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Academic Handbook

 Academic Program

Academic Information for All Students



J.D. Program

The J.D. program at Penn State Law is a three-year, six-semester course of study offered in University Park, Pennsylvania. The first-year curriculum and certain upper-level courses are required; all other courses are elective. For the full list of degree requirements, see J.D. Degree Requirements.  

Faculty Statement of Learning Outcomes

The Penn State Law faculty has adopted the following Statement of Learning Outcomes:

1.  Students will understand the fundamental principles of Civil and Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law, and Torts.

2.  Students will understand the fundamental principles of advanced topics in law through elective courses.

3.  Students will be able to engage in legal analysis, reasoning, and problem solving.

4.  Students will be able to perform legal research.

5.  Students will be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing regarding legal matters.

6.  Students will be able to recognize and resolve ethical issues and discharge professional responsibilities within the legal system.

Policy on Course Learning Objectives and Assessments

To help implement the foregoing, Penn State Law faculty members shall provide in the syllabus distributed to students for each course each semester: 

1.  A statement of course learning objectives; and

2.  A statement of the method(s) by which the faculty member will assess student achievement of course learning objectives.

Required Courses

First Year - Fall

First Year- Spring

Second or Third Year

Professional Responsibility

Required Experiential Learning Credits

Required Upper Level Writing Seminar Course

Required ABA Standard 303(c) Course

 

 

 

 


Interdisciplinary study at Penn State

Customize your legal education with rigorous courses or joint degree options.


Graduate Coursework

Penn State Law students can customize their legal education by applying up to 12 course credits from any graduate discipline toward their J.D. requirements.

Joint Degree Programs

Penn State Law offers several established joint degree programs so that they may earn a J.D. and a masters or Ph.D. at Penn State at the same time. 

Established Joint Degree Programs

These joint degree programs generally allow students to complete a J.D. and mater's or Ph.D. on an accelerated timeframe. Opportunities include:

School of International Affairs:

Smeal College of Business:

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications:

College of Education:

College of Health and Human Development:

College of the Liberal Arts:

College of Medicine:


Further Interdisciplinary Opportunities 

For further information about opportunities to study in a law-related area of interest to you, please contact the Penn State Law Admissions Office at admissions@pennstatelaw.psu.edu

 

LL.M. Program

Penn State Law trains international lawyers for the global marketplace. Our LL.M. program is designed to train students to think, communicate, and practice as international legal experts with the confidence to practice anywhere in the world.

Penn State University is consistently ranked among the top research and teaching institutions in the world according to the Times Higher Education and the Institute of International Education. Home to more than 44,000 students and 5,000 international scholars, University Park offers a diverse intellectual community and vast opportunities for LL.M. students to engage in scholarly activities within the Law School and throughout the University community, which is in one of the safest towns in the United States.



Specialized Fields of Study & Concentrations

Penn State Law students gain core knowledge and basic skills in the first-year curriculum and students in their second and third year have the option to concentrate their studies in one or more of the law school's 21 specialized fields of study. LL.M. students can take courses in any of our specialized fields of study during their one-year program.

Students may earn Concentration recognition in the Specialized Fields of Study below.  J.D. students must earn a minimum of 12 credits and LL.M. students a minimum of 9 credits.  A minimum grade of ‘C’ is required for each course being used toward a Concentration.  Upon verification of completion, students will receive a document of recognition. Students may earn multiple Concentrations. Students must submit their Concentration Declaration Application by the last day of the semester prior to their graduation.

Courses and the Concentration Declaration Application for each Concentration are available on each of the Specialized Fields of Study pages below.

Please email the Office of the Registrar or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs if you have questions regarding the use of a course not listed for a specific Concentration.

 




Academic Advising

All law students are assigned a full-time faculty member as an academic advisor. Your academic advisor information is available on LionPATH in your Student Services Center. Faculty who are away on sabbatical or other leave for a semester or more will receive no 1L advisees. That faculty member’s 2L and 3L advisees will be temporarily assigned to other faculty. When the faculty member returns, they will reestablish their relationship with their advisees in coordination with the faculty who substituted for them during their leave. Advisees of faculty members who retire or otherwise leave PSL permanently will be reassigned to other faculty.  

Specialized Fields of Study may be a useful tool if you are looking to speak with faculty in a specific area of expertise.

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is available to advise any student.

In addition, the Office for Academic Success offers a tutoring program for first-year law students.





Enhanced Academic Support Program

At the conclusion of each semester, students with cumulative or semester GPA’s under or equal to 2.70 but not subject to dismissal under the current Academic Standing Rule (requiring a cumulative and semester GPA of at least 2.0 for continued good standing) will be notified by the Associate Dean for Academic Success that they are in good standing, but subject to fulfillment of the conditions of the Enhanced Academic Support Program as described below.

Students in the Enhanced Academic Support Program must:

  1. As a condition to eligibility to register and schedule courses in each of the remaining semesters, obtain approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Success of their proposed course schedule.

  2. Obtain prior, written permission of Associate Dean for Academic Success to

    1. assume a leadership position in student government/student organizations;

    2. engage in employment; or

    3. enroll in any semester away program including Externships Everywhere and Semester in Washington.

  3. In courses where faculty permit, review their exams from the previous semester and then meet with the Associate Dean for Academic Success to discuss the common feedback received on his or her work.

  4. Participate in academic support programs that the Associate Dean for Academic Success deems appropriate which will typically include mandatory tutoring and workshops designed to improve academic performance.

  5. Enroll in and satisfactorily complete BAREX 900: Fundamental Skills for the Bar Exam in Spring of the third year.

The Enhanced Academic Support Program will end if the student achieves a 2.70 cumulative GPA at the end of any semester. A student who fails to satisfy any of these conditions shall be subject to dismissal under the procedure set forth in Academic Standing Rules.



Academic Standing Rules

1.  Standard.

To maintain good academic standing, each student must:

  1. Earn a semester grade point average of at least 2.0 at the end of each semester, except for the first semester of the first year;
  2. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 at the end of each semester, except for the first semester of the first year;
  3. In the first semester of the first year, earn grades below C in no more than 9 credits.
  4. Receive no more than 2 Fs during the student’s law school career.

Maintenance of good academic standing is a prerequisite to continuation at the law school and for graduation.

A first-year student who receives an F in Applied Legal Analysis and Writing I may not enroll in Applied Legal Analysis Writing II and must repeat Applied Legal Analysis and Writing I the following academic year.

Students with cumulative or semester GPA’s under or equal to 2.70 but not subject to dismissal under the current Academic Standing Rule (requiring a cumulative and semester GPA of at least 2.0 for continued good standing) will be notified by the Associate Dean for Academic Success that they are in good standing, but subject to fulfillment of the conditions of the Enhanced Academic Support Program

2.  Procedure.

Notice to Student. As soon as practicable after grades are due each semester, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall notify a student in writing that he or she failed to meet the minimum standard of academic performance.

Petition for Reinstatement to Good Standing. The student may submit to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs as chair of the Academic Rules Committee a written petition seeking reinstatement to good standing within 5 business days after the student receives notice.  A student may request an extension of the five day period upon written request to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs delivered before expiration of the five day period. A student may include as part of the petition a written personal statement and written statements from faculty members or other persons whose views may be relevant on the issue of grounds for reinstatement to good standing.

Effect of Failure to Submit a Petition.  A student who does not submit a written petition seeking reinstatement within the five day period (or an authorized longer period) will be dismissed from the law school as of the last date for submission of a petition.

Right to Hearing. A student may request a hearing before the Academic Rules Committee in the petition. If so requested, the Academic Rules Committee shall schedule a hearing as soon as practicable following receipt of the student's petition. The purpose of the hearing is to permit the student to make a statement based on issues raised in the written petition and to answer questions of the Academic Rules Committee. The student must appear alone.  Counsel, witnesses or other observers are not permitted.
 

3.  Presumption Based on Academic Performance.

To merit reinstatement to good standing, the student must present evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption that arises from the student's academic performance that:

The student is unable or unwilling to undertake the discipline of study to succeed in law school and the legal profession; or

The student’s failure to meet the minimum standards of academic performance was substantially attributable to inability or unwillingness to meet minimum academic standards and not to disabling circumstances which the student reasonably could not have anticipated or rectified. (In no case will employment during the semester be considered a disabling circumstance).
 

4.  Finality.

The decision of the Academic Rules Committee on a petition for reinstatement is final and not appealable to the Academic Rules Committee for reconsideration.
 

5.  Effect of Dismissal.

The transcript of a student dismissed for failure to maintain minimum academic standards under this rule will show that the student was dismissed on academic grounds. ABA Standard 505 applies to students dismissed on academic grounds who subsequently seek admission to another law school.



The Penn State Law Academic Success Program

The Academic Success Program (ASP) provides programming and support that will maximize the opportunity for student success in law school and beyond.  The program is comprehensive; it is not limited to first-year students or students who are struggling with academics, although some aspects of the program are designed for students in those cohorts.

Academic and professional success go hand in hand with these skills that serve as the foundation for ASP:

  • Initiating and accepting responsibility;
  • A strong drive to become expert;
  • Advocating high standards;
  • Hard work;
  • Creative thinking;
  • and Problem Solving

Peer Tutoring Program

Online Writing Skills Resources

Recent Workshops



Academic Verification

An academic verification provides proof of enrollment, student status, and graduation, it does not provide specific course or grade information. More information regarding academic verifications is available from the University Registrar. Academic verifications are available free of charge for currently enrolled students.



