Latin honors are awarded to the top 40 percent of graduating classes. Summa cum laude is awarded to no more than the top three percent of the members of a graduating class. Magna cum laude is awarded to no more than seven percent of the graduating class. Cum laude is awarded to the remaining 30 percent. Transfer students with only one year in residence will be entitled to have “honors” printed on the diploma for the work done at this law school if the record for that year is equivalent to magna cum laude. LL.M, MLS, and SJD students are not eligible for Latin Honors.
The Order of the Coif, American University Chapter
The Order of the Coif was established to recognize graduating students for high attainments in the study of law. JD students whose cumulative GPA at graduation places them in the highest 10 percent of the class may be elected to membership in the American University chapter of theOorder.
Faculty policy permits numerical ranking of JD students only upon their graduation from the law school. However, the Office of the Registrar estimates class standing by percentile range calculated from the upper half of each class at the end of each year of study. Estimated class standing for full-time and part-time students is calculated separately. The Office of the Registrar publically publishes a chart containing percentile ranges calculated for first year and continuing law students. LL.M, MLS, and SJD students are not included in class rankings.
Degree candidates must maintain continuous registration until all requirements are satisfied. Registration for all students is not complete until fees have been paid or proper arrangements for payment are made with the Office of Student Accounts. A student who was previously registered but did not attend during the most recent semester and was not granted a leave of absence may seek readmission only by filing an application for readmission with the WCL Admissions Office for action by the admissions committee. A student seeking readmission must satisfy existing admissions standards and, if readmitted, must satisfy the curriculum requirements existing at the time of readmission.
MLS students who fail to register and who have not requested and received a leave of absence for four terms will be administratively separated from the University after the add/drop date of the fourth academic term for which they failed to register.
Normal Course Load
In order to maintain academic residency requirements and stay on track for graduation, JD students admitted to the full-time program may not register for more than 15 or fewer than 12 credits in any semester without the written permission of the Office of the Registrar. JD students admitted to the part-time program are expected to register for a minimum of eight semester hours each semester and may not register for more than 11 semester hours. No student may register for more than seven semester hours in a summer session without the written permission of the Registrar.
Appropriate petition forms are available through the Office of the Registrar’s website. If permission to drop below the JD full-time normal load or JD part-time normal load is granted, students should consult the Office of Financial Aid regarding minimum credit requirements in order to qualify for certain types of aid. Complete information is available in the Tuition and Fees section of the Catalog.
For MLS students, full-time registration is defined as enrollment in a minimum of six credit hour during each term. Part-time registration is defined as enrollment in a minimum of three credit hours during each term.
Transfer Between Divisions
No JD student may transfer from the full-time to the part-time division or vice versa without the written permission of the Office of the Registrar. Students transferring between divisions should be certain that their course loads satisfy WCL residency requirements, below, and are urged to consult the Registrar to determine the effect a shift will have on their future credit hour loads and number of semesters required by these requirements. Information and the application on divisional shifts is available on the Office of the Registrar website.
MLS and LL.M students may transfer between a part-time and full-time course load. A student who drops below the part-time course load should consult the Office of Financial Aid regarding minimum credit requirements in order to qualify for certain types of aid.
Washington College of Law Residency Requirements
I. Definition of Residency Semester
1. A “full-time residency semester” is defined as achieving at least 12 and no more than 15 credits in the fall or spring semester of an academic year. Upon a showing of exigent circumstances, the Office of the Registrar may permit a student to enroll in 16 or 17 credits in a given semester.
2. A “part-time residency semester” is defined as achieving at least eight and no more than 11 credits in any semester of an academic year.
II. Residency Requirements for Students in the Full-Time Division
To obtain a degree in the full-time division, a student must complete six full-time residency semesters. A full-time student is expected to complete all degree requirements within three academic years. Any student petitioning for an exception to a standard resident semester (i.e., a reduced course load in a fall/spring semester), must seek approval from the Registrar and the WCL Office of Financial Aid.
III. Residency Requirements for Students in the Part-Time Division
To obtain a degree in the part-time division, a student must complete eight part-time residency semesters. A part-time student is expected to complete all degree requirements within four academic years. Any student petitioning for an exception to a standard resident semester (i.e., a reduced course load or an overload in a fall/spring semester), must seek approval from the Registrar and the WCL Office of Financial Aid.
IV. Reduced Final Year Schedule and Early Graduation Options
WCL does not encourage students to graduate earlier than the three or four years that is expected of students in the full- and part-time divisions, respectively. Doing so limits professional and practical development opportunities, including sufficient focus and time preparing for the bar examination, meaningful completion of the experiential skills requirement and ULWR and, in some situations, the ability to participate in a clinic. Students seeking to graduate early are required to meet with an academic advisor before petitioning to accelerate their degree and to ensure that their residency calculations are correct.
V. Dual Degrees, International JD, and Study Abroad
For purposes of the residency requirement, all credits for which a student is registered during a semester count toward residency, regardless of the American University school or partner that offers the course. However, no more than six non-law credits will count toward the JD.
VI. Shifting Divisions
WCL permits students to shift between the full-time and part-time divisions, as needed in extenuating circumstances. A part-time student who wishes to shift to the full-time division after one year and graduate within three years of initial matriculation may do so, upon consultation with and approval from the Office of the Registrar.
