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Student Handbook: Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

All students must ensure that they meet all graduation requirements. The Registrar’s Office will provide students with the information it has, but responsibility for verifying that the requirements are met remains solely with the student. Students should access the on-line degree audit in NOVASIS to help them verify degree requirements.

All regular J.D. students must satisfactorily complete 91 credits over the course of three years of full-time study and must complete six consecutive full-time semesters to be eligible for the Juris Doctor degree. Except for leaves of absence granted for good cause shown, the degree must be completed in three years. In no case will the period of time in which to complete the degree be extended beyond five years from the original matriculation. The first-year required curriculum consists of 34 credit hours of study (33 credit hours for the Class of 2019). In addition, the following upper level courses are required:

  • Constitutional Law II;
  • Legal Writing III (must be taken in the fall or spring of the second year);
  • Legal Profession;
  • A Seminar Course (any class that is a 6000 level course, however, participation in a journal or law review does not fulfill this requirement);
  • A Practical Skills Writing Course (any class that is a 5000 level course, including Clinics. A clinic satisfies the practical writing requirement and counts towards the experiential learning requirement. In other words, a clinic “double counts” towards both practical writing and experiential learning);
  • Professional Development (each year is worth one credit);
  • 1L and 2L module; and
  • Six (6) credits of experiential learning may be earned in a clinic or externship.

Several courses, though not required, are considered basic foundation courses, and students are advised to take them: Administrative Law, Business Organizations, Decedents’ Estates and Trusts, Evidence, Introduction to Federal Taxation and Trial Advocacy. These courses provide the conceptual building blocks upon which other areas of legal study and legal practice build.

Latin Honors and Order of the Coif

J.D. students may be eligible for Latin Honors and may be invited to join Villanova’s chapter of Order of the Coif after final grades have been compiled and final rankings are calculated. 

To graduate summa cum laude, students must graduate in the top 1% of all ranked students and pass faculty vote. 

To graduate magna cum laude, students must graduate in the top 10% of all ranked students and pass faculty vote. 

To graduate cum laude, students must graduate in the top 25% of all ranked students and pass faculty vote. 

To be invited to Villanova’s chapter of Order of the Coif, students must gradate in the top 10% of all graduating students and pass faculty vote. (Please note that the number of graduating students is typically larger than the number of ranked students such that the standards for Coif and magna cum laude are not identical). 

Transfer students are eligible for honors. Academic Rule 16 requires that "[a] student admitted with advanced standing (transfer students) will not be given a class rank based on cumulative weighted average and will not be eligible for prizes or awards based thereon. Transfer students will be eligible for summa, magna, and cum laude honors at graduation, applying a formula that compares the lower of either the student’s three year GPA (original school plus Villanova Law) or the student’s two year GPA (only the Villanova GPA) to the cut off GPA of cumulative ranked students awarded honors.

Students who participate in the J.D./LL.M. International Studies program will be eligible to graduate from Villanova with Latin Honors based upon their cumulative grade point average earned during their two years of study in residence at Villanova Law School, when compared with the three-year cumulative grade point average of their original graduating class. Students in the J.D./LL.M. program will also be eligible for membership in the Order of the Coif.