Academic Regulations

Published January 17, 2014

Also available in PDF format PDF file

AR 1. Purpose and Limitations

This document contains regulations and policies applying to students of the George Mason University School of Law. All information, including but not limited to statements pertaining to course requirements and offerings, admissions and graduation requirements, tuition and fees, is subject to change without notice. These Regulations will be reviewed by the faculty and re-adopted, with changes as appropriate, at least once each year.

In order to deal with emergencies not provided for in these Regulations, in cases where it is impracticable to convene the faculty in time to deal with the emergency, the Dean is authorized to make such temporary exceptions and adopt such temporary supplements to these Regulations as he deems necessary to deal with the emergency; provided, however, that the Dean must provide every voting member of the faculty with a full report of his action, in writing, within one business day of his action; and provided further that the Dean must at the next meeting of the faculty propose a new regulation to deal with similar emergencies in the future; and provided further that the Dean’s authority to take emergency measures is non-delegable.

Except where these Regulations provide otherwise, either expressly or by necessary implication, these Regulations apply to all degree programs offered by the School of Law, including LL.M. programs. Additional
admissions and graduation requirements for the LL.M. programs are published onthe law school's website.

AR 2. Admissions

AR 2-1 Minimum Qualifications

To be eligible for admission, applicants must satisfy the following requirements.

AR 2-1.1: Baccalaureate Degree

An applicant must have earned a baccalaureate degree, or successfully completed three-fourths of the work acceptable for a bachelor’s degree, from an accredited college or university under the jurisdiction of a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Acceptance is contingent upon the award of a baccalaureate degree before matriculation.

In an extraordinary case, an applicant may be admitted to the J.D. program without a baccalaureate degree if the applicant’s experience, ability, and other characteristics clearly show an aptitude for the study of law. The Associate Dean and Director of Admissions will sign and place in the admittee’s file a statement of the considerations that led to the decision to admit the applicant.

Applicants may also present undergraduate work from institutions from outside the jurisdiction of U.S. regional accrediting bodies. Procedures and standards for evaluating foreign transcripts shall be established, maintained, and updated as appropriate by the Associate Dean and Director of Admissions.

 

AR 2-1.2: Law School Admission Test and Law School Data Assembly Service

A Juris Doctor applicant must take the Law School Admission Test ("LSAT") and register with the Law School Data Assembly Service ("LSDAS") for a report reflecting undergraduate and graduate work.

 

AR 2-2 Application Requirements

The deadline for filing an application is April 1. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their files are complete. To be complete, and before any consideration can be given, the file must contain the following:

 

∙ A completed application form accompanied by the application fee (except when the fee is waived by the Associate Dean and Director of Admissions) and the LSAT Matching form.

 

∙ A current LSAT/LSDAS report furnished by Law School Admission Services. The report must reflect:

(a) undergraduate work, signifying that a baccalaureate degree has been or will be awarded before the start of the academic year for which admission is being sought. Judgment will not be made on less than three-fourths of the work required for a baccalaureate degree.

b)The results of all Law School Admissions Tests taken within the preceding five years.

 

∙ The completed application for Virginia In-State Tuition Rates (for Virginia residents only) is used to determine the applicant’s residency status for tuition purposes. Applicants who do not file this form are classified automatically as out-of-state students.

 

∙ Any other information required by these Regulations.

 

Applications and all accompanying materials become the property of the School of Law and are not returned.

 

AR 2-3 Truthfulness and Accuracy of Responses

A false or misleading response to any question on the application form, including the omission of requested information, shall be grounds for denying admission and shall be grounds for canceling matriculation whenever the false or misleading response is discovered.

 

AR 2-4 Juris Doctor Admissions Criteria

Each application for admission is to be carefully reviewed and considered, in its entirety. Two of the primary factors considered in the admission process are performance on the LSAT and the applicant’s undergraduate grade point average. Other factors that are considered include degrees, writing ability as indicated on the LSAT writing sample and in the personal statement, recommendations, extracurricular activities, employment experience, demonstrated commitment to public and community service, leadership skills and experience, history of overcoming personal or professional challenges, and other academic, personal and professional achievements.

The criteria for admission to the part-time program are the same as for admission to the full-time program. Nonresident applicants receive the same consideration for admission as resident applicants.

AR 2-4.1: Pre-Admission Summer Trial (PAST)

Some applicants who do not meet the criteria for direct acceptance may be invited to participate in the Pre-Admission Summer Trial ("PAST") program. Applicants may not apply directly to participate in PAST. There is no assurance that any individual or any percentage of PAST program participants will be admitted to the School of Law after completing the PAST program. Completion of PAST carries no credit.

AR 2-5 Previous Work at Other Law Schools

Decisions cannot be made on applications reflecting previous law school work until the School of Law has received a complete official transcript (reflecting all work done), a letter from the Dean of the law school attended certifying that the applicant is in good standing and eligible to continue at that school, a copy of the LSDAS Report, and official certification of class rank. Decisions on applications may be conditioned upon receipt of certification that work for a current term has been completed with satisfactory grades.

 

AR 2-5.1: Criteria for Transfer and Visiting Applications

In deciding whether to grant admission, the School of Law will consider, among other factors, the reason the student desires to transfer, previous law school performance, and the extent of available space.

 

AR 2-5.2: Advanced Standing

Admission and advanced standing (i.e., the transfer of credit for work done elsewhere) are separate decisions. No more than 49 percent of the credit hours required for the degree may be transferred; typically, no more than 30 credits of advanced standing are granted to transfer applicants. No work completed more than five years before the award of the degree, and no work for which a grade lower than "C" was awarded, may be applied toward the minimum credit hours required for the School of Law degree.

