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Academic Requirements and Options

Requirements for the Degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.)

To qualify for the J.D. degree, students must at all times meet the conditions to continue as a degree candidate, must complete a total of 83 units of satisfactory work, must satisfy the writing requirements, must spend at least six full terms or the equivalent thereof in residence, and must be recommended for the degree by the faculty. A maximum of 10 of the 83 units required for graduation may be approved for independent research and reading. A minimum of 64 of the 83 units must be Yale Law School faculty-supervised credits. No degree will be awarded with incomplete work remaining on a student’s record.

Attendance at Yale Law School is full-time for a period of six terms. 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. 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.

Failure to attend scheduled classes without good cause, such as illness, constitutes adequate grounds for dismissal from the Law School.

First Term

Each student must take courses in Constitutional Law, Contracts, Procedure, and Torts. In one of these subjects, the student is assigned to a small group. This seminar-style course, with about eighteen students, integrates elementary training in legal research and writing with the regular course work. All first-term courses are graded on a credit/fail basis.

Curriculum after the First Term

After the first term, students must satisfactorily complete at least 67 units of credit. Students are free to select their own curriculum, but by graduation they must complete (1) the basic course in Criminal Law or Criminal Law and Administration, (2) a course of at least 2 units substantially devoted to issues of legal ethics or professional responsibility, (3) beginning with students who matriculate after June 30, 2012, a course or program of at least 2 units involving the close supervision of professional skills, and (4) the writing requirements described below. Courses that meet the legal ethics/professional responsibility requirement are marked with an asterisk. (Note: Students who matriculate after June 30, 2012, and are planning to sit for the New York Bar should consult the YLS: Courses Site to ensure that they enroll in a professional responsibility course that satisfies the New York State Bar requirements.) Courses that meet the professional skills requirement are marked with a dagger.

A student must enroll in no fewer than 12 and no more than 16 units of credit in any term, including the final term of residence.

Conditions for Continuing as a J.D. Candidate

J.D. students who receive 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 will be disqualified as J.D. candidates and will not be allowed to continue in the School if they receive (a) two Failures in any one term, (b) a total of three Failures, (c) Low Pass or Failure in four or more courses or individual work programs by the end of the third term, (d) Low Pass or Failure in five or more courses by the end of the fourth term, (e) Low Pass or Failure in six or more courses by the end of the fifth term, or (f) Low Pass or Failure in a total of seven or more courses or individual work. 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.

At the end of a student’s first or second term, the appropriate dean will consult with any student who appears to be doing marginal work. The dean will discuss with the student the advisability of continuing in the Law School.

At the end of each academic year, the assistant dean and 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 to 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 www.law.yale.edu/sapjd.

Limitations on Credit/Fail Units

A faculty member may offer a course or program of individual work on a credit/fail basis if the work is of such character that the faculty member believes it is not feasible 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. 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. Once such election is made, it may not be changed. Credit/fail work will not be accepted toward fulfillment of the Supervised Analytic Writing requirement, but papers written to meet the Substantial Paper requirement may be graded on a credit/fail basis. That election, however, should be made at the beginning of the project.

After the first term, a student must take at least 51 units of graded work. At least 9 of these 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.

Writing Requirements

For graduation, the faculty requires that each student undertake 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 her or his penultimate term at the Law School. Specifically, the Law School requires that the professor supervising one of those writing projects must certify the student’s completion of the project before the student can register for her or his penultimate term (see the chapter Registration); 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 January examination period.

A Supervised Analytic Writing paper for 3 units involves work that is closely supervised by a Law School faculty member 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. 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. Professors may accept Substantial Papers on either a graded or credit/fail basis; the election of graded or credit/fail should 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.

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Options within the Course of Study for the Degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.)

Research and Writing Opportunities

The Law School offers a number of opportunities for students to engage in research and writing under faculty supervision:

  • 1. Research and writing in the first-term small group (see First Term, above).
  • 2. Research and writing in a clinical program (see Writing Requirements, above, and Clinical Programs, below).
  • 3. Research and writing in connection with seminars or courses.
  • 4. Individual research and writing under faculty supervision (see Reading Groups and Supervised Reading and Research Programs, below).
  • 5. Research and writing in connection with the Intensive Semester Research Program (see below).

Faculty members and visiting professors may supervise either Supervised Analytic Writing or Substantial Papers. Lecturers and visiting lecturers may only supervise Substantial Papers in connection with the course they are teaching. The faculty encourages students to publish their written work in law journals and other periodicals and to make this work available to other scholars as reference material. A number of prizes are awarded for outstanding scholarly writing (see Prizes, in the chapter Alumni and Endowment Funds).

Clinical Programs

The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO) provides legal representation to individuals and organizations in need of legal services but unable to afford private attorneys. Students, supervised by Law School faculty members and participating attorneys, interview clients, write briefs, prepare witnesses, try cases, negotiate settlements, draft documents, participate in commercial transactions, draft legislation, 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 who have completed one term of credit may, after certification by the dean, appear in state court and administrative proceedings upon compliance with the provisions of the Superior Court’s Law Student Internship Rule, sections 3–14 through 3–21 of the Practice Book. Students who have completed one term may also appear in certain federal administrative courts, such as Immigration Court. Students who have completed legal studies amounting to two terms of credit may appear in U.S. District Court upon compliance with the provisions of Rule 83.9 of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Students who have completed four terms are eligible to appear in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Veterans Claims. Training and certification guidelines have been adopted by the Yale Law School faculty in compliance with all sets of rules.

LSO’s work is divided into more than a dozen clinics: (1) Sol and Lillian Goldman Family Advocacy for Children and Youth Clinic, representing family members in juvenile court cases, particularly abuse, neglect, termination of parental rights, and delinquency cases; (2) Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic, representing criminal defendants in state and federal proceedings; (3) Educational Opportunity and Juvenile Justice Clinic, providing educational advocacy for youth facing delinquency charges, and representing students in school expulsion hearings; (4) Immigration Legal Services, representing individuals seeking political asylum in the United States; (5) Landlord-Tenant, representing indigent tenants in eviction proceedings; (6) Lawyering Ethics Clinic, working with the Connecticut Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the body charged with prosecuting claims of lawyer misconduct, to handle specific grievance cases against lawyers; (7) Legal Assistance, placing students in area legal services offices to represent the urban poor in civil matters; (8) Legislative Advocacy, representing clients seeking assistance in researching and drafting Connecticut legislation; (9) 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; (10) Mortgage Foreclosure, representing persons in foreclosure proceedings; (11) Transnational Development Clinic, representing organizations in a range of litigation and non-litigation projects that promote community-centered international development, with an emphasis on global poverty; (12) Veterans Legal Services Clinic, representing Connecticut veterans and their organizations in veteran benefits, discharge upgrade, pardon, and civil rights matters, as well as legislative and regulatory advocacy projects; and (13) Worker & 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. Investigating, developing, and deploying facts on behalf of clients are essential elements of lawyering and, therefore, of LSO’s work. 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 to secure concrete benefits for communities around the state. Students are eligible to participate in LSO after their first term. LSO also hires law students as summer interns who work full-time in the various clinics.

The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic is a Law School course that gives students firsthand experience in human rights advocacy under the supervision of international human rights lawyers. The clinic undertakes a number of litigation, research, and advocacy projects each term on behalf of human rights organizations and individual victims of human rights abuse. The clinic has worked on cases in U.S. federal courts, the U.N. system, and regional human rights bodies, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It has also drafted legislation, amicus briefs, manuals, and human rights reports.

In addition to the LSO clinics and the Lowenstein Clinic, there are a number of other clinics, projects, and experiential learning opportunities at Yale Law School. These include (1) Capital Punishment; (2) Education Adequacy; (3) Environmental Protection Clinic; (4) Ethics Bureau; (5) Global Health Justice Practicum; (6) Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project; (7) Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic; (8) Nonprofit Organizations Clinic; (9) Prosecution Externship; (10) San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project; and (11) Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic.

