Summary Of Grading Policies - LL.M. Program

This is a summary of Loyola’s grading policies for LL.M. students. A full description of the grading policies can be found in the LL.M. Student Handbook.  Separate grading rules apply to the Tax LL.M. program and are fully described in the Tax LL.M. Student Handbook (accessible on-campus only).

Grade Normalization

The majority of classes at Loyola are subject to grade normalization. This means that final grades are “curved” to conform to a uniform distribution. Grades in individual classes are “normalized” to this fixed curve to eliminate disparities among classes and from year to year. This greatly minimizes “grade shopping” and “grade inflation,” both of which undermine the reliability of student grades and make comparisons difficult for employers and others.

Grades are normalized (“curved”) in 2 respects. The first imposes a mean (arithmetic average) on grades in each class; the second imposes a “standard deviation” (SD) on grades. SD measures each grade’s distance from the mean. Standard deviation is a customary way of measuring relative performance and provides greater information than raw scores do. Most standardized tests, such as the LSAT, use a similar system of fixed mean and standard deviation.

Mandatory Mean and Standard Deviation

The following represents the grading range for the mandatory mean and the mandatory standard deviation (S.D.) for all courses, except as otherwise noted:

Number of LL.M. StudentsMeanStandard Deviation (S.D.)
31 or more students  82.00  6.00
8 - 30 students 82.00 - 85.00 None
7 or fewer students None None


Small Class Exception to the Mandatory Mean and Standard Deviation 

Classes in which 7 or fewer LL.M. students enrolled in a course section will assign letter grades (using the A+* to F grading scale) to those students, as appropriate, without reliance on a normalized grade curve are letter-graded but not subject to normalization rules. 

If the mean cumulative grade point average for a group of 8 to 30 LLM students in the same course section exceeds 85.00, a professor may use a mean above 85.00, but no higher than the mean cumulative grade point average of the LLM students in that group. The mean cumulative grade point average shall be computed using only grade point averages of LLM students enrolled in the class as of the last day for withdrawing from the course. Grades earned at other institutions will not be included in the grade point average calculation.

Other Class Exceptions to the Mandatory Mean and Standard Deviation 

  • Directed Research papers and field placements (externships) are also not subject to grade normalization rules. 
  • Normalization in Classes with Mixed Assessments: If a professor in a given course permits students the option of taking an examination or writing a paper, scores for both the exam-takers and paper-writers will be included when calculating a class grade curve.

Graded Pass/Fail

Very few curricular offerings may be taken Pass/Fail. Most field placements (externships) are graded Pass/Fail, as are law reviews, the Entertainment Law Practicum, and most credit-granting competitions (such as Moot Court). 

For more information, please contact the Office of the Registrar, at (213) 736-1130.