Academic Standards

The following requirements are subject to all other requirements and exceptions set forth on the Law School's web site:

1. The degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) is granted to students who, having met the entrance requirements before beginning law school, have completed three academic years of full-time study (including two years of full-time resident study) within six years of the date of matriculation; have received a passing grade (for these purposes, a D or higher) in courses totaling 88 semester hours; have earned at least 64 credits in regularly scheduled class sessions at a law school; have satisfactorily completed such other work as may be prescribed from time to time; and have complied with the scholarship and graduation requirements set forth here. It is the responsibility of the student to ascertain that the 88-credit-hour requirement, the 64-credit requirement for in-class law school work, and other requirements for graduation have been met. Each student is eligible to receive an academic record or unofficial transcript from the University Registrar, located in G-3 Thackeray Hall. You must present your University of Pittsburgh I.D. and be in good academic standing to receive your free copy. Students may also access this information in their degree progress reports in PeopleSoft on my.pitt.edu. Please carefully review this information to see that the correct number of credits, the correct courses, and the correct grades are all listed. Any errors should be reported immediately to the Law School Registrar.

2. The scale of grading is as follows: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F.

3. Any student whose record in grades, attendance or classroom performance at the end of any semester in residence, including the first, indicates lack of capacity, interest or diligence may be excluded or placed on academic probation at the discretion of the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards.

For students entering in the Fall of 2017 and later classes:

4. A student must attain an average of at least 2.25 for all the work in the first year in order to be advanced to the second year. Failure to attain this independent yearly average for the first year will result in an automatic exclusion from the school. J.D. students whose cumulative GPAs are in the bottom 30% of the class and who are not excluded will be automatically designated as academically at risk for the following academic year.

The following changes to Part 4 will go into effect in May 2018.

Any J.D. student whose cumulative GPA at the end of the first semester of his or her first or second year of law school is 2.40 or less will be automatically designated as academically at risk for the following semester.

(a) Petition for Reinstatement on Probationary Status

A student who is subject to automatic exclusion under requirement numbers 4 or 5 may, within 45 days of receipt of the letter of exclusion from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, petition the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards to be placed instead on academic probation if: (1) the student demonstrates that his/her prior poor performance is the result of compelling circumstances, and/or (2) the student makes an affirmative showing that he/she possesses the requisite ability, and will make the requisite effort, to complete his/her studies with a final GPA of 2.25 or higher. The student must submit with the petition an Academic Success Plan that demonstrates that the student’s prior poor performance is not likely to continue. In particular, the Academic Success Plan must include (i) an outline of how the student will achieve success despite the prior difficulties that led to exclusion, (ii) specific academic undertakings the student is committed to in order to achieve academic success, including outlining, case briefing, practice test taking, and notes review (iii) a demonstration by the student that the student has the time and space available to the student to achieve ultimate success in law school, and (iv) any other personal documentation that demonstrates the student’s readiness for academic success at Law School.

The Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards shall consult with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, the Associate Dean of Students, and the Director of Academic Success respecting any petitions for probation. If the decision of the Committee is unanimous, there is no further review. If the decision of the Committee is split, the student may, within five business days of being informed of the outcome, seek review from the faculty Steering Committee. In accordance with ABA Standard 501, if the decision is to grant probation, the Committee decision shall include a statement of the Committee’s reasons for granting probation consistent with the requirements of this paragraph (a). A copy of the written decision of the Committee shall be included in the student's record.

(b) Students on Probation

 As part of its decision to place a student on probation pursuant to item 4(a) above, the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards may require such student to re-take all or part of the first-year curriculum to the extent the student received a grade below C in any given course. Consistent with existing policy in Academic Standard 13, the original grade given in any repeated course will continue to appear on the student's transcript but will not be calculated in the cumulative grade point average and will not count for the total number of course credits needed to graduate.

(c) Other Terms of Probation

Students on probation may be subject to any further requirements that the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards may deem appropriate, including but not limited to advising, limits on University activities, restrictions and prescriptions on courses taken, and tutoring. Probation will end if the student achieves a 2.40 cumulative semester average at the end of any semester.

5. A student must attain a cumulative average of at least 2.25 at the end of the second year in order to advance to the third year. Failure to attain the cumulative average will result in an automatic exclusion from the school. J.D. students whose cumulative GPAs are in the bottom 30% of the class and who are not excluded will be automatically designated as academically at risk for the following academic year.

For students entering during the Fall of 2016 and prior entering classes:

4. A student must attain a cumulative average of at least 2.0 at the end of the second year in order to advance to the third year. Failure to attain the cumulative average will result in an automatic exclusion from the school, subject to the right of the student to petition for reinstatement as set forth in the section above and in the same manner and under the same rules as later entering students. J.D. students whose cumulative GPAs are in the bottom 30% of the class and who are not excluded will be automatically designated as academically at risk for the following academic year.

