Course Requirements

Determination of Credit Hours for Coursework

Students are required to complete 87 credit hours to graduate. Generally, each hour of classroom credit is based on 60 minutes of direct faculty instruction. For students in the traditional program, the academic semester includes 14 weeks of direct instruction, followed generally by two weeks for final examinations. For students in the SCALE program (Southwestern's two year accelerated program), each credit hour, with any exceptions noted below, is based on 14 hours of instruction. 

In each program, each unit of credit is equivalent to 14 hours and totals 840 minutes of instruction. For each hour of classroom instruction, students shall spend, on average, a minimum of two hours (based on a 60-minute hour) on out-of-class work. For example in a 3 unit course, meeting a total of 3 hours a week, the student would be expected to spend a minimum of 6 hours a week on out of class work during the semester. In SCALE, a 3 unit course may meet 4 hours a week to accommodate the different structure of the term. In this instance, the student would be expected to spend a minimum of 8 hours a week on out of class work during the term.

In each program, with exceptions noted below, a credit hour totals 840 minutes of instruction. For each credit hour of classroom instruction, students shall spend, on average, a minimum of two hours (based on a 60-minute hour) on out-of-class work during the semester. During the summer session, each hour of classroom credit is based on 60 minutes of direct faculty instruction over 7 weeks, followed by .5 weeks for final examinations.  

The Law School faculty, upon the recommendation of the Curriculum Committee, establishes the number of credit hours allotted for each course. To assess whether a course proposal meets these requirements, the Curriculum Committee normally looks at the number of credit hours suggested in the course proposal; and reviews the course syllabus, reading assignments, and assessments to determine compliance with the accreditation requirements for instruction time and out-of-class preparation time. If it appears the contact hours or out-of-class preparation time may be insufficient, the Curriculum Committee will request that the course proposal or syllabus be modified to comply with the applicable standards, prior to approval.

The Vice Dean's Office is responsible for monitoring the enforcement of this policy, including periodic review of course syllabi, readings, and other assignments to ensure compliance with ABA Accreditation Standard 510. In no event, shall a course be approved that does not meet the minimum of 700 minutes of instruction per credit hour, or is not the equivalent amount of work with an appropriate combination of in-class instruction, direct faculty instruction, and out-of-class student work as required by ABA Standard 510.

Professional Skills and Upper Division Writing Requirements

Southwestern has a Professional Skills Requirement pursuant to ABA Standard 302. This requirement may be fulfilled by a student taking a course which has been specifically approved and designated as meeting the professional skills requirement. This requirement applies to students who entered law school PRIOR to August 2016. 

Southwestern also has an Upper Division Writing Requirement for graduation from the law school. This requirement may be fulfilled by a student taking either a seminar or a course which has been specifically approved and designated as meeting the writing requirement. Successful completion of a Note or Comment of publishable quality in Law Review or successful completion of the Law Journal Seminar will also satisfy the writing requirement. Since instruction of this kind requires a low student-faculty ratio and out-of-classroom supervision of the students' research and writing, the seminar/course enrollment will normally be limited to 20 students.

The same course cannot be used to satisfy both the Professional Skills and the Upper Division Writing requirements.

Southwestern has an Experiential Requirement pursuant to ABA Standard 303.  Students must take and receive a minimum of six credit hours of course work that has been specifically approved and designated as meeting the experiential requirement. The most current list of courses which meet the experiential requirement for the 2017-2018 academic year may be viewed online through WebAdvisor at the MySWLAW portal. When searching for sections, students should choose the term along with “EXP Reqmt” in the drop-down menu under Course Levels.

Overview of courses that fulfill these requirements:

  • To see a list of Professional Skills Requirement courses taught in the last three years, click here or choose Professional Skills/Lawyering Skills/Simulation from the Filter by Area of Law drop-down list on the courses page.
  • To see a list of Upper Division Writing Requirement courses taught in the last three years, click here or choose the Seminars/Writing Requirement checkbox on the courses page.
  • To see a list of Experiential Requirement courses offered in the last three years click here or choose the Experiential Requirement checkbox on the courses page.

Note: Course selection is subject to change. Some elective courses are not offered every year, and seminar topics vary from year to year.