ABA Accreditation Standard 304

Standard 304. COURSE AND RESIDENCE CREDIT.

(a) An academic year shall consist of not fewer than 130 days on which classes are regularly scheduled in the law school, extending into not fewer than eight calendar months. Time for reading periods, examinations, or other activities may not be counted for this purpose.

(b) A law school shall require, as a condition for graduation, successful completion of a course of study in residence of not fewer than 56,000 minutes of instruction time, including external study meeting the requirements of Standard 305, extending over not fewer than six academic semesters.

(c) To receive residence credit for an academic semester, a student shall be enrolled for not fewer than eight credit hours. In order to graduate in six semesters a student shall be enrolled in each semester for not fewer than ten credit hours and must receive credit for nine credit hours. If a student fails to receive credit for the specified number of hours, the student may receive residence credit only in the ratio that the hours enrolled in or in which credit was received, as the case may be, bear to the minimum specified.

(d) Pro rata residence credit may be awarded for study during a summer session on a basis that fairly apportions a student's effort to the usual residence period.

(e) Regular and punctual class attendance is necessary to satisfy residence credit and credit hour requirements.

(f) A student may not engage in employment for more than 20 hours per week in any semester in which the student is enrolled in more than 12 class hours.

(g) A law school shall not grant credit for study by correspondence. A law school may grant credit for distance learning study in accordance with such temporary or permanent guidelines as are authorized by the Council.

Interpretation 304-1:
This Standard establishes minimum periods of academic instruction as a condition for graduation. The Standard accommodates deviations from the conventional semester and quarter modes by permitting such arrangements as mini or interim terms. (August 1996; August 1997; August 1999)

Interpretation 304-2:
In a joint degree program between a law school and another school or college:

(1) Not fewer than 45,000 minutes of the 56,000 minutes of study required for a J.D. degree shall be in courses in residence at the law school;

(2) The remaining 11,000 minutes of study may be in courses outside the law school if all of the hours applied in satisfaction of the requirements for the J.D. degree are in studies or courses that satisfy the requirements of Standards 305 and 306 and have been expressly approved by the law school as appropriate for its educational program. (August 1996)

Interpretation 304-3:
Credit for a J.D. degree shall only be given for course work taken after the student has matriculated in a law school. A law school may not grant credit for work taken in special pre-admission programs. Students enrolled in a special pre-admission program may not be considered as matriculated law students since their prospective admission to law school is conditional, among other matters, upon their successful completion of the pre-admission program. (August 1996)

Interpretation 304-4:
A law school may permit students to graduate in fewer than six academic semesters by earning not more than one semester, or one quarter of residence credit for taking summer courses, if (i) the student meets the class hour requirements of this Standard; (ii) the student meets the employment limitations of this Standard; and (iii) the summer instructional programs in which the student enrolls total no fewer than 65 semester days, or 44 quarter days, over two or more summers during which classes are regularly scheduled in the law school. (August 1996; July 2000)

Interpretation 304-5:
A semester hour of credit requires not fewer than 700 minutes of instruction time, exclusive of time for an examination. A quarter hour of credit requires not fewer than 450 minutes of instruction time, exclusive of time for an examination. To achieve the required total of 56,000 minutes of instruction time, a law school must require at least 80 semester hours of credit, or 124 quarter hours of credit.

Law schools that use semester hours of credit may find the following examples useful. If such a law school offers classes in units of 50 minutes per credit, it can provide 700 minutes of instruction in 14 classes. If such a law school offers classes in units of 55 minutes per class, it can provide 700 minutes of instruction in 13 classes. If such a law school offers classes in units of 75 minutes per class, it can provide 700 minutes of instruction in 10 classes.

Law schools that use quarter hours of credit may find the following examples useful. If such a law school offers classes in units of 50 minutes per class, it can provide 450 minutes of instruction in 9 classes. If such a law school offers classes in units of 65 minutes per class, it can provide 450 minutes of instruction in 8 classes. If such a law school offers classes in units of 75 minutes per class, it can provide 450 minutes of instruction in 6 classes.

In all events, the 130-day requirement of Standard 304(a) and the 56,000-minute requirement of Standard 304(b) should be understood as separate and independent requirements. (August 1999)

Interpretation 304-6:
The number of class days in an academic year is the number of days on which classes are regularly scheduled throughout the day. Days on which classes are not scheduled throughout the day are not a "class day" for full-time students. (August 1996)

Interpretation 304-7:
A law school shall demonstrate that it has adopted and enforces policies insuring that individual students satisfy the requirements of this Standard, including the implementation of policies relating to class scheduling, attendance, limitation on employment, and time devoted to job interviewing. The law school also shall take steps to control absenteeism by students involved in placement interviewing. (August 1996)

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