JD Graduation Requirements

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 85 for students who entered prior to Fall 2011 and 86 for all students entering Fall 2011 and thereafter.

  1. Total Number of Credits Needed for Students Entering in Fall 2009 and Thereafter

    • For at least 67 of the 85 credits required by this rule for students who entered prior to Fall 2011, the student’s transcript must indicate a grade on the A/B/C/D/F grade scale. (Only 18 credits may be earned on either the H/P/L/F or P/F scale.)
    • For at least 70 of the 86 credits required by this rule for students who entered in Fall 2011 and thereafter, the student’s transcript must indicate a grade 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 79 of the 85 credits required for students who entered prior to Fall 2011 and 80 of the 86 credits required for students who entered in Fall 2011 and thereafter 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

Residency requirements apply to students who have entered after Fall 2009.

Full-Time Students

  • Option to Graduate in Six Full-Time Semesters
    • 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 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 7 credits earned in any summer program in this fashion to any subsequent semester as long as no more than 4 are applied in any single subsequent semester. For example, a student can take 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). As set forth below, USD law students are limited to six (6) credits from non-USD and non-law graduate classes.

Part-Time Students

  • Option to Graduate in Eight Part-Time Semesters
    • Students who enter part-time must attempt eight part-time regular semesters (8 to 11 credits) for graduation.

Minimum Cumulative GPA

The Minimum Cumulative GPA for all students is 2.00.

Written Work Required

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.
  • Scholarly written work submitted to the Law Review, San Diego International Law Journal or Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues for publication upon certification of the approving faculty member.
  • 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 professors in the manner specified by the Law School’s administration.  If you have any questions about the writing requirement, please consult the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.

A Professional Skills Course Requirements

As a condition for graduation, students beginning their law studies in 2007 or later must pass a Professional Skills elective from a list of such courses designated by the Dean. 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 schedule of courses.

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
Legal Writing and Research I and II 3
Introduction to the Study of Law (for students who entered Fall 2011 and Fall 2012 only) 1
Courses Required Beyond the First Year Credits
Professional Responsibility 3
Tax I 3
35 **

*First-year Part-Time students take these courses in the second year
** Effective with the entering class of Fall 2009, students who complete their first year with less than a certain grade point average determined annually by the law school are required to take an additional 1 credit legal analysis/writing class in the fall of their second year. This class is graded H/P/L/F.

Elective Courses Requirements

JD Students are required to take additional elective courses to total 85 credits, if they enrolled prior to Fall 2011 and 86 credits if they entered after Fall 2011, Students may request to enroll in elective courses after the first year. There are courses that are covered on the Bar Exam which are not required, but are offered as electives. 

For the California Bar these courses include:

  • Community Property (2 or 3 credits)
  • Constitutional Law II (3 or 4 credits)
  • Corporations (4 credits)
  • Criminal Procedure (3 credits)
  • Evidence (4 credits)
  • Remedies (3 or 4 credits)
  • UCC Sales (3 credits)
  • Wills and Trusts (3 or 4 credits)

Additional California Bar courses:

  • California Civil Procedure (3 credits) – occasionally offered
  • California Evidence – not regularly offered
  • Business Associations – not regularly offered

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.

Effective with the Entering Class of Fall 2009
Course Type
Maximum Credits
Independent Study 2
Independent Supervised Research, Journals, and Moot Court Combined 6
Non-USD Law Transfer Credit 6


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