Student-Directed Forensic, Clinical, 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. The student-directed programs for which ungraded credit is awarded are the Capital Assistance Project; Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order Project; Greenhaven Prison Project; Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Project; Thomas Swan Barristers’ Union; Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals; Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal; Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics; Yale Journal of International Law; Yale Journal of Law and Feminism; Yale Journal of Law & Technology; Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities; Yale Journal on Regulation; Yale Law & Policy Review; and The Yale Law Journal.

In general, 1 unit of ungraded credit per term is awarded for participation in these programs. No credit is given for preparticipation portions of Barristers’ Union and Moot Court until a student completes the program; 2 units of ungraded credit are then awarded. Credit is awarded for work on the student-edited journals listed above only for substantial editorial work. No more than a total of 5 credits in student-directed programs may be counted toward the degree, and no work for which compensation is received may earn credit toward the degree.

The faculty adviser of each student-directed program is responsible for periodically reviewing the program, and the participation of each student in it, to ensure that educational objectives are being achieved and that credit is commensurate with time, effort, and educational benefits.

Because the study of law during the first term of law school is a difficult endeavor that requires near 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 a faculty member, students may undertake reading or research programs for credit. There are two types of programs: (1) supervised reading and/or research with a faculty member, and (2) faculty-sponsored reading groups. No more than 10 units of credit for 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 and/or research, the program must be arranged with the faculty member and filed with the registrar’s office within the first two weeks of the term. Usually no more than 6 units in a term may be awarded for supervised research and no more than 3 units in a term for supervised reading. In addition to the faculty member’s permission, permission of the registrar is also required if the total number of units of credit for supervised reading and/or research is more than 3.

In the case of an approved reading group, each participating student may receive no more than 1 unit of credit, which must be ungraded. In order to obtain approval for a reading group, the student(s) organizing the group must submit a written proposal to the registrar no later than one week before the first day of classes in each term. 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. As noted above, ordinarily no more than 4 units of credit for reading groups may be counted toward the 83 units required for graduation. For fall 2013, the deadline for submitting faculty-reviewed and approved proposals to the registrar will be Wednesday, August 28; for spring 2014, Thursday, December 5.

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 project, either at or away from the Law School. Approval of a proposal for an intensive research semester is restricted to those 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 taking place away from the Law School may be located at an archival site or at a site for fieldwork where necessary to advance 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 research semester a more effective vehicle for attaining the student’s educational goals than a conventional semester spent at the Law School; and (5) the necessary relationship between any fieldwork and the research and writing component. Each 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 his or her 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 research 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 Semester Research 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 proposals can be found on the Important Dates calendar published by the registrar’s office each year. An Intensive Semester Research application will not be accepted by the registrar if any of a student’s work in courses previously taken is incomplete. 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. A student may not take an Intensive Semester Research during the final term, nor take more than one Intensive Semester Research while at the Law School. A student who carries out an Intensive Semester Research away from the Law School will be expected to complete the balance of his or her legal education in residence at the Law School. Full tuition is charged during the Intensive Semester Research 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 are approved in advance by the director of financial aid.

Courses Outside the Law School

After the first term, students may take a limited number of courses in the graduate and professional schools or undergraduate college of Yale University for Law School credit when the courses are relevant to the student’s program of study in the Law School or planned legal career. To obtain permission, students must provide a written statement explaining how the course relates to their 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 shall determine the appropriate number of units of credit to be awarded for the course. No more than one outside course per term is ordinarily allowed, and no more than 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. No outside course may be elected on a credit/fail basis unless that option is permitted by the other school or department. The requirements of the other school or department must, of course, be satisfied. Their bulletins are available online at www.yale.edu/bulletin.

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.

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Joint Degrees

In cooperation with other schools and departments of Yale University, the Law School offers programs leading to a master’s degree and a J.D. (Juris Doctor) or to a doctorate and a J.D. These programs are intended for those who wish to acquire the specialized skills of 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 work in the Schools of Divinity, Forestry & Environmental Studies, 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.

Requests for information on joint-degree options at the Law School, including specifics on admission, tuition, curricular requirements, and financial aid, should be directed to the appropriate dean. During the 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).

