Skip to Main Content
Navigated to Academic Policies.

Academic Policies

Academic Policies

The following are abbreviated versions of some of the most frequently asked questions about Duke Law School’s rules and policies. For a complete listing, visit


Students must regularly attend and prepare for all courses. At the discretion of the instructor, a student who fails to meet this standard may be (1) denied the right to take a final examination or to submit other required coursework, in which case a grade of 2.0 will be entered for the course, or (2) dropped from the course with a mark of Withdraw/Pass or Withdraw/Fail entered on the student’s record pursuant to Rule 3-10(3). If the student is auditing the course, the instructor may drop them from the course.


This is summary information only. Details on the rules and procedures under which examinations are administered are provided to students before each examination period. A final examination will be required in every regular course, and no final examination will be required in any seminar, unless the instructor announces to the contrary before the end of the second week of the semester.

No student may take a final examination in a course at a time other than the regularly scheduled time without the permission of the dean’s office. Such permission normally shall be granted only where one of the following circumstances exists: the student is ill or can demonstrate that taking the examination at the regular time would cause extreme personal hardship; there is a direct conflict in the scheduling of final examinations in two or more courses in which the student is enrolled; the student is enrolled in three or more courses, each carrying more than one hour of credit, for which examinations are scheduled within a thirty-six-hour period over two calendar days. In such circumstances, the examination to be rescheduled shall be the middle examination in the sequence.

If a student has been excused from taking a final examination in a course at the regularly scheduled time, the instructor may require the student to take a special final examination or submit a special paper. In such a case, the student shall be graded in the course on a Credit/No Credit basis. If the student takes the regular examination, but it cannot be read together with the examinations taken by other students in the same course, the instructor may, at their discretion, grade the examination numerically or on a Credit/No Credit basis.

All final examination papers shall be preserved for a period of two years by the instructor or the Duke Law School’s registrar’s office. All examination papers, including questions, student answers, and related materials are the property of the instructor and/or the law school. Students shall comply with the instructor’s requirements concerning retention of exam papers and shall not retain copies, digital or otherwise, of exam questions, answers, or related materials unless retention is specifically permitted by the instructor.

Submission of Papers

Papers or other coursework submitted in partial or complete satisfaction of the requirements of a course, including an independent study, must be completed no later than the last day of the regularly scheduled examination period of the semester in which the course is offered unless the instructor sets an earlier deadline. In individual cases, the instructor may grant an extension.


A student may, upon application in writing and with the permission of the dean’s office, withdraw from the law school and preserve their eligibility for readmission. 

Dismissal and Readmission

Dismissal of a student from Duke Law School may take the form of suspension for a specified period of time or expulsion. A student may be dismissed from the law school for improper conduct pursuant to such standards and procedures as the faculty may prescribe. A student who has been declared ineligible to continue the study of law for academic reasons shall be dismissed from the law school and shall not be eligible for readmission except as specifically authorized by the faculty after the lapse of not less than one year and on such conditions as the faculty may specify.

Honors & Class Rank

Duke Law School recognizes the achievement of attaining and maintaining high grades through graduation honors. Order of the Coif membership is awarded to the top ten percent of the graduating class, based on all grades. Highest Honors (summa cum laude) is awarded to the top two percent of the graduating class based on all grades; High Honors (magna cum laude) are awarded to the top fifteen percent of the graduating class, based on grades earned in upper-level courses; and Honors (cum laude) are awarded to the top thirty-five percent of the graduating class, based on grades earned in upper-level courses. Duke Law School also recognizes the top five percent of the rising third-year class and the graduating class based on all grades.

The law school does not release class rank.