Grading and Honours/Distinction Standing

In 2012 the Faculty introduced a modified pass/fail grading system.  The goal of this grading system is to reduce student stress while still recognizing superior work and identifying marginal performance.  In this system a Pass with Merit, or P, signifies work commensurate with the Faculty’s expectations for its high achieving student body.  It is the most frequently given grade. 

Faculty of Law Grading System
GradeMeaningGuidelineDescription
HHHigh Honours15%Elite performance relative to class.
HHonours30%Superior performance relative to class.
PPass with Merit45-55%Strong performance.  The most common mark.
LPLow Passup to 10%Adequate performance to pass, but significantly below the standard of the class.

The Faculty provide these guidelines to instructors as setting forth a reasonable distribution of grades.  While there is some flexibility in the application of these guidelines, instructors are expected to grade in conformity with these guidelines as a general matter.

Academic Standing (including Honours/Distinction Standing)

Academic Standing

To be granted standing in any year, a student must obtain at least a passing grade (LP or better) in each subject. A student who fails no more than one subject may, at the discretion of the Faculty, have his or her grade raised or be required to pass a supplemental examination in each such subject in order to pass the year.

Students who for compassionate or medical reasons are unable to sit an examination or are otherwise unable to complete the requirements of a course may be granted an extension, permission to write deferred examinations, or aegrotat standing.

The foregoing rules are subject to an overriding discretion which the Faculty may exercise to pass a student clear or to allow supplemental examinations to students who, by the strict application of the rules, would otherwise fail. A student who has failed a course or courses may contact the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program.

Re-admission following failure

A student whom the faculty determines has failed first year must re-apply for admission and be considered along with all other applicants to first year. A second or third year student who fails is ordinarily entitled to repeat the year provided he or she does so within a reasonable time. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a student who fails more than once is required to withdraw from the program.

Honours/Distinction Standing Requirements

Students who entered the first year of the JD program in September 2012 or later may be eligible for Distinction standing. Honours standing and Distinction standing are equivalent labels.

Requirements

Students who receive Distinction standing will have this noted on their transcript.

In the upper years of the program, individual courses either are graded on a High Honours/Honours/Pass/Low Pass/Fail basis or receive ungraded credits according to the Faculty of Law Grading Policy and Scale as set out under Grading Policy. The Faculty of Law awards only a standing of Distinction. This standing is determined on the basis of the student's weighted average in each year of the academic program, and only for law courses.
 
Only graded courses are included in the weighted average, although all courses must be successfully completed in order for a student to be eligible to proceed in the program. In order to be eligible to receive Distinction standing in any year, the following rules apply:

3 year J.D. program or Half-Time Program

Students in the 3 year J.D. program or in the Half-Time Program must complete a minimum of 22 graded credits in each program year.

One term exchange program

Students participating in a one term exchange program (including the Clinical Legal Education: Downtown Legal Services (DLS) Intensive Term, or studying for a term on a letter of permission in another law program), must complete a minimum of 14 graded credits during the term which is spent at the Faculty of Law.

Combined programs

Students in combined programs must complete a minimum of 22 graded credits at the Faculty of Law in each program year or complete a minimum of 13 graded credits in one term of that year. This means that students in Combined Programs who also participate in an exchange program may not be eligible for Distinction standing in the year that they are on exchange.

In determining a student’s average, some courses are weighted at fewer than the number of credits awarded. (This is indicated in the course description.) In determining eligibility for Distinction Standing, those courses earn a number of graded credits equal to the weight of the course in calculating a student’s average. For example, a student who completes a 12-credit course that is weighted at 3 credits in calculating a student’s average earns 3 graded credits for the course.

Note: Students who achieve Distinction standing in a minimum of two years while studying at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law will graduate with distinction. In order to be eligible for Distinction standing, students are required to meet the criteria set out under 'Honours/Distinction Standing Requirements'.

Information about Honours Standing for students who commenced their studies before 2012.

Information about the grading system in use for students who commenced their studies before 2012. 

Academic Standing Committee

The Academic Standing Committee meets twice a year to formally approve the academic progress of all students in the J.D. program. All faculty may attend this meeting. The Academic Standing Committee decides on the granting of supplemental examinations, significant deferrals of examinations and extensions on written work and petitions for aegrotat.

All decisions regarding academic standing are generally made on an anonymous basis. Student petitions, supporting documentation, transcripts, etc, are presented to the Academic Standing Committee under the student's examination pseudonym. Students wishing to petition the Academic Standing Committee should see the Associate Dean or the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program.