Address Update

It is critical that students keep their permanent, local and emergency addresses updated. Students may review and update their address information on LionPATH in the Student Services Center.

Prior students must notify the University Registrar's Office of addresses changes, via the Address Correction Form.



Auditing a Course

  • Permission to audit a course must be granted by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • The student must seek approval from the course instructor to audit a course. This approval should be shared with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • The deadline for requesting a course be added/changed to an audit is the semester drop/add deadline published on the Academic Calendar.
  • The course will appear on the student's schedule as though it has been scheduled for credit.
  • The course will appear on the student's transcript with the grading symbol "AUS" if attendance was regular or "AUU" if the attendance was unsatisfactory.
  • No credit is earned, and the grade-point average is not affected.
  • Audit credits are charged at the normal per credit tuition rate.
  • Credits for a course being audited are not counted in determining the following:
     
    • enrollment status (full-time or part-time)
    • calculating semester standing
    • financial aid status
    • full-time status for international students for reporting to SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) under federal requirements.





Class Attendance

Prompt and regular course attendance is required of all students. Consistent with American Bar Association accreditation standards, individual faculty members shall establish, announce, and implement a policy designed to ensure regular and prompt attendance for each course. The policy shall be made known in writing to all students enrolled in the course by no later than the end of the drop-add period. With notice to students, faculty members may modify their methods for monitoring promptness and attendance during the semester. The faculty reserves the right to cancel the registration of a student who fails to comply with the requirement of regular class attendance.

PLEASE NOTE that viewing a class recording is not a substitute for class attendance and preparation, which still is required for all class sessions (unless excused by the professor on an exceptional basis for good reason) and in order to remain in good academic standing with the law school. The law school's class recording policy is intended to enhance your learning experience, not to substitute for regular class attendance and preparation.



Class Ranking


When is Class Rank Calculated?

The ranking procedure is run fall and spring semesters after final grading is completed. Credits earned at Penn State Law over the summer are included in the fall procedure; there is no separate summer ranking procedure.

The general time frame for the ranking procedure is:

  • Fall Semester
    • Late January
       
  • Spring Semester
    • Late May to early June 


Full-Time Student Ranking

Students admitted starting in Fall 2023:
The numerical class rank for the top 25 students in each JD class will be computed at the end of each semester based on cumulative GPAs and listed on the transcripts of students in the top 25. A chart with decile ranges up to 50% will be posted on the Penn State Law website. The rank for students in the bottom 50% of each JD class will not be published. 

The class with which each student is ranked shall be determined by the total cumulative number of law credits (900 level) the student has earned (Units Toward GPA) at the time semester ranks are calculated, employing the following rules:

  • 10 — 32 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the first-year class
  • 33 — 56 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the second-year class
  • 57+ total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the third-year class

The student can determine total cumulative credits earned by reviewing their course credit information in the Student Services Center in LionPath.  In the Term Summary section under the Academics tab, Units Toward GPA, combine credits "taken" and credits in "progress" to determine which class he or she will be included in for ranking.

Ranking information is considered part of the student's permanent academic record and therefore will not be removed from the academic transcript.

Students admitted prior to the Fall 2023:
Each student enrolling in the law school's full-time J.D. program as a first year and beyond, shall receive a semester rank and cumulative rank relative to his or her classmates at the end of each semester (fall and spring) in which the student completes at least one offering from the law school's curriculum. Students enrolled in an approved joint degree program must complete at least one course offering from the JD curriculum in the semester in which ranking taking place.

The class with which each student is ranked shall be determined by the total cumulative number of law credits (900 level) the student has earned (Units Toward GPA) at the time semester ranks are calculated, employing the following rules:

  • 10 — 32 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the first-year class
  • 33 — 56 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the second-year class
  • 57+ total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the third-year class

The student can determine total cumulative credits earned by reviewing their course credit information in the Student Services Center in LionPath.  In the Term Summary section under the Academics tab, Units Toward GPA, combine credits "taken" and credits in "progress" to determine which class he or she will be included in for ranking.

Semester and cumulative ranks, as they are earned, will appear on the student's academic transcript. Ranking information is considered part of the student's permanent academic record and therefore will not be removed from the academic transcript.


Transfer Student Ranking

Students who enroll in the law school's full-time J.D. program as transfer students (including students transferring from Dickinson Law) can determine their percentage rank among their classmates by using a percentile chart. A Percentile Ranking Chart will be published each semester (fall and spring) on the law school's website after the final semester ranking procedure runs. The chart will identify the cumulative GPA cut-offs associated with percentage ranks in the class for the semester based on the cumulative rankings of full-time students in each class for that semester. For example, it might show that a 3.68 or better is associated with a rank in the top 5% of the second-year class, that a 3.57 or better is associated with a rank in the top 10% of the class, etc.

Each student enrolling in the law school's full-time J.D. program as a transfer student (including students transferring from Dickinson Law) shall also receive a semester rank relative to his or her classmates at the end of each semester (fall and spring) in which the student completes at least one offering from the law school's curriculum.

At the time ranks are calculated, the class with which each student is ranked shall be determined by the total cumulative number of law credits (900 level) the student has earned (Units Toward GPA) at Penn State Law plus the advanced standing credits accepted by Penn State Law when the student transferred. The following are the credit ranges defining each class for ranking:

  • 10 - 32 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the first-year class
  • 33 - 56 total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the second-year class
  • 57+ total credits earned (Units Toward GPA) ranked with the third-year class

The student can determine total cumulative credits earned by reviewing their course credit information in the Student Services Center in LionPath.  In the Term Summary section under the Academics tab, Units Toward GPA, combine credits "taken" and credits in "progress" to determine which class he or she will be included in for ranking.

Semester ranks will appear on the student's academic transcript. Ranking information is considered part of the student's permanent academic record and therefore will not be removed from the academic transcript.


LL.M. and Visitor Ranking

LL.M. students and students visiting Penn State Law do not have a semester or cumulative ranking assigned.


Non-Law School Credits Earned and Class Ranking

Semester and cumulative GPAs account only for grades received by students in courses offered in the law school's curriculum (900 level). However, credits received in courses that are not offered in the law school's curriculum, may, in some cases, be applied to the total number of credits needed for graduation from the law school.





Credit Hours for Coursework

A. Definitions (to Comply with ABA Standard 310)

A “credit hour” is (1) an amount of work that reasonably approximates not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for fifteen weeks (including one week for final exams) or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required in subpart (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by Penn State Law, including simulation, field placement, clinical, co-curricular, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.  The law school defines an “hour” for classroom or direct faculty instruction as fifty minutes, as required by ABA Interpretation 310-1.  Faculty will determine the number of hours required for each unit of credit; at a minimum, students must complete 42.5 hours for 1 credit; 85 hours for 2 credits, 127.5 hours for 3 credits; and 170 hours for 4 credits. 

This credit hour definition will be used as the standard in the faculty’s review of the law school’s curriculum, the course approval process, and the ongoing management of the school’s academic program. Accordingly, all new course proposals must include a justification for the number of credits to be awarded that includes out-of-class work (see Sec. B below), as well as the time to be spent in class sessions.  Because pedagogical goals and student assessments vary depending on the nature of the course –whether a traditional exam course, an experiential learning course, or a paper course, to name a few examples -- there will necessarily be some flexibility built into the application of this policy.  In addition, this policy applies to all academic activities for which the law school awards credit, including in-house clinics, field placements, externships, independent studies, and co-curricular activities such as the law journals, the appellate moot court program, and the mock trial program.

B. Student Work Outside the Classroom

Per Section A.1 above, students are expected to devote at least two hours to out-of-class work for each in-class hour scheduled for the course. Out-of-class work may include such activities as reading assignments, case briefing, written assignments other than examinations, solving problem sets, participating in out-of-class simulations and role-playing exercises that help students develop lawyering competencies, research assignments, posting to an online discussion board, conferences with the instructor, and other work that assists in comprehension of course content such as outlining and studying for examinations.



Degree Audit (Academic Requirements Report)

Your Degree Audit (Academic Requirements report) is available in your Student Services Center in LionPath.  You can use your Degree Audit (Academic Requirements report) along with your  J.D. Requirements information to ensure you are staying on track to meet your graduation requirements.

For more detailed assistance with your Degree Audit/Academic Requirements report, use these videos and documents:

Running a Degree Audit (video)  –  Running a Degree Audit Doc              

Interpreting a Degree Audit (video)  –  Interpreting a Degree Audit Doc

Please note that these videos and documents were generally written to apply to all cohorts of students at Penn State. Therefore, some of the information may not apply specifically to Penn State Law students. 

 



Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

STATEMENT OF POLICY

Penn State Law is fully committed to (a) making its programs available to all qualified individuals, regardless of disability and (b) making reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) office, located on the campus of Penn State-University Park is the designated university office that obtains and files disability-related documents and develops plans for the provision of reasonable accommodations. Student Disability Resources will send written notification regarding recommended accommodations to the law school’s Office of Student Services.SDR may be contacted at 814-863-1807 or edaccessibility@psu.edu.

