Creating an academic plan and choosing second- and third-year courses are important and sometimes difficult processes. There is no single ‘correct’ strategy or philosophy for selecting courses. Factors to consider include: BU Law’s academic requirements; state bar exam requirements; whether you would benefit from experiential ("hands-on" and skills-based) learning; whether you prefer smaller seminars with more class discussion and writing assignments; your substantive legal interests; and your career goals. This site provides information about several such factors.
Also, we strongly suggest that you review a memorandum on general course selection advice prepared by our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who puts together the curriculum each year.
This site and the links listed here may answer many of your questions about how to select courses and otherwise design your academic program.
Advising starts with our faculty. If you have more specific questions or want advice about issues not covered here, feel free to reach out to faculty. As students develop substantive interests, they often approach faculty who teach in those areas for more specific advice.
Feel free to consult your assigned first-year faculty contact, and don't be shy about also approaching other professors to ask questions. Check out profiles of our full-time faculty.
- Academic Requirements Checklist
- Faculty Course Selection Advice and Guides
- Courses and Seminars, Clinical Programs, Semester-in-Practice, Externships, Legislative Programs, Transactional Law Program, and Study Abroad
- Credit/No Credit/Honors Option
- Course and Teacher Evaluations
- Full-Time Faculty by Subject Matter
- State Bar Admission Requirements and Bar Exam Information
- Concentrations and Dual-Degree Programs
- 84 credits required for graduation
- Must take at least 12 credits but no more than 16 credits each semester after first year
- Must take at least 26 credits but no more than 32 credits each academic year after first year. (If take 26 credits one year, must take at least 28 credits the next year to meet our 84 credit graduation requirement).
- Must take at least 64 credits of in-class instruction (regularly scheduled law classes). In-class instruction for this rule does NOT include: credits for journal work, moot court director credits, most courses taken outside of the law school, externship program fieldwork, supervised reserach & writing credits (independent study credits), and semesters in practice. (Note that courses taken in our Study Abroad programs, including our international J.D./LL.M. dual degree programs, count towards your 64-credit minimum, except for courses taken in our program at the French business school, HEC Paris.) Thus, the 64 credits must be on top of any of those excluded credits. First-year credits count toward the 64 since they were in-class credits.
- Must satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement
- Must Satisfy the Upper-class Writing requirement
- Must satisfy the Professional Skills requirement
- Beginning with the Class of 2015 and subsequent classes:
A student may not apply more than 16 credits from sources of credit that do no produce grades, (which include independent studies, moot court, and clinical fieldwork not under the direct supervision of a member of the Law School faculty whose primary professional employment is with the Law School) toward the total number of credits required for graduation.
This limit may be waived by the Academic Standards Committee on a showing of good cause. Non-grade point average credits earned at another law school which Boston University School of Law accepts for an incoming transfer student do not count toward the 16 non-gpa credit maximum.
Class of 2014: Maximum of 16 non-graded credits may be applied to the J.D. degree (non-graded credits include: journal credits; study abroad credits; non-law graduate course credits applied for JD credit; credits for courses taken at other law schools; field work components of externships and semester-in-practice program; credits taken for CR/NC/H).
- May not take more than 8 upperclass credits of non-required course work on a CR/NC/H basis. Note that to earn credit, you must obtain at least a C; anything below a C means you do not receive credit for the course!
- Must maintain a GPA of 2.0 in second-year courses and seminars and a cumulative GPA of 2.3 at the end of second year. Must earn a final average of at least 2.3 to graduate.
- May not fail more than five credits after first year.
Please review the Law Student Handbook (which includes the Law Academic Regulations) for all requirements and policies.
Our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who puts together the upperclass curriculum each year, has general course selection advice.
Also, several faculty members collaborated on memos that offer advice to students who wish to pursue any of the following legal specialties: Business (“Corporate”) Law; Constitutional Law; Criminal Law; Health Law; Intellectual Property Law; International Law.
In April 2013, Associate Dean Chris Marx, Professor David Breen, and Professor David Webber sponsored a panel discussion on course selection. Dean Marx discussed general upperclass requirements, the upperclass course registration process, and course selection related to judicial clerkships and small firm litigation practice. Professor Breen discussed how clinical programs and externships relate to academic and career goals. Professor Webber discussed course selection for those interested in corporate and transactional law and corporate litigation. View a video of the presentation.
Courses and Seminars, Clinical Programs, Semester-in-Practice, Externships, Legislative Programs, Transactional Law Program, and Study Abroad
There are many courses and seminars to choose from and many opportunities to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting. When planning your course work after first year, consider available opportunities, graduation requirements, your areas of interest, and career goals.
1. Courses and Seminars
JD and LL.M. Courses and Seminars
The upperclass JD program offers both courses and seminars; seminars have 25 or fewer students and typically (though not always) require a final paper or series of papers, and may require comments on readings. Although courses and seminars can change, a good place to start is to look at our current course and seminar offerings.
Some courses and seminars, particularly those taught by part-time faculty, are predominently experiential. These experiential-focused courses and seminars are included in a broader list of courses and seminars that satisfy our Professional Skills requirement.
JD students also may take LL.M. (Master’s of Law) courses for JD credit and at no additional charge in our two graduate programs: Banking and Financial Law and Taxation. Examples of LL.M. courses that JD students have taken include Microfinance, International Tax, Banking Structure and Regulation, and International Project Finance.
