Students may audit classes in which space is available, provided permission is obtained from the instructor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Students who audit courses must attend class regularly for the entire semester. No record is kept of courses audited and no fees are charged to full-time students. Students should not ordinarily enroll in a class for credit if they have previously audited the class.
Students must complete at least 65 credit hours of the 86 credit hours required for graduation by attending regularly scheduled class sessions at the law school. See ABA Standard 304 (b).
"Regularly scheduled class sessions" include coursework at a law school where the student receives credit toward the Juris Doctor degree, classroom offerings at the law school, classroom offerings through an ABA-approved foreign study program and law school clinical offerings.
"Regularly scheduled class sessions" do not include:
- Classes taken for law school credit outside the law school, including classes taken by dual-degree students outside the law school for credit toward law school graduation.
- Independent studies.
- Co-curricular activities, including journals, moot court and trial competitions.
Regularly scheduled courses may or may not be pass/fail. Students are responsible for monitoring their schedules to ensure that they have at least 65 credit hours earned in regularly scheduled class sessions.
Courses Outside of the Law School
Upper-class law students may register for up to six credit hours outside the law school and receive credit towards the minimum hours required for graduation so long as the following requirements are met:
- The course is at the graduate level (numbered 400 or above)
- It is significantly related to legal education
- It is approved in advance by the associate dean for academic affairs.
A grade of P or better (on the graduate school scale of H, P, L and F) will be transferred to the law record on a credit basis. Credits for courses taken outside the law school may not be used toward the 65 credit hours that must be earned in regularly scheduled law school classes.
Students who fail to attend at least one of the first two class meetings of a second- or third-year course that has a waiting list, or the first meeting of a second- or third-year course or seminar that meets only once a week and has a waiting list will be dropped from the course or seminar unless the student's absence is excused for illness or other good cause by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. When possible, students are required to seek consent for such absences from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in advance of the class periods.
Students may not drop or add any course after the drop/add deadline, except in unusual circumstances, such as extended absence due to a student's or a family member's illness. This may be done only with the consent of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Permission & Consent
A student may pursue an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member who has a special interest in that area. Students must certify that the work done is not for the same or substantially similar to written work prepared for another course or in the fulfillment of a journal writing requirement. Faculty consent must be obtained before registering for the independent study. Faculty members have no duty to accept any proposal.
Credit & Grading
The student and the faculty member decide upon course credit up to a maximum of three credit hours before the project is begun. Once course credit is agreed upon, the project will be graded in accordance with general law school standards for such credit. In no event will the hour credit be increased or decreased after the initial determination of credit (except for dropping the independent research project). Failure to satisfy the agreed hour credit will call for a failing grade (0.0).
Independent study credit may be conferred for a maximum of three hours only during the three years combined. Independent research credits can be used to satisfy the 86 credits required for graduation, but they do not count toward the 65 credit hours that must be earned in regularly scheduled law school classes.
Students who want to take law school courses that are not available at UNC may do so at the law schools of either Duke University or N.C. Central University. Students should determine the availability of the course and then check with the UNC registrar for proper registration procedures. Students may not fulfill the Rigorous Writing Experience or Writing Experience requirements by taking seminars at these institutions (with the exception of some dual-degree programs).
The grade received in an inter-institutional course is not factored into the grade point average, but will be posted to the student's transcript. A student must receive at least a C, 2.0, or the equivalent, in order to receive credit for the course toward graduation from the UNC School of Law. Credits earned in law school classes at Duke and NCCU may be used toward the 65 credit hours that must be earned in regularly scheduled law school courses.
Maximum and Minimum Credit Hours per Semester
Second- and third-year law students typically enroll in 12 to 14 credit hours per semester; the maximum allowable number of credits is 16, unless the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs grants special permission to a student to enroll in 17 credit hours, the maximum allowed by the ABA, Standard 304(e). Students with burdensome responsibilities may be required to register for fewer than the usual number of credits, but no fewer than nine hours per semester.
Students are not permitted to enroll in courses or seminars with overlapping times.
