Graduation Requirements

J.D. Program

To earn the Juris Doctor, students must complete six semesters of study, earn 86 law semester credits, pass all required classes, complete the required writing project, and have a minimum cumulative 2.5 grade-point average (2.0  grade-point average for students who matriculated prior to August 2015).

All students must complete at least 68 credits in regularly scheduled Law School classes. "Regularly scheduled Law School classes" include:

  • Law School courses and seminars, including courses cross-listed at the Law School but originating in another school or department at the University
  • Law School clinics and clinical placements approved by the Associate Dean for Clinical Education and Service Learning
  • Credits from another ABA-approved law school or from approved study in a foreign exchange program

Regularly scheduled Law School classes do not include:

  • Independent study work
  • Non-law classes
  • Research tutorials
  • Externships (other than those deemed to meet the law school’s clinical requirement)
  • Designated Advanced Clinics (see Course Catalogue for designations)

First-Year Coursework Requirements

Students must pass all UCI Law School first-year courses, or their substantial equivalents, with a cumulative law GPA at the end of the second semester of 2.5 or higher (2.0 or higher for students who matriculated prior to August 2015). The Assistant Dean for Student Services will determine whether classes taken at another law school are sufficient for transfer students to meet the UCI first-year coursework requirement. If not, the student will be notified which courses are needed to complete the requirement.

Upper-Level Academic Requirements

Writing Requirement

  1. Students must complete at least one major writing project, such as a substantial research paper or a legal brief, with frequent feedback from a faculty member. The project must be original and it must be the product of individual work, not a group assignment. The project shall be a minimum of 7,000 words of substantive original analysis and research. The instructor shall determine whether the 7,000-word minimum is inclusive or exclusive of footnotes and references. This work may be completed in a seminar, a Directed Research project, or through other work. The supervising faculty member must review multiple drafts and certify the final project as meeting these requirements by the first business day in October for students graduating in the fall and the first business day in February for the students graduating in the spring. Directed Research courses may fulfill the writing requirement; students may receive from 1 to 3 units of credit as agreed to in advance in writing by the instructor. (See also II. G.)

    Students may not fulfill the writing requirement through a course that fulfills the Law School’s Clinical Requirement or Professional Responsibility Requirement.

  2. If a student has an Incomplete in a course that fulfills the upper-level writing requirement the student must satisfactorily complete the course work within the time limits stated in V.B. Students who fail to meet the deadline will receive no credit for the course and the Incomplete will be transformed to the letter grade of “F” and will be so recorded on the student transcript. 

  3. At the completion of the first year Lawyering Skills course at the School of Law, students will have a meeting with their professor in which the students will receive advice as to the type of writing assistance they need and as to approaches they should consider in meeting their upper-level writing requirement.

  4. Students are strongly encouraged to develop a portfolio over the course of law school, which will include all of their major written work and other forms of presentation as appropriate. The School of Law will assist students in the preparation of these portfolios.
Clinical Requirement

All students are required to complete at least one semester of clinical education, either in a Law School clinic or at a clinical placement that is approved by the Associate Dean of Clinical Education and Service Learning. This shall involve a live client or other real-life practical experience, appropriately supervised and designed to encourage reflection by students on their experiences and on the values and responsibilities of the legal profession, and the development of one’s ability to assess his or her performance and level of competence.

Race and Indigeneity Requirement

As a requirement for graduation, students must complete a minimum of 2 credits in a graded course including substantial content relating to, race and indigeneity, structural inequity, and the historical bases for such inequity. Each year prior to Fall registration, the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Curriculum Committees, will publish a list of courses that enable students to meet the requirement. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the Senior Associate Dean to meet this requirement with a course of study devised by that student, including on the basis of directed research under faculty supervision or classes taken in other units at the university.

LL.M. Program

Number of units: minimum 24 units

Required Course

2 units total (fall term)

Introduction to American Law

This course is designed to introduce foreign lawyers to the legal system in the United States and the fundamentals of American law. Students will learn about the basic structure and operation of American government, with an emphasis on how cases progress through the court system. The class will examine differences between the American common law legal system and civilian systems. Students will become familiar with foundational principles underlying the American legal system, such as judicial review, due process, equality, and others. The class will also provide Academic Skills Program (ASP) concepts to provide students with additional skills to prepare them for success in other law school courses and exams.

Elective Courses

22-28 units total (from the upper-division J.D. program. and LL.M.-specific electives)

The LL.M. curriculum includes a broad range of classes from across the upper-division J.D. curriculum. Students may choose an academic program that best suits their individual needs and interests. Students will receive individual academic advisement from the LL.M. Program staff to determine their course of study and receive guidance on issues including eligibility to sit for a U.S. bar examination. 

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