Rules & Policies Section Two

Rule 2-1. Requirements for the JD and LL.B. Degrees

  1. Upon favorable recommendation of the Faculty, the degree of Doctor of Law (JD) or Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) shall be conferred upon students admitted to candidacy for those degrees who have successfully completed six semesters of the study of law [see Rule 3-7], excluding any summer term, with the final four semesters completed in residence. A candidate will successfully have completed six semesters of study of law if, at the end of a minimum of seventy-eight academic weeks, she/he has achieved the following:

    1. passing grades in courses aggregating not less than eighty-four credits, fifty-four credits of which have been completed in residence;

    2. a cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.1 and status in good standing (Rules 3-2 and 3-5(4)); and

    3. passing grades in all courses required by the Faculty.

    4. satisfaction of the (i) legal ethics, (ii) professional skills, and (iii) upper-level writing requirements.

  2. Except where a candidate is admitted to advanced standing [See Rule 1-1(3)], or is enrolled in an approved dual degree program [See Rule 3-13(2)], a course taken at another law school or in another division of the University shall not be credited toward the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law unless the Dean shall previously have confirmed the educational soundness and authorized the taking of that course and shall subsequently have determined that the candidate's attendance at and qualitative performance in that course have at least satisfied the minimum requirements specified both by the Association of American Law Schools and for graduation from this Law School. In general, no credit shall be awarded for such a course unless the student earns a grade no lower than 2.1 (equivalent to "C" in a letter based grading system) or its equivalent [See Rule 3-1].

Revised September 2007

Rule 2-2. Requirements for the LLM Degree (International and Comparative Law)

  1. The degree of Master of Laws (International and Comparative Law) may be conferred as a dual degree on students regularly enrolled in the JD program at Duke. The two degrees will be awarded simultaneously.

  2. The Dean shall appoint a faculty Director of the JD/LLM program, who shall administer the project subject to any policies or procedures established by the Curriculum Committee.

  3. The requirements for the simultaneous award of the LLM (ICL) degree with the JD degree are:

    1. Completion of 20 credit hours additional to that required for the JD degree, in international, comparative and foreign law subjects with a GPA of 2.5 (see paragraphs 4 and 5 below);

    2. Completion of a significant writing (four credits) on an international, comparative or foreign law subject (see paragraph 8 below);

    3. Completion of study at the four-week summer institute in either Europe or Asia (see paragraph 6 below);

    4. Demonstration of competency in at least one foreign language (see paragraph 7 below).

  4. Six credits counted toward the LLM (ICL) degree may be taken in the Graduate School or in upper-level work in Trinity College. These are in addition to the three credits of instruction from other divisions of the University that may be counted toward the JD degree. These credits may include advanced language training or courses in international, comparative, or foreign fields of study, or otherwise must be judged by the Director of the JD/LL.M program to support the student's progress towards the LLM degree.
  5. The 20 hours of study for the LLM (ICL) degree shall include the following Law School courses: International Law (public); Comparative Law: Western Legal Traditions; and Research Methods in International, Foreign, and Comparative Law. Law School courses that may be counted toward the 20 credits required in international, comparative and foreign law fields (including the three courses mentioned above) will be designated from time to time by the Director.

  6. In order to complete the 20 hours of study required for the LL.M (ICL) in addition to the requirements for the JD degree, candidates for the combined JD/LLM degree shall enter the Law School for the summer session preceding the normal fall entry date for their class and shall attend the four-week Summer Institute in Transnational Law in Asia or Europe following their first year of study. Students with a clearly defined interest in the law of a particular geographic area other than Asia or Europe (e.g., Latin America) may, with the consent of the Director, substitute a summer academic program offered by another institution focusing on that area. The Director will assess the substitute program in terms of its subject matter, duration, and academic rigor.

    An externship taken in accordance with Rule 3-25 will satisfy one semester of the six semesters in-residence requirement.

  7. The foreign language requirement may be met by any one of the following methods:

    1. Successful completion (grade C or better) of an intermediate-level course in a foreign language in the appropriate department at Duke;

    2. Demonstration of competence equivalent to completion of intermediate-level instruction in a foreign language through an ad hoc test administered by the appropriate language faculty or by a qualified member of the Law School faculty. The test will consist of translation without the use of a dictionary of a portion of a suitable text during a reasonable time period. Facility in speaking the language will also be tested;

    3. Evidence of successful completion (grade B or better) of advanced foreign language study at other higher educational institutions. A student selecting this option shall provide an official transcript showing all foreign language courses, at least one of which must be beyond the intermediate level; or

    4. Certification of language proficiency by a student whose native language is not English or by a student who has lived for extensive periods of time overseas in a non-English speaking country. A student selecting this method must seek permission from the JD/LLM program Director.

