Academic Policies

Attendance

Attendance - Class (See Academic Rule 1.1, ABA Standards 304(b) and 304(d))

Attendance and participation required. Academic Rule 1.1 and ABA accreditation standards require students’ regular class attendance and adequate preparation, starting with the first scheduled day of class. Failure to attend class or obtain instructor permission for an absence may result in a final grade reduction or involuntary withdrawal from the course and a “W” transcript notation. Instructors who adjust grades on the basis of attendance, preparation, participation, or other factors noted in Academic Rule 11.1, will so announce in writing at the beginning of the course. Students who join a class late are responsible for all information about course attendance and participation expectations, whether announced in class or noted in the syllabus.

Class time conflicts. Pursuant to Academic Rule 10.1(d), students may not be registered for two courses that meet at the same time. Concurrent registration in two courses or seminars where there is a time conflict is limited to an actual overlap of no more than 10 minutes per week. If eligible for a conflict exception for two conflicting courses, a student must obtain signatures from instructors of both classes on the PDF iconTime Conflict Approval Form.

Enrollment requirements (See Rule 10.1(b), 10.2, 10.23, 10.3). Attendance of a class does not constitute enrollment in a course, and does not guarantee enrollment outside of established registration procedures. Instructors do not have discretion to register students in a closed class. Students who do not attend a class for which they are registered are not automatically withdrawn, and the course will continue to appear on the student’s academic record unless the course is dropped by the student in accordance with posted deadlines, or by the instructor or Dean in the case of inadequate attendance. For more information, see Registration—Cancel/Add Courses.

Attendance – Final Examinations (See Academic Rule 11)

Failure to sit for a scheduled final examination will result in failure of a course. The exam and course schedules are published prior to registration each semester, and posted on Academic Resources. Students are responsible for planning accordingly.

Exam variances. Exam variances, as permitted under Academic Rule 11.24, must be directed to the Dean of Students Office, and NOT to the instructor, in order to preserve student anonymity. Variance instructions are circulated to all students each semester, and barring emergencies, variances are granted only when requested in accordance with published timelines. An Examination Variance form is available among Student Forms. In case of emergency near in time to an exam, contact the Dean of Students Office at 612-625-2456 or lawdos@umn.edu, or the Registrar’s Office at 612-625-1845 or lawreg@umn.edu.

Attendance – Required Sessions and Programs

Students may be required to attend mandatory administrative sessions outside normal class hours either as a supplement to a credited exercise, or as part of ethics and professionalism training. Students will receive notice of such required programs via University email. Unexcused absences from such programming may result in: a letter being placed in the student’s file; unsatisfactory completion of the first year program; and/or lack of certification as being in “good standing” at the Law School.

Class Rank

Class rank is computed once each year by the Registrar’s Office at the end of the academic year after all Spring semester grades have been received. Ranks do not include Summer Session grades for the year in which they are calculated. If required, the class rank of an individual student will be given by the Registrar to Order of the Coif for qualification purposes, but will not be revealed to the student. Individual students may receive their class rank for the limited purpose of application for judicial clerkships or academic teaching positions. Class rank may not be used on a student’s resume except for the aforementioned purposes.

Students are ranked with their entering class unless they have started a joint or dual degree program, or if they otherwise fall out of sequence with their class due to a leave of absence or reduction in credit load. Any student who completes fewer than four law credits in a given academic year will not be ranked, and his or her previous year’s ranking will remain valid. See Academic Rule 12.5(a).

The Law School posts class performance via quartiles. The range of grade point averages defines each quartile for a given class. Quartiles for each class are listed on the Student Forms page under “Class Ranks & Quartiles.” Students should report their performance by stating their cumulative grade point average, and which quartile they fall within, providing the official reported grade point average range for the applicable quartile.

Joint and dual degree student class rank calculations are adjusted depending on the number of law credits completed. In the 1L year, joint degree students are ranked with their 1L class if the student has completed or has in progress 33 or fewer law credits at the time of ranking. Joint and dual degree students will be ranked with the current 2L class if they have commenced their graduate or professional coursework and have completed or have in progress between 34 and 55 credits towards their JD degree at the time of ranking, including applicable non-law course credits from the other degree program. Joint and dual degree students are ranked with the current 3L class if they have completed or have in progress 56 or more credits towards their JD degree at the time of ranking, including applicable non-law coursework from the other degree program. If a joint or dual degree student takes fewer than 4 graded law credits in an academic year, from Summer to Spring, the previous year’s rank stands, and the student will not be included in the current year’s calculation.

