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Graduation and Diplomas

See the Graduation Requirements for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's requirements for graduation, as well as a graduation checklist that can be used while selecting courses. There are three downloadable Graduation Requirements Checklists.  Choose the from that pertains to your entering class date in Law School.

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, field work (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 is provided with the section-specific information for each course offering.  

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 Program

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

Levels and Form of Recognition

There are two levels of recognition:

  • Students who complete 50 hours of qualifying public service work during law school will receive “Pro Bono Service Recognition.”
  • Students who complete 100 hours of qualifying public service work during law school will receive “Pro Bono Service Leadership Recognition.”

Students in both categories will be recognized at graduation. Students attaining these levels of recognition are encouraged to include this honor in their resumes.

Qualifying Public Service Work

Public service volunteering that is uncompensated and not for academic credit will count towards the recognition program. Worked performed for a stipend or externship credit does not qualify for this recognition, but you may report unpaid, uncredited government or non-profit internships, community projects, and volunteering for non-profits such as JURIST.

Qualifying public service work—whether law related or not—will count toward the required 50 or 100 hours, so long as it occurs during the time that the student is enrolled in the Law School. Nonetheless, the Law School strongly encourages all law students to seek out and engage in supervised, law-related pro bono work and to make such work a majority of the student’s public service activity. Furthermore, the Law School encourages students to seek out work that supplies services (and more particularly, legal services) to underserved groups. 

If you have a question about whether an experience qualifies, or would like to recruit students to volunteer on a pro bono project, please contact Megan Lovett, the Assistant Director of Public Interest and Pro Bono Initiatives at or (412) 383-3523.

How To Submit Pro Bono Hours

To be counted toward the required 50 or 100 hours, public service hours must be recorded on PittLawWorks, using the Externship platform. Graduating students seeking Pro Bono Recognition must record their hours on or before April 15 of their graduating year. All students are encouraged to record their hours as close in time to the completion of a pro bono project as possible, to create an accurate record.

Detailed instructions about this program, including detailed instructions for logging hours, can be found here: Pro Bono Recognition Guide.