Academic Advising Frequently Asked Questions

How can I qualify for a waiver of the minimum course load requirement?
JD and JD-LLM students who need fewer than 12 credits in their final semester may request a waiver of the minimum course load requirement.  Dean Barnes (for JD students) and Dean Lacoff (for JD-LLM students) may approve such a request for a student to enroll in as few as 10 credits upon review of the student’s progress toward graduation.  Students may submit their request to Dean Barnes or Dean Lacoff via email during the drop/add portion of the registration period for their final semester.
Do all Wintersession courses count toward my experiential learning credit requirement?

No, only those Wintersession courses that are sufficiently simulation-based count for experiential learning credit. To see a list of which courses count, please use the “JD – experiential learning” search parameter under the drop-down list below “JD Course of Study” in the course browser.

Are there any pass/fail options for classes at Duke Law?

In any given Duke Law course, students must be evaluated on one of the following grading bases:

1. Graded on the Law School’s numerical grading scale


2. Pass/fail, which the Law School calls credit/no credit. Note, the grading terminology for the 1L Foundations of Law courses is pass/low pass/fail.

The grading basis for each course is approved by the Curriculum Committee. Courses are approved as graded, credit/no credit, or both. The latter category is the only one that allows students to choose whether they would like to be evaluated with a grade or credit/no credit designation.

Students can look for the credit/no credit designation both in the course description on the Course Browser and in the course information provided in DukeHub.

Students are not allowed to take a course as credit/no credit if it is not approved as credit/no credit or “both” by the Curriculum Committee. In other words, students cannot take a course that is approved as graded-only on a credit/no credit basis.

At the supervising faculty member’s discretion, student work in the following courses or programs shall be either graded according to the Law School’s numerical grading scale or evaluated and recorded in credit/no credit terms:

  1. independent study [see Rule 3-12(1)],
  2. ad hoc seminars and research tutorials [see Rule 3-12(2) and Rule 3-12(3)],
  3. capstone projects, and
  4. domestic externships.
I am enrolled in a clinic and the number of hours that I have worked is much more or less than the amount of credit that I registered for. May I adjust the number of credits for my clinic?

The University Registrar does not permit adjustments to the amount of credit after the close of the drop/add period. The amount of credit for a clinic is determined by the student and faculty supervisor together at the beginning of the semester, based on the case load that the student agrees to. Students who exceed the number of hours required for the amount of credit may count those additional hours as pro bono service.

I am enrolled in Duke in DC, or studying abroad, may I also enroll in an independent study for the semester?

Independent study is generally not permitted for students participating in Duke in DC or study abroad. Due to the intensive nature of project development for independent study, students should be in residence on-campus for the semester to have the full advantage of faculty guidance.

I am enrolled in Duke in DC, may I take a course at a DC-area law school as well?

No. A student may not be enrolled in programs or courses at more than one school, absent an inter-institutional agreement between the schools. Duke Law School does not have an inter-institutional agreement with any DC-area law schools.

May I use a paper that I write while studying abroad to fulfill the Substantial Research and Writing Project?

No. A research paper written for the Substantial Research and Writing Project must be supervised by a Duke Law faculty member.

My summer employer requires that I earn academic credit for my unpaid summer internship. How can I fulfill this requirement?
  • The ABA requires that a student’s educational achievement in field placements (externships/internships) be evaluated by a faculty member in order for the school to grant academic credit for the experience. Summer internship performance is evaluated by the employer/supervising attorney, and not by a Duke Law School faculty member. Therefore, we are unable to award academic credit for summer internships.
  • Dean Barnes can provide a letter of explanation to employers, and offer an alternative arrangement that might be suitable for the employer and the student.
May I enroll in an independent study during the summer?

No, Duke Law School does not have an available summer term for JD students to enroll in independent study.

I would like to take a course in another department of the University. How many credits will that count toward my JD degree requirement?

A one-unit course at the graduate/professional school level (500-level or higher), will count as three credits toward the 87-credit JD degree requirement or the 101-credit JD-LLM degree requirement.

Will the grade for the course be factored into my Law GPA?

No. The grade will show on your transcript, but it will not be factored into your GPA.

How do I register for a course at Fuqua?

Each semester, Fuqua will release a limited number of courses for enrollment by non-MBA students. The list of courses is provided to the registrar’s offices at the other Duke graduate and professional schools in July for fall registration and October for spring registration. The Law School Registrar’s Office publishes the list on the Registration Portal, along with links to additional registration information for Fuqua classes, and the registration permission form. The registration permission form must be signed by Dean Barnes and the Fuqua instructor (permission via email may be substituted for the instructor’s signature).

How do I register for a course at the Graduate School or another professional school on campus?

Registration information for the Graduate School and other professional schools is published by the Law School Registrar’s Office on the Registration Portal, along with a link to the non-law course permission form. The permission form must be signed by Dean Barnes for JD students or Dean Lacoff for dual-degree students. Non-law courses must be of suitable academic rigor. Courses at the 500 level or higher are presumed to be suitably rigorous. Only courses above the 500 level (graduate/professional school level) may be applied as credit toward the JD or JD-LLM degree.

I would like to take a foreign language course. How do I know what level to enroll in?

The Languages at Duke website has links to each department and program website, where you can find placement information for the individual language program(s). If you cannot easily find this information, call the main department number and ask for the number and/or email of the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Language Program Director or Coordinator, who should be able to assist you with placement. Please note that undergraduate courses may not count toward any graduation requirement, including the number of credits. Only courses about the 500 level (graduate/professional school level) may be applied as credit toward the JD or JD-LLM degree.

Why do some course descriptions on the Course Browser include a sample syllabus, and others do not?

The posting of sample syllabi is a newly available feature of the Course Browser. Sample syllabi are posted at the discretion of the faculty member. Academic Affairs is working to get syllabi from as many instructors as possible.

Is there a limit to the number of ungraded credits that I can take?

No, except that to be eligible for Latin honors at graduation, 80% of your coursework must be in graded credits.

Does the Foundations of Law credit count toward the 87-credit JD graduation requirement?


Does the paper that I write for the Substantial Research and Writing Project have to be for a graded credit?


I am a JD student – may I attend the Duke-Leiden Institute in The Hague, the Netherlands?

Yes, JD students are permitted to attend the Duke-Leiden summer institute. However, the credits earned at the summer institute will not be grounds for a waiver of the minimum course load requirement in a later semester.


Interested in taking a course outside the Law School?

The Registrar’s Office publishes a list on the Registration Portal of classes available at Fuqua, along with links and resources for other Duke courses and offerings at nearby law schools UNC and NCCU.

View courses outside Duke Law