Master of Arts

Some Graduate School departments and programs offer one-year master’s degrees and others, e.g., Global Affairs, offer two-year programs. In either case, a student can complete a joint J.D.–M.A. program in four years.

At the end of the fourth year, students should have completed all requirements for both the law degree and the one-year master’s degree. Additional courses in the Graduate School are required in two-year master’s degree programs. Individual departments generally also impose such requirements as reading knowledge of a foreign language or passage of particular examinations.

Application for a master’s degree program should 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. Initial inquiries should be directed to the appropriate dean. Application to the Graduate School should be made by the first working day in January preceding the fall term in which the student wishes to matriculate in the Graduate School, although late applications may be considered at the discretion of the Graduate School. Detailed instructions on admissions should be obtained from the Graduate School Office of Admissions. Students should also consult the director of graduate studies in the relevant department.

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 Accelerated Integrated J.D.-M.B.A. joint-degree program reduces the time taken 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 Accelerated Integrated 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 Accelerated Integrated J.D.-M.B.A. program will graduate with their entering class at both schools.

A more detailed program description and application instructions can be found at www.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 to one school during their first year at the School of Management or their first or second year at the Law School for admission to this program.

Doctorate

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, 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. Inquiries concerning joint J.D.-Ph.D. programs should be directed to the appropriate dean. The deadline for application to Ph.D. programs is in early December for the Biological and Biomedical Sciences and the Departments of Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Public Health; and in early January for other departments.

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 doing 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 on the center’s Web site at www.law.yale.edu/cbl/jd_phd.htm.

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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. Such a leave may be arranged under such terms as the dean deems appropriate, provided that a definite time be fixed for the return of the student 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 extraordinary cases. In the case of a student who has not completed one term, a leave of absence will ordinarily not be granted except on serious medical or personal grounds. Where 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 taking a 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, students 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 the readmission.

Readmission in any circumstances other than those described may be sought by petition to the Law School faculty.

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 medical leave of absence when, on recommendation of the director of Yale Health or the chief of the Department of Mental Health and Counseling, the dean determines that the student is a danger to self or others because of a serious medical condition, or that the student has refused to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by Yale Health and the dean to determine if the student is such a danger.

Before a student on medical leave may register for a subsequent term at the Law School, such student must secure written permission to return from a physician at Yale Health and comply with the requirements set forth by the dean for readmission. 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 his or her degree requirements and wishes or needs to interrupt his or her study temporarily for reasons of pregnancy, maternity care, or paternity care, 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 Living at Yale, under Health Services for Law School Students. A student who is making satisfactory progress toward his or her degree requirements is eligible for parental leave of absence any time after the first term.

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:

  • 1. The student must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces for a period of more than thirty consecutive days;
  • 2. The student must give advance written or verbal notice of such service to the dean or the dean’s delegate. In providing the advance notice the student does not need to indicate whether he or she intends 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.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. The student must notify the School within three years of the end of his or her U.S. military service of his or her 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 his or her intent to return.
  • 5. 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. Any 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 his or her 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 his or her studies with the same academic status at the same point where the student left off 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 out 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:

  • 1. All students must complete the required work of the first term on a full-load basis.
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. Upon acceptance by the Law School and before submitting a deposit, students may request that the dean rule on whether their particular situation is such as to justify 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 is required to petition the dean for permission. The dean shall ordinarily grant such permission only in cases of personal hardship. In granting such permission, the dean must find that the proposed program of study is acceptable and that it will count toward meeting Yale Law School’s degree requirements for no more than 24 units of credit, or their equivalent. Such credit will be given only for work completed in residence at the other law school, with a weighted average which is to be determined in advance by the dean, and which in no event would be less than the equivalent of a Pass at Yale Law School. In those cases where the dean has reasonable doubt about granting a petition, he will refer the matter to the faculty. Students denied permission by the dean may, of course, petition the faculty to have their request reviewed. In no case will more than one year of residence and unit credit be granted for work taken at another school. Work done at another law school will not be accepted in satisfaction of the writing requirements.

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Bar Requirements

Admission to practice law depends not only upon adequate academic performance in law school and successful completion of the bar examination, but 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.