Transfer of Credits for UNC Students
Students enrolled in the UNC J.D. program may take courses at an institution instead of UNC Law School and its graduate departments and schools and use those credits toward their J.D. degree in situations described in this section. Except in extraordinary circumstances and with permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, students must complete the required professional responsibility course and an RWE, a second writing course, and a skills course at UNC Law School. In all cases, students must be in good standing at UNC, receive advanced permission from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the course or courses selected before undertaking the study at another institution, and receive a grade of C or better in any course taken for which transfer of credit is sought. In making decisions to approve particular courses for transfer credit, the Associate Dean will principally approve courses that are similar in content and academic rigor to those offered at UNC Law School for upper-level students. Students may be required to document the academic value of the course by providing course syllabi and a list of required readings and/or writing assignments for proposed courses.
A student may earn no more than twelve transfer credits per summer for summer school classes taken at an ABA accredited United States law school. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must approve the institution chosen prior to matriculation, except for North Carolina Central Law School which is a pre-approved institution.
Foreign Study Abroad at Program Sponsored by ABA Approved Program.
A J.D. student may earn no more than twelve credits in summer school and no more than sixteen credits for a semester-long program at an ABA approved study abroad program. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must approve the institution chosen prior to the student’s matriculation. In approving a student’s request, the Associate Dean considers the potential benefits of the proposed courses to the student’s academic development, the student’s cumulative GPA, and the nature of elective courses previously taken, with the principal concern of the student having the critical competencies for law practice and being prepared to pass the bar examination.
Foreign Exchange Programs
J.D. students may earn no more than sixteen credits for a semester long program at one of UNC’s established foreign exchange programs. The current list of established programs is posted on the International Programs website. Typically, twelve to fifteen credits are approved. In approving a student’s request, the Associate Dean considers the potential benefits of the proposed courses to the student’s academic development, the student’s cumulative GPA, and the nature of elective courses previously taken, with the principal concern of the student having the critical competencies for law practice and being prepared to pass the bar examination.
Study at a Foreign Law School
A J.D. student may earn no more than twelve transfer credits in summer school and no more than sixteen credits for a semester-long program at a foreign law school. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must approve the institution chosen by the student prior to the student’s matriculation with the principal concern for the overall academic quality of the institution’s legal studies program and its satisfaction of ABA instructional requirements. In approving a student’s request, the Associate Dean considers the potential benefits of the proposed courses to the student’s academic development, the student’s cumulative GPA, and the nature of elective courses previously taken, with the principal concern of the student having the critical competencies for law practice and being prepared to pass the bar examination.
Semester and Year-Long Visits.
J.D. students may receive no more than sixteen transfer credits in any semester and no more than thirty transfer credits in an academic year and in total visiting at another ABA approved United States Law School. Both the visit at a particular school and the courses taken at that law school must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Permission to visit away may be granted for reasons of personal or family hardship and medical conditions. Examples of such situations include a student’s spouse being indefinitely transferred to another state and a student needing medical treatment away from Chapel Hill.
Seeking employment opportunities in another location is not a recognized justification. Requests to visit should be made as early as possible. Ordinarily, such requests must be made in writing and absent exceptional circumstances must be made no later than March 31 for a proposed visit during the Fall Semester and no later than October 31 for a visit during the Spring Semester.
Students Transferring to UNC
UNC accepts very few transfer students each year. To be admitted, transfer applicants must meet two criteria:
- The student must have met the admission requirements of the class to which he or she would have been a part.
- There must be serious family or health reasons for transferring to UNC.
UNC School of Law will accept up to 30 transfer credit hours. These credits are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who reviews the transcript, makes the determination and notifies students before they enroll what courses will be accepted for transfer credit. The criteria for transfer credit hours include that:
- The student must have received a grade of "C" or better in the courses at the original school.
- The courses must either be courses that are typical first-year courses (i.e., Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts) or law school courses in which an upper level student would receive credit at UNC.
After enrolling, transfer students may take no more than 11 additional hours of ungraded courses at UNC.
Students Transferring from UNC
More information is available under Leaving the School.