  8. After successfully completing the course entitled Research Methods in International, Foreign and Comparative Law, which must be taken during the first year of the JD/LLM program, students must satisfy the four-credit writing requirement, which counts toward the 20 credit hours required for the LLM (ICL) degree. They may do so by any combination of the methods set out below, but the Director must approve each student's specific plan. When the writing requirement is satisfied in whole or in part by written work for which credit has already been awarded (such as in seminars or courses with writing requirements), the written work is not double counted, but counts only once toward the required 20 credit hours.

    1. Up to four credit hours for seminar(s) or course(s) (designated under paragraph 5 above) in an international, comparative or foreign law topic in which credit is based on the completion of a research paper;

    2. Up to four credit hours for faculty-supervised independent study in the international, comparative or foreign law field. One to two hours of this independent study credit can be awarded for the expansion of a paper originally prepared for a seminar in an international, comparative or foreign law topic, provided that the seminar instructor agrees that the seminar paper may be appropriately expanded and agrees to supervise the expansion of the paper;

    3. The same as subparagraphs (a) and (b) of this paragraph, except that the seminar(s) or course(s) are not on the preapproved list under paragraph 5, but the seminar paper is on an international, comparative, or foreign law topic;

    4. Four hours of credit for the externship paper under Rule 3-25(2).

  9. A student who is permitted to take an externship in international law under Rule 3-25 may count no more than 10 credits toward the 20 credit hours required for the LLM (ICL) degree.

Revised May 2004

Rule 2-3. Requirements for the LLM Degree (International Students)

  1. Upon favorable recommendation of the Faculty, the degree of Master of Laws (LLM) shall be conferred upon international students admitted to candidacy for that degree who have successfully completed two semesters of the study of law in-residence aggregating not fewer than twenty-one credits, in which they have demonstrated a capacity for research and a level of scholarship substantially higher than that required for the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law. Subject to preapproval, LLM candidates who successfully complete course work at a Duke Law summer institute during the summer immediately preceding or following their two semesters in-residence at the Law School may receive credit for such summer institute course work. One component of the degree will be the submission of a substantial piece of writing, for a seminar or an independent study course, written in the English language, and prepared under the supervision and subject to the approval of a member of the Faculty. A cumulative grade point average of 2.5 will be required for award of the degree.

  2. The academic program of LLM candidates will be subject to the approval of the Curriculum Committee, on the advice of the Associate Dean for International Studies. The program will normally include an introduction to American law course, a research and legal writing course, and one regular Law School seminar. A limited program of independent study may be substituted for the seminar requirement upon the agreement of a faculty member to supervise such work, on the same terms as are generally imposed on JD or JD/LLM students doing independent study for credit. [see Policy 3-5]

Revised May 2004

Rule 2-4. Requirements for the LLM Degree (U.S. Law School Graduates)

Upon favorable recommendation of the Faculty, the degree Master of Laws shall be conferred upon a student admitted to candidacy for that degree who has successfully completed two semesters of the study of law in-residence aggregating not less than twenty-one credits, in which that student has demonstrated a capacity for research and a level of scholarship substantially higher than that required for the degree of Doctor of Law or Bachelor of Law. A candidate shall take only such courses as may be approved by the candidate's faculty advisor and the Senior Associate Dean. These courses may not duplicate courses already taken for credit as part of the candidate's previous legal or other academic training.

The candidate shall submit an essay representing substantial research on a legal subject, to be prepared under the supervision and subject to the approval of a member of the Faculty.

The candidate must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

September 1992

Rule 2-5. Requirements for the S.JD Degree

  1. General Requirements. Upon favorable recommendation of the Faculty, the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science (S.JD) shall be conferred upon a student who has: (a) been admitted from Provisional Candidacy to candidacy for the degree (paragraph 2 below); (b) submitted a dissertation proposal approved by the student's dissertation committee (paragraph 3 below); (c) completed and submitted, in a timely fashion, a dissertation suitable for publication and deemed by the Faculty to constitute a significant and original contribution to legal knowledge (paragraph 4 below); and (d) passed an oral examination on the dissertation conducted by the student's dissertation committee.

  2. Admission to Candidacy. A student admitted as a Provisional Candidate for the S.JD degree (Rule 1-5) will ordinarily be required to enroll for at least one semester and not more than a year of appropriate courses. The course requirement for each candidate will be determined by the Graduate Studies Committee in consultation with the student and his or her advisor. To be admitted to candidacy, a Provisional Candidate must ordinarily (a) complete all required courses with a GPA of at least 3.1 and (b) pass an examination designed to test the candidate's mastery of his or her chosen field.

