Rules & Policies Section One

Rule 1-1. Admission to Candidacy for the J.D. Degree or the LL.B. Degree

  1. Any person who has been graduated from an accredited college either before commencing or during the course of study at the Law School, or any person who has received the equivalent of a bachelor's degree from a foreign university of a status equal to an accredited college before commencing the course of study at the Law School, may be admitted as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Law (J.D.). Any person who has completed in an accredited college course work equivalent in number of units to three-fourths of that required for graduation from that college may be admitted as a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Law (LL.B.), provided that such course work has been of extraordinarily high quality. In addition to grade transcripts or other documents that may be required, an applicant must submit his or her score on the Law School Admission Test before admission, provided, however, that in the discretion of the Dean (a) an applicant may be admitted provisionally conditioned upon subsequent submission of an acceptable score before being allowed to continue beyond the first year of law study, and (b) this requirement may be waived for an applicant who is physically unable to comply with it.

  2. No person who has previously attended another law school shall be admitted as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law unless eligible for readmission, or, in the case of a student admitted for advanced standing to the law school last attended; and if the applicant has previously attended a law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools, he or she must also be eligible for readmission to that law school or to a law school subsequently attended that is a member of such Association, provided, however, that in exceptional cases, in the discretion of the Dean, an applicant who does not meet these requirements may be admitted to the first-year class without credit for work completed in any law school previously attended. This rule does not apply to any student admitted for advanced standing based on a first degree in law earned in-residence with extraordinary academic achievement from an eminent foreign law faculty, provided the student has graduated in good standing from that law faculty.

  3. Any person who has complied with the requirements for admission to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law set forth in subdivisions 1. and 2., who presents evidence of the satisfactory completion of at least one year of study at any law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools may be admitted to advanced standing, subject to such requirements as may be applicable to students in this Law School. Provisional credit for course work so completed, adjusted in value in the discretion of the Dean, shall be given conditioned upon the applicant's completion of at least two full years of law study in the Law School with a grade-point average of at least 2.1. Any person who has complied with the requirements for admission to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law set forth in subdivisions 1. and 2., who presents evidence of a first degree in law earned in-residence with extraordinary academic achievement from an eminent foreign law faculty may be admitted to advanced standing, subject to such requirements as may be applicable to students in this Law School. Provisional credit for course work so completed, adjusted in value in the discretion of the Dean, shall be given conditioned on the applicant's completion of at least two full years of law study in the Law School and completion of at least fifty-four law credits with a grade point average of 2.1. [See also Rule 2-1.]

  4. Any person enrolled in the Law School's LL.M. Degree Program for International Students whose credentials, including grades in the LL.M. program, meet the standards of the Admissions Committee may be admitted as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Law (J.D.). Any person enrolled in the Law School's LL.M. Degree Program for International Students who received a first degree in law earned in-residence with extraordinary academic achievement from an eminent foreign law faculty and extraordinary grades in the LL.M. program may be admitted with advanced standing as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Law (J.D.).[See also Rule 1.1-3]. If the LL.M. student is accepted into the J.D. program before the LL.M. degree is conferred, the student has the option of the following:

    (a) receiving the LL.M. degree and then successfully completing the additional credit hours needed to satisfy the 104 total credit hours required of J.D./LL.M. candidates, see Rules 2-1(1) and 2-2(3), including all courses required for the award of the J.D. and LL.M. that have not yet been successfully completed, or

    (b) not receiving the LL.M. degree and successfully completing only the additional number of credit hours needed to satisfy the 84 total credit hours required of J.D. candidates, see Rule 2-1(1), including all courses required for the award of the J.D. that have not yet been successfully completed.

    If the LL.M. student is accepted into the J.D. Program after the LL.M. degree has been conferred, the student must successfully complete the additional credit hours needed to satisfy the 104 total credit hours required of J.D./LL.M. candidates, see Rule 2-1(1), including all courses required for the award of the J.D. that have not yet been successfully completed.

Back to topRevised May 2003

Rule 1-2. Admission to Candidacy for the M.L.S. Degree

Persons who have graduated from an accredited college and who have achieved distinction in a law-related field of study or work may be admitted as a candidate for the degree of Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.). A person who has begun study in another degree program at the Law School may not be admitted retroactively as a candidate for the degree of Master of Legal Studies, unless the Admissions Committee determines that the person would have qualified for the Master of Legal Studies programs when initially admitted to the Law School.

Back to topRevised September 1995

Rule 1-3. Admission of International Students for the LL.M. Degree

  1. International students may be admitted to the Law School by the Dean on the recommendation of the Associate Dean for International Studies. The number of students that the Law School will seek to enroll in this program will be set by the faculty upon the recommendation of the Dean. Policy decisions affecting international studies will be addressed by the faculty Curriculum Committee.

  2. International students may be admitted as candidates for the LL.M. degree if they present a good academic record in law from an institution of repute, good personal recommendations, good English language skills, assurance of ability to bear the financial cost of a year of study, and academic objectives which fit the program at Duke.