Accommodations for disabilities are granted and administered solely by the Office of Student Services. Faculty members are not authorized to grant or deny disability accommodations*. (*The faculty member’s role is explained in detail below):

  1. Any student requesting accommodations because of a disability must meet with the office of Student Disability Resources (SDR) office to request the accommodation. The meeting should normally occur within the first two weeks of the student’s first semester in law school, or, in the case of a disability which is discovered after the student has begun law school, within two weeks of the student’s discovery of the disability, and in no event shall the meeting occur later than is necessary to permit an adequate period of time for consideration of the request under these procedures before the time for which the accommodation is sought.
  2. After the initial meeting, SDR will inform the Office of Student Services that the individual has provided the required documentation and propose specific accommodations for the student.
  3. Any student requesting an accommodation must present appropriate documentation, from a qualified professional, establishing (a) that the disability exists and (b) that the requested accommodation is necessary to provide the student with the opportunity to achieve or participate in the program to the same extent as a similarly-situated person without a disability. The documentation should be provided to SDR. The following requirements apply to documentation of disabilities:
  • The documentation should reflect functional limitations that are currently impacting the student as determined by the appropriate professional who is qualified to evaluate the functional impact of the disability and render conclusions about the need for accommodations.
  • Student Disability Resources has not adopted a documentation currency requirement, but documentation will only be accepted if it reflects the present-day status of the student’s functional limitations.
  • Student Disability Resources may waive documentation requirements for a student whose disability is readily apparent or obvious (e.g., paralysis, total blindness, deafness).
  • For students whose disabilities or need for accommodations are not readily apparent, Student Disability Resources has established disability-specific criteria highlighting functional areas of impact that must be met in order for a student to receive services.
  • Links to the disability-specific documentation guidelines can be found below. Examples of documentation that may meet Student Disability Resources’ guidelines include, but are not limited to:
    • Neuropsychological evaluations
    • Psychoeducational evaluations
    • Medical evaluations
    • Physiological assessments
    • Audiograms
  • Please note that recent secondary school documentation, such as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans, may assist in Student Disability Resources’ determination for services, but their sole submission may not meet Penn State's Student Disability Resources documentation requirements.
  • If a student does not have comprehensive disability documentation available for submission, Student Disability Resources provides verification forms for all disabilities to facilitate the documentation process. Many of the forms can be used independently to document the functional limitations associated with a disability or they can be used to supplement current documentation.
  • Some verification forms, where noted, cannot be submitted alone and must accompany additional documentation as indicated. Any documentation submitted, including a completed verification form, must meet Student Disability Resources’ disability-specific guidelines for acceptance.
  • Student Disability Resources reserves the right to determine whether submitted documentation supports the need for reasonable accommodations based on the functional impact of the disability in the college environment.

DETERMINATION OF APPROPRIATE ACCOMMODATION

Once documentation has been submitted as described above and approved, the Assistant Dean for Student Services will receive from the requesting student an approved classroom and/or exam accommodation plan.  The student will submit to each applicable faculty member their approved classroom accommodation plan.

A faculty member who is notified of an accommodation which is available to a student in the faculty member’s course or program may inform the Office of Student Services of special circumstances which the faculty member believes make the accommodation unreasonable or inappropriate. The Office of Student Services in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and SDR shall consider such information and, where consistent with ADA standards, suspend or modify the established accommodation for the particular situation involved.

CONFIDENTIALITY

No details regarding the nature of any student’s documented disability shall be made available to any person except for the information described immediately above.  The law school will make best efforts to conceal the identity of any student who is receiving a exam accommodation to any professors or other persons.  However, the law school may reveal the identity of a student receiving an accommodation when it is not reasonably feasible to maintain confidentiality.  Instances in which a professor or other staff member working with a professor may be made aware of the student’s name, the requested services, and the fact that the requested services are being made in order to accommodate a documented disability include but are not limited to:

  1. Accommodations for non-degree seeking students;
  2. Classroom accommodations;
  3. Accommodations for formative assessments delivered through electronic means; and
  4. Final exam accommodations delivered through electronic means.

EXAMINATIONS

Faculty members shall ensure that our disability accommodation policies are followed where applicable, including the application of these policies to midterms and quizzes.  Where a disabled student is entitled to an accommodation on a midterm and/or quiz or series of quizzes, the Office of Student Services shall perform its normal functions (including exam administration) regarding such accommodations.  Where a disabled student is entitled to an ADA accommodation on an online midterm and/or quiz or series of quizzes, the faculty support staff shall consult with the Office of Student Services to coordinate such accommodations and to ensure anonymity is preserved.  Student Services will coordinate student disability accommodations for final examinations.

RECERTIFICATION IN SUBSEQUENT SEMESTERS

Each student shall, at the beginning of each academic semester, provide the Office of Student Services and applicable faculty members with an approved classroom and/or exam accommodation plan. 



Distance Education

If you choose to enroll in a course being taught via Distance Education, please note that these credits will be applied against the 15 credit maximum allowed for distance education by the American Bar Association (ABA).  See ABA Standard 306(e).  Penn State Law courses being taught via Distance Education will show "Instruction Mode: Distance Education" on the Schedule of Classes. These courses are also listed in the semester Timely Registration News.

Note: Courses taken with Dickinson Law Professors via our synchronous audiovisual system are counted as Distance Education under this ABA Standard, and therefore, are applied against the 15 credit maximum allowed.



Drop-Add

A student may not drop or add a course after the expiration of the drop/add period except with the permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may permit a student to drop a course after expiration of the normal, one-week drop-add period and before the final work product for the course is due (either the examination date or the date when the final paper or similar product is to be submitted) if the student demonstrates, in writing and in the judgment of the Associate Dean, adequate justification for dropping the course. Examples of adequate justification include:

  1. hardship, especially if at the close of the normal drop-add period the circumstances or the events precipitating the hardship were unknown to and could not have been reasonably anticipated by the student; and
  2. uncertainty from the reasonable perspective of the student, continuing until the time when application to drop the course is filed, as to whether the student needs the course credit to meet usual academic requirements necessary for that student to complete his or her studies in ordinary course (e.g., the student took the course only because he or she was uncertain as to whether he or she might win a position on a law review or on an appellate or trial team for which credit is awarded upon successful completion of a competition.) The Associate Dean should make a prompt decision on any request to drop a course and should, in ordinary course, ascertain whether the course professor has reason to object.

Note:  If a late drop, or add, is approved, please note that the university charge is $6 per transaction. For example, a person who drops one course and adds another would be charged for two separate transactions.

 



Earning Credits from Another ABA-Accredited Law School

Ordinarily, it is expected that all full-time J.D. students will maintain full-time resident status during their six semesters at the law school. However, any student may apply toward their J.D. a maximum of 6 credits of non-required upper-level coursework offered at another ABA-accredited law school upon prior written approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In a rare case, the student may seek an Academic Dean's approval to waive the 6 credit limit by demonstrating a compelling reason. Circumstances reasonably foreseeable to the student, such as the desire to seek employment elsewhere, to relocate to be closer to a significant other, or to lower the costs associated with attending the Law School, do not meet the standard. Law School required courses typically must be completed at Penn State Law. Additionally, students may not transfer credits from online courses offered by another law school, with the exception that for synchronous online courses offered by another law school to be taken during Spring Semester 2022, students may apply for permission to transfer credits from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Penn State law students attending another institution will be enrolled in VISAW 903 by the law school registrar's office. VISAW 903 provides the following benefits to the student: if applicable, financial aid can be awarded and processed, various enrollment reporting processes (i.e. health insurance, loan deferment) will report the student enrolled, and the student's Penn State Access Account will remain active. Penn State assesses a $50 flat fee for VISAW 903; this fee is in addition to any fees assessed by the other institution.

To receive credit for any course work completed at another law school, the student must receive a grade that corresponds to at least a C. Any credits earned at another law school are included on the student's transcript by reference only, and no attempt is made to convert grades to Penn State Law equivalents. Except for students who transfer into the second year, no credit will be awarded for a course taken on a Pass-Fail or similar basis when the student had the option of receiving a number or letter grade for the course.

It is the responsibility of the student to have an official transcript from the law school they attended sent to the law school registrar’s office. If the transcript is not received by the law school registrar in a timely manner, the VISAW 903 credits will convert to a NG (no grade) and eventually to an F.

Semesters of Residence

 



Employment While Enrolled

Because law school course work requires full-time application, students are cautioned not to place excessive reliance on employment for financial support.  First-year students are strongly advised to refrain from any employment.  All students are forbidden from working more than twenty hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. By registering for classes each semester, students certify compliance with this throughout the semester.    Under the Academic Standing Rules, the Rules Committee will not consider employment during the semester as an excuse for poor academic performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Externships

Externships Program Manual

Under the guidance of an experienced supervisor, second- and third-year students can step out of the classroom and gain practical experience working in a legal office in one of Penn State Law's externship programs. General externships allow students to continue taking courses while working with federal judges, state or federal government agencies, and public interest or nonprofit organizations.

Semester Externship Programs

General Externship Program 

To apply for the General Externship Program, students need to log-in to Law Lion Careers, click on the OCI and Job Listings tab, select OCI, filter by Round and then select the ““Spring 2024 Externship Recruitment” Round from the drop down menu. Students can then select individual employers and submit the required materials. Learn more about the general externship program in this recorded  info session. General externships allow students to continue taking courses while working with federal judges, state or federal government agencies, and private, public interest or nonprofit organizations.

The Summer Externship Program





Grade Appeals

Grounds for Grade Appeals

Grading is the exclusive responsibility of each faculty member. Absent a calculation error or other mistake by the professor which the professor determines justifies submission of a grade change, grades are final. There are no grounds for appeal of a grade by a student except upon evidence of misconduct on the part of the faculty member, consisting of: i) assignment of a grade on some basis other than the faculty member’s assessment of the student’s performance in the course; ii) assignment of a grade by arbitrary or capricious application of standards different than those applied to other students in the course; or iii) assignment of a grade under standards that are a substantial and unreasonable departure from the instructor’s initially articulated standards.

Informal Resolution

A student who wishes to question their grade may opt to first raise the matter with the instructor. A student is not required to take advantage of this option; however, if they do, it is expected that the instructor will respond to the student’s concerns. If the student and the instructor agree on a grade change, the instructor should complete a change of grade form in compliance with Penn State Law and Penn State University protocols.

Grade Mediation

If the issue is not resolved informally, the student may request grade mediation from the associate dean for academic affairs. If the instructor consents to the mediation, the associate dean for academic affairs will review the issue, will act as mediator in at least one meeting with the student and instructor, and will take other appropriate action to seek resolution.

Formal Grade Adjudication

If the instructor does not consent to grade mediation or if grade mediation by the associate dean for academic affairs does not resolve the issue, the student may seek formal grade adjudication. To request a formal grade adjudication, the student must submit a grade adjudication petition to the associate dean for academic affairs. The petition can be submitted any time during the semester but no later than ten weeks after the last day of the semester (i.e., the last day of final exams).  The basis for a grade adjudication petition is limited to cases in which a grade assignment is based on faculty misconduct as outlined here at i), ii), or iii), and therefore, the petition must present clear evidence that the assignment of the grade was based upon at least one of those, rather than the academic judgment of the instructor.

The associate dean for academic affairs will seek any additional information needed from the instructor, the student, or others and review the petition to determine whether the instructor’s assignment of the grade is based on faculty misconduct as outlined here at i), ii), or iii). Individuals contacted to provide additional information must respond within ten business days.

No Faculty Misconduct

If the associate dean for academic affairs determines that the assignment of the grade was not based on faculty misconduct, they will notify the student and the grade will stand. The adjudication process is thus concluded, and no other appeal will be considered.

Faculty Misconduct

If the associate dean for academic affairs concludes that the assignment of the grade is based on faculty misconduct as outlined above at i), ii), or iii), they will determine a course of action that may include a recommendation for the determination of an amended grade. The associate dean for academic affairs will then notify the student and the instructor and provide them with a brief summary of the reasons for the recommended course of action.

The student and the instructor have ten business days to respond to the course of action recommended by the associate dean for academic affairs following a finding that the grade was based on faculty misconduct. If both accept the recommended course of action, the student and the instructor should implement the recommended course of action. If this leads to a change in the student’s grade, the instructor should complete a change of grade form in compliance with Penn State Law and Penn State University protocols.

If either the student or the instructor does not accept the recommended course of action from the associate dean for academic affairs, they may appeal the determination within ten business days. The dean will appoint a committee of three faculty members with appropriate expertise to determine a grade. This committee will be composed of faculty members at the same or higher rank as the instructor. This committee may be a standing committee appointed at the start of the academic year or an ad hoc committee if no standing committee has been appointed. The associate dean for academic affairs will then transmit the grade to the Registrar, and the adjudication process is concluded.

Faculty Advisor

At any time during the grade appeals process, the student may choose a faculty advisor to assist in preparing and presenting their claims.





Grading Systems

J.D. Grading System

Grades are assigned to Juris Doctor candidates on the basis of the instructor’s judgment of the student’s scholastic achievement using the grading system below.

 
A (4.00)  
A- (3.67)  
B+ (3.33)  
B (3.00)  
B- (2.67)  
C+ (2.33)  
C (2.00)  
D (1.00)  
F (0.00)  
CR Credit  
NC No Credit  

Deferred Grades (DF)

No Grade Reported (NG)

Juris Doctor candidates may earn a limited number of credits on a pass/fail basis. Successful completion of such courses is indicated by the letter P. Some courses are offered only on a credit/no-credit basis. Successful completion of such courses is indicated by the code CR. Unsuccessful completion is indicated by the code NC.
 

LL.M. Grading System

Grades are assigned solely on the basis of the instructor's judgment as to the LL.M. student's scholarly attainment.

A (4.00)  
A- (3.67)  
B+ (3.33)  
B (3.00)  
B- (2.67)  
C+ (2.33)  
C (2.00)  
D (1.00)  
F (0.00)  
CR Credit  
NC No Credit  

 

S.J.D. Course Grading System

The following courses are graded with an ‘R’ (Research) for successful progress or completion: SJD 902 Research Methods Seminar, SJD 903 SJD Dissertation and SJD 904 SJD Candidacy.  No GPA is calculated for these courses.  The ‘R’ (Research) grade remains on the student transcript as the final evaluation of the course. If the faculty advisor determines that the candidate is not maintaining successful progress toward degree completion, an ‘F’ (Failure) may be assigned.


Deferred Grades (DF)

No Grade Reported (NG)

 


 

 

 

 



Grading Norms

J.D. Grading Norms

The Law faculty had established this grading norm for all J.D. students in: (1) all required courses; (2) electives with an enrollment of 30 or more; and (3) seminars and electives with an enrollment of 29 or fewer, as follows:

1. All required courses: Median = B.
Mean = 2.9-3.1.
Expect 15% A and A-.
Expect 15% C+ and below.
Expect 3-7% D and below.
2. Elective classroom courses (30+): Median = B.
Mean = 2.9-3.2.
Expect 15% A and A-.
Expect 15% C+ and below.
3. Seminars, small classes, etc. Median = B+.
Mean = 3.0-3.6.
No expectations.

These norms are suggested guidelines as opposed to rigid requirements.

LL.M. Grading Norm

The Law faculty has established this grading norm for LL.M. students. A grade is given solely on the basis of the instructor’s judgment as to the student’s scholarly attainment. A (EXCELLENT) indicates exceptional achievement; B (GOOD) indicates substantial achievement; C (SATISFACTORY) indicates acceptable but substandard achievement; D (POOR) indicates inadequate achievement; and F (FAILURE) indicates work unworthy of any credit, and suggests that the student may not be capable of succeeding in LL.M. study.

MLS/CLS Grading Norm

The Law faculty has established these grading norms for MLS/CLS students. A grade is given solely on the basis of the instructor’s judgment as to the student’s scholarly attainment. Grades in the “A” range (EXCELLENT) indicate exceptional achievement; grades in the “B” range (GOOD) indicate substantial achievement; grades in the “C” range (SATISFACTORY) indicate acceptable but substandard achievement; “D” grades (POOR) indicate inadequate achievement; and “F” grades (FAILURE) indicate work unworthy of any credit, and suggest that the student may not be capable of succeeding in the MLS/CLS program.

 



Honor Code

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS
 

1.1 — Purpose and Scope

CHAPTER TWO: VIOLATIONS
 

2.1 — Violations

CHAPTER THREE: RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED STUDENT
  3.1 — Pre-Hearing Rights
3.2 — Hearing Rights
3.3 — Appeal Rights
CHAPTER FOUR: HONOR COMMITTEE
  4.1 — Members
CHAPTER FIVE: PROCEDURE FOR HONOR PROCEEDINGS
  5.1 — Reporting Procedure
5.2 — Preliminary Meeting
5.3 — Hearing Board
5.4 — Pre-Hearing Procedure
5.5 — Conduct of the Hearing
5.6 — Rules of Evidence
5.7 — Burden of Persuasion
CHAPTER SIX: SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS
  6.1 — Possible Sanctions
CHAPTER SEVEN: PROCEDURE FOR APPEALS
  7.1 — Appeals
CHAPTER EIGHT: DISCLOSURE OF DISPOSITIONS
CHAPTER NINE: AMENDMENT PROCESS
PRINT FULL HONOR CODE DOCUMENT



Honors, Woolsack and CALI Awards

Academic Honors*

Academic Honors are awarded as follows: cum laude to graduates who rank in the top 30 percent of the graduating class, magna cum laude to those who rank in the top 15 percent and summa cum laude to those who rank in the top 5 percent of their class. Please refer to Class Ranking for information about how the law school calculates rank in class, and the number of graded credits a student must earn to be ranked in a particular class.

• Students who rank in the top 30 percent (cum laude), 15 percent (magna cum laude) and 5 percent (summa cum laude) of the graduating class based on rank after five semesters will be listed provisionally as honors recipients in the commencement program at Spring commencement. However, final awarding of honors is based on rank in the graduating class after six semesters, determined after Spring commencement.

• Final honors will appear on the diploma and transcript. Provisional honors will not appear on the transcript or diploma and students who are recognized for provisional honors but do not earn final honors should not represent that their degree was earned with academic honor.

Woolsack Honor Society

The Woolsack Honor Society was founded in 1920 for the purpose of recognizing academic excellence. It was reestablished in 1981. Membership in the Society is extended to: 1) Students who rank in the top fifteen percent of the graduating class after 5 semesters; and 2) Students who do not qualify for membership after 5 semesters but who rank in the top 15 percent of the graduating class after six semesters.

• Students who qualify for membership in Woolsack Honor Society based on class rank after five semesters are notified by the Dean in February before Spring commencement. Students who qualify after six semesters are notified after Spring commencement.

• The notation “Woolsack Honor Society” will appear on the transcript for all students who qualify for membership.

• Fall members' names are listed in the commencement program and are recognized during the spring commencement ceremony.

• Once inducted, membership is permanent.

Honors and Woolsack - Transfer Students

Academic Honors eligibility applies to students that have completed Penn State’s first year J.D. curriculum. Woolsack honors require at least 5 semesters of enrollment at Penn State and a cumulative rank in class. Transfer students will not receive a cumulative rank in class as grades from their prior law school cannot be calculated toward a Penn State Law class rank. Therefore, students transferring into Penn State Law will not be eligible for Academic Honors or Woolsack.