If a student transfers from the part-time division to the full-time division, any semesters completed with 11 or fewer credits must be converted to full-time semester equivalents using credits earned in one or more summer semesters, as delineated in Section II. To convert a part-time semester to a full-time semester equivalent, the number of credits earned over a summer semester must equal or exceed the difference between the credits earned in the part-time semester and the minimum of 12 required to constitute a full-time semester. A student may use credits earned in one summer semester to convert two part-time semesters so long as the number of credits earned over the summer equates to or exceeds the difference in credits necessary to reach 12 for both semesters.
Students are expected to attend classes regularly to receive credit. If a student accumulates an excessive number of absences without good cause, such as illness, the student be denied credit for that semester or be barred from taking a final examination in the particular course or courses. Excessive absence means failure to attend a substantial number of classes indicating a lack of seriousness of purpose on the part of the student. Students should refer to individual syllabi for course specific attendance expectations set by individual faculty members.
Full-time students may not engage in employment in excess of 20 hours per week. Students who are employed in excess of 20 hours per week must register for the part-time program. WCL policy permits full-time students to undertake a maximum of 10 hours per week of employment during the first-year academic semesters after obtaining permission from either the Associate Dean of Student Affairs or a WCL full-time resident (non-visitor) faculty member who currently is teaching or has taught the student. The approved form signed by the student and the certifying professor or Dean of Students will be filed with the Office of Student Affairs.
Change of Status
Students may change their course enrollment status from “credit” to “audit” only during the designated add/drop period and with the permission of the Registrar. Exceptions will be made only in special cases of compelling personal circumstance. An audited course does not count toward the JD or LL.M degree requirements.
A student may not register for any course or seminar without meeting the stated co-requisite(s) or prerequisite(s), unless the student demonstrates reasons satisfactory to the Dean and the instructor for exception.
Determination of Credit Hours for Coursework
Pursuant to American Bar Association Standard 310, American University Washington College of Law maintains the following policy to determine the appropriate number of credit hours for coursework performed by students and to ensure faculty compliance.
I. Appropriate Number of Credit Hours for Coursework
A. Traditional Courses
Unless otherwise specified, students will complete at least 42.5 hours of coursework per credit hour awarded. For coursework with a classroom component, for each credit hour awarded, students will receive at least one hour of direct faculty instruction for 13 weeks (or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time), 30 hours of out-of-class academic engagement, and time for a final assessment or additional instruction, as follows:
Number of credits
Minimum number of hours of classroom time or direct faculty instruction
Aggregate number of hours of out-of-class student academic engagement (over the course of the semester)
Minimum time for assessment (length of exam or amount of time spent completing final assessment) or additional instruction
Out of class academic engagement is considered in the aggregate over the semester. Some courses are offered under more compressed schedules during a semester. In such situations, the Law School Registrar will ensure compliance.
The fall and spring semesters are comprised of (1) 13 weeks of classroom instruction (plus makeup days for holidays); (2) at least five calendar days for a reading period; and (3) at least 10 days for an examination period. The summer semester is comprised of (1) nine weeks of instruction (plus makeup days for holidays); (2) at least three calendar days for a reading period; and (3) at least five calendar days for an examination period.
Classes will be scheduled to comply with the amount of classroom time noted above. Instruction times may be adjusted to account for out of class, supervised instruction. In such situations, faculty members will be required to justify the deviation from the default in their syllabi. The Law School Registrar will assign the amount of in class time for each class in compliance with this policy.
1. Courses with In-Class or Take-Home Final Examinations
For courses with final examinations, there is a separate minimum time for assessment based on the total number of credit hours for the course.
2. Courses with Other Methods of Assessment
Many courses focus on oral and written advocacy. As such, the assessment for some courses is not in the form of a traditional final examination, but a final written or oral assessment. In such courses, the form of assessment, whether a research paper, oral presentation, or a similar advocacy, research, or writing project, will require significant effort in excess of the equivalent number of in class hours leading up to and during the week of final examinations or at an equivalent time earlier in the semester. At their choosing, faculty members may include additional instruction at the time that would have otherwise been dedicated to a final examination.
3. Distance Learning Courses
The standards set out in this policy apply equally to in-person and distance education courses.
B. Independent Studies
A student must complete at least 42.5 hours of work per semester for each academic credit awarded for an independent study. Credit will be awarded only if the student completes at least 42.5 hours of work per credit hour, as evaluated by the faculty advisor to the Independent Study. Students must log all hours worked, even after the 42.5 hour per credit hour threshold is satisfied.
A student must complete at least 42.5 hours of work per semester for each academic credit for working in a law school clinic. Student work will include: (1) all aspects of advising and representing clients; (2) meeting with faculty for regularly scheduled supervision sessions, as well as additional sessions as necessary; and (3) preparing for and attending weekly clinic seminars and case rounds. Through the clinic, students will plan for lawyering activities, perform substantive legal work, receive faculty feedback, and engage in self reflection. Students must log all casework hours worked, even after the 42.5 hour per credit hour threshold is satisfied.
D. Field Placements
Students in externship field placements must take a seminar in addition to the hours devoted to their field placements. Students in their first externship must take a two-credit seminar and fieldwork for two to four credits. Students in advanced externships must take a one-credit seminar plus their fieldwork.