 

AR 2-6 Acceptance

Applications for admission cannot be considered until all required documentation has been received. The terms and conditions upon which acceptance is made are contained in the letter of acceptance; terms and conditions may be varied only in writing by the Associate Dean and Director of Admissions. Matriculation cannot be completed until additional requirements have been met.

 

AR 2-6.1: Additional Requirements for Matriculation

Applicants who have been accepted to the School of Law must:

(a) Ensure that the School of Law has received final, official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, including evidence that a baccalaureate degree, or equivalent degree, has been awarded. To be official, transcripts must be furnished directly from the institution to the School of Law.

(b) Make one or more non-refundable seat deposits.

(c) Comply with any other condition stated in the letter of acceptance.

 

AR 2-6.2: Seat Deposits

Acceptance to the School of Law does not automatically guarantee that a seat will be reserved. Letters of acceptance set deadlines for submitting the required deposit or deposits. If an accepted applicant fails to make deposits by the time prescribed, another applicant may be offered a seat and given the opportunity to make a deposit.

 

AR 2-6.3: Application of Deposit Towards Tuition

Seat deposits are applied toward tuition for the fall semester for which acceptance is offered, provided that the depositor subsequently matriculates in that term. If the individual withdraws before the fall semester ends, deposits will be deemed non-refundable.

 

AR 2-7 Deferred Admission

Admission offers are valid only for the semester for which extended, and deferrals are rarely granted. Failure to register for the semester for which acceptance has been offered results in cancellation of the acceptance. Application for deferral must be made in writing, and will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances.

 

AR 3. Matriculation, Registration, and Graduation Requirements

AR 3-1 Matriculation

The School of Law offers a full-time and a part-time program leading to the Juris Doctor degree. Special programs for transfer students or students with extraordinary problems arising from a leave of absence may be established by the Associate Dean for Administration and Student Affairs. A student matriculates either in the full-time program, which requires students to devote substantially the whole of their working time to law study, or as a part-time student. All students who do not qualify for classification as full-time students are part-time students.

 

AR 3-1.1: Students Matriculated in Other Divisions of George Mason University

 

George Mason University undergraduates may not enroll in courses in the School of Law. Students currently matriculated in other graduate divisions of George Mason University (who are not also matriculated at the School of Law) will be permitted to enroll in courses at the School of Law only if they have written permission from the following: a faculty member at the division in which they are currently matriculated, the instructor teaching the School of Law course in which they wish to enroll (who may impose conditions or limitations other than those applicable to students matriculated in the School of Law), and the Director, Student Academic Affairs. The School of Law’s administration will not intercede with law school instructors, directly or indirectly, in behalf of graduate students who are not matriculated in the School of Law.

In classes with enrollment limits, law students have the first claim on all available spaces; space availability will be determined as of the last day of the add/drop period, and graduate students who have enrolled in a class may be required to withdraw in order to make space for a law student.

Credit from School of Law courses taken by graduate students enrolling under this section cannot be retroactively applied to a law degree program at George Mason University School of Law.

Unless other arrangements are made as specified below, a School of Law instructor allowing a graduate student to enroll under this section shall give the graduate student the same grade the instructor would have given a student matriculated in the School of Law who submitted the same work. Alternative grading arrangements can be made with the consent of the instructor and the School of Law’s Director, Student Academic Affairs. If arrangements are made for a graduate student enrolling under this section to receive a grade that reflects the grading curve in the graduate student’s school or department, the graduate student’s grade will not be included with the grades of students matriculated in the School of Law for purposes of computing mandatory law school curves. If a graduate student is graded differently from law students, then the course will not be listed on the graduate student’s transcript as a School of Law course, and will not carry a Law course number.

 

AR 3-1.2: Employment

Juris Doctor students may not be employed more than 20 hours per week in any week in which they are enrolled in more than twelve class hours. By remaining enrolled in more than twelve class hours after the last day to drop a course without academic approval, students certify that they are not employed more than 20 hours per week during the semester.

 

AR 3-1.3: Changing Status

A student may change from part-time to full-time, or from full-time to part-time, at periods that permit programs to be arranged in accord with sound educational practices, as determined by the Director, Student Academic Affairs, who must approve any such change in status.

 

AR 3-1.4: Maintenance of Matriculation

Maintenance of matriculation requires regular class participation and attendance, registration in the course of study required for the status and program the student has selected, successive registration for each fall and spring term of each academic year until study is completed, and compliance with all other relevant requirements.

 

AR 3-1.5: Leaves of Absence

Matriculation is canceled if a student fails to complete the work of a term or fails to register for a subsequent fall or spring term, unless the student has registered and been granted a leave of absence in writing. Leaves may be granted only by the Director, Student Academic Affairs, and only for unexpected hardship, or because of circumstances indicating that the best academic welfare of the student will be served by the leave. Leaves are granted only to those maintaining acceptable levels of academic performance. Failure to register in a timely fashion for courses for the term immediately following the leave of absence will result in cancellation of matriculation.

 

AR 3-2 Registration

A student is not registered until the student has completed all forms required for continued registration, the Office of Student Accounts has certified that appropriate arrangements have been made for settling the student’s account, and the Assistant Dean, Student Records has certified that the student has completed all registration requirements.

 

AR 3-2.1: Timeliness

Deadlines for registration are set by the Assistant Dean, Student Records.

 

AR 3-2.2: Adding and Dropping Courses

Students may add and drop courses in the first week of the term without penalty.

 

AR 3-2.3: Tuition Refunds and Liability

Students remain liable for the full tuition imposed less any refund specified even if the tuition has not yet been paid. Once the registration deadline has passed, tuition refunds for dropped hours or withdrawal from the School of Law will be available according to the following schedule:

  Refund Retention or Liability
(a) Prior to and during the first week of class: 100% 0%
(b) During the second week of class: 67% 33%
(c) During the third week of class: 33% 67%
(d) After the third week of class: 0% 100%

 

Requests for refunds outside this schedule must be made to the Office of Student Accounts in Fairfax.

 

AR 3-3 Graduation Requirements

The faculty may elect to candidacy for the degree of Juris Doctor only those students who have satisfied each and all of the requirements specified in these Regulations. Except as otherwise provided in these Regulations, full-time students must perform these requirements during three academic years and part-time students must perform them within four academic years. Academic work must satisfy program requirements in effect at the time the student seeks to be elected by the faculty to candidacy for the degree.

 

AR 3-3.1: Credit Hours for Juris Doctor Students

For students matriculating in 2006 and thereafter, the student shall present no fewer than 89 credit hours of completed work in courses taken not more than five years before the time of presentation.

All students must have earned at least 74 credit hours in classes that are regularly scheduled, meet in classrooms, and rely upon classroom exercises to carry the burden of instruction. No more than 15 of the credit hours taken at the School of Law may be graded "CR".

Additional credit hours may be required for specialty tracks. For purposes of this regulation, track thesis hours are considered "in classroom."

 

AR 3-3.2: Required Courses for Juris Doctor Students

Students must take the following required courses at the time designated:

For students matriculating prior to 2012:

Introduction to Legal Research, Writing and Analysis - first year

Contracts I - first year

Civil Procedure - first year

Torts - first year

Economic Foundations of Legal Studies - first year

Constitutional Law: The Founding (formerly The Founders’ Constitution) - first year

Trial-Level Writing - first year

Contracts II - first year

Criminal Law - first year for full-time students, second year for part-time students

Property - first year for full-time students, second year for part-time students

Professional Responsibility - before graduation

Appellate Writing - second year

Constitutional Law I: Structure of Government (formerly Constitutional Law I) - second year

Legal Drafting - second year


For students matriculating in 2012 and thereafter:

Introduction to Legal Research, Writing and Analysis - first year

Contracts I - first year

Civil Procedure - first year

Torts - first year

Economic Foundations of Legal Studies - first year

Legislation and Statutory Interpretation - first year

Trial-Level Writing - first year

Contracts II - first year

Criminal Law - first year for full-time students, second year for part-time students

Property - first year for full-time students, second year for part-time students

Professional Responsibility - before graduation

Appellate Writing - second year

Constitutional Law I: Structure of Government (formerly Constitutional Law I) - second year

Legal Drafting - second year


Permission to delay taking a required course until after the time specified above will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances and only with the written permission of the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

Students are required to pass all required courses. They may take a required course as many times as necessary to receive a passing grade. All attempts are reported on the transcript and factored into the student’s cumulative grade point average.

 

AR 3-3.3: Writing Requirement for Juris Doctor Students

Students who are not enrolled in a specialty track must take one graded 400- or 600 level seminar course requiring a major paper, and must also complete either an additional such seminar or a course designated as a writing course.

Writing requirements for specialty tracks are incorporated in the requirements for those tracks.

 

AR 3-3.4: Residence Requirement

The student shall satisfy the residence requirement set out in AR 3-5.

 

AR 3-3.5: Minimum GPA

The student shall present a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.33 for all course work taken for which a quality grade (i.e. a grade on the A+* through F scale) was awarded.

 

AR 3-3.6: Full Payment

The Office of Student Accounts must certify that the student has settled all outstanding accounts.

 

AR 3-3.7: Application for Graduation

The student must complete and file an application to graduate with the Assistant Dean, Student Records, by the date specified in the Academic Calendar. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

 

AR 3-3.8: Counseling Requirements for Juris Doctor Students

The student must attend all sessions required by the Career, Academic and Alumni Services Office.

 

AR 3-4 Academic Credit

The unit for measuring academic credit is the credit hour, which is equivalent to a semester hour. One credit hour is awarded for successfully completing a course that meets one hour per week for a semester during the regular academic year, or two hours per week during the summer session. Successful completion includes complying with all registration procedures, punctually and regularly preparing for and attending scheduled class sessions, and earning a passing grade for work completed.

 

AR 3-5 Residence Requirement

In order to earn the Juris Doctor degree, a student must have been in residence for a minimum of six semesters. A student is in residence for a semester during which the student earns (with a passing grade) at least 10 hours of academic credit. Credits earned during the summer session are not counted toward meeting the residence requirement. Transfer credits earned at another law school may substitute for a maximum of two semesters of residence.

 

AR 3-5.1: Waivers

Waivers from the residence requirement will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. To request a waiver, a student must submit a written petition to the Director, Student Academic Affairs promptly after encountering the hardship that forms the basis for the request. The Director, Student Academic Affairs may either deny the petition or refer it with a written favorable recommendation to the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee. That committee may either deny the petition or grant a waiver; in cases where a waiver is granted, the committee shall submit a written report to the full faculty at its next meeting.


AR 3-5.2: Computation of Residence Requirement

Only work for which a student is registered and in regular attendance can be counted in calculating residence credit. Only academic work for which a passing grade is received can be counted, and it can only be counted in the term during which the student passed the course.