Classroom Environment and Use of Electronic Devices

Classroom environment

Student participation is essential to legal education, and instructors reserve the right to set expectations about classroom conduct. Activities that disrupt or distract from learning are not permitted. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to: use of laptops or other electronic devices for any non-class-related functions (i.e. instant messaging, email, social networking, web browsing, games, etc.), or use of cell phones, smartphones, music players, or similar electronic devices. Any device capable of generating noise should be turned off or silenced during each class.

Recording of Classes

If you miss class due to a medical problem or other emergency, and want your classes audio recorded, you must obtain permission from your professor.

Combined Degree Programs

Download the PDF iconCombined Degree Policies and visit the Combined Degrees page for more information.

Credit Load

Each student may carry 12 to 17 credits per semester without special approval. Any student wishing to take fewer than 12 credits must complete a Reduced Enrollment Request form and submit the form to the Assistant Dean of Student’s Office. Students wanting to take more than 17 credits in a semester must request approval from the Assistant Dean of Students. Students taking fewer than 12 credits will be charged tuition on a per-credit basis.

During Fall and Spring lottery course registration, a student will not be registered for more than 15 credits so that all students have a reasonable chance of receiving their top choices under the computerized lottery system. After the lottery process is completed, students may cancel and add courses to adjust their credit load, within the timelines imposed by Academic Rules 10.2-10.3. See Registration - Cancel/Add Courses.

Curricular and Optional Practical Training (CPT/OPT)

Paid work for students here on F-1 visas is only permitted when tied to a curricular requirement (CPT), or occurring near to or directly after graduation and directly connected to the field of study (OPT). ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services) has confirmed that this tie to the curriculum, which is required for the CPT, can be via an Independent Research project that contributes towards credit acquisition for degree requirements. (Note: Some judicial externships require students to complete the CPT process, even though they are unpaid positions. For those CPTs, no enrollment in an independent research is required, as the credits for judicial externship will suffice. All other requirements stay the same).

To set up a CPT project, students are responsible for two steps:

(a) securing employment with a legal employer (or a qualifying judicial externship); and

(b) setting up an Independent Research paper of at least 1 credit that is related to but DOES NOT DUPLICATE any work for which the student has been paid

There are two sets of related forms students are responsible for completing, securing signatures, and submitting where appropriate:

(a) CPT certification form, which provides basic information about the student and employment site and includes a sign-off for the academic advisor (Director of Student Services or Assistant Dean of Students) and faculty supervisor for their Independent Research project; and

(b) Independent Research form, completed online for registration (not required for judicial externship, though student must be enrolled in the externship credits).

In terms of timelines, CPT work is often done over the summer and the Independent Research project is often completed in the fall. While it may happen that some Independent Research is started in the summer, the projects are often completed in fall when faculty are more accessible. This provides the basis for registering students in fall Independent Research even if they have summer CPT. Students wishing to complete the Independent Research over the summer, and to be enrolled under a summer term, may certainly do so, if desired.

Key considerations for students setting up CPT:

  • Students on F-1 visas CANNOT earn money from employment unless they have made appropriate CPT arrangements;
  • Paid work MUST be related in some way (even if generally) to a credited exercise for the degree program, most often an Independent Research project;
  • Assignments for a credited exercise CANNOT duplicate work that has been completed for an employer. For instance, if a student is assigned a memorandum on an Intellectual Property question at work, they cannot submit that memo for their Independent Research credit. However, their Independent Research topic can and should relate to the general field in which they are working, so they could validly complete Independent Research on an Intellectual Property topic that was not the same as the memo submitted for work.

For more information, contact the Assistant Dean of Students Office at lawdos@umn.edu, or 612-625-2456. See also the ISSS F-1 Work Options web page.

Determining Credit Hours for Coursework

The rules for determining credit hours for coursework are described in the PDF iconFaculty Policy on Credit Hours.

