Graduation Requirements and Credit Caps

This page is intended to help you make sure you are on track to meet the requirements to receive a J.D. degree.  However, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that you have satisfied these requirements.   

Graduation Requirements

To receive a J.D. degree, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Complete eighty-nine (89) total credit hours with a numerical GPA of at least 2.0 (or ninety-two (92) credit hours if you are pursuing a certificatebe sure to work with your program advisor to make sure you are on track to graduate with the certificate).
  • Complete all required courses in the first-year (1L) curriculum and the following required courses in the second and third-year (2L and 3L) curricula:
    • Legal Ethics and Professionalism
    • Evidence
    • Seminar (designated by course numbers 8000-8999).

Credit Caps

You must earn a minimum of sixty-three (63) credits of the 89 required credit hours in regular class sessions. The Law School Rules allow you to earn credit for a number of courses and activities that do not have a significant classroom component at Colorado Law, such as journals, competitions, and externships, as well as courses in other departments or at other schools.  The Rules place the following caps on such credits:

  • Up to fourteen (14) of the 89 credit hours may be in coursework outside of the Law School and for courses and activities that do not involve a substantial classroom component, such as journals, moot court and trial competitions, Independent Legal Research, courtroom observation courses, externships, or coursework completed in another department, school or college of the University or at another institution of higher learning (Rule 36B);
  • Up to five (5) credit hours may be for competitions alone, or up to seven (7) credits may be for competitions if two (2) of those credits are for Barrister's Council (Rule 3-2-9I);
  • Up to a total of eight (8) credit hours may be for journals, competitions, and Barrister's Council combined (Rule 3-2-8D, repeated in Rule 3-2-9J);
  • Up to three (3) credit hours may be for independent legal research credits (Rule 3-2-5);
  • Up to six (6) credit hours may be for non-law courses approved for credit towards the J.D. (except for dual degree programs that specifically provide otherwise) (Rule 22); and
  • Up to four (4) credit hours may be earned in externships (but you may petition for an additional three (3) credits of externship credits in cases involving "compelling circumstances") (Rule 24).

Please keep these caps in mind as you continue to work towards your degree requirements, as credits earned in excess of any these caps will NOT count towards the 89 needed to graduate.  For example, if you take 16 credits of courses listed under Rule 36B, only 14 will count towards graduation, and you will need to take an additional two credits in uncapped courses to graduate. See the Law School Rules for more information.

Additional Things to Keep in Mind

We also encourage you to periodically check MyCUInfo and your transcript to be sure your credits are accurate. If you have successfully petitioned to receive J.D. credit for a graduate course taken in another department, please make sure that your transcript reflects that course. If it does not, please let the Registrar’s office know. If you are working toward a dual degree, take special care to work with your other department as well to ensure that you are on track to receive both degrees.

Finally, please note that ABA standards do not permit students to enroll in more than 18 credits at any time. Fallsession and wintersession courses do not count towards that semester's 18-credit cap IF the faculty member requires all coursework to be complete before the start of the fall or spring semester (as is the case, for example, if the course has a final at the end of the fallsession or wintersession period but not if the course requires a paper that is not due until sometime during the following semester).

Questions? Contact the Registrar’s Office at lawreg@colorado.edu.