 

AR 3-6 Courses and Course Loads

Only courses approved by the faculty will be counted toward meeting graduation requirements; provided, however, that the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may authorize a course to be given one time, and counted toward graduation, when necessary to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

 

AR 3-6.1: Course Selection

Except in special circumstances, as determined by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, all courses after the first year are open to both full-time and part-time students.

 

AR 3-6.2: Course Prerequisites

In addition to any prerequisites specifically stated in the catalog description of a course, it shall be a prerequisite to any elective course in the School of Law that the student has completed with a passing grade all of the course requirements specified for the first year of the Juris Doctor program, with the following exceptions:

(a) Part-time students enrolled in a course of study leading to the J.D. degree may take such courses as are required or permitted by their course of study;

(b) Full-time or part-time students admitted to the J.D. program with advanced standing equivalent to the first year of the J.D. program, as determined under AR 2-5, will be deemed to have complied with this requirement;

(c) Full-time or part-time students in the LL.M. program will be deemed to have complied with this requirement;

(d) Non-matriculants enrolled pursuant to AR 3-1.1;

(e) Students in the School of Law who have failed to achieve a passing grade in one or more of the course requirements for the first year of the J.D. program, under such terms and conditions as may be established by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee to govern such cases;

(f) In special circumstances, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may waive the usual prerequisites in writing.

 

AR 3-6.3: Independent Study

Each independent study course must be approved in writing by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who will require a written syllabus or similar detailed description of the content of the course and the means by which the student will be evaluated.

 

AR 3-6.4: Class Size

Courses designated as seminar courses shall not have more than 15 students without the permission of the instructor and in no event shall have more than 25 students.

 

AR 3-6.5: Course Loads for Juris Doctor Students After the First Year

When a student reaches the part of the course of study that includes elective courses, the following course loads apply:

(a) For a full-time student, the normal load is 13-15 credit hours. The minimum load to maintain this program is 10 credit hours. For students who are required to take 84 credit hours to graduate, the maximum is 16 credit hours; for students who are required to take 89 credit hours to graduate, the maximum is 17 credit hours.

(b) For a part-time student, the normal program is 10 to 12 credit hours, with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12.

 

AR 3-6.6: Approval of Less Than Minimum Loads

Approval of less than minimum loads requires the written permission of the Director, Student Academic Affairs, and permission will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances and in furtherance of desirable academic goals.

 

AR 3-6.7: Load in Last Term

A student is not required to take loads in the last term to complete graduation requirements in excess of the load necessary to complete credit hour and residence requirements for the degree.

 

AR 3-7 Academic Performance

Minimum academic performance is judged at the end of the spring semester. If, at the end of the spring semester, a matriculant’s cumulative grade point average is less than 2.33, the student is ineligible to continue; matriculation is canceled and the notation "Academically Ineligible to Continue" is entered on the student’s transcript. Such a student shall not again be matriculated except as follows.

 

AR 3-7.1: Readmission of Students with Academic Deficiencies

A student having a cumulative average of less than 2.33 at the end of the spring semester of the first year may be readmitted only by action of the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee. The committee will begin with the presumption that the student should not be readmitted, and will approve readmission only if the student provides convincing evidence that the student is likely to complete all requirements for graduation successfully.

The committee may require the student to repeat all first year courses, or impose such other conditions as the committee deems appropriate.

Where the committee conditions readmission on retaking a particular course or particular courses, the prior grade will be included in the student’s grade point average unless the committee provides otherwise. Where the committee conditions readmission on retaking the entire first year of studies, the prior grade will not be included in the student’s grade point average unless the committee provides otherwise. In any event, the student’s transcript will reflect the prior grade or grades.

If a student, other than one who has been on probation and has met the terms of probation, has a cumulative average of less than 2.33 at the end of the second year or any subsequent year, such a student shall not be readmitted except by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee upon written submission of extraordinary circumstances.

The committee's decisions are final. The only basis for reconsideration would be new and relevant information which, through no failure on the part of the student, was not available to the committee at the time of its decision. Requests for reconsideration must be made within 30 days of the committee's decision being communicated to the student.

 

AR 3-7.2: Academic Probation

Any readmitted student whose cumulative average is less than 2.33 shall be continued on Academic Probation. Academic Probation includes each of the following:

(a) Conditions may be imposed by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee or by the Director, Student Academic Affairs, such as a change in status (to full-time or part-time) or light load, corrective educational work, leave of absence, repeat of a course or courses, or of the entire previous term or year of studies, obtaining a specified grade point average by the conclusion of a specified term, and other conditions appropriate to the student’s circumstances.

(b) The academic program shall be monitored and approved by the Director, Student Academic Affairs, so long as the student remains on academic probation.

(c) The conditions shall include, in all cases, that a student obtain a cumulative average of not less than 2.33 by the end of the next academic year.

(d) Except with the written permission of the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee, the student may not participate in any extracurricular or co-curricular activity; provided, however, that the student may hold membership (but not an office) in a student organization.

 

AR 3-7.3: Fulfillment of Probation Conditions

When a student is readmitted on academic probation, compliance with the conditions of probation shall entitle the student to continue in matriculation. A determination by the Director, Student Academic Affairs that the student has failed to meet the conditions shall result in cancellation of matriculation. A student once readmitted shall not be readmitted a second time by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee. Only the full faculty can readmit such a student, and the faculty shall consider such petitions only when the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee has found extraordinary circumstances and recommends that the faculty readmit that student.

