be primarily experiential in nature, and must: (1) integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, and engage students in performance of one or more of the professional skills identified in Standard 302; (2) develop the concepts underlying the professional skills being taught; (3) provide multiple opportunities for performance; and (4) provide opportunities for self-evaluation. In order to receive experiential credit for clinical fieldwork, students must take the corresponding seminar in the same term the fieldwork is performed.
A student may not use a course to satisfy more than one of the following requirements: Professional Responsibility, Supervised Analytic Writing, Substantial Paper, 6 experiential credit hours.
*In calculating the 64 credit hours of regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction for the purpose of ABA Standard 311(b), the credit hours may include: (1) credit hours earned by attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction; (2) credit hours earned by participation in a simulation course or law clinic in compliance with ABA Standard 304; (3) credit hours earned through distance education in compliance with ABA Standard 306; and (4) credit hours earned by participation in law-related studies or activities in a country outside the United States in compliance with ABA Standard 307.
In calculating the 64 credit hours of regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction for the purpose of ABA Standard 311(b), the credit hours shall not include any other course work, including, but not limited to: (1) credit hours earned through field placements and other study outside of the classroom in compliance with ABA Standard 305; (2) credit hours earned in another department, school, or college of the university with which the law school is affiliated, or at another institution of higher learning; (3) credit hours earned for participation in co-curricular activities such as law review, moot court, and trial competition; and (4) credit hours earned by participation in studies or activities in a country outside the United States in compliance with ABA Standard 307 for studies or activities that are not law-related.
Conditions for Continuing as a J.D. Candidate
A J.D. student who receives a Failure in any course or individual work may, with permission of the instructor, repeat the same for credit and must repeat and pass the same if it is a required course.
Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in both quantitative (pace) and qualitative terms. SAP will be assessed at the end of each academic year for J.D. students.
Quantitative (pace) measures Each student in the J.D. program must complete a minimum of 83 credit hours over the course of six terms in residence (or the equivalent). To maintain full-time status in good standing, each student must be enrolled in the four required courses in the first term (16 credit hours) and in 12 to 16 credit hours in each subsequent term, generally averaging 13 or 14 credit hours per term over the five terms after the first term in residence. Enrollment beyond six terms, or at less than full time, is approved by the dean only in extraordinary circumstances. The maximum time frame for a student to complete J.D. requirements is eighty-four months from the date the student matriculated in law school, including terms on leave. Students who have not completed their degree requirements will be withdrawn from the Law School eighty-four months from the date of matriculation, or twenty-four months after their sixth term, whichever occurs first.
Each student in the J.D. program must complete 75 percent of the credit hours attempted by the end of the first year of study and 75 percent of the credit hours attempted by the end of the second year of study. One of the two writing requirements, the Substantial Paper or the Supervised Analytic Writing Paper, must be completed and certified before students may register for their penultimate term in the J.D. program.
Qualitative measures Students will be disqualified as J.D. candidates and will not be allowed to continue in the Law School if they receive (1) two Failures in any one term; (2) a total of three Failures; (3) Low Pass or Failure in four or more courses by the end of the third term; (4) Low Pass or Failure in five or more courses by the end of the fourth term; (5) Low Pass or Failure in six or more courses by the end of the fifth term; or (6) Low Pass or Failure in a total of seven or more courses. A student who has been disqualified as a J.D. candidate for not maintaining satisfactory grades will not be readmitted without a vote of the Faculty in Executive Session.
At the end of students’ first and second terms, an assistant or associate dean will consult with students if they appear to be doing marginal work. The dean will discuss with these students the advisability of continuing in the Law School.
At the end of each academic year, the registrar will send a degree-progress report to all continuing J.D. candidates, including notification of graduation requirements completed, in progress, or not yet begun. The appropriate dean will consult with any student who appears not to be making satisfactory academic progress. The dean and the student will prepare an academic plan and formal schedule for the completion of in-progress work. For complete details on the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for J.D. candidates, see https://law.yale.edu/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/Public_Affairs/SAP_Policy_Final.pdf.
Limitations on Credit/Fail Units*
After the first term, a student must satisfactorily complete at least 51 units of graded work. At least 9 graded units must be taken in the second term of law school. No more than a total of 5 units of ungraded credit in student-directed programs may be counted toward the degree.
Credit/fail work will not be accepted toward fulfillment of the Supervised Analytic Writing requirement. The Substantial Paper requirement may be satisfied by a paper written for a Supervised Research program on a credit/fail basis, or a course offered on a credit/fail basis. For Substantial Papers that are written as Supervised Research, the election of graded or credit/fail must be made at the beginning of the project.
*As a result of the global pandemic due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the winter and spring of 2020, the Law faculty adopted the following policy on grading and writing requirements: All classes in which Law students were enrolled in spring 2020 would be graded only on a credit/fail basis; these students would be required to complete successfully at least 41 units of graded work; the requirement that students in their second term of law school in spring 2020 attempt 9 graded units would be waived. The fulfillment of the Supervised Analytic Writing paper undertaken or completed during spring 2020 would be accepted on a credit/fail basis.