  3. Approval of Dissertation Proposal. A student admitted to candidacy for the S.JD degree shall develop a dissertation proposal to be submitted for approval to a dissertation committee consisting ordinarily of the student's advisor and two other faculty members. The dissertation committee shall conduct an oral examination concerning the suitability and significance of the proposal and the student's ability to carry it out. On the basis of this examination, the committee may approve the proposal, approve it subject to revisions, reject it, or under exceptional circumstances, reject it without possibility of resubmission and require the student to withdraw from the program.

  4. Timely Submission of Dissertation. The dissertation must be submitted no later than three years after the dissertation proposal is approved, but this deadline may be extended by the Graduate Studies Committee for good cause shown.

Revised October 1995

Rule 2-6. Requirements for the M.L.S. Degree

The requirements for the degree of Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) are the completion of 30 credits over two consecutive semesters in-residence at the Law School. [see Rule 3-7] Other than those originating in the Law School, cross-listed courses may not be counted toward the degree. The candidate must maintain an academic average of 2.3, an average slightly higher than that required for the JD degree.

Revised May 2004

Rule 2-7. Graduation Honors

The law school has three levels of graduation honors:

  1. Summa Cum Laude:
    JD graduates whose graded work in all courses at the Law School places them in the top two percent of the students in their graduating class shall be graduated Summa Cum Laude.  While Summa Cum Laude will generally be based on the combination of first-year and upper-level courses, transfer students who have completed their upper-level course of study at Duke Law School and whose graded work at the Law School places them firmly in the top two percent of their graduating class may be considered for Summa Cum Laude by the Dean in consultation with the Administrative Committee.

  2. Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude:

    1. JD Graduates:
      JD students who have completed their upper-level course of study at Duke Law School and whose graded work at the Law School in courses other than the required first-year courses places them in the top fifteen and thirty-five percent of the students in their graduating class shall be graduated Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude, respectively.

    2. LLM Graduates:
      Students who have completed the LLM program for international law graduates or the LLM program in Law & Entrepreneurship at Duke Law School and whose graded work at the Law School places them at the same grade-point average level attained by JD students receiving at least the lowest grade-point average for which a JD student earned Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude, respectively, shall be graduated Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude.

  3. Top Five Percent Honors:
    In addition to the Latin honors awarded at graduation, JD students whose graded work in all courses at the Law School places them in the top five percent of the students in their graduating class shall be recognized for this achievement. Students shall be recognized as in the top five percent of their graduating class both after the recording of all second-year grades and at graduation. Top five-percent recognition is available only to students who complete their first year at Duke Law School.

  4. Individual Course Honors:
    The student earning the highest grade in each class subject to the mandatory median as required by Rule 3-1(b) shall be recognized for this achievement. In all classes subject to this median requirement and with final enrollments of 80 or more students, the two students earning the highest grades in the class shall be recognized. Faculty are responsible for distinguishing between students with identical reported grades to permit this recognition.

  5. Externships, Exchange Programs and Visits Away: Students who spend a semester in a Law School-sanctioned exchange program or in an externship will be eligible to receive graduation honors unless their academic performance at the other institution or during the externship is, in the judgment of the Dean in consultation with the Administrative Committee, inconsistent with the award of honors. Students who visit away at another institution during one or more upperclass semesters are also eligible to receive graduation honors if:

    1. their upperclass average at Duke is well within the range of those in his or her graduating class who are receiving the honor in question and
    2. their academic performance at the other institution is, in the judgment of the Dean in consultation with the Administrative Committee, not inconsistent with the award of honors.
  6. Summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude honors may be indicated on diplomas.

Revised August 2010

Rule 2-8. Time Limitations for Completing JD Degree Requirements

Except when a candidate is enrolled in an approved dual-degree program, all candidates for the JD degree must complete the degree requirements within five years following the date on which that student first matriculated in this or any other law school. When a candidate is enrolled in an approved dual-degree program other than a JD/M.D. or JD/PhD program, the candidate must complete all requirements of that dual-degree program within six years following the date on which that student first matriculated in this or any other law school. For students enrolled in a JD/M.D. or JD/PhD program, the period of time within which a candidate must complete all requirements for the JD degree shall be determined by the Dean. When a candidate for either the JD degree or an approved dual-degree can document hardship (e.g., debilitating disease), the period of time within which the candidate must complete all requirements for the degree shall be determined by the Dean.

Adopted 1999