The Juris Doctor Degree Program

Professor Todd Aagaard

The curriculum of the Charles Widger School of Law offers sound training for the practice of law. Courses are designed to teach not only rules of law, but also how legal institutions operate. Students learn how lawyers analyze issues, express themselves, and solve problems. The course of study consists of three full-time consecutive years.

The First Year

In your first year at Villanova Law, you will acquire a thorough grounding in six foundational doctrinal courses: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law, and Torts. These courses are taught in one semester segments to allow you the ability to focus intensively on each subject. During the first semester, you will take Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Torts; during the second semester you will take Property, Constitutional Law, and Contracts. In addition, during the second semester, first-year students are permitted to choose one elective course. Currently the 1L elective options are: Introduction to Business and Economic Analysis, Public International Law, Conflicts of Law, Justice and Rights, and Criminal Procedure.

During the first year, you will also take a transactional practicum in either Contracts or Property, taught in a smaller section. In the practicum sections, you will apply Contract or Property legal theory and draft actual documents a client would need in a real-world situation.  You will also take an intensive one-week module focused on Financial Literacy during January of your 1L year.

Finally, you will also develop the core practice skills of oral advocacy and legal analysis, writing, and research during your 1L year. Legal Analysis, Research and Writing is a hands-on course offered in small sections to ensure that your writing will be closely supervised by a legal writing professor. You will learn legal research skills and strategy from our team of lawyer librarians, who work in close collaboration with the legal writing faculty.

Fall   Spring   Winter  
Civil Procedure 4 cr Contracts (practicum)* 4-5 cr 1L Module 1cr
Criminal Law 4 cr Constitutional
Law I
3 cr    
Torts 4 cr Property (practicum)* 4-5 cr    
Legal Analysis,
Research & Writing
2.5 cr Legal Analysis, Research
& Writing II
2.5 cr    
Professional Development 1 cr Elective 3 cr    

* In each section, either Property or Contracts will be offered in the Practicum and will carry 5 credits.

Second and Third Years

In second and third years, you will mostly shape your own course of study while taking several additional graduation requirements. Upper level requirements include Legal Writing III (Transactional or Litigation), Constitutional Law II, and Professional Responsibility. You are also required to take a Practical Writing course and a Research Paper Seminar (or Directed Research), and six credits of experiential learning in a clinic and/or externship. The Law School supports a wide range of externship opportunities at government, profit, and nonprofit organizations which provide the opportunity to learn in a real-world setting. In our award-winning clinics, you will have the opportunity to represent real clients in real cases working with full-time clinic faculty.

Additionally, you will take a one-week module in January of your second year focused on the Business Aspects of Law.

Finally, you will also take one credit of Professional Development during both your 2L and 3L years.

See the graduation requirements section of the Registration Rules & Policies page for more information about upper-level requirements.

Courses Offered

For a complete listing of the upcoming courses to be offered at Villanova Law, see the course catalog here. Select a semester/term and select Law as the subject.
Click here for a sampling of our courses listed by focus area.