For graduation, each student must complete 3 units of Supervised Analytic Writing and prepare a Substantial Paper of at least 2 units. Prior to beginning work on a Supervised Analytic Writing paper or Substantial Paper, a student should secure the approval of the supervising faculty member. At least one of these writing requirements must be satisfied before a student can register for the penultimate term at the Law School. Specifically, the Law School requires that the supervisor of one of those writing projects must certify the student’s successful completion of the project before the student can register for the penultimate term (see Registration, above); the faculty certification must include a final grade for the paper. For most J.D. students, the penultimate term is the fifth term; however, for joint-degree students, the penultimate term is the fourth term. For students who will enter their penultimate term in the fall, the deadline for final certification is August 1; for those whose penultimate term is the spring, the deadline is the last day of the fall-term examination period.
A Supervised Analytic Writing paper for 3 units involves work that is closely supervised by a professor and is designed to increase the student’s proficiency in legal research, analytic reasoning, and writing in a single field of concentration; the paper may not be purely descriptive in character. Supervised Analytic Writing papers may not be submitted on a credit/fail basis and must be certified with a final grade of Pass or higher, with the exception noted above for papers undertaken or completed during spring 2020. Students are strongly encouraged to begin their Supervised Analytic Writing paper no later than the beginning of their penultimate term. Many faculty members require a two-term commitment for Supervised Analytic Writing papers and will not supervise students beginning papers in their last term.
A Substantial Paper for 2 units of credit, although not necessarily meeting the criteria for a Supervised Analytic Writing paper, must be a significant written project. Supervisors may accept Substantial Papers written for a Supervised Research program or course offered on either a graded or credit/fail basis. For Substantial Papers that are written as Supervised Research, the election of graded or credit/fail must be made at the beginning of the project. If a Substantial Paper is certified on a graded basis, the final grade must be Pass or higher.
Supervised Analytic Writing papers or Substantial Papers may be prepared in connection with (1) seminars or courses, (2) research and writing under faculty supervision (see below), or (3) the Intensive Semester Research Program (see below). Work done in courses outside the Law School will not be accepted in satisfaction of the writing requirements.
Only instructors with particular appointments at Yale Law School are eligible to serve as supervisors for Supervised Analytic Writing papers or Substantial Papers. For a complete list of which faculty and visitors may supervise Supervised Analytic Writing papers and Substantial Papers, please consult the Office of the Registrar’s website.
Options within the Course of Study for the Degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Research and Writing Opportunities
Students have numerous opportunities to engage in research and writing under faculty supervision. These include writing in connection with seminar courses, writing in a clinical program, and individual research and writing under faculty supervision. The faculty encourages students to publish their written work in law journals and other periodicals and to make this work available to other scholars. Prizes are awarded for outstanding scholarly writing (see Prizes, in the chapter Alumni and Endowment Funds).
Yale Law School offers more than three dozen live-client clinics and experiential learning classes, providing students the opportunity to obtain practical experience and develop lawyering skills in a variety of practice areas. Students, supervised by faculty members and practicing attorneys, interview clients, write briefs, prepare witnesses, try cases, negotiate settlements, draft contracts, participate in commercial transactions, write legislation and regulatory proposals, and argue appeals in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Connecticut Supreme Court. Students are eligible to participate in live-client clinics and appear in court beginning in the spring term of their first year. Approximately 80 percent of all students take at least one clinic, and many students participate in two or more.
A number of Yale’s live-client clinics operate within a single law firm, the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO). These clinics include: (1) Advanced Educational Opportunity and Juvenile Justice Clinic, serving as educational advocates for an adolescent client; (2) Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic, representing clients in federal sentencing proceedings and Connecticut state post-conviction cases; (3) Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic, representing individuals and organizations affected by the criminal legal system; (4) Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic, representing criminal defendants in state and federal proceedings; (5) Housing Clinic, representing clients in mortgage foreclosures, landlord-tenant, and fair housing cases; (6) Ludwig Center for Community and Economic Development, providing legal services and other professional consultation services to community groups involved in affordable housing, banking, and economic development efforts; (7) Small Business and Community in a Time of Crisis, providing information and resources to New Haven area small businesses and nonprofits struggling with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic; (8) Veterans Legal Services Clinic, representing Connecticut veterans and their organizations in disability benefits, discharge upgrade, and civil rights matters, as well as legislative and regulatory advocacy projects; and (9) Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, representing immigrants and low-wage workers and their organizations in labor, immigration, civil rights, and other areas.
All LSO clinics involve close collaboration among new students, experienced students, and supervising clinical faculty. LSO also devotes special attention to issues of professional responsibility and client-centered lawyering. Cases brought by LSO and its legislative, regulatory, and transactional efforts have helped make new law protecting the rights of clients in the various projects and have secured concrete benefits for individuals, families, and communities around the state, region, and country.