 

AR 3-8 Other Grounds for Sanction, Including Termination of Matriculation

Matriculation may be canceled, or other sanctions imposed, by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for misconduct (including, but not limited to, violation of the George Mason University School of Law Honor Code), demonstrated inability or unwillingness to engage seriously in law study, and infractions of academic or other regulations. Nothing contained in the George Mason University School of Law Honor Code shall limit the authority of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs over these matters.

 

AR 3-8.1: Duty to Report

A student who has reasonable grounds to believe that another student has engaged in any misconduct, violated the Honor Code, or broken any academic or other regulation, must report the suspected misconduct or violation to the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning.

 

AR 3-8.2: Jurisdiction

Honor Code referrals will be handled under the provisions of the Honor Code. As an initial matter, the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning will determine if the matter warrants an Administrative Hearing or an Honor Panel Hearing. The decision of the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning is final and may not be appealed.

 

AR 3-8.3: Written Work Must Be Available in Electronic Form

All written work submitted by a student must be available in electronic form (unless the work was handwritten), through the end of classes in the semester following that in which the work was submitted, so that it can be compared with electronic databases and/or submitted to plagiarism detection services. The School of Law may at any time submit a student's work without prior permission from the student. Individual instructors may require that written work be submitted in electronic form as well as printed form.

 

AR 3-9 Email and Listserv Information

It is expected that every student will regularly check his or her GMU email account, as it is used for all Mason Law communicaions, including emergency notices as well as academic, student organization, physical plant, and career information. Students are responsible for deadlines or other important information sent to their GMU email account.

 

AR 3-10 Student Records

Certain student academic information relevant to the operation of the School of Law is maintained by the Office of Student Records. For the purpose of this regulation, the term "student" includes all current and former students matriculated in the School of Law.

 

AR 3-10.1: Confidentiality

Dissemination of student records is constrained by law, and controlled by procedures established by the Assistant Dean, Student Records. Students who wish to have information in their own student records released to someone other than themselves or others legally entitled to receive the information must provide the School of Law with written permission to release the information.

 

AR 3-10.2: Access by Students

Except as indicated below, students may review their student records and the census information they have supplied. The following information is not available for student review:

(a) Documents excluded by law.

(b) Financial records of parents.

(c) Information for which the student has signed a waiver of access, such as letters of recommendation.

 

AR 3-10.3: Inspection

A student wishing to inspect or copy information from his or her student records in the Office of Student Records shall submit a written, signed request to the Assistant Dean, Student Records. The request will be granted and access afforded within 45 days after the Assistant Dean, Student Records, has received the request.

 

AR 3-10.4: Challenges

If a student wishes to contest the content of their student records, or their disclosure or non-disclosure, the student shall provide a written challenge to the Assistant Dean, Student Records, who will rule on the contest within a reasonable time.

 

AR 3-11 ABA Standards

As an ABA-accredited law school, George Mason University School of Law is subject to the ABA Standards for Approval of Law School. The Standards may be found at: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/standards.html

 

AR 3-11.1: Compliance

Any student at the law school who wishes to bring a complaint involving a significant problem that directly impacts the school’s program of legal education and the school’s compliance with the ABA Standards must submit a complaint in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The written complaint must describe in detail the behavior, program, or process complained of and demonstrate how it implicates the law school’s program of legal education and the school’s compliance with a particular standard. The written complaint must provide the name of the student submitting the complaint and the student’s contact information (home and email addresses and phone number). Except in extraordinary circumstances, a complaint must be submitted prior to the end of classes in the semester following that in which the alleged problem became known. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will ordinarily respond to the complaint within twenty-one business days of acknowledging receipt. Any decision communicated by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is final.

 

AR 3-12 Enrollment in Courses at Another Law School

Any student desiring to attend another law school, including a summer law program offered by another law school, must make a written request and receive written approval from the Director, Student Academic Affairs using a permission to visit request form available from the Law Records Office.

(1) All courses a student wishes to take at another law school must be pre-approved by the Assistant Dean, Student Records prior to the start of the visiting semester. To receive preapproval students must submit a course description for each course they wish to take. Course descriptions must include a summary of the course content, the credit value of the course, and information about how the course is graded (i.e., letter grade or pass/fail credit). In some cases, syllabi information may also be required. If the course is needed to fulfill a graduation, concentration, and/or track requirement, the student must note this with the course description(s) submitted to the Assistant Dean, Student Records.

(2) An official transcript must be sent to the Assistant Dean, Student Records at the conclusion of each semester at the visiting institution. Transfer credit will only be awarded at the School of Law for pre-approved courses in which the student receives a grade of C or better. In cases where the grade awarded is on a pass/fail basis, transfer credit will only be accepted if the visiting school provides a written certification that a grade of Pass on their grade scale is equivalent to a C or better. A maximum of 30 credits will be accepted for coursework completed outside of the School of Law. Such credits will be considered ungraded for purposes of computing the student’s GPA in the School of Law, but do not apply against the “CR” cap articulated in AR 3-3.1.

(3) Students visiting elsewhere during their final semester must complete their coursework and examinations prior to the established School of Law graduation date for that semester. Completion of the coursework and/or exams later than that date will result in the delay of graduation until the following semester.