CALI Awards

The “CALI award” is given to the J.D. student with the highest grade in a class, as determined by the Penn State Law professor. Awardees receive a printed certificate, which includes a permanent URL VirtualAward that the student can link to from their online resumés or biographies.  The Penn State Law Registrar places the CALI Award certificates in the Katz Building student mail folders approximately one month after final grading is completed each semester. In the spring semester, CALI Award certificates for graduating 3L students are mailed to their diploma mailing address, or permanent address if there is no diploma mailing address listed in the student's Student Services Center in LionPath.

 


 

*Prior to February, 2020, the academic honors policy was:

Academic Honors are awarded as follows: cum laude to graduates who rank in the top 10 percent of the graduating class, magna cum laude to those who rank in the top 5 percent and summa cum laude to those who rank in the top 2 percent of their class. Please refer to Class Ranking for information about how the law school calculates rank in class, and the number of graded credits a student must earn to be ranked in a particular class.

  • Students who rank in the top 10 percent (cum laude), 5 percent (magna cum laude) and 2 percent (summa cum laude) of the graduating class based on rank after five semesters will be listed provisionally as honors recipients in the commencement program at Spring commencement. However, final awarding of honors is based on rank in the graduating class after six semesters, determined after Spring commencement.

Any graduate of Penn State Law prior to February 2020 was subject to this policy, and not the current honors policy explained one above.



Independent Study

  1. A student may take one Independent Study (LWIND 996) course per semester.
     
  2. An Independent Study course may be for one, two or three credits.  
     
  3. An Independent Study course does not satisfy the Seminar requirement for graduation.
     
  4. A student may register for no more than two Independent Study courses for a maximum of four (4) credits. 
     
  5. A student may take an Independent Study only from a Supervising Professor.  A Supervising Professor must be a resident law faculty member, an emeritus faculty member, or (with Associate Dean for Academic Affairs approval) an affiliate faculty member with a JD. Adjunct professors are not within this definition.  Graduate level Individual Studies (596) credits will not be applied to the J.D. degree
     
  6. Before a student may register for an Independent Study course, the student must submit a written course proposal to the Supervising Professor. The course proposal must state the student's goals for the course and propose a thesis for the research paper the student will produce as part of the course.  The Supervising Professor must approve the course proposal.  
     
  7. Each Supervising Professor sets his or her standards and expectations each student must satisfy for course credit.  A Supervising Professor may not award credit for an Independent Study unless the student produces a written research paper that reflects learning and achievement that merit award of course credit.  Normally, to meet this standard, a student should expect to produce at least twenty double-spaced letter size pages of high quality legal scholarship for each credit awarded for the course.

Note: A student may not earn academic credit more than once for the same or similar work (“double-dipping”).  For example, a student may not submit the same or similar work to satisfy the requirements for membership on a law journal and for credit in a seminar course or independent study.  See Penn State Law Honor Code Appendix 12 (defining “plagiarism” as including “the re-submission of work originally completed for another course . . .” ).



Clinics

Students learn by experience in Penn State Law’s legal clinic programs. Under the guidance of clinical faculty, J.D., S.I.A., and LL.M., students earn academic credit while engaging in all aspects of the legal process, from legislative advocacy to client representation. Corresponding skills training courses give students a knowledge base on which to build their professional experiences.

 

Application Schedule

Summary of Clinical Programs

Apply Here



International Law Practice & Extracurricular Activities

Sarah Hart“ICTY makes human rights real. We are helping to bring voice to the victims who lived through this and bring perpetrators to justice.”

— Sarah Hart,
Penn State Law International Justice Externship Program at The Hague on her work on the Rathko Mladic trial at the International  Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

 

Students eager to put the theories and skills they build through the International Curriculum into practice can participate in experiential programs, summer opportunities, and post-graduate fellowships. Students work in law firms with a multinational practice, NGOs, and government organizations. The Career Planning & Development Office and faculty members work with students to identify practice experiences. 

Student experiences

Students can get International human rights and criminal prosecution experience through the International Justice Externship Program or by working with a government organization such as the Department of State or an international development organization during the Semester in Washington program.

Students looking for work experience in developing countries can participate in the International Sustainable Development Projects clinic.

Graduate Fellowships

Graduating law students are eligible to participate in the University Traineeship Program at the International Court of Justice, The Hague, NetherlandsFulbright Fellowships, and can identify other opportunities through the International Law Students Association

 

Student Extracurricular Activities

Photo of Asima Ahmad

“I was attracted to the JLIA opportunity because of my interest in international law and that it's an interdisciplinary journal with the School of International Affairs. I think that is a really unique aspect to the traditional law journal, and it helps get more students, viewpoints, and opinions involved.” 

—​ Asima Ahmad,
past articles editor of the Journal of Law and International Affairs 

Beyond the classroom, Penn State Law offers a rich array of international experiences. 

The Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs (JLIA) is a digital, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal, jointly published by Penn State's School of Law and School of International Affairs. The journal promotes academic and public discourse at the intersection of law and international affairs, featuring contributions in the areas of public and private international law, international relations, comparative law and politics, geography, economics, history, and policy issues in the various sciences.

Moot Court Competitions

Student Organizations

  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association 
  • Human Rights Law Society 
  • International Law Society 
  • Islamic Legal Council (ILC) 
  • Latino/a American Law Students Association 

Enrichment Experiences

  • J.D./LL.M. Mentoring Program
  • Conversation Partners



Scholarly Journals at Penn State Law

The Law School hosts three scholarly journals:

Students are selected for journal membership at the end of their first year of legal study on the basis of academic performance and achievement in the annual Writing Competition, held in May. For more information on eligibility and membership requirements for the scholarly journals, contact the editor-in-chief listed on each journal’s website, and visit the Writing Competition Group in ANGEL.
 
Transfer students are eligible for membership in the scholarly journals.  For more information, transfer students should review the Collective Policy on Transfer Students, and request a copy of the Transfer Student Instructions for the writing competition from the Admissions Office.

Joint degree students are eligible for membership on a scholarly journal and may participate in the writing competition. However, J.D./M.B.A. joint degree students must defer law journal membership while enrolled in full time MBA coursework, which normally occurs in the year following the 1L J.D. year. 
 
The Penn State Environmental Law Review was published from 1992 to 2011, and provided a forum for articles in the traditional realm of environmental law, as well as risk assessment, toxicology and epidemiology.  Past issues are available here.

The Penn State International Law Review was published from 1982 to 2011, and included articles on public and private international law written by foreign and domestic government officials, legal scholars and private practitioners. Past issues are available here.

 



J.D. Degree Requirements

To earn a J.D. degree a student must:

  1. Earn at least 88 credits, including all first-year required courses. The maximum number of credits permitted per semester is 17.
     
  2. Be in residence for six semesters.  To be in residence, the student must enroll in at least 12 credits, at full tuition, and not work more than 20 hours per week during the semester.  Credits earned through the Semester in Washington Program, the Semester in Harrisburg Program, the Externships Everywhere Program, and authorized Penn State Law semester-long study abroad programs may be used to fulfill this requirement.  Credits earned during the summer months may not be used to fulfill this requirement.
     
  3. Complete with a grade of at least C one course designated as an Upper Level Writing Seminar course.
     
  4. Complete with a grade of at least C the course in Professional Responsibility
     
  5. Complete with a grade of at least a C one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours.
     
  6. Starting with the Class of 2025, complete the Professional Development program that takes place in January of your first year. Please see academic calendar for dates of the program. 
     
  7. Starting with the Class of 2026, complete with a grade of at least a C one course approved by the faculty to comply with ABA 303(c).

Each student is responsible for fulfilling the above graduation requirements. Students should track their academic record and progress using their Degree Audit (Academic Requirements report), and should seek clarification as needed from the faculty, deans, registrar and other administrative personnel.

Complete List of Required Courses

Semesters of Residence

 



LL.M. Academic Handbook

I. Degree. The degree Legum Magister (Master of Laws or LL.M.) shall be awarded to those students who complete the study of law in the LL.M. program of the Pennsylvania State University.
II. Eligibility for Admissions. To be eligible for admission to the Penn State Law LL.M. program:
 
  1. Requisite education. An applicant must:
     
    1. have received an LL.B. degree in law from an accredited institution outside of the United States, and provide an official transcript of that degree (a certified translation);
       
    2. have completed, while resident in a country other than the United States, a university-based legal or other degree [education] that is required to take the equivalent of the bar examination in that foreign country, and produce an official transcript certifying satisfactory completion of that degree [education] status;
       
    3. be licensed to practice law in a foreign country; or
       
    4. the equivalent of a., b., and/or c. above as determined by the Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs in consultation with the Penn State Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
       
  2. Language capacity.
    1. The applicant must take and submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
       
      1. The minimum score on the TOEFL shall be 88 (internet-based test) or 575 (paper-based test) or the equivalent.
         
      2. The minimum score on the IELTS shall be 6.5.
         
    2. An applicant with scores below the minimum listed above (II.2.i) may be eligible for admission if the applicant obtains suitable language training or provides otherwise acceptable evidence of proficiency in English prior to enrolling at Penn State Law.
       
    3. International applicants may be exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or master's degree from an educational institution in a country where English is both the language of instruction and the only official or native language. Countries that qualify an applicant for exemption include Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States, and Wales. The Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs may also waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for an international applicant who has undertaken significant undergraduate or graduate study in English.
       
