JD Supervised Research

Application Deadlines

Spring 2018 Semester: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
Summer 2018 Session: Thursday, May 24, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
Fall 2018 Semester: Monday, August 27, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.

Submit this completed J.D. Supervised Research Application to:
Office of the Registrar, 315 McDonough Hall
Phone 202-662-9220, Fax 202-662-9235

Supervised Research

The faculty augments the Law Center's seminar offerings by providing a Supervised Research option, through which students work independently on a writing project under the supervision of a faculty member for 2 graded credits.  Supervised Research projects allow faculty guidance for students in areas where there is no curricular offering or where a student wishes to explore a subject in greater depth than would be possible in an existing course.  Papers receiving a passing grade will satisfy the upperclass legal writing requirement (see the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement on p. 3 of the Georgetown Law Student Handbook).

To apply for a Supervised Research project, a student must complete an application form and submit it to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline for the relevant semester (see Application Deadlines above).  Requests to undertake a Supervised Research project are reviewed by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who will be receptive to proposals meeting the goals of Supervised Research projects and expects to approve most proposals for supervision by full-time faculty though approval is not automatic.  To be eligible to apply to undertake a Supervised Research project while enrolled at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies, the project must first be approved by the Associate Dean for Transnational Programs.  Students should consider the following rules applicable to Supervised Research projects when submitting a proposal: 

  • The student must have a cumulative grade point average of at least a C (2.00/4.00) in Law Center courses.

  • Supervised Research projects must meet the requirements of the upperclass legal writing requirement (see the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement on p. 3 of the Georgetown Law Student Handbook), and the professor and student must establish a calendar of at least four meetings that allows for the kind of interaction and feedback contemplated for writing seminars.

  • Students must demonstrate that they have a well-developed topic suitable for a substantive scholarly paper satisfying the upperclass legal writing requirement.  Students must indicate (1) the four scheduled meeting dates with the professor; (2) the deadlines for submission of the outline, first draft, and final draft; and (3) the semester(s) in which the project is to be completed.

  • Because the time demanded of the professor is substantial, it is expected that students ordinarily will seek sponsorship from full-time faculty.  Where a student makes a good-faith effort to obtain sponsorship by a full-time faculty member and is unable to do so, sponsorship by an adjunct faculty member may be approved.

  • A student ordinarily may not undertake a Supervised Research project more than once.  Students proposing to take Supervised Research for a second time must disclose this on their application. 

  • A Supervised Research project will not be approved when the proposal repeats work for which credit is currently being or has previously been granted in another course or for which the student has been compensated during employment.

  • Proposals may call for research to be completed in one or two semesters and students may assign the associated credits to one or both semesters (i.e., they may receive 1 credit in each semester or 2 credits in either semester).  No more than 2 credits will be awarded for one project, and credit allocations must be finalized before the end of the add/drop period in the project's first semester.


The upperclass legal writing requirement builds upon the first year Legal Practice course by developing students' ability to independently engage in a sustained, in-depth research and writing project for a legal audience.  Students choose topics, submit outlines, prepare and submit a first draft, and complete the final paper in consultation with faculty members.

Working on the paper challenges students to hone their research skills, engage in complex legal analysis, develop and test a thesis or argument, gain mastery over a specific topic, and enhance the clarity and precision of their writing--all components of the art of legal writing that are valued in practice regardless of the particular field that the student might pursue.  The upperclass legal writing requirement also gives students the opportunity to think critically about a problem, engage in deep and sustained research into a wide range of materials, explore possible problem-solving options, advocate for a solution, and advance the body of knowledge relevant to their paper topic.

Students have two options for completing the upperclass legal writing requirement: (1) successfully completing a seminar designated in the Curriculum Guide as meeting the upperclass legal writing requirement (i.e., see the "WR" notation in the Curriculum Guide);1 or (2) successfully completing a Supervised Research project that has been approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as described above.  The upperclass legal writing requirement must be completed at the Law Center.2

The following are the technical requirements for the upperclass legal writing requirement, which must be completed in accordance with the professor's instructions and schedule:

(1) submission of an outline 

(2) submission of a first draft of at least 6,000 words (excluding footnotes)

(3) submission of a revised final paper of at least 6,000 words (excluding footnotes) based on the professor's comments  

(4) use of legal forms of citation (when appropriate)

Papers of 6,000 words (excluding footnotes) in length are approximately 25 typewritten pages using customary margins and spacing.  

Students will receive a grade for both the course and the paper portions of the course.  Both grades will appear on the student's transcript; however, only the course grade is included when calculating the student's overall grade point average.
A paper that meets the upperclass legal writing requirement must comply with the Student Disciplinary Code's policies on plagiarism and be a product of the student's own work in consultation with the supervising professor.  For policies relating to services offered by the Writing Center or the Center for Legal English, please see the General Administrative Policies section of the Georgetown Law Student Handbook.  Students should not receive written comments, edits, or other written feedback on the paper from any individual other than the grading professor prior to the time it is submitted for grading (except where such feedback is in connection with classroom discussion as overseen by the grading professor, a peer review required by the professor, or where the professor grants express permission, such as in a referral to the Center for Legal English).  Students who are interested in using their final paper for other purposes (such as a law journal note) may do so only after the paper has been submitted for grading.

1 Note that, beginning in Fall 2017, clinics can no longer meet the WR requirement
2 The upperclass legal writing requirement may also be completed while enrolled at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies, provided the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs has approved any such seminar prior to the semester in which it is offered.


Please click here for information about writing one paper for two seminars.

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