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J.D. Curriculum and Coursework

Full-time J.D. Program

Our full-time J.D. program combines practical skills, theoretical knowledge and comprehensive mentoring with a unique mission that inspires our commitments to social justice, service, relationships and professional ethics.

Contact

Admissions Office

Phone Number
(651) 962-4895

J.D. Curriculum

Graduation Requirements

First Year

Full-time J.D. students complete their first course, Moral Reasoning for Lawyers: Foundations I, during orientation. During the fall semester, students take four courses, including Lawyering Skills I, the first two classes of our nationally recognized legal research, analysis and writing program. First year students take six courses in the spring, including Lawyering Skills II and Foundations II and III.

This structure allows you to address more intellectually challenging problems and reduces the number of final exams. To ensure feedback on progress, each course includes a graded midterm examination or evaluation.

Fall Courses (16 credits required)

  • LAWS 600 Civil Procedure
  • LAWS 610 Contracts
  • LAWS 620 Lawyering Skills I
  • LAWS 635 Torts
  • LAWS 640 Moral Reasoning for Lawyers: Foundations I (orientation week only)

Spring Courses (15 credits required)

  • LAWS 605 Constitutional Law
  • LAWS 615 Criminal Law
  • LAWS 625 Lawyering Skills II
  • LAWS 630 Property
  • LAWS 641* Serving Clients Well: Foundations II (mid-January)
  • LAWS 642 Business Basics for Lawyers: Foundations III (mid- to late spring semester)

1L Sample Schedule

Subject to change. The University of St. Thomas reserves the right to amend the degree requirements and to add to or delete from the list of courses that satisfy the degree requirements at any time.

Law student studying in law library

Second and Third Years

As an upper-level student, you will take 14 credits of required courses and 43 credits of electives. Two of the required courses (Lawyering Skills III and Professional Responsibility) must be taken in your second year. You also are required to complete a significant research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.

Required second-year courses (6 credits)

  • LAWS 715: Lawyering Skills III
  • LAWS 725: Professional Responsibility
  • LAWS 930: Mentor Externship

Other required upper-level courses (8 credits)

  • LAWS 700: Business Associations
  • LAWS 705: Evidence
  • LAWS 933: Mentor Externship

Subject to change. The University of St. Thomas reserves the right to amend the degree requirements and to add to or delete from the list of courses that satisfy the degree requirements at any time.

Stack of Law Books

Additional Requirements

Students must complete 88 credit hours and fulfill the non-course requirements below to receive a J.D.

Mentor Externship

St. Thomas pairs each law student with a professional mentor each year of law school through our Mentor Externship Program. The overall focus of the program is on building relationships and helping students gain experience in the legal profession. First year students are required to log 18 hours of fieldwork. Second- and third-year students complete 30 hours of fieldwork per year while also completing a required one credit seminar each year. The mentor externship program

Experiential Learning

Students must take six credits of “experiential learning” coursework to graduate. Serving Clients Well (LAWS 641) and Mentor Externship I and II (LAWS 930 and 933) provide three of the six credits needed to fulfill the “experiential learning” requirement before graduation. The other 3 credits can come through a legal clinic, externship or another approved course with practical elements like negotiation, trial advocacy, etc.

Upper-level Writing Requirement

Each student must demonstrate competence by producing a paper or two related papers under the supervision of a professor. To meet the upper-level writing requirement, the paper must reflect substantial legal research and reflect critical analysis. See our Academic Policy Manual for more information (section III-A-3).

Public Service Program

Lawyers are in a strong position to effect positive institutional and social change. As such, we expect and encourage all law students to explore a variety of ways their interests, skills and talents can best serve the public‎‎. As a requirement for graduation, all J.D. students must complete 50 hours of public service during law school. The Public Service Program

Legal clinic students take oath

Joint Degrees & Concentrations

  • J.D. + MBA: Master of Business Administration
  • J.D. + M.S.W.: Master of Social Work
  • J.D. + M.A.: Master of Arts in Catholic Studies
  • J.D. + LL.M. or Concentration: Org. Ethics & Compliance
  • J.D. + MBA: Master of Business Administration

    The J.D./MBA program, offered in partnership with the St. Thomas Opus College of Business, builds students’ business acumen and understanding of the legal framework in which organizations operate.

    Explore Master of Business Administration

    J.D. + M.S.W.: Master of Social Work

    The J.D./M.S.W. program provides students with both a social and legal perspective to meet the social work and legal challenges in many areas of professional practice.

    Explore Master of Social Work

    J.D. + M.A.: Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

    The J.D./MA program fosters the intellectual, spiritual and personal growth of students and diversifies their career opportunities.

    Explore Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

    J.D. + LL.M. or Concentration: Org. Ethics & Compliance

    The J.D./LL.M. dual-degree program equips students with the skills to become stewards of corporate behavior and help organizations navigate industry and government regulations. For those who want more depth and a note on their transcript and resume, we have a concentration in compliance.

    Explore Organizational Ethics and Compliance

    J.D. + MBA: Master of Business Administration

    The J.D./MBA program, offered in partnership with the St. Thomas Opus College of Business, builds students’ business acumen and understanding of the legal framework in which organizations operate.