  3. Character and fitness. The applicant must answer the following questions and make full disclosure of facts where appropriate upon application to the LL.M. program:
    1. Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime other than a minor traffic violation? If yes, please explain.
       
    2. Have you ever been subject to discipline or dismissal from any college, university or place of employment or bar or legal licensing authority? If yes, please explain.
The applicant should complete the Penn State Law LL.M. application and admissions procedures
 
III. Length of Study. Students will enroll in the LL.M. program on a full-time basis. Students enrolled in the program on a full-time basis will generally be expected to complete the requirements of the degree in one academic year.
 

Full Time Status

The LL.M. degree program is a full time course of study.  Full time status for law students in Fall or Spring semester is 12 credits. International LL.M. students who want to study in Summer must comply with DISSA requirements and rules governing Extending Studies for a Third Semester. Except with permission obtained in advance from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Directorate of Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA), all LL.M. students must be enrolled as full-time students throughout each semester in which the student enrolls. (See below for rules regarding extending LL.M. study for a third semester).

In exceptional cases, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may permit an LL.M. student to be enrolled in  fewer than 12 credits (Fall or Spring) if the LL.M. student demonstrates, in writing and in the judgment of the Associate Dean, adequate justification for a course load lower than full time.  Examples of adequate justification include:  1. Hardship, especially if at the close of the normal drop-add period the circumstances or the events precipitating the hardship were unknown to and could not have been reasonably anticipated by the student.  (Academic unpreparedness or difficulty with the demands of full time law study do not constitute adequate justification); 2.  A U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is employed full time and for whom part time enrollment in LL.M. study is the only feasible option.

All LL.M. students who are granted permission to enroll in less than a full time credit load must enroll in at least six credits each semester (Fall and Spring), and, must complete all LL.M. degree requirements within 24 months after the date the student commences LL.M. study.

All LL.M. students who do not maintain full time status without obtaining prior approval from the law school and DISSA will be reported in SEVIS as a violation, and the student’s SEVIS record will be terminated for “unauthorized drop below full course level.”

LL.M. students are subject to the law school academic rule governing dropping courses after the drop-add deadline, and all other rules as set forth in the LL.M. Academic Handbook and the Student Academic Handbook.

Extending LL.M. Study for a Third Semester

The LL.M. degree program is designed so that students can complete the 24 required credits in two semesters (Fall and Spring). LL.M. degree students may not start LL.M. study in Summer. LL.M. students who want to extend study for a third semester must apply for permission by completing the steps listed below.   (For example, a student who starts LL.M. study in Fall, continues into Spring and wants to extend study into either Summer or Fall must apply for permission to extend.)

  1. Submit Application for Extension Form to Kristin Hrehor by March 15 for fall extensions and October 15 for spring extensions.

        2. Complete the I-20/DS-2019 Request for Extension on iStart

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will grant permission to extend LL.M. degree study for a third semester if the student demonstrates that an extension will permit the student to accomplish a significant educational objective related to LL.M. degree study.  Significant educational objectives related to LL.M. degree study include:

  • The applicant has taken or will take law courses during the first two semesters in preparation to take a bar exam and needs an additional semester to take additional law courses in preparation for a bar exam.
  • The applicant plans to concentrate his or her study in a particular area of law and wants to take courses in that area in addition to courses that he or she will be able to take during the first two semesters.
  • The applicant plans to enroll in a seminar or independent study course to produce a significant research paper in the third semester and has taken or will take courses in the first two semesters related to the subject of the research paper.  Additional time will allow the student to focus on a research paper.
  • The applicant plans to enroll in an externship or clinical course in the third semester.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If, for any reason, the applicant decides not to extend their enrollment after approval to do so, it is the applicant’s responsibility to notify the Penn State Law Registrar immediately.  This decision will affect when the student record is updated to show the student graduated.  The deadline to notify the Penn State Law Registrar is the semester degree conferral date, available from the Penn State Law Registrar.  If the Penn State Law Registrar is notified after the semester degree conferral date, the student transcript, and any requested graduation verification, will reflect the LL.M. degree for the following semester.                       

IV. Graduation Requirements. In order to fulfill the requirements for the LL.M. degree, students must satisfy the following criteria:
 
  1. Credit Requirements. Students must earn at least 24 credits.
     
  2. Academic Standing.
     
    1. Academic Rules. Unless otherwise stated here, and where relevant to the academic program of the LL.M. degree, LL.M. students are subject to the rules outlined in the J.D. Student Academic Handbook.
       
    2. Good Standing. Students must maintain good academic standing. Good academic standing requires regular course attendance and participation, as well as maintaining a semester and cumulative grade-point equivalent of at least a 2.0 (C).
       
    3. Evaluation of Academic Standing. Academic standing for LL.M. students is evaluated throughout the student’s program of study. If a student fails to achieve a grade average of at least C in the first semester, or excessively fails to attend class, or fails to submit assigned work without excuse, the Penn State Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will notify the student in writing that he or she is no longer in good academic standing and afford the student an opportunity to be heard as to whether he or she is able or willing to undertake the study necessary to complete the LL.M. degree program. The Law School's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs, will determine whether the student may continue in the LL.M. program or whether probation or dismissal from the program is appropriate. The student may appeal an adverse decision to the Dean of the Law School.
       
  3. Required Courses. Students must earn credit in the following required courses: Introduction to the United States Legal System and LL.M. Legal Analysis Writing and Research 

The Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs may waive one or both of the course requirements where students have satisfactorily completed equivalent courses at another U.S. law program or in a common law country.

 
  1. Graduate level courses: LL.M. students may enroll in one Penn State University graduate level course (500 and above course numbers) per semester. Enrolling in additional graduate level courses, or 400 level courses may be done only with permission of the Law School's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
     
  2. Independent study: LL.M. students may take independent study courses for up to 3 credits in any one semester, and no more than a total of 4 credits during the two semesters of the LL.M. program.

Note:  You can track your degree progress by using your personal Degree Audit (Academic Requirements report), in LionPath, in combination with the information here.  Learn more here, Degree Audit (Academic Requirement report). 

V. Honor Code. LL.M. students are subject to the Penn State University Code of Conduct and the Penn State Law Honor Code.
 
VI. LL.M. Grading System
 
  1. Pass/Fail Courses — LL.M. students may not take classes on a pass/fail basis
     
  2. Class Ranking — LL.M. students will not be ranked.
     
  3. Grade Point Average - LL.M. students will have a GPA calculated effective with the spring 2021 semester. GPA inquiries for students prior to that semester should be directed to the Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs.
VII. LL.M. Grading Norm 
 
VIII. Examinations and Final Examination Information

 



Non-Law Students in Law School Classes

Enrollment (including audit) and attendance in a law school class is limited to law students, with these exceptions:

  1. School of International Affairs Students, with the approval of the law professor, the director of the School of International Affairs, and the student’s SIA academic advisor; 
     
  2. Other PSU graduate students with the approval of the law professor and the law school Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; 
     
  3. Students enrolled in PSU approved Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate degree programs with the approval of the law professor and the law school Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Note: the law course will only be applied to the graduate degree program and transcript;  
     
  4. Persons not already enrolled in a PSU academic program who register to audit a law school course with the approval of the law professor and the law school Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. (Auditors are charged law school tuition).



Pass-Fail Rules

Students may elect to take a course Pass-Fail during the first three weeks of the semester. The following rules apply to Pass-Fail courses:

Students may not elect to take Professional Responsibility or courses meeting the graduation writing requirement Pass-Fail.   Experiential Credit courses may be taken Pass-Fail, if designated by the professor. Courses graded credit/no credit are not pass/fail courses under this policy. 

  1. A student may take only one course (maximum of 4 credits) Pass-Fail during their entire J.D. program. Note: Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination (BAREX 900) is graded on a pass/fail basis, but does not count against the one pass/fail course a student may take.
     
  2. A student who receives a grade below C+ in a Pass-Fail course, including in Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination (BAREX 900), will have the letter grade actually earned entered on the transcript and used for all purposes. A student who earns a grade of C+ or higher will have a "P" entered on the transcript; the course is then ignored in the computation of grade point averages; the actual letter grade is not provided to the student. Students electing pass/fail grading may not elect to receive the course letter grade earned after the semester pass/fail election period is past.
     
  3. In addition to Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination (BAREX 900), only courses designated "Pass-Fail eligible" by the professor, as listed in the registration materials, may be elected Pass-Fail.



Penn State University Course Credits

Subject to the generally applicable rules and exclusions below, J.D. students who are not enrolled in a joint degree program may apply up to twelve credits of Penn State University graduate level courses (500 and above course numbers), and/or Penn State University advanced undergraduate courses (400-499 course numbers) that are related to the student’s legal career objective with prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

J.D. students enrolled in an approved joint degree program are subject to the specific rules of that program.

Advanced undergraduate  (400-499) and graduate (500 and higher) course credits are co-curricular credits subject to caps on co-curricular credits set forth in the Student Academic Handbook, Co-curricular Credit Rules.

Students seeking approval should email the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Included in the email should be an explanation of how the course(s) are related to the student’s career objective, forwarded permission from the course instructor, and a current course description for the course(s) being requested. 

Generally Applicable Rules and Exclusions  

  • No credit splitting.  Students may not apply less than all the credits earned in a single course toward the total number of credits permitted under this rule.
     
  • Credits for graduate level courses that a law student earned prior to admission to the J.D. program will not count toward the J.D. degree.
     
