For students

Degree Requirements

The J.D. Program

To receive the J.D. degree, a student must be in residence for nine full quarters, must maintain satisfactory academic standing, and must complete 105 course hours. To qualify for residence for a full quarter, a student must take and complete nine or more course hours in the quarter. A student must complete a course in professional responsibility and must receive credit for two substantial pieces of writing beyond those required in the first-year course in Legal Research and Writing.

All courses are elective after the first year with the exception of 1) a professional responsibility class that all students must take, and 2) one or more of the skills classes or clinics provided in the list approved by the Law School's Committee on Professional Skills Development. Both the professional responsibility class and the skills class must be taken prior to graduation in order to meet requirements set by the Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association.

Beginning with the 1L class entering in Autumn 2016, the ABA skills requirement will be replaced with a requirement that each student take a total of eight experiential learning credits, including clinics and simulations classes. In addition, some state bar examiners, including those in New York and California, have their own experiential learning requirements which may be more extensive.

Requirements Summary: 

* for students in the class of 2019 or later, eight experiential learning credits.

The LL.M. or M.Comp.L. Program 

The LL.M. or M.Comp.L. degree is awarded to students who have been in residence for three full consecutive academic quarters and have completed their studies with a minimum average of 170. To qualify for residence for a full quarter, the student must take and complete the equivalent of nine or more course hours. Credit for twenty-seven course hours and the maintenance of satisfactory academic standing are necessary to qualify for the degree. 

Requirements Summary:

  • 27 Credits Total
  • 9 Credits Minimum Per Quarter 
  • 170 Minimum Average Grade


The J.S.D. and D.Comp.L. Program 

In order to earn the J.S.D. degree, a candidate must produce a dissertation which makes a creditable contribution to legal scholarship. The dissertation must be supervised by at least two members of the faculty and must be completed within five years of the candidate's first registration in the J.S.D. Program. 

A candidate must spend at least two years (six academic quarters) in residence at the Law School while working on the dissertation. Residence requires living in Chicago. 

During the years in residence the candidate will be expected to participate in the academic activities at the Law School on a daily basis. This will include 1) taking at least three courses related to the dissertation in the Law School or elsewhere in the University during the two years of residence (this requirement may be waived for students who did their LL.M. studies at Chicago); 2) regular attendance at one of the faculty workshops; 3) regular attendance at the weekly faculty Works in Progress lunches; and 4) active participation in the Research Colloquium for J.S.D. students and fellows. 

During the second year of residence, the candidate may request to offer a seminar based on the general dissertation topic. 

When J.S.D. students are not in residence in the Law School they are expected to keep in regular contact with their faculty supervisors.

Dissertation Office

The Master of Legal Studies Program

The program is designed for students who have completed their core PhD coursework and are either proposing or working on their dissertation. Candidates will take some of the general first year law school courses and advanced law courses in subjects related to their PhD discipline. The particular program of study is individualized to each student and will be set in consultation with a faculty advisor. To complete the program and earn the MLS degree, candidates must successfully complete 27 credit hours of coursework. Additionally, MLS candidates must be in residence like JD students.