Boston University Graduate Courses for JD Credit
Any JD student may apply to the JD degree up to 12 credits (typically 4 courses) of non-law, graduate-level work at Boston University after first year. Thus, e.g., students might take one or more graduate courses in management, history, international relations, philosophy, English, public health, and other areas. Note that the number of law credits received for a non-law course may differ from what the other school offers due to ABA accreditation requirements. Please check credits with our Law Registrar's Office.
Courses and Seminars by Subject Matter
You may find it helpful to see current course and seminar offerings grouped by general subject matter. Note that many courses fall into more than one category. **Also, not all listed courses and seminars are offered each year.**
2. Clinical Programs
Our clinical programs provide students with opportunities to work with real clients on actual cases under close faculty supervision. Clinics offer opportunities in diverse areas of civil litigation or criminal law (prosecutor or defender).
In the Semester-in-Practice Program, students spend a semester working at a placement in Boston or outside of Boston, and also write a research paper with a BU Law faculty member. Current established placements include government lawyering in Washington, D.C., death penalty work in Atlanta, Georgia, and human rights work in Geneva, Switzerland. Students also can submit proposals for other placements for approval.
Externships consist of a part-time field placement in the Boston area and a weekly seminar. Current externships include the Legal Externship Program, (in which students work at public interest, government, or in-house counsel positions); the Health Law Externship; the Judicial Externship; the Government Lawyering Externship; and Community Courts.
5. Legislative Programs
The Legislative Programs afford students opportunities to learn about how law is made and to work on legislation. Work may involve a range of issues in areas such as intellectual property, health law, environmental law, and civil rights. Students' work in one program supports the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network.
6. Transactional Law Program
The Law School's innovative Transactional Law Program provides students with a solid grounding in the practice skills they will need as they embark on careers in a highly competitive and rapidly changing legal marketplace. The program includes upperclass courses and seminars, such as Contract Drafting, that focus on building practice and analytical and problem-solving skills. Students interested in a transactional law practice also may wish to do the Transactional Practice Concentration. Through contract drafting, negotiations, risk analysis and creative problem-solving, these existing and new skills-focused courses often employ simulations and emphasize the business context and the attorney's role in achieving the client's business objectives that drive transactional practice.
In addition to course offerings, the Transactional Law Program also spearheads BU Law's participation in the annual Transactional LawMeet® sponsored by the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University.
For more information on the Transactional Law Program contact Professor Kent Coit
7. Study Abroad
BU Law offers several Study Abroad Programs. In most programs, students spend the semester at foreign schools. Some programs have a language requirement, though most offer classes in English. Students earn 12 credits, which meets our minimum semester credit requirement.
We also offer three year-long, dual-degree study abroad programs: the JD/LL.M. in European Law program in Paris, France; the JD/LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies in Singapore; and the JD/LL.M. with Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid (ICADE ) in the school’s LL.M. in International and European Business Law program.
After first year, upperclass students may enroll in up to 8 credits total of course or seminar work on a Credit/No Credit/Honors (CR/NC/H) basis. The course descriptions will indicate if the class is NOT offered for CR/NC/H, or if the only option for the class is CR/NC/H. For more information, please review the Credit/No Credit/Honors Process.
You might also consider how prior students evaluated courses and professors. You can view course and seminar evaluations online by clicking here. (You must insert your BU login and kerberos password).
Be sure to check the bar admission requirements of the state in which you intend to practice. Some state bars have course or credit requirements. For example, some states limit the number of semester hours for courses related to legal training or clinical courses. The New York bar currently has a mandatory pro bono hours requirement. Some states require specific courses. Some require a certain number of in-class credit hours that exclude, for example, non-law classes or independent study credits. The National Conference of Bar Examiners Web site has links to all state bar authorities (under "Bar Admission Offices"). Each state will have links to its bar application and admission rules, and the format of its bar exam. Also check out our Student Affairs' Office website on bar information.
The Law School’s five concentrations provide a structured, systematic way to focus one’s study on a particular area of law through course requirements and a substantial paper. The concentrations are: Transactional Pracitice; Health Law; Intellectual Property; International Law; and Litigation and Dispute Resolution.* The required concentration paper also may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement.
*NOTE: The Transactional Practice Concentration has replaced the Business Organizations and Finance Concentration. Students in the Class of 2013 who are in the Business Organizations and Finance Concentration may still complete that concentration.
BU Law has16 dual-degree programs. In 10 of those programs, students earn a JD and a a graduate degree from another Boston University School or Department in less time than it would take to pursue the two degrees independently. (The newest program is the MD/JD degree offer with the School of Medicine.)
Unlike the concentrations, which focus on law, the dual-degree programs allow students to supplement their law studies with course work in other disciplines that informs their study of law and provides a broader background. For example, in the JD/MS in Mass Communication program, students interested in law practice in the rapidly changing communication field learn about new communication technologies, which will help them understand clients’ businesses. Students in the JD/Master’s in Public Health program learn about concepts such as epidemiology and health policy and management.
We also offer six-semester programs with the BU Law graduate programs in Banking and Financial Law and in Taxation. Students may earn a JD degree and and LL.M. (Masters of Law) degree in three years, less time than it would take to pursue both degrees independently. Those programs also offer seven-semester JD/LL.M. programs.
Students also may apply through our study abroad programs for a JD/LL.M. in European Law with Université Panthéon-Assas in Paris, France; a JD/LL.M. in Chinese Law with Tsinghua University; a JD/LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies with the National University of Singapore; or a JD/LLM in International and European Business Law with the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid in Spain. (These are year-long programs open to third-year students only).
In the spring semester, upperclass student advisors coordinate a panel for 1Ls on upperclass courses and professors. The panel held on March 29, 2013, was audio recorded and is available from the AV Department on the 5th Floor.