Latin honors are awarded to the top forty 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 thirty 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.
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. Students whose cumulative grade point average at graduation places them in the highest ten percent of the class may be elected to membership in the American University chapter of the order.
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.
Normal Course Load
Full-time students may not register for more than fifteen or fewer than twelve semester hours in any semester without the written permission of the Office of the Registrar. Part-time students are expected to register for eight or nine semester hours each semester and may not register for more than eleven 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 MyWCL Portal or in the Office of the Registrar.
Transfer between Divisions
No 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 Washington College of Law 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.
Washington College of Law Residency Requirements
I. Definition of Residency Semester
1. A “Full-time Residency Semester” is defined as achieving at least twelve and no more than fifteen 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 sixteen or seventeen credits in a given semester.
2. A “Part-time Residency Semester” is defined as achieving at least eight and no more than eleven credits in any semester of an academic year.
3. A “Partial Residency Semester” of fewer than twelve credits for a full-time division student or fewer than eight credits for a part-time division student may be combined with credits from any semester to “equal” either a full or part-time residency semester. Summer credits may be split and applied to separate semesters.
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, except as noted below. With appropriate planning and an understanding of the academic, experiential, and professional opportunities that a student may forgo, a student may combine summer residency semesters with each other or with full-time residency semesters to graduate one semester early or to take a reduced course load.
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, except as noted below. With appropriate planning and an understanding of the academic, experiential, and professional opportunities that a student may forgo, a student may combine summer residency semesters with each other or with part-time residency semesters to graduate early or take a reduced course load.
IV. Reduced Final Year Schedule and Early Graduation Options
AUWCL 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 Upper-Level Writing Requirement, 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 deciding whether 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 degree.
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 Student Affairs and the Office of the Registrar.
If a student transfers from the part-time division to the full-time division, any semesters completed with eleven 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 twelve 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 twelve 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, he or she may 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.
Full-time students may not engage in employment in excess of twenty hours per week. Students who are employed in excess of twenty hours per week must register for the part-time program. WCL policy permits full-time students to undertake a maximum of ten 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 LLM 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 forty-two and a half 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 fourteen weeks (or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time), thirty 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 Assistant Dean of Academic Services & Registrar will ensure compliance.
The Fall and Spring semesters are comprised of (1) fourteen weeks of classroom instruction (plus makeup days for holidays); (2) at least five calendar days for a reading period; and (3) at least ten 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 Assistant Dean of Academic Services & 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 field Placements (externships) must take a seminar in addition to the hours devoted to their field placements. Currently, students in their first field placement must take a three-credit seminar and fieldwork for 1, 2 or 3 credits. Students in advanced externships must take a one-credit seminar plus their fieldwork. While the Faculty is in the process of reconfiguring the allocation of hours between seminar and fieldwork, ultimately the program will meet the basic criterion of 42.5 hours per credit awarded.
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 for Courses at Other Law Schools
No student registered at the law school will be given any credit toward the JD degree 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 he or she received a grade of F at the Washington College of Law. 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.
Credit for Courses in Other Schools of the University
Law students may take up to 6 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 degree. More information regarding this policy and application procedures are available on the Office of the Registrar 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 periods 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 website.
Grading, Assessment and Review
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
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
During Academic Years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, 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
c. Upper level courses for which a paper, simulation, or other non-exam assessment constitutes more than 50% 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 online form.
To maintain the integrity of the anonymous grading system, students should check with the registrar to determine in what way a particular course instructor wishes 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 registrar’s office.
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 his/her 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 his/her 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 award 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.
Probation and Exclusion for Academic Deficiency
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 9 credit hours of courses for part-time students, over 14 weeks of class and an examination period.
- The cumulative grade point average (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 grade point average 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 Washington College of Law. 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 his or her 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 Warning: Students whose one-semester GPA places them in the bottom 15% of their class for that semester, but does not trigger Academic Probation, shall be given an Academic Warning notice. Academic Warning status is NOT recorded on student transcripts. All students who receive an Academic Warning 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 his or her cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 in any subsequent semester.
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 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.
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 United States 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 AUWCL Administration 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 AUWCL 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 AUWCL Administration and faculty are not obligated to provide such an accommodation to a student unless and until the AUWCL 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 AUWCL professors, “are expected to provide reasonable accommodation in consultation with the ASAC.” The AUWCL 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 AUWCL 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 American Bar Association, 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 AUWCL 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (5) business days of its receipt. Within thirty (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 AUWCL to obtain the additional information and the anticipated time frame for additional response.
Within ten (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 thirty (30) business days. The decision of the Dean shall be final. The Office of Academic Affairs shall maintain for eight (8) years a complete written record of each complaint and how it was investigated and resolved.
Confidentiality of Student Records. University policy and procedures for confidentiality of student records may be found online at www.american.edu/provost/registrar/facultystaff/regulations_policies.cfm. 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 Washington College of Law (WCL) Registrar for guidance in determining which unit(s) to contact about an education record.
Examples of academic and nonacademic 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 or college academic office and the provost’s office; admission files of students; Career Center files.
- Nonacademic 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 or 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 which contain only information about former students after they are no longer students at the university.
Student Access to Student Education Records. Each student may inspect his or her 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 forty-five (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).
Students do not have access to 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.
- 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.
FERPA considers directory information as generally not harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. In accordance with FERPA, the university defines this information to include a student’s name, telephone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, month and day of birth, dates of attendance at the university, major field of study and class, date of graduation, degrees and honors received at the university, participation in officially recognized university activities, height and weight of members of athletic teams, photographs, and similar information. 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. In these unusual situations, the university will not disclose all student directory information but only the specific elements of directory information that are minimally necessary to provide the 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 thirty (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.
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 which 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 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.
- 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 re-disclose the information to others without the prior written consent of the student or as permitted by law.
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 thirty days to the Office of the 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: permanent records of academic performance, including supporting documents; such financial records as are necessary so long as there exists a financial obligation to the university; and disciplinary records that involve a permanent notation to the student’s record.