  • Credits will count toward the J.D. degree only if the student earns a grade of at least a B.  Grades will appear on the student’s transcript; however, grades for graduate courses are not calculated into a student’s GPA.
     
  • To count toward the J.D., courses must be taken at Penn State University Park or via World Campus.  Credits earned through distance education (defined as through either World Campus or via the remote section of a Penn State Law course offered via synchronous audiovisual communication) will count as distance education credits under ABA Standard 306 Distance Education and state bar eligibility rules.  The maximum number of credits permitted to count toward the J.D. degree under ABA Standard 306 is 15. 
     
  • Advanced undergraduate and graduate level credits for individual studies or supervised research will not count toward the J.D. or LL.M. degree.



Planning Your Upper Level Courses

This information is intended to offer some general advice to you as you are planning and selecting courses for your second and third years of law school. Many factors are relevant to your selection of upper level course work, including your interest in developing professional knowledge and skills regardless of whether you also specialize in a particular field of law, developing expertise in a specialized field, and passing a bar exam. In addition to considering the suggestions below, you should not hesitate to contact your faculty advisors or other members of the faculty for more personalized guidance.

Developing General Knowledge and Skills:

Consider the following courses because they are valuable in most any field of practice: Administrative Law, Basic Federal Income Taxation, Corporations, Evidence, Remedies, and Sales.

You should also consider courses that will enhance your professional skills. There are many such courses offered in our curriculum, including live-client clinics and classroom-based skills courses.

Developing Expertise in a Specialty Field:

Many students are interested in specializing in a particular field of law, and the law school offers opportunity to specialize in many different fields. When considering whether and how best to do so, we encourage you to seek advice from faculty members who have particular expertise in the specialty field of interest to you. Additionally, you should familiarize yourself with the course recommendations from our electives course list.

You may also want to consider graduate level course offerings available throughout the University, which might be relevant to your field. All Penn State Law students — not just those pursuing joint degrees — are permitted to apply up to 12 credits of graduate course work towards the Penn State Law degree.

Preparing for a Bar Exam:

While you will most likely take a bar prep course after graduation, preparing for the bar exam remains an important factor in selecting courses for every student. However, its importance varies from student to student. While no particular characteristic can determine a student's success on a bar exam, experience suggests that a student with a cumulative rank in the bottom 35% of the class, and/or an LSAT score of 154 or lower, is at greater risk of failing a bar exam than are other students.

Consequently, students with one or more of these characteristics are advised to seriously consider enrolling in electives covering subject matters that will be tested on the bar exams they intend to take after graduation.

For the national and state components of bar exams, visit www.ncbex.org, which includes information on multi-state testing as well as links to states' bar examination websites.

Visit www.pabarexam.org for information on the Pennsylvania Bar Exam.

Additional Bar Exam Information and Bar Review Courses 



Registration Information



Regulations Governing Papers Submitted for Course Credit

A paper submitted in a Seminar or an Independent Study or any other paper submitted in partial or full satisfaction of a course requirement is due no later than the last day of regularly scheduled classes for the semester.

  1. A paper or papers submitted in a Seminar must total at least ten double spaced, typed pages per credit, excluding footnotes, with the maximum length to be set by the course professor.
  2. All papers must have margins of one inch at the top and bottom and on the right-hand edge and one and one-half inches on the left-hand side.
  3. Citations shall conform to "The Bluebook".
  4. An original manuscript, whether in hard copy or electronic copy, must be submitted. Photocopies or other reproductions are not acceptable.
  5. The final grade in a Seminar will be based on attendance and on oral classroom work different in both kind and degree from that ordinarily expected in other courses, in addition to the quality of the paper or papers.
  6. A major academic purpose of a Seminar, Independent Study, or other paper written to satisfy credit requirements is to develop and test the student's research and writing skills. The following rules regarding the preparation and use of such papers should be interpreted with this purpose in mind. Each course professor may issue instructions or interpretive guidelines to supplement these rules.
    1. Plagiarism or other dishonesty or deception in a Seminar paper or in any other written work submitted for credit is not tolerated. Anyone guilty of such conduct may receive grade sanctions and/or be denied credit for the course, and may be subject to such other sanctions as might be imposed under the Honor Code.
    2. A student shall not receive excessive assistance or make excessive use of the work of someone else in preparing a paper, regardless of whether he or she gives credit to the person who renders assistance or whose work is used.
    3. Except as provided hereinafter, all research, writing and other work of the student used in the preparation of a paper shall be done by him or her during the current semester and solely for the purpose of satisfying the course requirement for which the paper is to be submitted. A student may prepare a paper with the additional purpose of offering it for publication in a law review or journal (other than to fulfill membership duties) or entering it in a writing competition. A student who desires to use work in preparing a paper that he or she did before the semester or for another purpose or to prepare a paper with a second purpose other than those mentioned above shall submit a request to the course professor stating all relevant facts and asking for an exception. The course professor may grant an exception when to do so is not inconsistent with the academic goal stated in the first sentence of paragraph 6.
    4. A course professor may take into account any violation of the rules in paragraphs (B) and (C) when grading a paper. It is assumed that the course professor will make whatever inquiry is needed to assure that a deduction is warranted. The course professor shall award a grade of F if he or she deems the violation egregious. The award of a low grade and denial of course credit is not punishment and shall not preclude disciplinary sanctions appropriate for violations of these rules.
    5. These explanatory notes are intended to provide guidance in interpreting and applying the rules on plagiarism and other improprieties; they are not meant to be conclusive.

      For the law school’s definition of “plagiarism” see Honor Code Section 2.1.F.

      What constitutes receiving "excessive assistance" or "making excessive use of the work of someone else" is a matter for the course professor to decide and communicate in a timely manner to the students. Unless the course professor gives different instructions, the ideas formulated by the Academic Rules Committee to define "excessiveness" should be followed. In pertinent part those ideas appear below.

      The words "excessive assistance" should be construed with reference to the academic purpose of the paper requirement-to develop the student's research and writing skills and to test his or her developed skills. The rules contemplate that a student may receive some counsel and suggestions from other people, e.g., another student, a typist, the course professor, so long as the paper is, in both the pedagogical and literary senses, the work of the student. For example, it would not be excessive for a student (i) to engage in general discussions about the topic while working on the paper; (ii) to have someone else read and generally criticize a draft, or (iii) to follow suggestions of a typist or proofreader for correcting errors of spelling, grammar, syntax, or citation form so long as the student understands the errors and agrees with the corrections. On the other hand, it would be excessive for a student (i) to allow someone else to make basic decisions regarding scope of the research, organization, and analysis of materials and conclusions, (ii) to use a major rewrite of the student's work done by someone else, or (iii) to give a carelessly prepared draft to a typist, counting on the typist to produce a technically correct and literate final version.

      What constitutes "making excessive use of the work of someone else" has reference to the use of books, articles, unpublished manuscripts, research notes, and other existing work done by someone else. Even if the student gives full and unambiguous credit to his or her sources, avoiding problems of plagiarism, dishonesty, and deception, it would be "excessive use" for a student to do such things as (i) basing a paper largely on one or two published or unpublished sources, slavishly using their research or organization and analyses, (ii) using many lengthy quotations from the works of others, or (iii) writing substantial parts of the paper by slavishly paraphrasing the language of other works.

      Course professors and students should view preparation of a paper as a valuable learning and testing opportunity. A course professor should not issue unduly restrictive instructions that limit the pedagogic worth of the experience. A student should not adopt a quibbling approach to the rules.

 



J.D. Program

The J.D. program at Penn State Law is a three-year, six-semester course of study offered in University Park, Pennsylvania. The first-year curriculum and certain upper-level courses are required; all other courses are elective. For the full list of degree requirements, see J.D. Degree Requirements.  

Faculty Statement of Learning Outcomes

The Penn State Law faculty has adopted the following Statement of Learning Outcomes:

1.  Students will understand the fundamental principles of Civil and Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law, and Torts.

2.  Students will understand the fundamental principles of advanced topics in law through elective courses.

3.  Students will be able to engage in legal analysis, reasoning, and problem solving.

4.  Students will be able to perform legal research.

5.  Students will be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing regarding legal matters.

6.  Students will be able to recognize and resolve ethical issues and discharge professional responsibilities within the legal system.

Policy on Course Learning Objectives and Assessments

To help implement the foregoing, Penn State Law faculty members shall provide in the syllabus distributed to students for each course each semester: 

1.  A statement of course learning objectives; and

2.  A statement of the method(s) by which the faculty member will assess student achievement of course learning objectives.

Required Courses

First Year - Fall

First Year- Spring

Second or Third Year

Professional Responsibility

Required Experiential Learning Credits

Required Upper Level Writing Seminar Course

Required ABA Standard 303(c) Course

 

 

 



Required Experiential Learning Credits

To earn a J.D. degree a student must complete with a grade of least C one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours, in addition to the other J.D. Degree Requirements. An experiential course must be a simulation course, a law clinic, or one of our Externships.

