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Admissions Information for J.D. Applicants


To be eligible to apply, you must plan to receive a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university before enrolling at USC Gould School of Law. We base our admission decisions on academic record, LSAT score, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and other information in your application file.

Academic Requirements

In reviewing application files, the committee focuses on college grades, academic major, selection of courses, and significant scholarly achievements. Although USC Gould School of Law does not require specific college courses for admission, we look favorably on students who have selected intellectually challenging courses of study.

Whatever your discipline, we urge you to concentrate on developing strong written and analytic skills. Courses that require intensive research and writing along with active participation in classroom dialogue will be helpful in preparing you to study law.

Our Admissions Committee

The Admissions and Financial Aid Committee is comprised of members of the faculty, the associate dean, the director of admissions, and an elected student representative. Members of The Committee read each application in the applicant pool thoroughly and considers each application on an individual basis. Committee members pay close attention to the "soft" factors, factors other than LSAT score(s) and undergraduate grade point average.

Your Personal Statement

Of the qualitative or soft factors of the application, the personal statement is of critical importance to the admissions committee. This is your primary opportunity to discuss who you are beyond the four corners of the application page. While there is no prompt and we encourage you to approach the personal statement with an open-mind, we are particularly interested in how your background (academic or otherwise) has led to your decision to study law. Please note, the personal statement is not the place to repeat items on your resume.

The personal statement should be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, and at least 12 point font. The Admissions Committee values carefully crafted essays that are clear, concise, and compelling. The personal statement is a writing sample and you should pay particular attention to the details of your composition. The statement must be electronically attached.


You are required to submit a resume to illustrate your chronological work history. Indicate hours per week for each activity where applicable. Please limit your resume to no more than two pages, but one is preferred.

Letters of Recommendation

We require two letters of recommendation to complete your application. The most influential letters of recommendation focus on your academic potential. They are written by people who know you well and will evaluate your academic performance. Although recommendations not pertaining to academic abilities are helpful, academic recommendations carry the most weight with the admissions committee. If you have been out of college for a number of years, then a letter from an employer would be appropriate. As this is an academic environment, we encourage employers to discuss the candidate's written and oral communication skills, leadership skills, and potential for the study of law. We will accept a maximum of THREE letters of recommendation.

Contribution to Diversity

USC Gould School of Law's admissions process is guided by the view that a student body that reflects the broad and rich diversity of our society provides a superior educational environment for all law students. The primary goal of our admissions process is to enroll students who demonstrate outstanding academic and professional promise and whose background and experience will enrich USC Gould School of Law's educational environment or enhance the diversity of our student body or the legal profession.

You may be regarded as potentially contributing to student diversity if your background or experience would not ordinarily be well-represented in the student body or the legal profession. Examples include (but are not limited to) students who:

  • have struggled against prejudice, economic disadvantage, family or personal adversity, or other social hardships (perhaps as a result of disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation)
  • lived in a foreign country or spoke a language other than English at home
  • have unusual career goals, employment history (perhaps military or law enforcement experience), or educational background (including graduate study)
  • demonstrate unusual extracurricular achievement (including school or community service)

If you believe your background or experience can contribute to USC Gould School of Law's goal of diversity and educational enrichment - and if you would like this factor considered in the admissions process - please include detailed written information about your background or experience in your application. (Providing such information is voluntary.) Your Diversity Statement should be limited to 2-3 pages, double-spaced, and at least 12 point font.


The Admissions Committee does not grant interviews to candidates as part of the admissions process.

Admission Decisions and Timelines

Applications that are completed by February 1, 2017 receive priority review both for admission and scholarships. However, we will accept applications through April 1, 2017. This means that applicants who have not taken the LSAT until the February 2017 administration ARE eligible to apply. All applicant files are reviewed administratively by the Dean of Admissions or a member of the admissions staff once they are complete. A portion of the applicant pool is admitted and denied by the Dean of Admissions based on admissions criteria set forth by the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee. A small number of files are reviewed by the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee who make advisory admissions decisions.

Candidates who are placed on a waiting list are encouraged to submit letters of continued interest periodically. In addition, they may update their file with new information which they believe may support an offer of admission.

Decision notifications typically begin mid-December and conclude around mid-May 15, 2017.

All decisions are final and no appeals process exists.

Application Fee Waivers

USC Gould School of Law will be offering fee waivers to ALL applicants through February 1, 2017. In the past, USC Gould has offered several types of application fee waivers. These included merit-based fee waivers, hardship/need-based fee waivers, Teach for America fee waivers, and waivers to USC undergraduates. Applicants who fall into any of these categories will receive the automatic fee waiver granted through February 1, 2017, however, if you apply following this priority deadline, fee waivers will NOT be granted.

Beginning February 2, 2017, the non-refundable application fee is $75.00. Refunds will not be granted for applicants who fail to follow the application instructions.

Requirements for Enrollment

To secure a seat in the first year class, all admitted students must submit a first tuition deposit of $500 to the Office of Admissions by May 1st. A second tuition deposit of $500 is due by July 1st. Seat deposit payments must be paid with a debit/credit card.

In accordance with ABA regulations, prior to enrollment, candidates must submit an official transcript denoting the award of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university to the USC Gould School of Law Registrar. This transcript must be sent directly from your undergraduate institution to USC Gould School of Law.

Bar Admission

Each jurisdiction establishes bar registration and admission standards for individuals who wish to practice law within the jurisdiction. In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction directly. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. USC Gould School of Law requires applicants for admission to fully disclose responses to the following questions:

  • Have you ever been dropped, suspended, warned, placed on academic or disciplinary probation, disciplined, expelled, or requested or advised to resign from an post-secondary school, college, university, professional school, or law school?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (other than a minor traffic violation)?
  • Are any charges pending against you?
  • Have you ever been or are you currently registered at another law school?

If the answer to any of the questions is in the affirmative, then a full written explanation must accompany the application. Candor is extremely important and appreciated by the Admissions Committee.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Board of Bar Examiners of the state(s) in which they intend to practice, in order to secure information regarding the qualifications for admission to the practice of law, including character and fitness requirements, in that jurisdiction. Additional information can be found on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. For applicants interested in the practice of law in California, information can be found here or at the State Bar of California website.

Ongoing Duty to Disclose

All candidates for admission have an ongoing duty to disclose material changes to their application especially as they relate to conduct matters (criminal or disciplinary) to the Dean of Admissions prior to enrollment. Candidates agree that providing inaccurate or misleading information on the admission application or omitting information will be cause for an investigation of misconduct in the admissions process, rescission of any offer of admission, or for discipline, dismissal or revocation of degree if discovered at a later date.


If you have questions about the admissions process, please call the Office of Admissions at (213) 740-2523 or send an email message to admissions@law.usc.edu. Applicants with hearing disabilities may call (TTY/TTD) (800) 735-2922 or (TTY/TTD) (800) 676-3777.

Office of Admissions Staff Members

Our Non-discrimination Policy

USC Gould School of Law is firmly committed to a policy against discrimination based upon ethnicity, national origin, disability, race, religion, political beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, or age.

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