Understanding Graduation Requirements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Graduation Requirements?

Do you know what your graduation requirements are? I know it seems ridiculously early to be concerned with this. We are just first semester 2Ls after all, but I’ve got plans! When I told a few people about this weeks blog topic, they mostly fell into two categories. Either they were like OMG I need to do this too, or they said I was giving them anxiety just thinking about it.

If you fall into the second category, I’m sorry… but perhaps it is better to glance at these now, then to realize that you can’t do something you want to in the future, because of something you did in 2L. I recommend visiting your Registrar or your school website to glance at your graduation requirements, this way you at least know what is ahead! For me, like I said I have big plans… or would at least like the option of big plans! Maybe you also have similar goals. Here are mine!

Goal 1: Be February Bar Eligible

First off, I’m not sure if I want to take the February Bar, but I might want to. I realized this past week if I wanted that to be a possibility, I had to make some changes and fast! Arizona allows students to take the February Bar if we need 10 credits or less in our final semester to graduate. I’m not a fan of summer school, so I needed to see if I could do this without it. It turns out I could, but the February Bar requirements were not my only problem…

This semester I originally took many practical classes. I have pre-trial litigation, ICN (Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiations), a 38(d) Criminal Prosecution clinic, Evidence, PR (professional responsibility), plus a seminar. Essentially, I have 18 credits, but only 10 are for grades. At my school, you must have 37 credits grades after 1L, with 88 credits total, and 64 of those most come from classroom instruction, so my journal and externships do not count. This meant I was in a jam. However, with a few minor changes, I was able to set myself up to be on track to hit all of my potential goals.

Graduation Requirements

Goal 2: Study Abroad

Yes, I know this seems crazy, but I have heard so many wonderful things about doing a study abroad program, especially in law school. I know I want to have this as an option, and ideally, while most 3Ls do this in their Spring semesters for me, I would love to do this in the Fall of 3L. Like I said at my school, we have well-defined graduation requirements, and I wasn’t sure how a study abroad would factor into the 37 of graded hours requirement.

It turns out that the classes convert to pass/fail, but the school reduces the amount of graded credit required so you can still meet this requirement.  The other fabulous thing is my scholarship will cover specific study abroad programs! I also found out that study abroad credits would count as classroom instruction, so I also get to count those towards the 64! If you want to do a study abroad, check on the deadlines to decide, for me, I have to put a deposit down by March.

Goal 3: Participate in an Externship Program away from school

Many schools have established programs in DC, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and more. You can also set these up on your own by finding externships and taking online classes. At my school, for the first time, we will have an established externship program in Phoenix. This means we will take in-person classes in Phoenix and then work for a Phoenix-based employer as well. These classes are taught by Arizona Supreme Court Justices, renowned experts in their field, and more which is fantastic. But these are specialized legal topics, rather than doctrinal subjects. We also have the option of having them be graded or pass-fail. Because I have a place in Phoenix, I want to do this program twice, so I needed to make sure I could do that and complete some or all of my other goals.

The good news? I figured it all out.

I am admittedly an Excel nerd. My friends laugh when I tell them that spreadsheets calm me down, but it is true. I created a spreadsheet that laid everything out for me, and I did have to make some changes to this semester’s classes to make sure I used my credits efficiently. This semester I am still taking 18 credits (10 graded), and 18 credits next semester with 12-16 graded credits). This leaves me with 20 credits required to graduate, with 11 – 15 graded credits required over 3L. Woo hoo! Who knows if I will do all of these goals or just some of them, it depends… yep, I said it. IT DEPENDS!!!

Have you already taken a look at your requirements? Do you want a copy of my spreadsheet? If so send me a message @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter!