S.J. Quinney College of Law

Celebrating 100 Years of
Legal Education (1913-2013)

Graduation Requirements

  1. Credit Hours and GPA
  2. Required Courses
  3. Introduction to Law
  4. Academic Support Programs
  5. Writing Requirement
  6. Minimum period of study for J. D. degree
  7. Maximum Period for Completion of J.D. Requirements
  8. Maximum Allowed Credit Hours
    1. Clinical Credit
    2. Directed Research Credit
    3. Credit for Teaching Ungraded Assistantships, Moot Court
    4. Non-Law School Credit


1. Credit Hours and GPA
A total of 88 semester hours of credit with a cumulative GPA of 2.00 (2.5 beginning with the class of 2011) is required for graduation. No more than 18 semester hours of ungraded credit in residence may be counted toward the required 88 semester hours for graduation. For this purpose, “semester hours of ungraded credit in residence” means all work recorded in the student records on a pass/fail or credit/no-credit basis, but does not include transferred credit allowed for graded non-law school courses or graded courses taken at another law school.

College Council – September 29, 1993


2. Required Courses
The following courses are currently required for graduation:

  • Introduction to Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Property
  • Constitutional Law I
  • Constitutional Law II*
  • Advanced Legal Writing requirement
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Legal Methods
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Profession
  • Skills Course**

*(Required second year)
**(Courses that satisfy the Skills requirement: Appellate Practice, Arbitration, Business Planning, Conflict Management, Drafting: Contracts, Drafting: Patents, Drafting: Real Estate, Environmental Conflict Resolution, Environmental Practice, Estate Planning, Global Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism, Initial Public Offerings, Intellectual Property Licensing, Lawyering Skills, Mediation/Adv Negotiation, Pretrial Practice, Trial Advocacy,  and other courses as may be designated by the academic dean.)

The law school registers students for all first year courses. First year students may not register for upper division classes.


3. Introduction to Law
First year law students begin fall classes one week prior to the beginning of the regular fall semester with an Orientation and Introduction to Law Week. Orientation provides in-coming students with basic information of how the law school functions and includes mandatory sessions on setting up computer accounts, exam policies, academic discipline policies, and financial aid. Introduction to Law, taught by the law school faculty, is a pass/fail course which is required for graduation. Introduction to Law acquaints first year students with methods of legal study and provides them with a preview of the coming year. The week is rounded out with social events sponsored by the law school and student organizations.


4. Academic Support Program
First year students may choose to take part in the law school’s Academic Support Program (“ASP”). ASP is a program designed to give additional support to students as they make the transition from undergraduate studies, work and/or family responsibilities to the demanding life of a first year law student. ASP does this primarily through a structured series of small study groups.


5. Writing Requirement

Each student must demonstrate competence in legal research and writing by successfully completing the first year legal writing requirement and the two components of the advanced writing requirement.

A.  First Year Legal Writing Requirement

1.The first year Legal Methods course.

B.  Advanced Legal Writing Requirement for Second and Third Year Students*

1.  A substantial research paper.

a.  The paper shall meet the following criteria:

i.  Address a significant issue or set of issues related to law.

ii.  Provide original, in-depth, and critical analysis of the issue, including doctrinal, comparative, institutional, interdisciplinary, theoretical, and/or policy analysis. The paper shall not merely describe, survey, or summarize legal materials or existing scholarship.

iii.  Demonstrate substantial legal research, evidenced by extensive, relevant, and supportive citations to diverse sources.

iv.  Be written logically, clearly, and concisely, with proper grammar and spelling.

v.  Consist of at least 7,000 words, excluding footnotes, endnotes, and/or bibliography.

vi.  Meet all standards of academic integrity.

vii.  Receive a minimum grade of B.

b. The following steps shall be taken in preparing the paper:

i.  The student shall develop the paper topic in consultation with a faculty member.

ii.  If the paper involves research on human subjects, the student shall obtain prior approval from the University of Utah Institutional Review Board (IRB).

iii.  The faculty member shall review and comment extensively on at least one complete draft of the paper and should encourage multiple drafts.

iv.  The student shall revise the paper in response to faculty review and comment.

v.  The faculty member shall require that the paper be reviewed using plagiarism detection software before submitting a final grade.

vi.  The faculty member shall review and grade the final draft of the paper.

c.The substantial research paper requirement may be satisfied by producing the paper in a:

i.  seminar;

ii.  think tank;

iii.  course taught by a tenured, tenure track, or other full-time faculty member in which the research paper option is offered; or

iv.  directed research arrangement.

d.  The substantial research paper requirement may not be fulfilled with a paper written for law review or journal credit.

e.  The substantial research paper requirement shall be deemed satisfied when a faculty member certifies to the Registrar’s office that the research paper has met the foregoing criteria.