    Explore Master of Business Administration

    J.D. + M.S.W.: Master of Social Work

    The J.D./M.S.W. program provides students with both a social and legal perspective to meet the social work and legal challenges in many areas of professional practice.

    Explore Master of Social Work

    J.D. + M.A.: Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

    The J.D./MA program fosters the intellectual, spiritual and personal growth of students and diversifies their career opportunities.

    Explore Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

    J.D. + LL.M. or Concentration: Org. Ethics & Compliance

    The J.D./LL.M. dual-degree program equips students with the skills to become stewards of corporate behavior and help organizations navigate industry and government regulations. For those who want more depth and a note on their transcript and resume, we have a concentration in compliance.

    Explore Organizational Ethics and Compliance
    Mentor poses with mentee

    A Mentor for Every Law Student

    Mentor Externship Program

    Our award-winning Mentor Externship Program pairs you, each year of law school, with a lawyer or judge working in your area of interest who will help you gain work experience, develop relationships and navigate the legal field.

    A National Leader in Practical Training

    St. Thomas Law’s practical training opportunities allow students to learn through experiences, build their resumes and develop professional relationships. The school was ranked second in the nation for practical training in 2023 by National Jurist.

    Clinic discussion during class

    Legal Clinics

    Legal clinics offer law students the opportunity to tackle legal issues and work with clients while working alongside faculty experts.

    Legal Clinics
    Law Student Extern At Thomson Reuters

    Legal Externships

    Off-campus legal externships provide hands-on professional experience and accelerate a student’s substantive understanding of the law.

    Legal Externships

    The Bar Exam

    St. Thomas Law is committed to a 100% bar exam pass rate for all its graduates. Before graduation, the Office of Academic Achievement supports students in the classroom and as they prepare for the bar. After graduation, our Office of Career and Professional Development assists students through the one-year J.D. Compass program, which will pair you with a strategist who will support you as you prepare to take the bar exam and work with you one-on-one to help you secure full-time, long-term employment.

    Featured Faculty

    The University of St. Thomas School of Law is committed to being a leader in academic scholarship that expands society’s knowledge about the law and sheds light on complex legal problems. In 2021, out of 200 law schools nationwide, St. Thomas Law’s world-class faculty ranked #23 for scholarly impact.

    Julie Oseid headshot

    Julie Oseid

    Professor Oseid teaches Lawyering Skills I, Lawyering Skills II and (In)Famous Trials. She is the author of the book, "Communicators-in-Chief: Lessons in Persuasion from Five Eloquent American Presidents."
    More about Julie Oseid
    Hank Shea headshot

    Hank Shea

    Professor Shea is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and was one of the country's most effective white-collar crime prosecutors. In addition to teaching, he is a fellow with the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions and the Initiative on Restorative Justice.
    More about Hank Shea
    Carl Warren headshot

    Carl Warren

    Professor Warren directs the Community Justice Project, a policy-based clinic in which students investigate social justice issues that adversely affect the community. He is a frequent speaker on issues of race, civil rights and the administration of justice.
    More about Carl Warren
    Mark Osler headshot

    Mark Osler

    Professor Osler's work advocates for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. He is a former federal prosecutor, author of the casebook Contemporary Criminal Law and leads the law school’s Commutations Clinic.

    More about Mark Osler
    Robert Kahn headshot

    Robert Kahn

    Professor Kahn is the author of "Holocaust Denial and the Law: A Comparative Study." His subsequent research has focused on hate speech directed at Muslims (including the Danish Cartoons), defamation of religions, cross-burning and memory laws.

    More about Robert Kahn
    Teresa Stanton Collett headshot

    Teresa Stanton Collett

    Professor Collett is a well-known advocate for the protection of human life and the family. She specializes in the subjects of marriage, religion and bioethics in her research.

    More about Teresa Stanton Collett
    Tom Berg headshot

    Tom Berg

    Professor Berg teaches constitutional law, religious liberty and intellectual property. He also leads the religious liberty appellate clinic, where he supervises students in writing and filing briefs in major religious liberty cases for the Supreme Court and lower courts.

    More about Tom Berg
    Julie Jonas headshot

    Julie Jonas

    Julie Jonas' scholarship focuses on wrongful convictions. She also works on policy issues and she has been instrumental in the passing of several Minnesota wrongful conviction laws.

    More about Julie Jonas
    School of Law students volunteering.

    Become Part of the Community

    Public Service

    We recognize that lawyers are in a strong position to effect positive institutional and social change. As such, we expect and encourage all law students to explore a variety of ways their interests, skills and talents can best serve the public‎‎. As a requirement for graduation, all St. Thomas J.D. students complete 50 hours of public service during law school.

    Students study abroad pose at cathedral

    Law in an International Context

    Study Abroad

    St. Thomas law students have studied around the world, including Pázmány Péter Catholic University, our partner school in Budapest, Hungary. If you decide you want to stay abroad during law school, our faculty and staff will help you apply to an ABA-approved program.