JD Pass/Fail Policy
In April 2014, the faculty revised its pass/fail policy. The policy is intended to encourage students to be adventurous in their course selection and not be deterred from taking a course out of concern for their GPAs. Effective beginning in summer 2014, upperclass J.D. students are permitted to take a maximum of 7 credits pass/fail in elective courses that are available on a pass/fail basis. Mandatory pass/fail courses (e.g., upperclass Week One courses) and the pass/fail components of experiential learning offerings (field placements in practicum courses and externships) do not count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit. In other words, the 7-credit ceiling applies only to classroom courses that students elect to take on a pass/fail basis. Note that courses taken on a mandatory pass/fail basis in an approved study-abroad program or at another ABA-approved law school (e.g., while the student is a visiting student) also do not count against the 7-credit ceiling.
*Effective Spring 2016* – Please note the following change to the Pass/Fail policy effective Spring 2016 – The Pass/Fail committee voted unanimously to adopt a 4/4 approach, i.e. both the election of Pass/Fail and the selection of the target grade must be made by the end of the fourth week of the semester.
Upperclass J.D. students are eligible to use the pass/fail option for upperclass electives at the Law Center and at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies, and for cross-listed Law Center graduate courses that are available for pass/fail. The pass/fail option is not available to LL.M. students. Students sign up for the pass/fail option online and receive instructions on how to do so from the Office of the Registrar.
The following courses are not eligible for the pass/fail option:
(1) courses in the required first-year program, including the first-year elective, any course that meets the Professional Responsibility requirement, upperclass legal writing requirement seminars, and Supervised Research projects;
(3) Law Center graduate courses that are not cross-listed;
(4) courses for which the faculty member has elected not to make the pass/fail option available (these are listed in the Curriculum Guide and in links to the right); and
(5) for students pursuing a J.D./LL.M. joint degree, courses counting toward the LL.M. degree.
Students may exercise the option to take an otherwise graded course on a pass/fail basis only once a semester. This does not apply to mandatory pass/fail courses, which do not count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit (i.e., students may only elect to take one course pass/fail in a semester but may take any number of mandatory pass/fail courses in the same semester).
A student must decide whether to use the pass/fail option and designate to the Office of the Registrar the pass/fail course by the end of the fourth week of the relevant semester (second week of Summer session). By the end of the fourth week (second week of Summer session), the student must also designate to the Office of the Registrar the grade the student hopes to receive in the course. This is referred to as the “target” grade.
If a student elects to take a course pass/fail but fails to designate a target grade by the deadline, the Office of the Registrar will assign to the student a target grade that is equal to or just above the student’s current cumulative grade point average (GPA). For example, if a student has a GPA of 3.33/4.00, a target grade of B+ will be assigned; if a student has a GPA of 3.42/4.00, a target grade of A- will be assigned. No changes to the pass/fail designation or target grade will be permitted after their respective deadlines.
Faculty are not informed of who is taking their course on a pass/fail basis, and students should not inform them. If the student earns the target grade or above, the actual grade will appear on the student’s transcript and will be included in calculating his or her cumulative grade point average. If the student earns a grade below the target but a grade of at least a C, a pass will appear on the transcript. If a student earns a grade of C- or lower, the actual grade will appear on the transcript and will be included in calculating his or her cumulative grade point average. Whether a student receives a pass or the grade, the academic credits associated with the course will count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit. If a student withdraws from a course taken on a pass/fail basis, the academic credits associated with the course will still count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit.