Reading Groups

Students at YLS have a unique opportunity to design courses called “reading groups” on topics outside the regular curriculum.  Students who are interested in organizing a reading group should work with a faculty member to design a syllabus that covers the topic and includes sufficient readings to merit one academic credit.

NOTE:  Approval by the Deputy Dean is necessary for Lecturers or Visiting Lecturers to supervise reading groups.  If you are considering asking a Lecturer or Visiting Lecturer to supervise your reading group, please consult the Deputy Dean first.

During the course of the semester, participants must attend at least 750 minutes of a reading group’s meetings to earn one ungraded credit.  Student organizers are responsible for monitoring and certifying participation.  Students may count up to four reading group units towards the 83 units required for the JD degree.

To obtain approval for a reading group, the student(s) organizing the group must submit a written proposal to the Registrar by the deadline (See important dates). The proposal must (1) describe the law-related topic to be examined, (2) provide a complete syllabus, and (3) be reviewed and approved by the sponsoring faculty member.

Checklist for Reading Group Approval:

  • Title of reading group describes the topic to be addressed (not the name of a student organization)
  • Proposal addresses a topic not covered in the regular curriculum and syllabus includes a statement describing the purpose of the reading group
  • Syllabus includes sufficient meeting times and notes how long each meeting session is scheduled to be.
  • Note: the semester is 13 weeks long and the group must meet for at least 750 minutes)
  • Syllabus explicitly states attendance policy
  • Students must attend at least 750 minutes of meetings to receive credit
  • Syllabus lists sufficient readings for each meeting to merit one academic credit
  • Readings assigned should take at least 30 hours to complete over the course of the reading group
  • Readings listed for each week include the page length for each assignment
  • Proposal is approved by a faculty supervisor with a current teaching appointment at YLS
  • Proposal is submitted to the Registrar before the deadline (See important dates)

​Reading Group Guidelines:

Reading groups should focus on reading and discussing articles, books and other materials.  Reading groups should not engage in campaigning, lobbying, providing legal research or advice, or clinical activities.

All meetings must be held before the end of classes. Meetings may not be held during reading or exam periods.

Reading groups cannot provide credit for participation in student organizations or journals and must be open to all law students.  First-term J.D. students cannot enroll in or receive credit for reading groups.

You may not promote your reading group until it is approved by the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs.

Once your group is approved, please contact Dean Mike Thompson about reserving a meeting room.

If you have other questions, please contact the Registrar’s Office (registrar.law@yale.edu).