AR 3-13 Enrollment in University Courses Outside the School of Law

A matriculant in the School of Law generally may not earn credit toward a degree granted by the School of Law through enrollment in University courses outside the School of Law, with the following exceptions:

(1) Department of Economics Programs. A matriculant in the School of Law who has been accepted into a degree program with the Department of Economics may substitute a specified number of credits in the Department of Economics for credits required to qualify for a degree in the School of Law, as follows:

J.D./Ph.D. in Economics: 9 hours

J.D./M.A. in Economics: 6 hours

LL.M. in L&E/Ph.D. in Economics: 6 hours

LL.M. in L&E/M.A. in Economics: 5 hours

Academic credit awarded in the School of Law under this provision will be considered ungraded credit for purposes of computing GPA in the School of Law. As a general rule, academic credit awarded under this provision may be substituted only for unrestricted electives in the School of Law. However by special permission granted upon an individual student’s application, the Director, Student Academic Affairs may permit up to 3 hours of credit in the Department of Economics to be substituted for the required School of Law course in Economic Foundations of Legal Studies, where no legal educational purpose would be served by requiring the individual student to complete that required course in the School of Law; such special permissions will not increase the total amount of cross-credit permitted under this regulation.

(2) All other cases. Other matriculants in the School of Law must apply to and obtain the written permission of the Director, Student Academic Affairs in order to obtain academic credit in the School of Law for courses taken in other departments or schools of the University. Such applications are disfavored, and will be granted only upon the ground that such action is essential to the satisfactory completion of the student’s professional legal education. When permitted, such credit will be considered ungraded credit for purposes of computing GPA in the School of Law.

 

AR 3-14 Foreign Study for Academic Credit

(a) Students may be granted academic credit for study as a visiting student at a foreign institution, under the following conditions:

(1) The student must submit an application for individual study at a foreign institution in such form as specified by the Assistant Dean, Student Records, for approval by the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

(2) The application will be approved only if the student’s proposed course of study:

(i) provides an educational experience consistent with the objectives of the Juris Doctor program that is not available as a practical matter by residential study at the School of Law;

(ii) includes courses, materials, and methods of instruction and evaluation that are equivalent to those employed at the School of Law; and

(iii) provides assurance that the student’s educational objectives are likely to be met by the proposed course of study, and that the student’s performance may be evaluated on a basis comparable to work at the School of Law.

(3) The amount of academic credit to be awarded will be determined by the Director, Student Academic Affairs, based upon equivalence to offerings at the School of Law, and subject to such terms and conditions, including demonstration of the student’s satisfactory performance, as may be set by the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

(4) For purposes of computing the student’s GPA in the School of Law, such academic credit will be ungraded. For all other purposes, such academic credit will also be treated as transfer credit.

(5) Any approval within the School of Law will be subject to any necessary approvals by the ABA or other accreditation authorities.

(b) Students studying for the Juris Doctor may not earn more than one-sixth of the total academic credit hours required to graduate by foreign study. Students studying for an LL.M. degree are ineligible for academic credit for foreign study.

(c) From time to time, the faculty may designate certain foreign institutions or programs as

(1) presumptively qualified,

(2) permissible, or

(3) presumptively unqualified.

The Assistant Dean, Student Records, shall maintain a list of such institutions or programs.

 

AR 4. Course Work and Evaluation of Academic Performance

AR 4-1 Class Attendance

Regular and punctual attendance and class preparation are required to earn academic credit.

 

AR 4-1.1: Absences

If a student is absent for any reason for more than 20 percent of the sessions of a course, the student is not eligible for credit in that course. A student who is not present for at least 75 percent of a session of the course is absent from that session.

 

AR 4-1.2: Substituted Work

In cases that the instructor believes have merit, the instructor may permit the substitution of work equivalent to class attendance if the work is designed to achieve approximately the purpose of class attendance. Substitution is solely at the instructor’s discretion, and no instructor is compelled to permit it. Attendance credit for substituted work cannot exceed 10 percent of scheduled class sessions.

 

AR 4-1.3: Enforcement

It shall be an honor code violation, and a violation of these academic regulations, for a student to sit for an exam in a course (or otherwise receive credit for a course) knowing that he or she has not met the attendance requirement.

 

AR 4-1.4: Instructor Attendance Records

Instructors may monitor class attendance by any method they deem appropriate including, but not limited to, circulating a sign-in sheet, calling roll, or visually surveying the class.

Prior to the final examination or assigning a final grade in any course, the instructor will provide the Assistant Dean, Student Records, with the name of any student who the instructor believes is out of compliance with AR 4-1.1 (and if applicable AR 4-1.2). The Assistant Dean, Student Records, will then inform the student, in writing, that he or she is not eligible to receive credit in the instructor’s course (and so may not sit for the final exam, if applicable).

 

AR 4-2 Course Policies

AR 4-2.1: Binding Effect

Instructors may adopt policies regarding the conduct of the course that are reasonably calculated to provide for its orderly conduct. Such policies may include, but are not limited to, prohibitions or limitations on computer and internet usage during class.

AR 4-2.2: Recording Class Sessions or Examinations

Unless expressly permitted in writing by an instructor, no portion of a class session or an examination may be preserved by means of a recording device (such as an audio recording device or a camera).

 

AR 4-3 Basis of Evaluation

Unless otherwise specifically and expressly provided by the faculty, all courses must include an evaluation by examination or by a substantial writing assignment.

 

AR 4-3.1: Examinations and Writing Assignments

Grading for courses in the first year ordinarily is done on the basis of an examination. Other courses may be designated as writing or examination courses, or some combination of the two, either by the faculty or, in the absence of a decision by the faculty then by individual instructors.