E. Journals and Law Reviews
The work completed for Law Reviews and Journals constitutes “other academic activities,” as designed by ABA Standard 310. Credit will be awarded only if the student completes at least 42.5 hours of work per credit hour, as evaluated by a faculty advisor to the publication. Students must log all hours worked, even after the 42.5 hour per credit hour threshold is satisfied.
F. Competition Teams
The work completed for competition teams such as moot courts, mock trials, and other similar activities must constitute at least 42.5 hours of work per credit hour completed. Preparation, legal research, practice, and attendance and participation in competitions will be counted toward the 42.5 hours per credit hour, as evaluated by the faculty advisor to the Competition. Travel time and administrative time may not be included in the calculation.
G. Variable Credit Hour Classes
For classes in which a faculty member permits students to write longer papers in exchange for additional credits, any such additional credits will be in the form of an independent study, and must meet the requirements set forth in Section I.B.
II. Requirements for Faculty Compliance
Faculty members will be required to submit a form each semester with their syllabi certifying that their courses comply with this policy.
Credit Hours for Four-Term Calendar MLS Courses
Credit hours for four-term calendar courses are equivalent to the Carnegie definition of semester credit hours - a semester credit hour is at least 12.5 hours of direct faculty instruction per semester (in class, online, remote site) with at least 25 hours of student work outside of that direct instruction, typically conducted over a 15 week semester, or an equivalent amount of faculty instruction and work over a different time period. Four-term calendar courses are typically three semester credit hours each, meaning that students meet in an instructional venue (in class, online, remote site) for 3.75 hours each week and complete academic work outside the instructional venue at least 7.5 hours each week of a ten week term. Courses that meet fewer than 3.75 hours a week that are assigned three semester credit hours must require students to do additional work outside the instructional venue to achieve the expected learning objectives of a 3.75 hour a week course. Courses that carry more than or less than three semester credit hours require proportionately more or less work each week, respectively, both inside and outside the instructional venue. Courses that meet for terms greater than or less than 10 weeks will require proportionately more or less contact hours to the weekly instruction time both inside and outside the instructional venue.
Credit for Courses at Other Law Schools
No student registered at the law school will be given any credit toward the JD for courses taken prior to law school matriculation. Students will not receive credit for courses taken at another law school, unless it is an approved law school, specific written permission is obtained in advance from the Registrar, and the student earns a passing grade in any such work. Only the credit hours earned and not the grade will be transferred and noted on the student’s permanent transcript. A student is not permitted to take for credit at another school a required course or any course in which the student received a grade of F at the WCL. Permission to study as a visiting student at another law school will be granted only on the basis of extraordinary, compelling personal circumstances and for no more than one academic year. More information regarding this policy and application procedures are available on the Office of the Registrar website.
Credit for Courses in Other Schools of the University
Law students may take up to six credits of work toward their JD degree requirements in other schools of the University. Before undertaking such work the student must demonstrate the appropriateness of the particular course and obtain the written permission from the Office of the Registrar. In determining whether a course is “appropriate,” consideration is given to the relationship the course bears to the study of law and to the student’s intended area of practice. Only the credit hours earned and not the grade are accepted for credit toward JD degree requirements. Generally, non-law courses taken under this policy must be graduate level courses. Law students enrolled in one of the college’s dual degree programs may only transfer non-law courses for JD credit in accordance with the regulations of those programs. Credits for non-law classes are included in the 12 non-classroom credits (18 for students enrolled in the law school’s dual degree programs within American University) allowed toward the JD. More information regarding this policy and application procedures are available on the Office of the Registrar’s website.
Written examinations are required at the end of most courses; however, research papers may be required in lieu of written examinations in seminars and certain elective courses. All students are required to take examinations as scheduled but are able to defer examinations if they have (1) a physical inability to take the examination; (2) a personal necessity, including emergency situations and religious observances; (3) three examinations scheduled on three consecutive days, in which case, one of the three may be deferred; (4) For part-time students with a documented full-time obligation on the days in question, two examinations scheduled on two consecutive days, in which event one of the two may be deferred; (5) an examination scheduled at 9:00 a.m., after having taken an examination beginning at 6:00 p.m. the prior evening; or (6) two examinations scheduled on the same calendar day.
When an examination is deferred, it may be deferred only to one of the next two available examination days during which deferred examinations are scheduled and in which the rescheduled examination would not again be subject to deferral under the grounds outlined above. Deferred examinations must be taken prior to the beginning of the subsequent term. Further information and application procedures are available on the Office of the Registrar’s website.
Grades and Assessments
A student’s performance in each course is expressed normally in terms of the following letter grades, which have numerical equivalents for computation purposes:
A or 4.0
A- or 3.7
B+ or 3.3
B or 3.0
B- or 2.7
C+ or 2.3
C or 2.0
C- or 1.7
D or 1.0
F or 0
A minimum course grade of D or 1.0 is required before credit may be received for a particular course. Students who do not receive passing grades in required courses must repeat them and earn passing grades. Students may not repeat courses for which they earned passing grades.
A. Mandatory 1L Mean
Except as provided in Section C, the mean range for all first-year courses is from 3.1 to 3.3, inclusive. The 1L mean applies to all first-year courses, including first-year electives, and all traditional first-year courses taken by part time students in their second year.