2.   A portfolio of written materials produced during the second and third years of law school for which the student receives academic credit.**

a. This requirement must be satisfied by completing three items from one or more of the following categories:

i.  a law journal comment or note that is accepted for credit;

ii.  a significant transactional document, such as a business planning document, a contract, a financing instrument, a securities disclosure, a will, or a similar written product;

iii.  a significant proposed legislative bill or agency regulation based on underlying research;

iv.  a significant litigation document, such as a complaint, summary judgment motion and supporting memorandum, a motion to compel or resist discovery and supporting memorandum, a motion in limine on an evidence issue, a trial brief, proposed findings or fact and conclusions of law, or similar written product;

v.  a brief for a moot court competition;

vi.   legal writing for a clinical placement or placements determined by the full-time faculty member overseeing the placement or by the Clinical Program Director to be substantial work product;

vii.  a significant research paper that is not used to satisfy the first upper division writing requirement.

viii.  a paper written for a class in lieu of an exam;

ix. other significant papers a may be approved by the academic dean.

b.  Each student shall obtain a signed certification from the faculty member who supervised each particular item of writing. The faculty member’s signature must certify that the item constitutes partial fulfillment of this portfolio requirement.   Each student shall submit to the registrar a certification signed by the student that this portfolio requirement has been fulfilled, and shall attach thereto the certifications that faculty have signed for each portfolio item.


*The Classes of 2011 and 2012 may satisfy this policy or the previous seminar policy to fulfill the advanced writing requirement.  This policy will apply exclusively starting with the Class of 2013.

**This policy will apply starting with the Class of 2013.

College Council – November 21, 2011


6. Minimum period of study for J.D. degree
Completion of the J.D. degree program requires enrollment in law school as a full-time student for not fewer than five (5) semesters (fall and spring) of the regular academic year.

A student must be enrolled for no less than nine (9) credit hours during each academic semester to be considered a full-time student. (Full-time status for financial aid purposes may require additional credit hours.) Enrollment for less than nine (9) credit hours requires the approval of the dean of students. A student may not be enrolled for more than 17 credit hours during any semester.

Students wishing to graduate in five (5) semesters should consult with the dean of students prior to making a decision.

ABA Standards 304(c) & (e); College Council – March 3, 2005; September 8, 2010


7. Maximum Period for Completion of J.D. Requirements
The College of Law offers only a full-time legal education program, and students are generally expected to complete the requirements for a J.D. degree within three (3) years.

Failure to complete the requirements for the J.D. degree within four (4) years shall require submitting a Petition for Readmission to the College of Law Readmission Committee.

In no event shall the J.D. degree be completed later than 84 months (seven (7) years) after a student has commenced law study at the law school or a law school from which the school has accepted transfer credit.

ABA Standards 304(c) & (e); College Council – March 3, 2005

8. Maximum Allowed Credit Hours


a. Clinical Credit
A student may earn a maximum of 14 clinical credit hours for work done away from the law school, including the credit given for the placement portion of any clinic but excluding any credit given for the classroom component of any clinic.

College Council – April 19, 1995

AALS Executive Committee Regulation 7.6 (March 1995)


b. Directed Research Credit
A student may earn a maximum of six (6) semester credit hours for directed research and no more than three (3) credit hours in any semester.


c. Credit for Teaching Ungraded Assistantships, Moot Court and Student Publications
No more than twelve (12) semester hours of credit may be counted towards satisfaction of the J.D. degree requirements from any combination of ungraded teaching assistantships, moot court activities and student publications.

College Council – May 7, 1997


d. Non-Law School Credit
No more than six (6) semester hours of credit for non-law school work may be counted towards satisfaction of the J.D. degree requirements.