Unless the faculty has determined that a course will be graded by some other means than an examination, the course will be presumed to be an examination course. Individual faculty members who decide to add a writing component to the grade, or to substitute a writing requirement for an examination, shall notify the students prior to the end of the first week of the term. Courses in which writing assignments provide a substantial basis for the grade shall be designated as writing courses.

The Assistant Dean, Student Records, shall be notified of the grading method sufficiently in advance to schedule examinations. In courses designated as writing courses, a writing grade (which may or may not be the same as the final grade) shall be submitted to the Assistant Dean, Student Records for all students matriculating prior to Fall 2010. (The writing GPA (WGPA) was eliminated effective with the Fall 2010 incoming class. Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2010 will continue to have their WGPA computed.)

 

AR 4-3.2: Class Participation

In courses that emphasize oral skills (e.g., trial or appellate advocacy), class participation may constitute a substantial portion of the final course grade. In courses that are evaluated primarily by written examination and/or papers, class participation adjustments ordinarily will be limited to a discretionary single-increment adjustment either upward or downward (e.g., from B to B+ or from A- to B+).

In either case, students shall be notified no later than the end of the first week of classes of the degree to which oral performance or class discussion may affect the final course grade. In default of such notification, class participation adjustments shall be limited to a single increment, and students should presume that the instructor retains the discretion to make such single-increment adjustments. Instructors, other than regular full-time faculty members, must receive advance written approval to deviate from the one-increment adjustment maximum, either by faculty designation of the particular course, or from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for a particular offering of the course.

 

AR 4-4 Examinations

To the extent practicable, all examinations are to be graded anonymously. Examinations must be taken at the time and place noted on the examination schedule, unless an exception is made pursuant to AR 4-4.1; provided, however, that the Assistant Dean, Student Records, may establish rules allowing students to take examinations during the make-up period in cases where students would otherwise be required to begin more than one examination in less than a 24 hour period.

 

AR 4-4.1: Permission to Delay Sitting For an Examination

Excuses and requests for permission not to sit for an examination when scheduled must be presented, with appropriate documentation, to the Director, Student Academic Affairs. Except in emergencies, such requests should be presented no later than two weeks before the date of the examination. Valid excuses include only:

(a) Illness of or injury to the student, attested by a physician’s certificate.

(b) Attendance at the funeral of a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or sibling.

(c) Court attendance required by legal process.

(d) Other extraordinary circumstances as determined by the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

The Assistant Dean, Student Records, shall specify the date and time when a student with an excused absence may sit for the examination.

 

AR 4-4.2: Unexcused Absence from Examination

A student who is absent from a final examination without permission from the Director, Student Academic Affairs shall be given a course grade of "F" or "NC", whichever is appropriate.

 

AR 4-5 Grades

Upon completion of a course, students are graded on an A+* through F scale unless the faculty has designated the course as a CR/NC course, or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs specifically authorizes a grade other than one on the A+* through F scale. When so authorized, CR indicates work equivalent to a C or better on the A+* through F scale. The grade of NC indicates work that falls below the equivalent of a C on the A+* through F scale and does not qualify for credit towards the Juris Doctor degree.

 

AR 4-5.1: Quality Points

Quality points are awarded as follows:

Letter Points
A+* 4.33
A+ 4.33
A 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.00
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33
D 1.00
D- 0.67
F 0.00

Other grades and notations which may be found on student transcripts, but which are excluded from grade point average calculation, include:

Notation Explanation
CR Credit
NC No Credit
IN Incomplete
AU Audit (no credit granted)
W Withdrawn

 

AR 4-5.2: Late Work

A student may complete assigned work, including a final examination, after the end of the semester only if the student has first received the written permission of the instructor and the Director, Student Academic Affairs. If permission has been granted to complete the missed work, the temporary notation in lieu of grade, "IN", is entered and is replaced by the appropriate grade upon completion of that work. If permission is not granted to complete the late work, the student receives an "F" or "NC", whichever applies. Late work must be completed according to a timetable approved in writing by the instructor and the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

 

AR 4-5.3: Passing Grades

All School of Law grades on the letter scale except "F" are passing, and credit is earned for the work completed with such grades. Credit is also awarded for grades of "CR." Graded credit earned elsewhere is eligible for credit at the School of Law only if it was earned with a grade of "C" or better, and such credit is treated as ungraded in computing grade point averages at the School of Law. Neither academic credit nor residence credit is awarded for work receiving an "F" or "NC."

 

AR 4-5.4: Withdrawal

"W" is entered in lieu of a grade as a final academic disposition of a course upon withdrawal approved in writing by the Director, Student Academic Affairs.

 

AR 4-5.5: Audit

The notation "AU" is entered to indicate that a matriculated student has registered and is permitted to attend a course for which neither academic credit nor a grade will be awarded. Permission in writing of the instructor and the Director, Student Academic Affairs is required.

 

AR 4-5.6: Academic Average

A student’s cumulative average is calculated by dividing the total number of quality points earned by the total number of quality hours (i.e. credit hours for which grades "A+"* through "F" have been given). The Assistant Dean, Student Records, prepares cumulative averages at the end of each term. End-of-term cumulative averages reflect only the work completed to the end of the given term (some work may be in progress and some may be incomplete). The Assistant Dean, Student Records, updates the relative standing of various cumulative averages for all students, including the graduating class, after the end of each fall and spring semester.

