Our part-time J.D. option combines the convenience of a lighter course load with an exceptional legal education that embraces the importance of relationships, practical experience and academic rigor. 


Most part-time students will finish their J.D. in four years. Many students even switch to the full-time program after beginning classes. Based on 88 total required credit hours, you should plan to average 22 credit hours per year to complete in four years. The information below may help you understand what your course load will look like. You may also view sample Curriculum Maps. If necessary, a student may take 5 years to complete their J.D., however you should consult with the Associate Dean before choosing this plan.

In no case may the Associate Dean permit fewer than 8 credit hours each semester of the first year of study in the J.D. program, and in usual circumstances the Associate Dean should not permit fewer than 11-12 credit hours in either semester of the first year.

Students must take 6 credits of “experiential learning” coursework to graduate. Serving Clients Well (LAWS 641) and Mentor Externship I and II (LAWS 930 and 933) provide 3 of the 6 credits needed to fulfill the requirement. Students can acquire the additional three credits through externship courses, clinics, negotiation, trial advocacy course, and other “hands-on” courses with practical elements.

Read through our Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information about the part-time J.D. program.


In the fall, you will begin with an orientation week that includes the Moral Reasoning for Lawyers course, followed by three courses taken during the fall semester. This structure allows you to address more intellectually challenging problems and reduces the number of final exams. To assure feedback on progress, each course includes a graded midterm examination or evaluation. In the spring, you will add an additional course but will not see an increase in credit hours.

Our intensive legal research, analysis and writing program has been recognized as one of the top programs in the country. Lawyering Skills I and II, the first two classes of this acclaimed program, are an important part of the first-year curriculum, forming the basis of your future work. Moreover, every entering student takes Moral Reasoning for Lawyers, Serving Clients Well and Business Basics for Lawyers as a one-credit, one-week courses throughout the year (see below).

FALL (12 credits)

Number Title Credits
LAWS 600 Civil Procedure 4


LAWS 635

Contracts OR Torts 4
LAWS 620 Lawyering Skills I 3
LAWS 640

Moral Reasoning for Lawyers: Foundations of Justice I
(orientation week only)

SPRING (11 credits)

Number Title Credits


LAWS 635

Constitutional Law OR Property 4
LAWS 615 Criminal Law 3
LAWS 625 Lawyering Skills II 2
LAWS 641*

Serving Clients Well: Foundations of Justice II

LAWS 642

Business Basics for Lawyers: Foundations of Justice III
(mid- to late spring semester)



As an upper-level student, you will take 22 credits of required courses and 43 credits of electives. Elective courses are taught by both full-time and adjunct faculty, including some of the leading judges and lawyers in the Twin Cities. Because of the small size of UST School of Law, the vast majority of upper-level classes have 35 or fewer students, with a significant number taught as seminars with enrollments of 25 or fewer.

Four required courses (Lawyering Skills III, Professional Responsibility, Torts OR Contracts, and Constitutional Law OR Property) must be taken in your second year. You also are required to complete a significant research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.


Number Title Credits
LAWS 715 Lawyering Skills III 2
LAWS 725 Professional Responsibility 3


LAWS 630

Constitutional Law OR Property 4


LAWS 635

Contracts OR Torts 4


Number Title Credits
LAWS 700 Business Associations 4
LAWS 725 Evidence 3
LAWS 930* Mentor Externship (2 semesters)  1
LAWS 933* Mentor Externship (2 semesters) 1

The curricular structure noted above is for students enrolled in the part-time option. In addition, to be eligible for graduation, all J.D. students must complete 50 hours of public service and the upper-level writing requirement

*LAWS 641, LAWS 930 and LAWS 933 provide three of the six credits needed by each student to fulfill their “experiential learning” requirement before graduation. The other 3 credits can come through a legal clinic, externship or another approved course with practical elements like negotiations, trial advocacy, etc.

Inspired by justice, guided by faith, grounded in reason, committed to excellence, and devoted to advancing the common good, the University of St. Thomas School of Law sets forth the following general learning outcomes as we work to form professionals who practice the law with purpose:

Learning Outcome 1: Professional Formation and Ethical Responsibilities
Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of their professional and ethical responsibilities in serving clients, the profession, and society. Whether working in law, business, government, or the non-profit sector, each graduate will be able to describe his or her evolving professional identity, which is grounded in a moral core, includes a commitment to self-directed professional learning, and reflects a concern for the disadvantaged and those who lack access to justice.

Learning Outcome 2: Knowledge of Substantive and Procedural Law
Graduates will identify and be able to explain basic concepts, underlying theories, policy implications, and rules of law both in the required curriculum and in their chosen fields of study.

Learning Outcome 3: Legal Analysis, Reasoning, and Problem Solving
Graduates will be able to analyze and assess strategies for solving a problem, including identifying legal and non-legal issues that may be important to clients and exercising good judgment in advising clients.

Learning Outcome 4: Written and Oral Communication Skills
Graduates will be able to communicate effectively and appropriately in written and oral formats with a variety of audiences and in a variety of contexts.

Learning Outcome 5: Legal Research and Factual Investigation
Graduates will be able to retrieve, analyze, and effectively use legal resources; to appreciate different types of resources and their appropriate use as references or authorities; to evaluate the relevance, reliability, currency, and varying strength of legal authorities; and to gather relevant non-legal information or collaborate with non-legal professionals to better understand how the law may apply to a particular situation and the real-world consequences in a given situation.

Learning Outcome 6: Teamwork and Relationship Skills
Graduates will demonstrate competence in initiating and sustaining professional relationships and working with others toward common goals. Graduates will also demonstrate competence in interacting effectively with people across cultural differences.

Adopted by the University of St. Thomas School of Law Faculty, March 16, 2015