Duplication of Assignments

Research Papers

A student may not use the same research paper for more than one course, seminar, or other graded exercise (i.e. moot court, journal) without written approval of all faculty members/instructors/advisors involved. Substantial revisions and additions may be required on a previously-submitted paper in order to receive credit for a subsequent graded exercise. Failure to secure approval from all participating faculty/instructors may result in an Honor Code investigation of the student’s actions.

Honors - Dean’s List

Dean’s List honors are granted annually by the Dean’s Office to recognize students’ academic performance. The “A” Dean’s List honors are conferred on students whose grade point average was 3.667 or above for the previous academic year. Standard Dean’s List honors are conferred on students whose grade point average was between 3.333 and 3.666 for the previous academic year.

Honors - Graduation, Order of the Coif

See Academic Rule 13
See Commencement Ceremony

Effective May 1, 2015

Honors for recipients of the J.D. degree are awarded on the basis of the cumulative Law School grade point average and with respect to certain percentages of the graduating class. Cumulative grade point averages are calculated to three decimal points, and are not rounded. The basis of awarding honors is:

  • Summa Cum Laude: Top 1% of the graduating J.D. class and any other students with a GPA of 4.000 or higher.
  • Magna Cum Laude: Top 15% of the graduating J.D. class.
  • Cum Laude: Top 40% of the graduating J.D. class.

The Registrar will calculate cutoffs for honors by multiplying the number of graduates by .01, .15 and .40, rounding up to the nearest whole number, and adjusting to ensure that all students with the identical GPA receive the highest honor for which any one of them is eligible.

The Registrar shall record the minimum GPAs eligible for Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude for each Spring J.D. graduating class. These minimums for the most recent Spring graduating class shall determine honors eligibility for students who graduate after that Spring (and therefore were not included in percentile calculations), but before the next Spring’s graduating class.

Honors are calculated after all final grades have been received for the May graduating JD class. Final honors are confirmed by the Registrar (and then listed on both the transcript and diploma) at the time of degree conferral (graduation) which occurs later in the summer after May commencement ceremonies, usually in August.

Order of the Coif

Members of the student body in the top 10 percent of the graduating J.D. class are eligible for election to the Order of the Coif.

Order of the Coif requires that at least 75 percent of a student’s credits toward degree requirements be in “graded courses” that count toward the J.D. GPA. Thus, eligibility for Order of the Coif requires a minimum of 66 total graded Law credits earned in coursework at the University of Minnesota Law School. Due to this restriction, transfer students who receive credit for a significant number of courses taken at a previous institution will not be eligible for election to Order of the Coif. This limitation may also impact the eligibility of some joint and dual degree students who take a larger proportion of courses in their partner program.

NOTE: The following information is applicable for students who graduated prior to January 2014.

Honors for recipients of the J.D. degree are awarded on the basis of the cumulative Law School grade point average. Cumulative grade point averages are calculated to three decimal points, and are not rounded. The basis of awarding honors is:

  • 3.333-3.499 Cum laude
  • 3.500-3.999 Magna cum laude
  • 4.000-4.333 Summa cum laude

In-Class Credit Requirement

Academic Rule 3.1(b) states that no fewer than 64 credit hours (63 for students who matriculated in or before 2012) must be earned through credited exercises requiring attendance in regularly scheduled class sessions at the Law School, at an ABA-accredited law school from which transfer credit is granted under Rule 8.1, or in foreign study in law courses or seminars if approved by the Dean or Director of International Programs pursuant to Rules 8.6, 8.7. 8.71, or 8.72. The Dean shall publish a list of courses with a Law School number at or above the 6000 level that do not satisfy this requirement; students are responsible for consulting the list to ensure that they enroll in the required minimum number of classroom credits.

Download the list of PDF iconcourses that do NOT meet the in-class requirement.

Journal Credits Policy

PDF iconPolicy and Procedures Regarding Academic Credit for Journal Service (Adopted by the faculty on January 28, 2014 and amended on February 24, 2015)

Legal Writing - Policy on Approving Courses

 PDF iconPolicy on Approving Courses under the Legal Writing Requirement (Adopted by the Faculty on February 24, 2015)

Legal Writing/Experiential Learning Credits

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-1000

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