III. Special Programs

D. Third-Year Thesis Program

Under the third-year thesis program third-year students may receive credit for intensive research leading to a thesis completed under close faculty supervision coupled with an oral defense before a faculty committee.

A student in good academic standing may undertake a yearlong thesis during their third year of law school. Applications must be received by the Curriculum Committee before the beginning of the student’s third year. Planning for the thesis must commence much earlier, however, because several necessary steps — such as writing a research protocol, preparing a summary of the current literature and obtaining faculty advisors — are time-consuming.


a. A written description of the student’s research proposal. The description shall identify the research topic on which the student and the faculty advisors have agreed and indicate the sources and methodology through which the student plans to research the topic. The written description should include an explanation of why the proposed research is unique and cannot satisfactorily be done through normal course work or supervised independent research.

b. A summary of the current literature, endorsed by the student’s faculty advisors, that indicates how the proposed research will make a significant contribution to the scholarly literature.

c. A signed letter from two full-time resident law faculty members confirming that they have reviewed the thesis proposal and literature summary and judged that the research will make a significant contribution to the scholarly literature, and affirming that they will supervise the project and grade the research paper (see section I.G).


The Curriculum Committee may disapprove the application, approve it as submitted or request changes that would make the proposal acceptable.

3) CREDIT In general, six hours of academic credit will be awarded for completion of a third-year thesis. No more than six hours of credit may be earned, although in unusual cases a lesser amount of credit may be approved. Credit will be allocated equally to each semester in the student’s third-year. A student who is preparing a thesis may not earn additional credit for supervised independent research during the same period.

4) THESIS Students should expect to prepare a thesis of approximately 30,000 words, including footnotes. This is intended only as a guideline; final determination of appropriate requirements will be left to the supervisory faculty committee. A printed copy of the final paper must be submitted to the Student Records Office to be forwarded to the Law Library, where it is filed under the name of the supervising faculty member for 10 years.


a. The project must be supervised by two faculty members who are expected to meet frequently with the student throughout the year.

b. Each thesis will be reviewed by a committee composed of the two supervising faculty members plus one other faculty member named by the Curriculum Committee. Unless the Curriculum Committee determines otherwise, the supervising committee will conduct an oral examination of the student on the subject of their thesis. The supervising committee will determine the grade earned by the student and may reduce the number of hours of academic credit earned by the student if the completed work was insufficient to earn the amount of credit originally approved.


Academic Policies (continued)