In addition to the LSO clinics, Yale Law School offers other clinics, projects, and experiential learning opportunities. These include (1) Appellate Litigation Project, representing pro se clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; (2) Capital Punishment Clinic, representing people facing the death penalty; (3) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Clinic, providing legal counsel to for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurs; (4) Environmental Protection Clinic: Policy and Advocacy, addressing environmental law and policy problems for client organizations; (5) Financial Markets and Corporate Law Clinic, formulating policy statements on proposed regulation; (6) Free Exercise Clinic, an opportunity for students to defend the free exercise of politically vulnerable religious minorities; (7) Global Health and Justice Practicum, working on issues at the intersection of public health, rights, and justice; (8) International Refugee Assistance Project, providing legal representation to refugees; (9) Legal Assistance: Beshar/Lehner Gender Violence Clinic, representing survivors of domestic violence in both civil and criminal matters; (10) Legal Assistance: Immigrant Rights Clinic, representing immigrants and their organizations in Connecticut before administrative agencies and in the legislature; (11) Legal Assistance: Reentry Clinic, providing civil representation to people with criminal convictions to help them reenter society; (12) Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, providing practical experience in human rights work; (13) Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, focusing on issues of government transparency and freedom of expression; (14) Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic, focusing on issues of national security law, antidiscrimination, and climate change; (15) Prosecution Externship, assisting state and federal prosecutors before and after trial; (16) Reproductive Rights and Justice Project, representing reproductive health care providers and/or patients in cases being handled by attorneys at national organizations; (17) Saginaw-Chippewa Disenrollment Clinic, pursuing a claim against the Department of the Interior on behalf of disenrolled members of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe; (18) San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project, researching and litigating public interest lawsuits with lawyers in the Office of the San Francisco City Attorney; (19) Strategic Advocacy Clinic, providing a real-world laboratory for students to tackle pressing issues related to criminal justice and inequality; and (20) Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic, representing clients pro bono before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In addition to simulation courses in trial practice, civil litigation, and appellate advocacy, the Law School offers a number of business practice courses, in areas as diverse as private capital markets, corporate crisis management, international arbitration, negotiating and drafting M&A agreements, and start-ups and the law.
Student-Directed Forensic, Experiential, and Editorial Programs
In the second term, students may begin participating in programs managed primarily by students under the general supervision of a faculty adviser. These programs are described in the chapter Student Organizations and Journals.
Because the study of law during the first term of law school is a difficult endeavor that requires nearly total concentration, students in their first term are strongly discouraged from working on law journals or participating in any activities other than their regular course work.
Reading Groups and Supervised Reading and Research Programs
After the first term and with the approval of the supervising faculty member, students may undertake reading or research programs for credit. There are two types of programs: (1) supervised reading or research with a faculty member, and (2) faculty-sponsored reading groups. No more than 10 units of credit for such reading or research programs may be counted toward the 83 units required for graduation. No more than 4 of these 10 units may be for participation in reading groups.
In the case of supervised reading or research, the program must be arranged with the faculty member and filed with the Office of the Registrar within the first two weeks of the term. In any term, a student may take at most 6 units of supervised research and supervised reading, no more than 3 of which may be for supervised reading. The registrar’s permission is required for a student to take more than 3 units of supervised research and supervised reading with a single supervisor in a term.
In the case of an approved reading group, each participating student may receive no more than 1 unit of credit, which must be ungraded. To obtain approval for a reading group, the student(s) organizing the group must submit a written proposal to the registrar. The proposal must (1) describe the law-related topic to be examined, (2) provide a complete reading syllabus, and (3) be reviewed and approved by the sponsoring faculty member. To receive credit, students must attend at least 750 minutes of group meetings. As noted above, no more than 4 units of credit for reading groups may be counted toward the 83 units required for graduation. For reading group policies and forms, please see the Office of the Registrar webpage. Deadlines for submitting faculty-reviewed and approved proposals to the registrar are published in that office’s calendar.
Intensive Semester Research Program
The Intensive Semester Research Program provides an opportunity for students in their fourth or fifth term to immerse themselves intensively in a major research project leading to a significant academic product, either at or away from the Law School. Approval of a proposal for an Intensive Semester is restricted to special situations where devotion of one-sixth of a student’s law school career to a single intensive research project has clear academic justification. The Intensive Semester Research Program is not designed to provide an externship experience, law school credit for public service, or opportunities to live away from New Haven for pressing personal reasons.
Under the program, students may devote an entire term to supervised and specialized research overseen by both a member of the Yale Law School faculty and, if away from the Law School, an on-site supervisor. A research project pursued away from the Law School may be located at an archival site or at a site for fieldwork where necessary to achieve the student’s research goals. Whenever an Intensive Semester is to be pursued at a location away from the Law School, the on-site supervisor who has agreed to supplement the faculty member in overseeing the student’s work will be expected, at the conclusion of the Intensive Semester, to submit a report to the faculty supervisor describing and assessing the student’s research or fieldwork. Evaluation of the student’s written product will remain the responsibility of the supervising faculty member.
To apply for the program a student must submit a comprehensive written research proposal to the registrar. The proposal should describe in detail (1) the student’s qualifications to undertake the proposed research; (2) the nature and significance of the research to be undertaken; (3) the expected product of the research; (4) the special circumstances that make an Intensive Semester, rather than a conventional semester spent at the Law School, more effective for attaining the student’s educational goals; and (5) the necessary relationship between any fieldwork and the research and writing component. The proposal must be accompanied by the written approval of the faculty member agreeing to supervise it and a statement by the faculty supervisor indicating why in the supervisor’s judgment the proposal should be approved. Each proposal will be reviewed by the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study for compliance with these requirements.
An Intensive Semester can be taken for up to 12 units of credit. The number of units to be graded will be determined by the faculty supervisor, but (1) work performed by the student for credit but not under direct faculty supervision may receive no more than 9 ungraded credits, and (2) at least 3 graded credits must be for the faculty-supervised research paper. The faculty-supervised written work may, with the approval of the instructor, be designated in the application as being undertaken in satisfaction of the Supervised Analytic Writing requirement or the Substantial Paper requirement.
Proposals for Intensive Semesters are reviewed twice during the academic year, once in the fall term and again in the spring term. The specific deadlines for submitting Intensive Semester Research Program proposals can be found on the Important Dates calendar published by the Office of the Registrar. An Intensive Semester Research Program application will be accepted by the registrar only if the student has completed all work in previously taken courses. A student whose application has been approved by the Intensive Semester Research Program Committee may register for the Intensive Semester Research Program only if all prior course work is complete. Students may not take an Intensive Semester during their final term nor take more than one Intensive Semester while at the Law School. Students who undertake an Intensive Semester away from the Law School will be expected to complete the balance of their legal education in residence at the Law School.
Full tuition is charged during the Intensive Semester regardless of where the project is pursued. Financial aid from the Law School will be awarded under the same circumstances and in the same manner as to students in residence. A student may have financial aid budgets adjusted to reflect the extra, nonreimbursed costs, if any, of living and working away from New Haven, but the Law School will not necessarily adjust financial aid for all such extra costs, especially in connection with foreign placements.
A student may not receive compensation from any source for work related to the Intensive Semester Research Program. The student may, however, be permitted to accept reimbursement, from the agency or organization at which the student is located for fieldwork purposes, to cover the extra costs referred to above, if those financial arrangements are disclosed in detail in the application for the Intensive Semester Research Program and approved in advance by the director of financial aid.
Courses Outside the Law School
After the first term, students may take for Law School credit a limited number of courses in the Graduate School, other professional schools, or the undergraduate college of Yale University. Such courses must be relevant to the student’s program of study in the Law School or planned legal career. To obtain permission to take such a course, a student must provide a written statement explaining how the course relates to the student’s legal studies or future law practice and must have (1) the recommendation of a Law School faculty member, (2) permission from the instructor of the course, and (3) permission of the registrar. The registrar determines the appropriate number of units of credit to be awarded for the course. Only one outside course per term is ordinarily allowed, and at most 12 units of credit for such courses may be counted toward the 83 units required for the degree. Of the 12 possible units of outside credit, no more than 6 units of study in a foreign language may be counted toward the J.D. Students may not undertake supervised independent study or enroll in an outside practicum with non-Law School faculty. An outside course may be elected on a credit/fail basis only if the other school or department permits that option for that course. The requirements of the other school or department must, of course, be satisfied. Other schools’ bulletins are available online at https://bulletin.yale.edu.
Note to students planning to sit the bar examination in New York State: Although courses outside the Law School may be counted toward the graduation requirements, to a maximum of 12 units, such units may not be part of the 64 classroom hours required for certification to sit the New York Bar.
In cooperation with other schools of Yale University, the Law School offers programs leading to a master’s degree and a J.D. or to a doctorate and a J.D. These programs are intended for those who wish to acquire specialized skills or some body of knowledge related to law. All proposals must be submitted to and approved by the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study. Except in unusual circumstances, joint-degree status will not be formally approved until the student has satisfactorily completed the first term at the Law School.
While joint degrees have been most common with the Graduate School and the School of Management, students have also arranged joint-degree programs with the Divinity School and the Schools of the Environment, Medicine, and Public Health. A joint-degree program is also offered in conjunction with the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. On a case-by-case basis, the Law School has permitted students to pursue joint degrees with relevant programs in other universities as well.
During terms that joint-degree students are enrolled and in residence at Yale Law School, they cannot be simultaneously enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in any other school or college either within Yale University or at any other institution. Joint-degree students must satisfy one of the two writing requirements before they can register for their penultimate term at the Law School (see Writing Requirements, above). Joint-degree students who receive 12 units of joint-degree credit may not count other outside courses toward the J.D. For more information on joint-degree requirements, consult the Office of the Registrar’s website at YLS: Inside.
Master of Arts
Some Graduate School departments and programs offer one-year master’s degrees for Yale Law School students, e.g., Economics, and others offer two-year programs. Students should consult the director of graduate studies in the relevant department for information about the program.
Application for a master’s degree program can be made at the same time as application to the Law School or during the student’s first or second year at the Law School. Detailed instructions about applications should be obtained from the Graduate School Office of Admissions.
Master of Business Administration
The School of Management offers a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), which is normally completed in two years. The three-year J.D./M.B.A. joint-degree program reduces the time to obtain both degrees to three academic years (six terms without a summer session). The program is available to prospective students applying simultaneously to the Law School and the School of Management and to first-year Yale Law students. The three-year J.D./M.B.A. is directed to students interested in business law-related practice as well as in careers as entrepreneurs and managers in business and nonprofit organizations, and as policy makers. Students in the three-year J.D./M.B.A. program will graduate with their entering class at each school.
A more detailed program description and application instructions can be found at https://law.yale.edu/JDMBA.
A J.D./M.B.A. joint-degree program, in which the J.D. and M.B.A. degrees are earned in four years, is also offered as an option. Students may apply to both the Law School and the School of Management simultaneously, or they may apply during their first year at the School of Management or their first or second year at the Law School.
It is possible to combine study for the J.D. and Ph.D. degrees. The total time in residence and the details of each program of study must be taken up with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the director of graduate studies in the relevant department, and the Law School. Students interested in such a program must be admitted to the two schools separately. They may apply to both simultaneously or, having been admitted to the Law School or the Graduate School, may apply for admission to the other program. Ordinarily, the Law School encourages a joint-degree candidate to complete the J.D. within four years. The deadline for application to Ph.D. programs varies. Please check the Graduate School website (https://gsas.yale.edu) for application information for the specific program of interest. Applicants who are potentially interested in a joint J.D.-Ph.D. program may direct any questions to the Admissions Office.
J.D./Ph.D. in Finance
This joint-degree program with the School of Management is intended for students wishing to pursue a career in business law teaching. The program is structured to permit course requirements to be completed in four years. The expectation is that law students will apply for admission to the School of Management graduate program in their first year of law school. Law students may apply at any time, but waiting to do so will lengthen the time necessary to complete the required course work. Law students interested in applying to the program should contact the director of the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law. More detailed information about program requirements is available at https://ccl.yale.edu/jd-phd-finance.
Leaves of Absence and Readmission, Extending Time for Completion of Degree, and Credit for Work Done at Another Law School
Leaves of Absence and Readmission
A leave of absence may be taken only with the permission of the dean or the dean’s delegate. A leave may be arranged under terms the dean deems appropriate, provided that a definite time is fixed for the student’s return to the Law School and that the following limitations shall apply. A student who has completed at least one term and who has been on leave of absence, other than a medical leave of absence as set forth below, for no more than two academic years shall be readmitted unless the dean recommends otherwise to the Faculty in Executive Session, as the dean may in extraordinary cases. A student who has not completed the first term will ordinarily not be granted a leave of absence except on serious medical or personal grounds. When a leave has been granted on such grounds, the dean may authorize readmission within a period of two academic years and, in the case of medical leave, as set forth in the medical leave of absence policies below. Readmission following leaves of more than two academic years may be granted in accordance with and upon completion of the terms of a plan approved by the dean prior to the student taking the leave. Such extended leaves may be arranged for personal or academic reasons.
Readmission after a leave of more than two academic years may be conditional upon less than full credit being allowed for prior work completed. In such cases, with the consent of the dean, the student will not be excluded from taking courses for which prior credit had been earned. The original credit for such courses will be canceled. Tuition will be charged in accordance with the rates prevailing at the time of readmission.
Readmission in any circumstances other than those described may be sought by petition to the Student Petitions Committee.
Students on leave of absence will be charged a special roster fee of $175 per term to be maintained on the school records during periods of nonattendance.
Medical Leave of Absence
A student who must interrupt study because of illness or injury may be granted a medical leave of absence with the approval of the dean or the dean’s delegate, on the written recommendation of a physician on the staff of Yale Health.
The Law School reserves the right to place a student on a mandatory medical leave of absence when, on recommendation of the director of Yale Health or the chief of the Mental Health and Counseling department, the dean of the School determines that, because of a medical condition, the student is a danger to self or others, the student has seriously disrupted others in the student’s residential or academic communities, or the student has refused to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by Yale Health and the dean to make such determinations. Each case will be assessed individually based on all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the level of risk presented and the availability of reasonable modifications. Reasonable modifications do not include fundamental alterations to the student’s academic, residential, or other relevant communities or programs; in addition, reasonable modifications do not include those that unduly burden University resources.
An appeal of such a leave must be made in writing to the dean of the Law School no later than seven days from the effective date of the leave.
An incident that gives rise to voluntary or mandatory leave of absence may also result in subsequent disciplinary action.