Back to topRevised May 1997

Rule 1-4. Admission of U.S. Law School Graduates to the LL.M. Degree

  1. Persons holding the degree of Bachelor of Law or Doctor of Law from an A.B.A. and AALS accredited school in the United States may be admitted by the Dean, on the recommendation of the Senior Associate Dean, to the Law School as a candidate for the degree of Master of Laws.

  2. Persons holding the degree Bachelor of Law or Doctor of Law from an A.B.A. and AALS accredited law school in the United States may be admitted as candidates for the LL.M. degree if they present a good academic record in law, good personal recommendations, assurance of ability to bear the financial cost of a year of study, and academic objectives which fit the program at Duke. No person will be admitted to the LL.M. degree program unless a member of the faculty has agreed to serve as the advisor to the candidate and to direct the candidate's research.

  3. This program is to meet special needs of particular candidates or to take advantage of particular strengths at the Law School. Candidates will be admitted only if the Dean is convinced that the Law School has the resources to conduct the particular program proposed without detracting from the other programs at the Law School.

Back to topSeptember 1992

Rule 1-5. Admission to Candidacy for the S.J.D. Degree

  1. The Doctor of Juridical Science degree (S.J.D.) is limited to a small number of outstanding students (a) who have previously earned the degree of Master of Laws or Master of Comparative Law or its equivalent from this or any other law school of recognized standing, (b) who have a superior academic record showing strong scholarly aptitude, and (c) who have a serious academic interest in law.

  2. Any person meeting the requirements of Rule 1-5(1) may, upon favorable recommendation of the Associate Dean for International Studies in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean and the Graduate Studies Committee, be admitted as a Provisional Candidate for the S.J.D. degree. The Associate Dean for International Studies will not recommend an applicant for admission as a Provisional Candidate until the applicant has submitted a statement of research intentions of sufficient rigor to induce confidence that the applicant will successfully complete the requirements of the degree (Rule 2-5) and until a member of the faculty has agreed to serve as an advisor to the applicant.

  3. A student admitted as a Provisional Candidate for the S.J.D. degree will be admitted to candidacy for the degree upon satisfaction of the requirements of Rule 2-5(2).

Back to topRevised October 1995

Rule 1-6. Admission of Students Other Than as Candidates for Degrees

A person who does not apply or who does not satisfy the requirements for admission to candidacy for a degree [See Rules 1-1, 1-3, 2-4] may, in the discretion of the Dean, be admitted as a special student, and be permitted to pursue a nondegree course of law study. Special students must maintain a 2.5 average to remain in school for more than two semesters, and may then be considered for admission to a degree program.

Back to topRevised April 1989

Policies

Policy 1-1. Decisions on Admissions to the J.D., LL.B. or M.L.S. Degree

Admissions procedure: An Admissions Committee composed of four law professors and three law students, assisted by the Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs acting ex officio, decides policy questions arising in the admissions process, and recommends rule changes to the governing faculty. All individual applications are reviewed by at least one member of the Admissions Office staff and by the Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid. Admissions decisions are made with the approval of the Dean and the Admissions Committee.

Consistent with the Law School's mission to (1) prepare students for responsible and productive lives in the legal profession by providing the most rigorous possible education within a collaborative, supportive, and diverse environment, and (2) to provide national and international leadership in improving the law and legal institutions through research and public service, the Committee requires that all admissions decisions be made using an individualized and holistic review process. Thus, the Admissions Office staff considers all information in the application. Undergraduate grades, undergraduate institution attended, and LSAT scores are among the most important criteria in admissions decisions. Applicants for whom English is not the first language must present evidence of appropriate English language skills. Letters of recommendation play a significant role in the decision making process. The additional factors weighed most heavily include, but are not limited to: demonstrated capacity for leadership, dedication to community service, excellence in a field, motivation, graduate study in another discipline, work experience, extracurricular activities, and character. Finally, the Law School believes that a student body that reflects the broad diversity of society contributes to the implementation of its mission, improves the learning process, and enriches the educational experience for all students. Thus, in reviewing applications, the Admissions Office staff considers, as one factor among many, how an applicant may contribute to the broad diversity of the Law School based on the candidate's experiences, achievements, background, and perspective. All admissions decisions are "aid-blind." Requests for financial aid are not factored into a decision to grant or deny admission.