B. Presumptive Upper Level Mean
Except as provided in Section C, the presumptive mean range for all upper level courses will be from 3.25 to 3.45, inclusive. If a faculty member grades a course outside of the presumptive mean, before final grades can be submitted, the faculty member will be required to submit a written explanation for the deviation in a format prescribed by the Registrar’s Office.
C. Exemptions from the Mandatory Mean in Section 1 and Presumptive Upper Level Mean in Section 2
1. The grade of F is excluded from calculation of the course mean.
2. Grades awarded to LL.M. students are excluded from the calculation of the mean for the course.
3. The following categories of courses are exempt from the mandatory 1L mean and presumptive upper level mean:
a. First year rhetoric courses
b. Clinic courses;
c. Externship courses; and
d. Upper level courses for which a paper, simulation, or other non-exam assessment constitutes more than 50 percent of the student’s grade.
4. With respect to 1L courses subject to the mandatory mean, faculty members may seek approval from the Office of Academic Affairs to submit grades that do not conform to the required mean. The faculty member must provide a compelling reason why deviation from the mean should be permitted. The Office of Academic Affairs will make the final decision on whether to permit a variance.
Final grades are based primarily on written examinations in those courses in which they are required. In addition, an instructor may give appropriate weight to written assignments, classroom performance, and attendance records. Final written examinations are conducted according to an anonymous grading system. Students are assigned anonymous grading numbers by the Registrar and only the anonymous grading number should appear on the final examination for identification. Students must obtain anonymous grading numbers for the semester through the Office of the Registrar’s website.
To maintain the integrity of the anonymous grading system, students should check with the Registrar to determine how faculty wish to receive a request for grade change before contacting the course instructor directly. If a course instructor changes a grade, a detailed statement of the reasons must be provided to the Office of the Registrar.
Any course for which no grade has been entered must be made up by the end of the next semester or the grade automatically is converted to an F, unless the Dean grants an extension. Students on academic probation may not receive “Incomplete” or “In Progress” grades, nor may “I” or “IP” grades be issued if an exam was not taken or is incomplete.
In the course of academic life, a student may wish to request further feedback about a professor’s assessment of their work. It is the policy of the school to encourage informal discussion and consultation between the student and professor as part and parcel of the professor’s obligation of assessment and the educational process. If, for any reason, a student has concerns about approaching a professor to request a consultation, the student may request the Office of Student Affairs to assist in facilitating a meeting. The school encourages informal processes to respond to student’s questions and concerns regarding assessment and grading.
Because judgment regarding standards of evaluation of a student’s academic performance is a faculty responsibility, the exercise of that judgment is not subject to a grievance procedure. If, however, after being furnished the basis for assessment and after thoroughly exhausting the informal consultation review process, a student believes that a faculty member’s assessment of the student’s work failed to comply materially with the professor’s stated policies/requirements of the course; or was the product of a grossly arbitrary grading process, or was the product of systematic discrimination in the awarding of grades not related to the student’s course performance, the student may initiate a grievance with an Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs. A grievance may be filed no later than 10 business days after the last date on which attempts at informal resolution have failed, but in no event later than September 25, in the case of the immediately preceding spring and summer terms, or February 15, in the case of the immediately preceding fall term. Information on the grievance procedure is at www.wcl.american.edu/registrar/grading_policy.cfm.
I. GENERAL: Assessment of student work is one of the fundamental obligations of law faculty.
A. Faculty should submit grades in a timely manner and provide an explanation of the basis upon which they have made assessments.
B. Examinations and papers must be either returned to students (directly or through the
Registrar) or retained by the professor (or the Registrar, as applicable) for one calendar year. In the case of examinations or papers not returned, the professor must provide the student a timely opportunity to review the examination or paper.
C. Judgment regarding standards of evaluation for a student’s academic performance is within the purview of the faculty member.
II. INFORMAL REVIEW PROCESS: A student may request further feedback about a faculty member’s assessment of their work or the grade he/she has received consistent with the following:
A. It is the policy of the law school to encourage informal discussion and consultation between the student and faculty member as part of the latter’s professional obligations.
B. If, for any reason, a student has concerns about approaching a faculty member to request a consultation, the student may request the Associate Dean of Student Affairs to assist in facilitating a meeting.
III. FORMAL REVIEW: Because judgment regarding standards of evaluation of a student’s academic performance involves academic judgment, the exercise of that judgment is not generally subject to a grievance procedure.
A. A student may, however, initiate a grievance with either the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs (“Senior Associate Dean”) via firstname.lastname@example.org if, after being furnished the basis for assessment and after thoroughly exhausting the informal consultation review process, the student believes that a faculty member’s assessment of their work:
- failed to comply materially with the faculty member’s stated policies/requirements of the course, or
- was the product of a grossly arbitrary grading process, or
- was the product of unlawful discrimination.
B. If the student alleges an act that would be a violation of the University’s Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy, the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean will immediately refer the case to the Deputy Title IX Program Officer for faculty matters who will review the case in accordance with the University’s Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy.
C. A student must file their grievance no later than 10 business days after the last date on which attempts at informal resolution have failed, but in no event later than September 25, in the case of the immediately preceding spring and summer terms, or February 15, in the case of the immediately preceding fall term.
