Graduation & Diplomas

Please view graduation requirements for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a checklist that can be used while selecting courses. Commencement Information is also updated each spring as the ceremony approaches.

You will receive a standard 8 ½ X 11 diploma from the University. However, you can order a larger diploma using the Reorder Diploma link on the University Registrar’s website. 

Classroom Contact Hours

The American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools require that at least 64 credits “shall be [earned] in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction” at a law school. Credits earned for work done outside the law school classroom — whether as independent studies, fieldwork (associated with clinics, practicum courses, or externships), activities for credit (e.g., law review, moot court), or approved graduate-level, law-related coursework taken at another school within the University (even as part of a joint-degree program or certificate program) — will count toward the 88 credits required for graduation, but will not count toward this 64-credit requirement.

For most courses, the number of classroom contact hours equals the total number of credits awarded.  For some courses, however – in particular, clinics, seminars, and practicum courses – the number of classroom contact hours is fewer than the total number of credits awarded.  Information regarding classroom contact hours and section-specific details for each course offering are provided.  

Graduation Honors

The School of Law awards its JD degree with three levels of honor: cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. Degrees are awarded summa cum laude to the very top graduating student or students. Degrees are awarded magna cum laude to at least the top 5% of the class. Degrees are awarded cum laude to at least the next 15% of the class.

Pro Bono Recognition

In keeping with the Law School’s longstanding commitment to encouraging its students to engage in public service, the faculty has adopted a program for recognizing students who engage in significant amounts of public service work.  This is a voluntary program.

There are three levels of recognition granted at graduation, each with minimum hourly requirements:

  • Pro Bono Excellence Recognition: 50 hours of qualifying legal pro bono volunteering during law school
  • Public Service Recognition: 50 hours of qualifying volunteering during law school
  • Public Service Leadership Recognition: 100 hours of qualifying volunteering during law school

Students in all categories will be recognized at graduation with a gold and purple cord included with their regalia. Students attaining these levels of recognition will receive certificates and are encouraged to include this honor in their resumes. Please review the Pro Bono and Public Service Recognition Program for complete information.