Duke Law School uses a slightly modified form of the traditional 4.0 grading scale. The modification permits faculty to recognize especially distinguished performance with grades above a 4.0, but no more than five percent (5%) of the grades in any class may be higher than a 4.0.
Prior to the 2022-23 academic year, Duke Law had an enforced maximum median grade as detailed below in all required doctrinal courses, first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing (LARW) and in upper-level courses with more than ten (10) students. Required doctrinal courses are: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts.
- In all required doctrinal courses, LARW, and upper-level courses with enrollments of fifty (50) or more students, the median grade was 3.3, with a mandatory distribution.
- In upper-level courses with enrollments of ten (10) to forty-nine (49) students, the maximum median grade was 3.5.
- There was no maximum median grade in upper-level courses with fewer than ten (10) students.
- A grade higher than 4.0 is comparable to an “A+” under letter grading systems. A grade of 1.5 or lower was failing.
Beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, Duke Law will have an enforced maximum median grade of 3.5 in all courses, both required and elective, regardless of enrollment. Grades in all first-year courses must follow a mandatory distribution. Similarly, for all upper-level courses in which at least 50 percent of the final grade is based on student performance on a uniform metric or series of metrics, grades must follow the mandatory distribution. A grade higher than 4.0 is comparable to an “A+” under letter grading systems. A grade of 2.0 or lower will be failing.
The Law School does not release class rank.
* For the Spring 2022 semester, the median grade was a 3.5 for upper-level courses with enrollments of 50 or more students, as well as for Property, Business Associations, International Law, and Administrative Law, elective courses in which first-year students were enrolled. These courses were also graded on a mandatory distribution.
Note on Spring 2020: In response to the Covid-19 emergency, Duke adopted a Credit/No Credit policy for Spring 2020 for all courses with one exception. Although the default was also Credit/No Credit for Legal Analysis, Research and Writing, 1L students could elect to opt for a grade in that course. Duke has returned to the grading system described above in Fall 2020.