The following courses satisfy the Experiential Credits graduation requirement:

Civil Pre-Trial Practice and Advocacy
Constitutional Negotiations (EXPR 997 code offered Spring 2024 ONLY)
Contract Drafting
Externships
Handling Cases in the Real World
Higher Education Law Practice
Human Rights, Intersectionality, & the Law (EXPR 997 code offered Spring 2021 ONLY)
Indigent Criminal Justice Trial Simulation
Litigation & Business Transactions
Litigation Skills: Cross-Examination, Direct-Examination, and Deposition Preparation Practicum (EXPR 997 code offered Spring 2024 ONLY)
Mediation of Environmental and Public Conflicts
National Security Law II (Leadership in Crisis Simulation)
National Security Practice (EXPR 997 code offered Spring 2024 ONLY)
Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Design
Renewable Energy Law & Energy Justice
Representing the Entrepreneur
Representing the Professional Athlete
Research and Writing for Judicial Clerkships (Formerly Judicial Opinion Writing)
Researching Administrative Law
Strategic Legal Research
Street Law (course code EXPR 937 only)
The Modern In-House Counsel
Trial Advocacy (formerly Advocacy I)
Winning Written Advocacy
In-House Law Clinics and Practicum

Note:  There is no limit on the number of courses a student can take from the above list, except where co-curricular credit rules apply to Externships and In-House Law Clinics and Practicum.



Required Upper Level Writing Seminar Course

To earn a J.D. degree a student must complete with a grade of at least C one course designated as an Upper Level Writing Seminar* course, in addition to the other J.D. Degree Requirements.

The Upper Level Writing Seminar Requirement may be satisfied through one of the following Upper Level Writing Seminar course options:

1. Successful completion with a grade of C or better of a Research Seminar (Courses designated as "ULWR") (2 or 3 credits).

2.  Successful completion with a grade of C or better of an Advanced Legal Writing Seminar (Courses designated as "AULWR") (2 or 3 credits).

3. Successful completion with a grade of C or better of an Individual Research and Writing Seminar (ULWR 996) (2 or 3 credits).

A student may not register for more than one Individual Research and Writing Seminar (ULWR 996)Individual Research and Writing Seminar (ULWR 996) credits are subject to the Credit Cap for Study Outside the Classroom.  A student must enroll in Individual Research and Writing Seminar (ULWR 996)  for at least two and no more than three credits.  Students must complete the approval process outlined in the policy Required Upper Level Writing Seminar Course Policy.  The law school Registrar will enroll approved students in this course.

Details regarding each of the Upper Level Writing Seminar course options outlined above can be found in the Required Upper Level Writing Seminar Course Policy.

Current courses meeting the Upper-Level Writing Seminar Requirement

Important Note Related to the Honor Code: A student may not earn academic credit more than once for the same or similar work (“double-dipping”).  For example, a student may not submit the same or similar work to satisfy the requirements for membership on a law journal and for credit in a Research Seminar (ULWR), Advanced Legal Writing Seminar (AULWR), Individual Research and Writing Seminar (ULWR 996), independent study (LWIND 996), or any work submitted for credit in one course for credit in another.  Law students must comply with Honor Code requirements on academic integrity.  See also Penn State Law Honor Code .

* J.D. students in the class of 2018 who satisfactorily completed a seminar ("SEM") course have met this requirement.

 



Earning Credits from Another ABA-Accredited Law School

Ordinarily, it is expected that all full-time J.D. students will maintain full-time resident status during their six semesters at the law school. However, any student may apply toward their J.D. a maximum of 6 credits of non-required upper-level coursework offered at another ABA-accredited law school upon prior written approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In a rare case, the student may seek an Academic Dean's approval to waive the 6 credit limit by demonstrating a compelling reason. Circumstances reasonably foreseeable to the student, such as the desire to seek employment elsewhere, to relocate to be closer to a significant other, or to lower the costs associated with attending the Law School, do not meet the standard. Law School required courses typically must be completed at Penn State Law. Additionally, students may not transfer credits from online courses offered by another law school, with the exception that for synchronous online courses offered by another law school to be taken during Spring Semester 2022, students may apply for permission to transfer credits from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Penn State law students attending another institution will be enrolled in VISAW 903 by the law school registrar's office. VISAW 903 provides the following benefits to the student: if applicable, financial aid can be awarded and processed, various enrollment reporting processes (i.e. health insurance, loan deferment) will report the student enrolled, and the student's Penn State Access Account will remain active. Penn State assesses a $50 flat fee for VISAW 903; this fee is in addition to any fees assessed by the other institution.

To receive credit for any course work completed at another law school, the student must receive a grade that corresponds to at least a C. Any credits earned at another law school are included on the student's transcript by reference only, and no attempt is made to convert grades to Penn State Law equivalents. Except for students who transfer into the second year, no credit will be awarded for a course taken on a Pass-Fail or similar basis when the student had the option of receiving a number or letter grade for the course.

It is the responsibility of the student to have an official transcript from the law school they attended sent to the law school registrar’s office. If the transcript is not received by the law school registrar in a timely manner, the VISAW 903 credits will convert to a NG (no grade) and eventually to an F.

Semesters of Residence

 



Semesters of Residence

"Resident" semesters are fall and spring. (Summer is not considered a semester of "residence.")

"Resident" semesters are also characterized as semesters of full-time enrollment, which is 12+ credits. (Summer is not considered a semester of "residence," even if the student is enrolled in 12+ credits during the summer.)

Students who begin at Penn State's law school in our full-time program must be in residence for 6 semesters.

Students who transfer from another institution to Penn State's law school must be in residence for 4 semesters.

More detailed information on residency may be found here: Earning Credits from Another ABA-Accredited Law School.


Graduation Requirements

 



Student Certification to Practice

Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rule 321 and similar rules in other states authorize appearances in court under certain circumstances by students who have completed three semesters of law school. Those rules typically require that the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs certify students as being of good character and competent legal ability and as being adequately trained to perform as a certified legal intern.

Students seeking certification in Pennsylvania should obtain the proper form and instructions on completing the form from the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners website (pabarexam.org). From the Board of Law Examiners homepage, select "Application Information" from the menu on the left side of the screen. Then select the link to "Application for Rule 321 and 322." A student seeking certification in another state should consult the appropriate student practice rule and meet with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to effect compliance with that rule.

Upon completing the Pennsylvania Application for Certification, students should submit the form to the Registrar’s Office for certification of good standing and eligibility. Once the form is Certified by the Registrar, the student should submit it to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

To enable a student to serve as a legal intern following second-year fall semester examinations, the school will tentatively presume that the student has successfully completed three semesters at the end of examinations for the third semester. Should this presumption be overcome by the student's performance in the third semester, the school will withdraw the student's certification. Students who have taken courses on a part-time basis will be considered, for certification purposes, to have completed the equivalent of three semesters when they have completed 43 credit hours.





Earning Credits from Another ABA-Accredited Law School

Ordinarily, it is expected that all full-time J.D. students will maintain full-time resident status during their six semesters at the law school. However, any student may apply toward their J.D. a maximum of 6 credits of non-required upper-level coursework offered at another ABA-accredited law school upon prior written approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In a rare case, the student may seek an Academic Dean's approval to waive the 6 credit limit by demonstrating a compelling reason. Circumstances reasonably foreseeable to the student, such as the desire to seek employment elsewhere, to relocate to be closer to a significant other, or to lower the costs associated with attending the Law School, do not meet the standard. Law School required courses typically must be completed at Penn State Law. Additionally, students may not transfer credits from online courses offered by another law school, with the exception that for synchronous online courses offered by another law school to be taken during Spring Semester 2022, students may apply for permission to transfer credits from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Penn State law students attending another institution will be enrolled in VISAW 903 by the law school registrar's office. VISAW 903 provides the following benefits to the student: if applicable, financial aid can be awarded and processed, various enrollment reporting processes (i.e. health insurance, loan deferment) will report the student enrolled, and the student's Penn State Access Account will remain active. Penn State assesses a $50 flat fee for VISAW 903; this fee is in addition to any fees assessed by the other institution.

To receive credit for any course work completed at another law school, the student must receive a grade that corresponds to at least a C. Any credits earned at another law school are included on the student's transcript by reference only, and no attempt is made to convert grades to Penn State Law equivalents. Except for students who transfer into the second year, no credit will be awarded for a course taken on a Pass-Fail or similar basis when the student had the option of receiving a number or letter grade for the course.

It is the responsibility of the student to have an official transcript from the law school they attended sent to the law school registrar’s office. If the transcript is not received by the law school registrar in a timely manner, the VISAW 903 credits will convert to a NG (no grade) and eventually to an F.

Semesters of Residence

 



Withdrawal

Involuntary Withdrawal

A student will be deemed to have withdrawn from the Law School if, (1) After the initial registration, the student fails to register for any subsequent year for which the student is eligible to register or gives written notice to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of election to withdraw; (2) During a school term for which he or she is registered, he or she is absent from all scheduled classes for a continuous two-week period without having informed the Associate Dean in writing that his or her absence is attributable to cause; or (3) He or she fails to appear for any scheduled final examination in any course and also fails, within one week thereafter, to inform the Associate Dean in writing of the reason for his or her failure to appear for such examination.


Voluntary Withdrawal

A student who has withdrawn voluntarily will not be entitled to return as a matter of course at a later date; such privilege may be granted prior to his or her withdrawal or afterward.

Any student contemplating voluntary withdrawal and desiring the privilege of returning at a later date may apply in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for permission to withdraw with the privilege of later return, and the student may postpone final decision on withdrawal until his or her request is acted upon. The Associate Dean may grant or deny the request or refer it to the Admissions Committee for decision.

Any student who withdraws voluntarily without first obtaining written permission to withdraw from the school with the privilege of later return and who later seeks permission shall be required to make application for readmission to the Admissions Committee, whose decision shall be final to the same extent as its decision on applications for original admissions.

Students must submit their petitions for withdrawal by no later than 11:59 p.m. on the last day of law school classes for the term.