D. The grievance shall be in writing and state with particularity the grounds and attach any documentation upon which the student relies in asserting a grievable matter.
E. The Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean may dismiss any complaints failing to state a grievable matter.
F. For any matter not dismissed, the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean shall refer to the Standing Hearing Committee (“SHC”) any grievance that raises an arguably grievable matter within 10 business days of receipt and shall notify the student and affected faculty member.
G. The SHC is charged with determining anew whether the complaint is a grievable matter and, if so, shall give the parties the opportunity to be heard within 10 business days of receiving the referral from the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean.
H. The burden is on the student to show by clear and convincing evidence that a grade or assessment resulted from conditions described in III.A. 1, 2, or 3.
I. The SHC will not substitute its judgment for that of the faculty member.
J. The SHC shall conduct a hearing unless the student waives the right to it.
K. The hearing shall be conducted in closed session. The student and the faculty member shall have the right to be heard by the SHC. Parties to the proceeding may present evidence, including witnesses.
L. SHC proceedings, deliberations, and decisions shall be confidential.
M. The SHC shall render its decision in writing within seven calendar days of the hearing and shall state therein or otherwise provide its rationale. SHC decisions shall be by majority vote.
N. The time periods set forth in preceding sections F, G, and M may be extended by the Dean of the Law School (“Dean”) for good cause.
IV. STANDING HEARING COMMITTEE
A. The SHC shall be the Committee appointed by the Dean for the academic year or such other term as the Dean may designate. The Committee shall consist of at least three faculty members and at least one student member. The student member will usually be the student honor code prosecutor but, at the discretion of the Dean, may be another designee of the Student Bar Association.
B. In the absence of an appeal of the SHC decision, the SHC chair shall forward the decision to the Dean for implementation.
V. APPEALS PROCEDURE
1. Either party may appeal an SHC decision to the Dean within 10 business days of the decision being issued. Grounds for appeal shall be limited to: (1) improper SHC procedure adversely affecting the resulting decision, (2) newly discovered evidence unavailable at the SHC hearing and capable of changing the outcome, or (3) inappropriate remedy.
2. A student may also appeal a decision by the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean to dismiss a grievance under Section III. D. hereof within three business days of receiving notice of such dismissal.
B. The Dean may request such information as they may need and shall render a final and binding decision within 10 business days of receipt of the matter.
C. Following the conclusion of the appellate process or expiration of the time for filing an appeal without the filing of an appeal, the Dean shall notify the concerned parties of the outcome.
VI. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
- If the Dean determines that one or more members of the SHC or any other faculty member in any given matter has or appears to have a conflict of interest, the Dean may substitute an alternative faculty member to take on the role of the member so conflicted.
- If any required procedures remain unaddressed in this policy, the default provisions shall be those found in the University’s Academic Regulations.
 This obligation may be satisfied in many different ways including, but not limited to: furnishing a model exam answer, furnishing an example of an excellent student answer, furnishing written comments on exams and assignments, holding an exam review session, etc.
Probation and Exclusion for Academic Deficiency
The following standard is applicable to JD students.
For purposes of the following regulation:
- “End of the first year of study” means completion of the first two (fall and spring) semesters of course work.
- “Semester” is defined as the completion of at least 14 credit hours of courses for full-time students and nine credit hours of courses for part-time students, over 14 weeks of class and an examination period.
- The cumulative GPA is based only upon law school courses taken for a grade (A-F) at the Washington College of Law. The quality point (credit hours multiplied by letter grade numerical value) total is divided by the total number of credits earned for graded WCL law courses. The cumulative GPA is derived by carrying the quotient three places to the right of the decimal point and truncating that number at the second (hundredths) place. Figures are not rounded up to the next highest hundredths position. The semester GPA is computed in the same manner but includes only courses taken in that academic term.
Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater after the end of the first year of law study or be dismissed unconditionally from the WCL. The only exception to this policy is the following: a student who maintains a 2.0 or greater GPA in any semester of the first year but ends the year with a cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 but greater than 1.9 will be placed on academic probation for one semester. While on probation, the student must raise their cumulative GPA to 2.0 or greater by the end of that semester or be dismissed unconditionally.
Students who are dismissed for academic deficiency at the end of the first year of law study and are reinstated by the admissions committee (see “Reinstatement,” below) must bring their cumulative GPA to 2.0 or greater in the two semesters immediately following their readmission, and thereafter maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater, or they will be dismissed unconditionally.
At the end of the first year, and at the end of each semester beyond the first year:
Academic Alert: Students whose one-semester GPA places them in the bottom 15 percent of their class for that semester, but does not trigger Academic Probation, shall be given an Academic Alert notice. Academic Alert status is NOT recorded on student transcripts. All students who receive an Academic Alert will be referred for academic support by the Office of Academic Affairs.
Academic Probation: Students who obtain a 2.0 or greater cumulative GPA at the end of the first year but fail to maintain that average in any subsequent semester shall be placed on a one semester probation (“probationary semester”). Failure to bring this cumulative GPA to a 2.0 or greater at the end of the probationary semester shall result in unconditional dismissal.
In some cases grades for work done in the probationary semester(s) will not be available until after the next academic period has begun. Whenever this situation occurs and the grades, when received, would not have permitted a probationary student to have continued, the student will be dismissed retroactively to the first day of classes of that academic period and will receive a full refund of tuition paid.
