Independent Research Policies
Second-year and third-year JD students with an honor point average of 2.0 or higher and graduate (LLM and SJD) law students may enroll for independent research under the supervision of a member of the Law School faculty willing to supervise such work. JD students are limited to six hours of credit for independent research. The credit to be given, as well as the scope and subject matter of the project, is determined by the supervising professor who also grades the student's research.
If more than three hours of credit is to be given for a JD student independent research project, both the project and the completed product must be approved by a committee of three faculty members, one of whom shall be the faculty member responsible for supervising the research.
Graduate law students should arrange their research programs with the Assistant Dean for International Programs.
Enrolling for Research Credit
Eligible students may enroll in research projects under the supervision of a faculty member who is willing to supervise such work.
- 1L students are ineligible
- Minimum current GPA of 2.0
- Maximum of 6 earned credits in Independent Research
- Limit of one (1) to three (3) credits per research enrollment
The credit to be given, as well as the scope and subject matter of the project, normally is determined by the faculty member in consultation with the student.*
Projects Over Three (3) Credits: The project and the completed product must be approved by a committee of three faculty members, one of whom must be the faculty member responsible for supervising the research.
LLM and MACL Students
- (LLM and MACL) Maximum of six (6) earned credits in Independent Research
- Limit of one (1) to six (6) credits per research enrollment
The faculty member determines the subject matter, project scope, and credit load.
Projects Over Six (6) Credits: The project and the completed product must be approved by a committee of three faculty members, one of whom must be the faculty member responsible for supervising the research.
Earning Over Six (6) Credits: Approval must be obtained from the Global Affairs Committee via the Assistant Dean for International Affairs.
* One credit of independent research should be roughly equivalent to one credit earned in a classroom (i.e., approximately 43 hours: representing roughly 13 hours in a classroom and 30 hours of work done outside the classroom, plus taking an exam). This traditionally has translated to roughly 20-25 pages of work product per credit. This range can vary depending on the nature of the assignment. For example, if the student spends a large amount of time conducting the research, the professor might require fewer pages of written work product. Conversely, if the research process is less time consuming, the professor might require the student to write a longer paper.
How to Enroll
Students are unable to enroll themselves in independent study classes (900 Research, 942 Law Practicum Research, and 992 Research: Special Projects). While arranging the details for these classes, check to see if the credit(s) will put you over 15-credits for the term. If so, submit a Credit Overload Request to the Office of Student Life to seek permission to exceed the limit. After that, submit a Research Enrollment Request for processing by the Office of Student Records.
Requests for 900 Research and 992 Research: Special Projects are due by the last day of classes for the term in which enrollment is requested (unless an earlier date has been established by the professor).
Law Practicum Research and Curricular Practical Training
Foreign national JD candidates with F-1 visa status who wish to pursue work in the summer months:
If you are planning to pursue work for a U.S. legal employer during the summer, you must enroll for Law School course number 942, Law Practicum Research (LPR), in order for this to be considered Curricular Practical Training (CPT) by the Department of Homeland Security.
Effectively, the LPR course is just like an independent research course, in which a student, under the supervision of a faculty member, completes a research and writing project that builds upon a legal issue(s) that the student addresses during his or her summer employment. A student can take the LPR course for one, two, or three credits toward the JD degree.
Please follow these instructions (as well as the instructions given by the International Center) to enroll for this course, and to ensure compliance with federal regulations as well as Law School standards.
During the fall or winter term preceding your summer employment, please bring your job offer letter and an “Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form” (available online at the International Center website) to the Office of Student Life (300 Hutchins Hall).
The job offer letter must:
- be written on the company’s letterhead
- contain a statement of the job offer
- contain your name
- specify the employment address (street, city, state and zip code)
- state the number of hours to be worked (or specify full- or part-time
- specify the dates of CPT employment
- include the job title
- contain a brief description of the job duties
Your employer may provide you with a hard copy of the offer letter bearing an original signature, or a PDF copy with an electronic signature; either is acceptable.
A staff member in the Office of Student Life will complete the Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form and return it to you, along with the original of your letter.
Find a faculty member to sponsor you for a one-, two-, or three-credit research project related to your work. Before approaching a professor, you should try to have at least a general idea for a paper topic based on the work you anticipate you will be doing for your employer, but you can explain to the professor that you will have a more specific idea for a topic either during or when you return from your summer employment. Please note that, generally, students in their 1L year may enroll for one-credit of 942 LPR only.
Once you have arranged for a faculty sponsor, submit a Research Enrollment Request with a copy of the Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form (completed and signed by a staff member in the Office of Student Life).
Upon receipt of the form, the Office of Student Records will enroll you in a section of 942 LPR that corresponds to the professor and credit load you provided. Please allow at least two business days to complete this process. The LPR course will count against the six credits of research course work you are allowed to take as credit toward your JD degree.
Once you have been enrolled for the LPR course at the Law School and completed the other documentation, you must participate in a CPT Online Certification Course, an online workshop sponsored by the International Center, which you can take any time it is convenient for you. You must take the CPT workshop in order to obtain final approval of the LPR course.
Note that the International Center will not be able to process or approve you for CPT until you are enrolled for the course at the Law School.
You will receive a “Y” (which is the Law School’s designation for a grade in a course that extends beyond the current term) as the grade for the LPR course until you complete the work required for the course.
You must meet with an International Center advisor, in person, to submit your CPT application. The International Center offers walk-in advising hours every weekday from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Once an International Center advisor reviews your CPT request and determines it is complete and meets all requirements, there is an approximate 1 to 2 week processing time before issuance of a new I-20 with CPT authorization. You are legally required to wait for the CPT I-20 to be issued before starting your internship.
Once your employment/internship finishes, you must provide the professor with the agreed-upon academic work so a grade can be issued. The “Y” grade will be replaced by the grade you earn for the required work once the professor reports the grade (which may be either a letter grade or a pass/fail grade, at the professor’s discretion) to the Law School’s Office of Student Records.
Should you seek to drop the LPR course after registering, the Law School or the University Office of the Registrar is required to contact the International Center to ensure that they did not place you in curricular practical training status or that they have cancelled the CPT in SEVIS before any changes are processed.