Before a student on medical leave may register for a subsequent term at the Law School, the student must secure written permission to return from a physician at Yale Health and must comply with the requirements for readmission set forth by the dean. The general policies governing all leaves of absence, described above, shall apply to medical leaves.
Leave of Absence for Parental Responsibilities
A student who is making satisfactory progress toward degree requirements and wishes or needs to interrupt study temporarily for reasons of pregnancy or childrearing may be granted a leave of absence for parental responsibilities. Any student planning to have or care for a child is encouraged to meet with the dean or the dean’s delegate to discuss leaves and other short-term arrangements. The general policies governing all leaves are described above. The general policies governing health coverage for leaves of absence are described in the chapter Yale University Resources and Services, under Health Services.
U.S. Military Leave Readmissions Policy
Students who wish or need to interrupt their studies to perform U.S. military service are subject to a separate U.S. military leave readmissions policy. In the event a student withdraws or takes a leave of absence from Yale Law School to serve in the U.S. military, the student will be entitled to guaranteed readmission under the following conditions:
- The student must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces for a period of more than thirty consecutive days;
- The student must give advance written or oral notice of such service to the dean or the dean’s delegate. In providing the advance notice the student does not need to indicate an intent to return. This advance notice need not come directly from the student, but rather, can be made by an appropriate officer of the U.S. Armed Forces or official of the U.S. Department of Defense. Notice is not required if precluded by military necessity. In all cases, this notice requirement can be fulfilled at the time the student seeks readmission, by submitting an attestation that the student performed the service.
- The student must not be away from the School to perform U.S. military service for a period exceeding five years (this includes all previous absences to perform U.S. military service but does not include any initial period of obligated service). If a student’s time away from the School to perform U.S. military service exceeds five years because the student is unable to obtain release orders through no fault of the student or the student was ordered to or retained on active duty, the student should contact the dean or the dean’s delegate to determine if the student remains eligible for guaranteed readmission.
- The student must notify the School within three years of the end of U.S. military service of the intention to return. However, a student who is hospitalized or recovering from an illness or injury incurred in or aggravated during the U.S. military service has up until two years after recovering from the illness or injury to notify the School of the intent to return.
- The student cannot have received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or have been sentenced in a court-martial.
A student who meets all of these conditions will be readmitted for the next term, unless the student requests a later date of readmission. A student who fails to meet one of these requirements may still be readmitted under the general readmission policy but is not guaranteed readmission.
Upon returning to the School, the student will resume education without repeating completed course work for courses interrupted by U.S. military service. The student will have the same enrolled status last held and with the same academic standing. For the first academic year in which the student returns, the student will be charged the tuition and fees that would have been assessed for the academic year in which the student left the institution. Yale may charge up to the amount of tuition and fees other students are assessed, however, if veteran’s education benefits will cover the difference between the amounts currently charged other students and the amount charged for the academic year in which the student left.
In the case of a student who is not prepared to resume studies with the same academic status at the same point at which the student left or who will not be able to complete the program of study, the School will undertake reasonable efforts to help the student become prepared. If after reasonable efforts, the School determines that the student remains unprepared or will be unable to complete the program, or after the School determines that there are no reasonable efforts it can take, the School may deny the student readmission.
Extending Time for Completion of Degree
Yale Law School requires students to complete their work for the J.D. degree in six terms in residence or the equivalent thereof. The Law School recognizes, however, that some students have special needs—arising because of serious illness, severe economic constraints, or extraordinary familial obligations—to extend their period of study. In such circumstances, students may petition to reduce their course load for a number of terms. Such petitions are subject to the following conditions:
- All students must complete the required work of the first term on a full-load basis.
- Upon satisfactory completion of the first term, a student may petition to reduce the work of any one term from the normal minimum of 12 units to fewer units. But in no event may a student enroll, even on a reduced-load basis, for fewer than 8 units per term. Ordinarily permission shall be granted only in cases of serious illness, severe economic need, or extraordinary familial obligation.
- Students who receive permission to pursue some of their work on a reduced-load basis must complete all required units of satisfactory work in no more than eight terms of residence.
- Upon acceptance by the Law School and before submitting a deposit, students may request that the dean rule on whether their particular situation justifies a reduced-load curriculum, as described above, after the first term. Such a ruling would be conditional on the continuation, after the first term, of the situation that made reduced-load law study appropriate.
Credit for Work Done at Another Law School
A student wishing to obtain credit toward the J.D. degree for work done at another law school must petition the dean for permission. The dean shall ordinarily grant such permission only in cases of significant personal hardship. To grant such permission, the dean must find that the proposed program of study is acceptable and that it will count for no more than 24 units of credit toward meeting Yale Law School’s degree requirements. Such credit will be given only for work completed in residence at the other law school, with a weighted average determined in advance by the dean, that would be at least the equivalent of a Pass at Yale Law School. Students denied permission by the dean may appeal to the Student Petitions Committee. No more than one year of residence and the associated units of credit will be granted for work taken at another school. Work done at another law school will not be accepted in satisfaction of the writing requirements.
Admission to practice law depends not only upon adequate academic performance in law school and successful completion of the bar examination, but also upon satisfaction of the requirements of the particular jurisdiction as to subject matter and proof of good character. These requirements differ from state to state, and students should inform themselves of the requirements of the jurisdictions in which they are interested. Because some states have early registration requirements, students should check state rules as soon as possible.
Requirements for Graduate Degrees
The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Law (Ph.D.)
In conjunction with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University, the Law School offers a Ph.D. in Law program, the first of its kind in the United States. This program prepares students who have earned a J.D. at an accredited U.S. law school to embark upon a career in the legal academy or other careers that require a scholarly mastery of law. The program gives students a broad foundation in the canonical texts and methods of legal scholarship and supports students in producing original scholarship in the form of a dissertation. The program strongly encourages, but does not require, interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law. Full details on this program are available in the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, available online at https://bulletin.yale.edu.
The Degree of Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.)
The Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) program is designed for graduates of the LL.M. program at Yale Law School who intend to teach law. To qualify for the J.S.D. degree, an admitted candidate must submit a dissertation that makes a substantial contribution to legal scholarship.
After a dissertation has been approved by the candidate’s dissertation committee and the faculty of Yale Law School, the director of graduate programs shall submit a copy (either printed or as a pdf file) to the Law Library. For up to six months following faculty approval of the degree, the degree candidate may submit a revised version (correcting typographical errors, revising footnotes, or making other changes approved by the candidate’s committee).
If the dissertation or any portion of it is thereafter published, the published version shall state that it has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate law degree at Yale Law School. All J.S.D. dissertations accepted by the faculty of Yale Law School shall be available for circulation through the Yale Law School Digital Repository and as a permanent part of the Law Library collection. Classified or restricted research is not accepted as part of the dissertation. Candidates may petition the Law School’s Graduate Policy Committee to limit electronic and public access to their dissertations, but permission will be approved only for compelling reasons. Under normal circumstances, all dissertations must be available for inspection by any member of the Yale University faculty or administration.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will be assessed at the end of each academic year for J.S.D. candidates. Quantitative (pace) measures: J.S.D. candidates must spend at least two terms in residence at Yale Law School. This requirement may be satisfied by residence as an LL.M. candidate. The J.S.D. dissertation must be completed and approved by the student’s dissertation committee by May 1 of the fifth year after J.S.D. admission. Qualitative measures: J.S.D. candidates must demonstrate satisfactory progress toward completion of the dissertation in the annual Dissertation Progress Report (DPR). Candidates shall submit a detailed report of their research, writing, and professional activities at the end of each academic year. This report must be certified by the candidate’s faculty supervisor, who must confirm that the candidate is making adequate progress each academic year.
Admission to the J.S.D. program does not carry with it a commitment of financial support. Financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated financial need only, and the extent and conditions of any support will be individually arranged. Need-based support will be provided to all eligible students for a maximum period of two academic years (four terms) in residence. A need-based, summer stipend for up to three summers may be provided to support full-time work on the dissertation in New Haven. Students who have completed two years in residence may apply for an additional nine months of need-based financial aid, which will be awarded annually on a competitive basis.
More than two academic years in residence may be allowed if candidates have funding for tuition, living expenses, etc.; are making good progress on their dissertations; and have approval from their dissertation supervisors.
For information on admission procedures for the J.S.D. program, please see the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid.
The Degree of Master of Laws (LL.M.)
Each year, the Law School admits a limited number of graduate students to pursue studies in law beyond the first professional degree. Admission is generally open only to those committed to a career in teaching law.
Graduate students are admitted for one year of study leading to the degree of Master of Laws (LL.M.). Each LL.M. student is invited to utilize the resources of the Law School to create a program of study that will best prepare that individual for a career in research and teaching. Beyond meeting credit requirements for the degree, no uniform course of study is prescribed for LL.M. students. An LL.M. student’s program of study consists of a minimum of 24 units of credit (at least 12 units per term, unless approval is granted by the assistant dean or director of graduate programs), which must include at least 18 units of regular course offerings (in the Law School or in other schools at the University). With approval of the instructor and a Law School faculty member, up to 6 units of credit toward the LL.M. degree may be earned in courses in other schools in the University. Up to 6 units of research supervised by a Law School faculty member may be counted toward the LL.M. degree. Participation in reading groups and supervised reading may not exceed 3 units and does not count toward the required 18 units of regular course offerings, but may count toward the required 24 units. During the program, a minimum of 18 units (or 16 units if a student takes a first-term ungraded course) must be taken for a grade. If a student is given the option to change the grading basis of a course, clinic, or program of individual work to credit/fail, the student must exercise the option within the first two weeks of the term by filing the appropriate form with the Office of the Registrar by the published deadline for the term. After this deadline, the grade mode may not be changed by the student or the faculty member.
Students will be withdrawn from the LL.M. program if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms. A student who has been withdrawn as an LL.M. candidate for failure to maintain satisfactory grades will only be readmitted upon a favorable vote of the Faculty in Executive Session.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will be assessed each term for LL.M. students. Quantitative (pace) measures: Each student in the LL.M. program must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours over the course of two terms in residence. To maintain full-time status in good standing, each student must be enrolled in 12 to 16 credit hours each term, unless the assistant dean or director of graduate programs has approved an exception. LL.M. students are expected to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring term of the academic year during which they matriculate. Each student must complete 100 percent of all credit hours attempted by the end of the second term unless, in extraordinary circumstances, an extension has been approved by the Graduate Policy Committee. In the event of such an extension, all LL.M. work must be completed successfully by December 1 of the calendar year in which the student was to have graduated. Students who have not successfully completed the LL.M. requirements by this time will be withdrawn. To maintain SAP, each student in the LL.M. program must complete 75 percent of the credit hours attempted by the end of the first term of study and 100 percent of all credit hours attempted by the end of the second term. Qualitative measures: Students will be disqualified as LL.M. candidates and will not be allowed to continue in the program if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms. A student who has been disqualified as an LL.M. candidate for failure to maintain satisfactory grades will not be readmitted without a favorable vote of the Faculty in Executive Session.
For information on admission procedures for the LL.M., please see the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid. Admission does not carry with it a commitment of financial support. Financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated financial need only, and the extent and conditions of any support will be individually arranged.
The Degree of Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.)
The Law School established the Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) degree program for a small number of non-lawyers who seek to obtain a basic familiarity with legal thought and to explore the relation of law to their disciplines. It is a one-year terminal program designed for those who do not desire a professional law degree, but who are interested in a more formal affiliation with the Law School and a more rigorous curriculum than that offered by the visiting researcher program. Students in the M.S.L. program are ordinarily experienced scholars with doctorates who have research or teaching objectives in mind, or mid-career journalists seeking an intensive immersion in legal thinking so that they are better able to inform their audiences upon their return to journalism. Those who have completed a professional law degree are not eligible for the program. Participants in the M.S.L. program are not eligible for subsequent admission to the J.D. program at Yale Law School.
Candidates for the M.S.L. degree are required to complete at least three of the first-term courses (12 units), plus an additional 15 units, for a total of at least 27 units. There are four first-term courses (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Administration, and Procedure; see First Term, in the chapter Academic Requirements and Options). The M.S.L. student may substitute an elective for one of the first-term courses. The second term is entirely elective and affords opportunities for independent research and clinical experience in addition to regular courses and seminars. With approval of the instructor and a Law School faculty member, up to 6 units of credit toward the M.S.L. degree may be earned in courses in other schools at the University. Up to 6 units of credit toward the M.S.L. degree may be earned from research supervised by a Law School faculty member; participation in reading groups and supervised reading may not exceed 2 units.
In the second term, at least 10 of the minimum 12 units required must be graded units. If a student is given the option to change the grading basis of a course, clinic, or program of individual work to credit/fail, the student must exercise the option within the first two weeks of the term by filing the appropriate form with the Office of the Registrar by the published deadline for the term. After this deadline, the grade mode may not be changed by the student or the faculty member.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will be assessed each term for M.S.L. students. Quantitative (pace) measures: Each student in the M.S.L. program must complete a minimum of 27 credit hours over the course of two terms in residence. Each student must successfully complete at least three of the first-term courses (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Procedure, and Torts and Regulation) during the fall term. Each student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours each term. M.S.L. students are expected to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring term of the academic year during which they matriculate. Each student must complete 100 percent of all credit hours attempted by the end of the second term unless, in extraordinary circumstances, an extension has been approved by the Graduate Policy Committee. In the event of such an extension, all M.S.L. work must be completed successfully by December 1 of the calendar year in which the student was to have graduated. Students who have not successfully completed the M.S.L. requirements by this time will be withdrawn. To maintain SAP, each student in the M.S.L. program must complete 75 percent of the credit hours attempted by the end of the first term of study and 100 percent of all credit hours attempted by the end of the second term. Qualitative measures: Students will be disqualified as M.S.L. candidates and will not be allowed to continue in the program if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms. A student who has been disqualified as an M.S.L. candidate for failure to maintain satisfactory grades will not be readmitted without a favorable vote of the Faculty in Executive Session.
For information on admission procedures for the M.S.L. program, please see the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid. Admission to candidacy does not carry with it a commitment of financial support. Financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated financial need only, and the extent and conditions of any support will be individually arranged.
Freedom of Expression
The Yale Law School is committed to the protection of free inquiry and expression in the classroom and throughout the school community. In this, the School reflects the University’s commitment to and policy on freedom of expression as eloquently stated in the Woodward Report (Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale, 1974). See https://studentlife.yale.edu/guidance-regarding-free-expression-and-peaceable-assembly-students-yale.