Any student on probation shall be dismissed unconditionally if their cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 in any subsequent semester.
The following standard is applicable to MLS students.
MLS students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater. Students with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or lower will be placed on academic probation for one term. While on probation, the student must raise their cumulative GPA to 2.0 or greater by the end of that term or be dismissed unconditionally.
Once dismissed for academic deficiency, a student may be reinstated only by petitioning the admissions committee for readmission. Readmission is granted only in extraordinary cases of demonstrated, substantial improvement in a student’s potential for continuing the study of law successfully. As a matter of policy, the admissions committee generally requires that a student dismissed for academic deficiency remain out of school for a minimum of two semesters (a summer session does not constitute a semester for this purpose) before a petition for readmission is acted upon. In cases where a substantial period of time has elapsed between dismissal and readmission, the “five year rule” may result in the loss of some or all of the credits earned prior to readmission (see “Leave of Absence” below).
Leave of Absence
Upon approval of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, a student who has completed at least one full semester or term and is in good standing may obtain a leave of absence from the law school for a stated period of time. Students on leave are not required to maintain continuous registration; however, a student who fails to observe the terms and conditions of the leave granted must file an application for readmission to the law school with the admissions committee. Moreover, the law school follows a five year rule under which any credits earned more than five years prior to being readmitted will not be credited toward degree requirements, and the student will be required to replace these disallowed credits after readmission. All credits earned in required courses that are disallowed because of the application of this rule can only be replaced by repeating the same required courses in which the credits are disallowed. Students who maintain their connections with the law school by an approved leave of absence generally are not subject to this five year rule.
For MLS students on any type of temporary leave, the period is limited to four terms, either consecutive or non-consecutive, to remain enrolled in the program. Students may request leave no later than the end of the add/drop period in the term in which the temporary leave will begin. Long term military temporary leaves may be extended beyond the four term limit.
Students who seek to withdraw from all courses simultaneously must work with the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Registrar to file a Withdraw from All Classes form. The date that the Withdraw from All Classes form is received by the Office of the Registrar will be the effective date of the withdrawal.
For all course withdrawals after the end of the add/drop period, students will receive a notation of Withdraw (“W”) on their transcript and will be subject to the financial policies delineated in the law school’s Tuition Cancellation Schedule.
Students who have been charged with or are under investigation for a violation of the Honor Code may not withdraw from a course that is implicated in the charge. Additional restrictions on course withdrawals may apply to particular academic programs and students in the U.S. on a visa.
Subject to the provisions of Section VI of the Course Drop and Withdrawal Policy, in no situation may a student withdraw from any class after the applicable Deadline to Withdraw from a Course with a Transcript Notation. The student will receive no reimbursement and will receive a failing grade for any course that is not successfully completed. Discontinuation of attendance at a class or notification to the instructor does not constitute an official drop or withdrawal from a course.
Class Recording Policy
The following rules and definitions pertain to the recording & streaming of course content.
- Course content - Course content includes classroom lectures, class related events, and course materials.
- Class-related events - Class related events include discussions, workshops, moot courts, reviews, role-playing exercises, and similar activities associated with a specific course.
- Course materials - Course materials include presentations (such as PowerPoint slides), handouts, lecture notes, and any recorded class related events.
- Recording - Recording includes audio recording, visual recording, live streaming, and computer assisted recording of transcripts (CART).
- Sharing - Sharing means making available to others by physical or electronic means, including, but not limited to, transmitting, publishing, or uploading to the internet.
B. Student Recording
- Students are not permitted to make, use, or share recordings of course content unless (a) prior permission is obtained from the affected professor following a written request from a student submitted at least three school days in advance of the class in question, and (b) there are no objections from any of the students in the class.
- The use and sharing of recordings of course content made with instructor permission (i.e., made pursuant to section B.1) are limited to the personal use by students registered in the course and for educational purposes only, even after the end of the course. Faculty may impose additional limitations on the use of such permitted student recordings (e.g., limiting portions of class that can be recorded, time of retention, or students who can have access).
C. Authorized Recording
- Only faculty or the WCL administration can authorize recording of course content.
- To supplement the classroom experience, to assist students who cannot come to class for a legitimate reason, or for other good reason, faculty may record or stream classroom lectures and class related events and make those recordings available to students registered for the class and subsequent related classes. Faculty and the WCL dministration may also use those recordings for pedagogical purposes, faculty evaluation, or for future student reference. Such recordings will be made, used, and maintained in accordance with AUWCL policies and practices, and, when used by students, are also subject to the prohibition in Section D.
- The WCL administration may authorize recording of course content for students registered with the Academic Support and Access Center (“ASAC”’) who have a documented disability and for whom ASAC has approved recording of course content as an accommodation. The WCL administration and faculty are not obligated to provide such an accommodation to a student unless and until the Office of Student Affairs has received from the student a copy of the ASAC accommodation letter currently in force indicating that a recording accommodation has been approved. As noted in Expectations and Guidelines for Faculty Conduct at AU, all University faculty members, including WCL professors, “are expected to provide reasonable accommodation in consultation with the ASAC.” The Office of Student Affairs, which operates as ASAC’s delegate at the law school, will notify the affected faculty member at least three school days in advance of the planned start of such recording. As with all disability accommodations, the faculty member has the opportunity to consult with WCL administration on the ongoing implementation of the accommodation. Any resulting recordings will be made, used, and maintained in accordance with WCL policies and practices.
