JD Graduation Requirements (effective with entering class of Fall 2011)

Maximum Time to Complete JD Degree

The maximum time for all students to complete a JD degree is six years.

Credits Needed to Graduate

The total number of credits needed to graduate with a JD degree is 86 for all students entering Fall 2011 and thereafter.

  • At least 70 of the 86 credits must be letter-graded on the A/B/C/D/F grade scale. (Only 16 credits may be earned on either the H/P/L/F or P/F scale.) List of all courses graded PF/HPLF.
  • At least 80 of the 86 total credits must be earned at the University of San Diego School of Law.
  • The Dean or his or her designate may grant exceptions to the above for students who transfer to USD from other law schools or who visit other law schools during a Fall or Spring semester.

Residency Requirements

Full-Time Students

  • Students who enter full-time must attempt and pay for six (6) full-time fall or spring semesters of at least 12 credits for graduation.
  • Students may apply up to four (4) credits earned in a prior summer session toward the requirement of attempting 12 credits in a subsequent regular semester. Students can apply up to seven (7) credits earned in any summer program in this fashion to any subsequent semester as long as no more than four (4) are applied in any single subsequent semester. For example, a student can take four (4) credits in the summer and apply all credits to the upcoming Fall or Spring semester and therefore attempt fewer than 12 credits in that upcoming semester (although students will pay full-time tuition as if they had attempted 12 or more credits).
  • Students may petition to graduate in five (5) full-time semesters in limited circumstances only.

Part-Time Students

  • Students who enter part-time must attempt and pay for eight (8) part-time regular semesters (8 to 11 credits) for graduation.
  • Students may petition to graduate in seven (7) part-time semesters in limited circumstances only.

Minimum Cumulative GPA

The Minimum Cumulative GPA for all students is 2.00.

Written Work Requirement

The written work requirement may be satisfied in any of the following ways:

  • Completion of a substantial, in-depth research paper of no fewer than 20 pages in length in a course of limited enrollment centered on the preparation of such in-depth research paper. Such classes that will fulfill this requirement are designed with a "W" in the class schedule.
    • Be aware that successful completion of a writing course is not determined by the student’s grade in the course, but is separately indicated by the professor in the manner specified by the Law School’s administration.  If you have any questions about the writing requirement, please consult the Office for Law Student Affairs.
  • Scholarly written work submitted to the San Diego Law Review, San Diego International Law Journal or Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues for publication upon certification of the approving faculty member.

Professional Skills Requirement

Students must pass a Professional Skills elective from a list of such courses designated by the Dean's Office. A course will be included on this list if it provides substantial instruction in the professional skills encompassed by ABA Standard of Approval for Law Schools 302(a)(4). Professional Skills Courses are designated with an "S" on the class schedule.

Required courses

The required courses for all JD students can be found in the following table.

Courses Required in the First Year Credits
Civil Procedure I* 3
Civil Procedure II* 3
Constitutional Law I* 4
Contracts 4
Criminal Law 4
Property 4
Torts 4
Lawyering Skills I 3
Introduction to the Study of Law 1
Courses Required Beyond the First Year Credits
Professional Responsibility 3
Tax I 3
36 **

*First-year Part-Time students take these courses in the second year
** Students who complete their first year with a GPA of 2.60 or below are subject to Academic Supervision and are required to take additional courses. Please see the Office for Law Student Affairs for more information.

Elective Courses Requirements

JD Students must take additional elective courses to total 86 credits. Students may select their elective courses after the first year. Below is a list of courses that are covered on bar exams which are not required for graduation, but are offered as electives. 

For the California Bar these courses include:

  • California Civil Procedure
  • Community Property
  • Constitutional Law II
  • Corporations
  • Criminal Procedure I
  • Evidence
  • Remedies
  • UCC Sales
  • Wills and Trusts

Please keep in mind while making out your schedule that some non-bar electives are not offered every year.

Limitations on Electives

These following cumulative limitations on electives apply.

Elective Limitations Maximum Credits
Independent Study 2
Independent Supervised Research, Journals, and Moot Court Combined 6
Non-USD Law Transfer Credit 6


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Fax: (619) 260-7715


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