6. A J.D. student must attain a cumulative average of at least 2.0 at the time of graduation in order to be graduated from the school. Failure to attain the cumulative average will result in an automatic exclusion from the school.

7. An LL.M. student must attain a cumulative average of at least C to be graduated from the school. Failure to attain the cumulative average will result in an automatic exclusion from school.

8. A student who at any time accumulates ten semester hours of F grades is automatically excluded from the school immediately upon such accumulation.

9. A student who at any time accumulates 12 semester hours of D or F grades is automatically placed on academic probation for the semester following this accumulation.

10. A student on academic probation or designated as academically at risk is required to meet the following conditions:

(a) The student will be informed in the letter sent by the Academic Dean concerning the student’s probationary status that the student’s GPA places the student at heightened risk of failing the bar;

(b) The student must meet with someone appointed by the Academic Dean at the beginning of the next academic semester concerning the heightened risk of failing the bar.

(c) The student also must meet with someone appointed by the Academic Dean at least once each semester for individual counseling concerning the student’s selection of courses and extracurricular activities and the student’s ongoing academic performance.

(d) The student must participate in the remedial opportunities required by the law school for students on academic probation or who are designated as academically at risk.

(e) Additional requirements may be added in individual cases by the Academic Dean with the approval of the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards.

Failure to meet the conditions of academic probation will result in an automatic exclusion from the school.

11. If a student does not submit a petition for readmission upon exclusion from the school for any of the reasons set forth herein, within 45 days of receipt of a letter of exclusion from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or if a student’s petition for immediate reinstatement on probationary status is denied, then the student will be eligible to submit a readmission petition to the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards only after one year has passed since the date of the student’s exclusion. If the decision of the Committee is unanimous, there is no further review. If the decision of the Committee is split, review may be sought from the faculty Steering Committee. Among other conditions of probation, the Committee may limit the extent of the readmitted student’s participation in University activities. In accordance with ABA Standard 501, if the decision is to grant readmission, the Committee decision shall include a statement of the Committee’s reasons for granting readmission, consistent with the requirements of paragraph 4(a). A copy of the written decision of the Committee shall be included in the student's record.

12. In computing grade averages, the following numerical equivalents will be used: A+ = 4.00; A = 4.00, A- = 3.75; B+ = 3.25; B = 3.00; B- = 2.75; C+ = 2.25; C = 2.00; C- = 1.75; D = 1.00; F = 0. The required average must be fully attained rather than approximated. For example, to attain a C average, a student must have a numerical grade average of at least 2.000 (the full, integral value of C on the numerical equivalent scale). A numerical grade average of 1.999, then, would not constitute a C average.

13. It is the policy of the faculty not to permit a student who has received a grade in a course to take a reexamination or to repeat the course for the purpose of receiving credit in the course or raising the course grade. This policy will not always apply to courses that are designated by the faculty as courses that must be successfully completed as a condition of graduation, and the faculty may relax the policy in other exceptional cases. The policy may be waived in other exceptional cases by the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards. When permission has been granted to retake a course or examination, both grades will appear on the transcript. The first grade will receive no credit. The second grade will receive credit. The Petitions Committee will decide on a case by case basis whether the second grade should be reported on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory or on a letter grade basis.

14. A cumulative grade average will be the only criterion used for the purpose of determining class rank and honors. A student's cumulative grade average will include all previous semesters of graded course work completed by the student at the school. Students who have spent a year at another law school will be eligible for honors and awards, based on the cumulative grade average for work completed at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Please see the Admissions page for Transfer Students for a description of transfer student eligibility for Order of the Coif.

15. In addition to the standard grading scale, certain courses are offered on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, or an Honors/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis.

16. Students are expected and required to attend all regularly scheduled Law School classes in which they are enrolled. Attendance includes preparation. Any student who fails to attend at least eighty percent of regularly scheduled classes for any course will be certified out and will receive a “U” (“unsatisfactory”) for the course. Individual faculty members may impose a greater class attendance requirement for a particular course. Click here for further information regarding the Law School's attendance policy.

17. As noted in Rule #11, the Steering Committee has the appellate jurisdiction to review only non-unanimous decisions of the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards in cases where a student has been excluded from the School of Law for any reason and has sought readmission by Petition to that Committee. The standard for review of such Petitions, is "abuse of discretion." In all other cases, see, e.g., Rule #13, including unanimous decisions of the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards on exclusion Petitions and unanimous or non-unanimous decisions on all other Petitions, all decisions of the Faculty Committee on Petitions and Academic Standards are final and the Steering Committee lacks the appellate jurisdiction to review them.