D. Limited Student Use
Student use of recordings, whether made pursuant to Section B or Section C, is limited to personal use. Recordings may not be copied or shared without the written permission of faculty.
E. Notice of Possible Recording
Students are on notice that any and all course content may be recorded. Faculty may choose to announce that specific class related events are being recorded. When faculty do so, such an announcement should not disclose whether the recording is being made as an accommodation for a student with a disability nor identify the name of any student with such an accommodation.
F. Honor Code
A student that fails to comply with student obligations under this policy violates the WCL Honor Code.
G. Recording & Streaming of Meetings and Events
This policy is limited to recording of course content. It does not address the recording and streaming of other meetings or events, which may be subject to restrictions prescribed by a related but separate policy.
As a law school accredited by the ABA, American University Washington College of Law is subject to the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools. These Standards may be found at www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/standards.html.
Any WCL student who wishes to bring a formal complaint that directly implicates WCL’s program of legal education and its compliance with the ABA Standards may so file with the Office of Academic Affairs at email@example.com. The complaint must include the student’s name and contact information, must be sent from the student’s AU account, and must identify the problem with sufficient detail, including the Standard which forms the basis of the complaint, to allow the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs to properly investigate the matter.
The Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs will acknowledge the complaint within five business days of its receipt. Within 30 business days following acknowledgment of the complaint, the Associate Dean shall either meet with or respond in writing to the complaining student. The Senior Associate Dean shall provide a substantive response to the complaint, information about steps taken by the law school to address the complaint or a statement that further investigation is needed. If further investigation is needed, the Senior Associate Dean shall provide information about what steps are being taken by WCL to obtain the additional information and the anticipated time frame for additional response.
Within 10 business days of written notice from the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs regarding final resolution of the complaint, the student may appeal the decision in writing to the Dean. If such appeal is filed, the Dean shall respond, with a written decision, within 30 business days. The decision of the Dean shall be final. The Office of Academic Affairs shall maintain for eight years a complete written record of each complaint and how it was investigated and resolved.
The alteration or misuse of official student records, or attempt to alter or misuse them, under any circumstances or for any purpose, will result in the peremptory permanent dismissal of any student or employee of the University involved and the institution of such legal proceedings as may be appropriate.
Confidentiality and FERPA
The following explains the University’s policy for complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA” or “Act”). Students at American University have the following rights regarding their education records: 1) to have access to their education records, 2) to consent to release a record to a third party, 3) to request nondisclosure of directory information, 4) to seek amendment of information in an education record which the student demonstrates is inaccurate, 5) to be notified of their privacy rights, and 6) to file complaints with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by American University to comply with the Act.
For purposes of this policy, the term “student” means any individual who is attending or has attended American University and for whom the University maintains education records. The term “education records” or “student education records” means, with certain exceptions, any records 1) that are directly related to a student and 2) maintained by the University or its agents. Student education records are confidential and may only be released with consent of the student or as otherwise permitted by law.
The University does not maintain education records in one central office. Education records are maintained in the various departments, schools, or colleges. A student should contact the Office of the University Registrar, or, for law students, the Office of the Registrar, for guidance in determining which unit(s) a student should contact about an education record.
Examples of academic and non-academic student education records include without limitation:
- Academic Records: Permanent record of academic performance (e.g., transcript, including supporting documents) maintained by the Office of the University Registrar, the WCL Registrar, academic advisor, dean’s office, and Provost’s Office; files of academic progress maintained by the individual school/college academic office and Provost’s Office; admission files of students; Career Center files.
- Non-Academic Records: Files related to Financial Aid, Housing and Dining Programs, International Student and Scholar Services, Student Accounts, and the Library; student discipline files; employment files of students who are employed because of their student status (e.g. work-study, graduate assistantship/fellowship).
Only information directly relevant to the educational processes of the University or which is voluntarily offered by the student and accepted from the student shall be included in student education records.
Specifically excluded from such student education records are:
- Medical and mental health information which is created, maintained, or used by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional in connection with treatment of the student and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment. Such records are strictly confidential and not accessible except as provided by applicable laws;
- Sole possession records or private notes maintained by individual faculty and instructional, supervisory, or administrative personnel for their own use and which are not accessible or released to anyone except a substitute;
- Records created and maintained by Public Safety solely for law enforcement purposes;
- Employment records of students which are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to their employment, and are not available for use for any other purpose;
- Alumni records that contain only information about former students after they are no longer students at the University.
The Confidentiality of Student Records Policy (FERPA) may be found at: https://www.american.edu/policies/.
Student Access to Student Education Records
Each student may inspect their education record, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. A student must submit a written request to review an education record. The request will be granted as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days from the date of the receipt of the request. At the time of inspection, the student must present identification and must inspect the records in the presence of a designated University official. In lieu of inspection and at the request of the student, the University may provide a copy of the requested education record. The student may be charged for the actual costs of copying the records. The University reserves the right to deny requests for copies of records if there is an administrative restriction on the individual’s student account (e.g. financial obligation, disciplinary stop).