 

AR 4-5.7: Writing Grade Point Averages

A separate writing GPA is calculated for each student matriculating prior to Fall 2010, based on writing grades received in the required writing courses (Introduction to Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis, Trial-Level Writing, Appellate Writing, and Legal Drafting), as well as in seminars, track thesis courses, and any other course designated as a writing course by the faculty or the instructor.

 

AR 4-5.8: Mandatory Curves

(a) The mean grade for all required courses listed in AR 3-3.2 (exclusive of Introduction to Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis, Trial-Level Writing, Appellate Writing, and Legal Drafting), may range from 3.20 to 3.30.

(b) Mean grade ranges for Introduction to Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis, Trial-Level Writing, Appellate Writing, and Legal Drafting, will be established by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

(c) The mean grade for upper level elective courses with 50 or more students may range from 3.15 to 3.35.

(d) The mean grade for upper level elective courses with fewer than 50 students may range from 3.05 to 3.45.

(e) Faculty members may not submit grades in which the mean is outside the designated range without first submitting a written justification to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and obtaining written permission from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

 

AR 4-6 Repeated Course

Except where these Regulations provide otherwise, either expressly or by necessary implication, a student may not repeat a course except as follows:

(a)   A student may repeat a course if the law school faculty has specifically and expressly approved the course as eligible to be taken more than once with the approval of the course instructor.  

(b)  In extraordinary circumstances, the Director, Student Academic Affairs, may permit a student to repeat a course.

In such cases, the prior grade will be reflected on the student’s transcript and included in the student’s grade point average.

 

AR 4-7 Review of Performance

Instructors are expected to be available for reasonable periods to meet with individual students to discuss their performance in the course. The School of Law controls access to all examination papers and does not return them to examinees.

 

AR 4-8 Grade Appeals

Grade appeals shall be handled in the following manner:

 

AR 4-8.1: Initial Appeal

Student questions about grades should be directed to the course instructor. A student may challenge a grade by submitting written objections to the instructor. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a grade appeal must be initiated by the student prior to the end of classes in the semester following that in which the course was taken. An instructor who receives such objections will review the examination or other basis for the grade and notify the student in writing of the outcome of the review within a reasonable time.

The instructor may raise or lower a grade only with the approval of the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee. That committee will approve a grade change only after determining that the original grade was clearly erroneous because of (a) clerical error, or (b) defective construction or evaluation of the examination.

At least one week prior to the first regularly scheduled faculty meeting of each semester, the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee must provide every voting member of the faculty with a report either (a) describing in detail the circumstances and reasons for every change of grade approved during the prior semester, or since the last report to the faculty, or (b) stating that no grade changes had been approved. Unless for good cause, this report shall not disclose the identities of any students whose grades were changed.

 

AR 4-8.2: Appeal to the Administration

In order to further appeal a grade after the instructor’s review described in AR 4-8.1, a student must submit to the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning a detailed written petition stating why the student believes the grade is clearly erroneous. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the petition must be submitted to the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning within 60 days of the student being notified of the outcome of the instructor’s review. After consulting with the instructor, the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning may either deny the petition or determine that the petition should be given further consideration.

 

AR 4-8.3: Referral to Faculty Committee

If the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning determines under AR 4-8.2 that a petition should be given further consideration, he or she will submit the petition, along with his or her own written evaluation of the merits of the petition, to

(a) the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee, if that committee comprises at least three tenured members of the faculty, or

(b) in case the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee does not comprise at least three tenured members of the faculty, then to an ad hoc committee of three tenured members of the faculty elected by the faculty.

 

AR 4-8.4: Action of Faculty Committee

After consulting with the instructor, the faculty committee may either deny the petition or, if the committee concludes that the grade is clearly erroneous, recommend such relief as the committee deems appropriate. In all cases where the committee recommends that relief be granted, the committee must within seven days provide every voting member of the faculty with

(a) the student’s petition;

(b) the statement of the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning required under AR 4-8.3; and

(c) a written committee report that provides a detailed explanation of the committee’s recommendation.

Unless for good cause, this written report shall not disclose the student petitioner’s identity.

 

AR 4-8.5: Action of Full Faculty

If the committee recommends that relief be granted, the faculty shall consider the petition at its next meeting. Except as provided in AR 4-8.1, the grade assigned by the instructor may never be changed except by a vote of the faculty to accept the committee’s recommendation for relief. The faculty shall not consider petitions that have been denied by the committee.


AR 4-9 Honors

Those eligible for the Juris Doctor degree shall be considered for honors according to the following criteria.

Summa Cum Laude. The top one percent of the class are eligible to be considered for this honor. Those eligible include those whose grades are within this range either at the end of their penultimate semester or at the end of their final semester. This honor is awarded only at the discretion of the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee, which solicits faculty input about individual candidates and then applies the following standard:

Through demonstrated analytical ability, clarity of written expression, and maturity of judgment, this student has exhibited the capacity eventually to assume an important leadership position in our profession.

Magna Cum Laude. Absent special circumstances (as determined by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee on the basis of faculty input), the top ten percent of the class (based on GPA either through the penultimate semester or the final semester) receive this honor. In doubtful cases, the Committee applies the following standard:

Through demonstrated analytical ability, clarity of written expression, and maturity of judgment, this student has shown the promise of a distinguished career at the bar.

Cum Laude. Absent special circumstances (as determined by the Academic Standing and Student Affairs Committee on the basis of faculty input), the top twenty percent of the class (based on GPA through the penultimate semester) and the top twenty-five percent of the class (based on GPA through the final semester) receive this honor.

Honors determinations that are made prior to graduation will be announced at the commencement ceremony.