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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 three-year program prepares students who have earned a J.D. at an American law school to embark upon a career in the legal academy or other careers that require a scholarly mastery of law. The program is designed to give students a broad foundation in the canonical texts and methods of legal scholarship and to support students in producing their own 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 in pdf and html at www.yale.edu/bulletin.

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 LL.M. graduates of Yale Law School who intend to teach law and would like to pursue a research project promising a “substantial contribution to legal scholarship.” To qualify for the J.S.D. degree, an admitted candidate must submit a dissertation that is a substantial contribution to legal scholarship. If the dissertation or any portion of it is thereafter published, it shall state that it has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate law degree at Yale Law School. The J.S.D. dissertation must ordinarily be completed within five years from the date of J.S.D. admission. Extensions may be granted for extraordinary circumstances only, with the approval of the dissertation supervisor.

At least two terms of work must be spent in residence at the School. This requirement may be satisfied by residence as an LL.M. candidate.

Admission to candidacy does not carry with it a commitment of financial support. Financial aid is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need. The extent and conditions of any support will be arranged individually. Support will be provided for a maximum period of two years in residence. A summer stipend for up to two summers may be provided for full-time work on the dissertation in New Haven.

A third or more years in residence may be allowed if candidates have funding from outside sources for tuition, living expenses, etc.; are making good progress on their dissertations; and have approval from their committee supervisors.

Students from abroad should see The Office of International Students and Scholars, in the chapter Yale University Resources and Services, for information about international students at Yale.

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.)

The Law School admits a limited number of graduate students each year 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. candidate is invited to utilize the resources of the Law School in whatever program of study will best prepare that individual for a career in research and teaching, subject to meeting unit degree requirements. An LL.M. candidate’s program of study consists of a minimum of 24 units of credit (12 units per term), which must include at least 18 units of regular course and seminar offerings (in the Law School or other schools in the University). These 18 units may include up to 6 units of individual writing under the supervision of a Law School faculty member. With approval, up to 6 units of credit toward the LL.M. degree can be earned in courses in other schools in the University. Participation in student-run programs, reading groups, journals, and supervised reading may not exceed 4 units and does not count toward these 18 units, but may count toward the required 24 units. No uniform course of study is prescribed for LL.M. candidates.

Changes in the program may be arranged during the first week of each term. To qualify for the LL.M. degree a candidate must successfully complete a minimum of 24 units of credit. Up to 6 units per year (or 8 units if a candidate takes a first-term ungraded course) may be taken credit/fail, with the consent of the instructor. Work taken credit/fail should be designated as such on the records of the registrar at the time of registration; it may be so designated subsequent to registration only with approval of the dean’s office. Students will be disqualified from the LL.M. program if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms.

LL.M. candidates are expected to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring term. If an extension is warranted, LL.M. work must be completed by December 1 of the year in which the student was to have graduated. Otherwise, the candidate will be withdrawn from the LL.M. program.

For information on admission procedures for the LL.M., please see the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid.

The Degree of Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.)

The Law School has established the Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) degree program for a small number of nonlawyers who want 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 relationship to the Law School and a more rigorous curriculum than that offered by the visiting researcher program. Candidates 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 educate their audiences upon their return to journalism. Those who have completed a professional law degree are not eligible for the program.

Candidates for the M.S.L. degree are required to complete at least three of the required 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, Procedure, and Torts; see First Term, in the chapter Academic Requirements and Options). First-term small groups are open only with the approval of the instructor. The M.S.L. candidate 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. In the second term, students must take at least 10 graded units of the 12 units required. Typically no more than 6 units of credit for courses outside the Law School can be counted toward the degree. Students will be disqualified as M.S.L. candidates if they receive one Failure or more than one Low Pass during the two academic terms. Participants in the M.S.L. program are not eligible for subsequent admission to the J.D. program.

M.S.L. candidates are expected to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring term. If an extension is warranted, M.S.L. work must be completed by December 1 of the year in which the student was to have graduated. Otherwise, the candidate will be withdrawn from the M.S.L. program.

For information on admission procedures for the M.S.L. program, please see the chapter Admissions, Expenses, and Financial Aid.

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