Student Education Records Not Accessible to the Student
A student may not access the following education records:
- Financial information submitted by parents;
- Confidential letters of recommendation for which a student has waived the right of access provided that the recommendations are used only for their intended purpose (i.e. admission, employment, or consideration for any honor). However, the student may know the names of all people making recommendations; and
- Confidential letters of recommendation placed in a record before January 1, 1975, if the letters were used only for the intended purpose.
Disclosures of Student Education Records
At its discretion, the University may release directory information unless the student has instructed the University to restrict this information. Directory information includes a student’s name, telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses, month and day of birth, dates of attendance at the University, participation in officially recognized University activities, height and weight of members of athletic teams, photographs and similar information. FERPA considers directory information as generally not harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information cannot include student identification numbers, Social Security numbers, citizenship, gender, race, religious preference, grades, and GPA.
The University does not provide student directory information to third party vendors except in limited circumstances when disclosure of specific directory information is necessary to provide a University related service. Appropriate University offices will review contracts that involve the use or disclosure of directory information for compliance with this policy and FERPA.
Students who object to the disclosure of directory information must notify in writing the Office of the University Registrar or, for law students, the WCL Registrar. Forms for this purpose are available from the Office of the University Registrar or the WCL Registrar and should be filed within 30 days following registration each semester at the University. The request for nondisclosure may be rescinded by written notification to the Office of the University Registrar or the WCL Registrar. The University is committed to offering students effective choices concerning disclosure of directory information entrusted to the University.
University officials are determined to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for that official to perform a task that is related to their assigned job functions or related to their performance of a contract with the University. A “University official” includes faculty, staff, a member of the board of trustees, third parties acting on behalf of the University, and individuals, including students, serving on University committees. The determination as to whether a legitimate educational interest exists will be made by the custodian of the records on a case by case basis.
Third-Party Access to Education Records
The University may disclose student education records with the prior written consent of the student. A student may authorize access to third parties to review the student’s education record by completing a written and dated authorization form that specifies the information to be released, the reasons for the release, and to whom the information is to be released.
The University may disclose information in the following circumstances without the prior written consent of the student:
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. Unless otherwise directed by the order or subpoena, the University will make a reasonable effort to notify the student in writing of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance;
- To the parents of a dependent student, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. The parent must sign, and provide to the University, a written statement confirming that the student is a dependent; the statement must be accompanied by a copy of the parent’s most current tax return which reports the student as a dependent;
- To persons or organizations providing the student financial aid, or who determine financial decisions concerning eligibility, amount, conditions, and enforcement or terms of the financial aid;
- To organizations or individuals conducting studies for educational agencies to 1) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests, 2) administer student aid programs; or 3) improve instruction. Disclosure under this paragraph shall only be made if the study is conducted in a manner that does not permit personal identification of students by individuals other than representatives of the organization and that personally identifiable data will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purpose for which it was collected;
- To authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States; Secretary of Education; or state and local educational authorities to audit or evaluate a federal or state supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with legal requirements of those programs. Disclosure under this paragraph shall only be made if information is protected in a manner that does not permit personal identification of students by individuals other than the specified officials and that personally identifiable data will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purpose for which it is collected;
- To accrediting organizations for purposes related to accreditation of the University;
- To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency;
- To victims of crimes of violence or non-forcible sex offenses concerning the results of disciplinary proceedings about those incidents;
- To appropriate parties as permitted by the University’s Parental Notification of Disciplinary Violations Involving the Use or Possession of Alcohol or a Controlled Substance; and
- To appropriate parties in other circumstances as required by law.
Education records will only be disclosed to third parties if they are advised not to redisclose the information to others without the prior written consent of the student or as permitted by law.
Monitoring and Use of Student Education Records
Each University office must maintain a list of all individuals or organizations who have obtained access to a student’s record. The list must indicate the legitimate interest that each person or organization has in obtaining the information. This “record of access” is part of the student’s education record. A record of access is not necessary for disclosures: 1) to the student, 2) pursuant to a written authorization from a student, 3) to University officials, 4) of directory information, and 5) in response to a subpoena or court order specifying that the existence and/or contents of such documents may not be revealed.
Student’s Right to Challenge Information in the Student Education Record
If a student demonstrates that the student’s education record is inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights, the student may request in writing that the record be changed. The request should be made directly to the custodian of the record. Any disagreement should be resolved informally, if possible and within a reasonable time period. If the request is denied, the student may file a written appeal within 30 days to the University Registrar or, for law students, the WCL Registrar. The Registrar will appoint a hearing committee to review the complaint. The committee will provide the student a full and fair opportunity to present evidence. The student may be assisted or represented by one or more individuals of the student’s choice, including an attorney. After the committee completes the proceeding and makes findings, it will render a written decision and forward it to the relevant parties for implementation.
Students dissatisfied with the results of a hearing may place an explanatory statement in the relevant education record commenting upon the information in dispute, and/or setting forth any reason for disagreement with the institutional decision not to correct or amend the record. Such a statement will become part of the student education record.
Inactivity of Student Education Records. After five years since the student has graduated or was last registered at the University, the University generally destroys student education records. Exceptions include but are not limited to the following: 1) permanent records of academic performance, including supporting documents; 2) such financial records as are necessary so long as there exists a financial obligation to the University; and 3) disciplinary records that involve a permanent notation to the student’s record.