Admission procedure for applicants to the J.D. program requesting advanced standing based on study at foreign law faculty: Applications from applicants to the J.D. program requesting advanced standing based on a first degree in law earned at a foreign law faculty in accordance with Rule 1.1.3 will be reviewed by the International Studies office, which will make initial recommendations. A special committee, consisting of the International Studies Committee, the Dean of Admissions, and the chair of the Admissions Committee, will make the final admissions decisions. Applications will be considered only from persons with a first degree in law from an eminent foreign law faculty who have a record of extraordinary academic achievement. The maximum number of such applicants who may be admitted and matriculate with advanced standing in any academic year will be five.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee September 2007

Policy 1-2. Rolling Admissions and Rejection

The Law School has no formal cutoff date for acceptance of applications, but students are strongly encouraged to submit their applications prior to January 15th. The Admissions Committee begins review of completed applications after January 15th and continues until the class is full. Applicants are notified of decisions soon after they are made by the Committee. The Committee also shall prescribe guidelines and standards pursuant to which, following full review of the application by the Admissions Office staff, the Director of Admissions may decide whether to admit or reject a candidate. The Admissions Office staff shall notify candidates of rejection decisions promptly.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-3. Deferred Consideration; Committee Deliberations

Applications which the Director of Admissions finds do not meet the Committee's guidelines or policies for recommendations of admission or rejection will be referred to the Committee Chair for action by the Chair or referral to the Committee. These applications generally will be the close cases to which the Committee's efforts are most appropriately directed.

Faculty Committee members generally review and vote individually on most files, without the need for a committee meeting. Files are circulated by the Associate Dean to the committee members in groups of 20 or fewer applications. Committee members record their votes, and the Committee chair consults with committee members if initial voting produces no consensus as to the recommended action. To assure the privacy of candid evaluations by committee members, voting sheets are not retained after the decision becomes final.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-4. Obligation List

Applicants in whom the University has a special interest, such as those with alumni family members, will be classified as "special applicants". "Special" applications are reviewed by the Admissions Director and staff, the Faculty Admissions Committee, and in certain circumstances by the Dean. The Committee makes recommendations to admit, wait list, or reject the applicant, following the procedures outlined in Policy 1-1.3. In a few cases, the Dean will make an admissions decision. In cases where the Dean makes a recommendation (rather than an admission decision) before the admissions committee has acted, the Dean's recommendation is given weight by the Committee.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-5. Committee Meetings

The Admissions Committee meets to discuss policies and procedures from time to time during the school year and begins review of applications as soon after the recommended application deadline of January 15 as possible.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-6. Discretionary List

Once the Committee has extended the agreed upon number of offers of admission, candidates in which the Committee remains interested are invited to remain on a waiting list for further action. Applicants on a wait list are not ranked, but the list is divided into a "priority wait list" of the most qualified candidates and a regular "wait list" for other highly qualified candidates. Applicants will be taken from these lists by the Director of Admissions in consultation with the Associate Dean as ended to fill the class to the targeted size. All wait list applicants are notified of admissions decisions as soon as possible.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-7. Candidate Responses

To secure a place in the class, admitted applicants must submit two non-refundable deposits. The first deposit deadline for most admitted applicants is April 15, with the second deposit due June 1. Candidates who are accepted somewhat later than the majority of the admitted applicants are given a later deposit deadline to allow them a reasonable period of time to decide whether to make a commitment to attend Duke.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-8. Admissions Control Data Reports

The Admissions Office will prepare for the Dean and the Committee reports which are essential to the continuous evaluation of the Admissions process. The Director of Admissions will provide a detailed analysis of the process periodically and as particular issues arise requiring Committee attention. Summary reports including information on the number of completed applications, the number of offers extended, the number of deposits paid, and other relevant data will be provided to the Committee weekly during the months of January, February, March and April, and periodically thereafter.

Back to topApproved by Admissions Committee October 1992

Policy 1-9. Tuition

Tuition for the Law School is fixed annually by the University Board of Trustees on the advice of the Dean and the Provost.

Back to topRevised August 1997

Policy 1-10. In Absentia Fee

Students who have received permission to spend all or part of their final year of law school at another institution shall be charged an in absentia fee for the semester or semesters "visiting" at another law school. The fee is the greater of (1) 10% of Duke Law School tuition or (2) the amount by which Duke Law School tuition exceeds the tuition at the "visited" school. The fee shall not exceed 2/3 of Duke Law School tuition.

Unless the fee is waived by the Dean's Office, students enrolled at another law school for less than a full semester but seeking to receive residence credit for such course work shall also be charged an in absentia fee. The fee, calculated in accordance with the previous paragraph, will be reduced on the basis of the ration of the number of hours for which residence credit is sought to the number of hours constituting a full semester's residence credit at Duke Law School (currently fourteen hours).

Back to topRevised August 1997

Policy 1-11. Financial Aid Decisions

Scholarship aid is awarded by the Financial Aid Committee appointed by the Dean. Awards are made by the Committee in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. The bulk of the available funds is awarded to entering students who receive three-year commitments for aid. Very limited funds are available to upperclass students based on unforeseen need, heavy loan burden, and academic performance.

Back to topRevised August 1997

Policy 1-12. Financial Aid and Loan Conditions

Scholarships and loans are provided under conditions set in accordance with applicable federal law and University and Law School policy. The terms and conditions of scholarship aid and loans are specified in detail in a written form provided to the recipient.

Back to topRevised August 1997