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USC Gould Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I submit my application?

We will begin accepting applications on September 1st of each year. You must apply online via the LSAC website. Absent extenuating circumstances, fee waivers will NOT be granted after February 1st.

When is the application deadline?

The priority deadline to apply for the incoming 1L class is February 1st of each year and applications received by that date will receive priority review for both admission and scholarships. We will continue to accept applications through a final application deadline April 1. This will allow for consideration of the February LSAT exam, including test takers who have not sat for the LSAT until February. Please note, there are far fewer seats and scholarship assistance available for those applications that are submitted after February 1st.

Do you offer application fee waivers?

USC Gould will be offering fee waivers to all applicants applying by February 1, 2016. So please apply early to enjoy the benefit of an automatic application fee waiver. If you apply after the fee waiver period expires, the information below applies.

USC Gould School of Law offers several application fee waivers to assist students who are interested in applying to the JD program. We offer merit-based fee waivers, hardship/need-based fee waivers and Teach for America fee waivers. Please read the instructions below and submit the necessary documentation for the fee waiver you seek. Additionally, if you have received an LSAC fee waiver, USC Gould School of Law will automatically waive your application fee - you do not need to take any additional action.

Please note: the fee waiver process beings anew each application cycle and the information below is effective at the beginning of each cycle and a fee waiver is only valid for that particular application cycle.

Candidate Referral Service (CRS) Merit Fee Waiver

USC Gould offers merit-based fee waivers by invitation only to applicants whose profiles typically meet or exceed both the median LSAT score (166) and the median GPA (3.70) for our entering class. Candidates who wish to be considered for a CRS Merit Fee Waiver must register for LSAC's Candidate Referral Service (CRS) before applying to our law school. Invitations will be emailed/mailed to those candidates who meet our profile criteria and are registered for CRS. All CRS Merit Fee Waivers will reflect automatically on the electronic USC JD application at the payment window as the fee is connected to your LSAC account number. No fee waiver code is required if a CRS Merit fee waiver is awarded.

USC Trojan Fee Waiver

As part of the Trojan family, any current student or graduate of the University of Southern California qualifies for a USC Gould application fee waiver. In order to receive the fee waiver, you must opt-in to the LSAC Candidate Referral Service (CRS). Throughout the application cycle (September - January), we will send out periodic emails confirming the award of a USC Gould Trojan fee waiver to those candidates who are currently registered with LSAC and have signed up for the CRS. All USC fee waivers granted through the CRS program will reflect automatically on the candidate’s electronic USC JD application at the final payment window as the waiver is linked to the candidate’s LSAC account. No fee waiver code is required if a USC fee waiver is awarded. USC fee waiver questions may be submitted to feewaiver@law.usc.edu.

Hardship/Need-Based Fee Waivers

USC Gould School of Law offers hardship/need-based fee waivers. We review requests for hardship/need based fee waivers on a weekly basis. There are several options under which someone can qualify for a hardship/need-based fee waiver. Candidates who wish to be considered for a fee waiver will need to do the following:

a) Hardship/Need-based: Candidates who wish to be considered for an economic hardship fee waiver will need to do the following:

  • Application fee waivers for the 2015-16 application cycle are available via this link.
  • If you are currently in school and are a financial aid recipient, submit a PDF copy of your financial aid award letter from your undergraduate/graduate institution.
  • If you are experiencing other economic hardship, then submit a copy of your most recent Federal Income Tax return (or parent's income tax return if they claim you as a dependent) on their tax forms.
  • Please send an email with all your documents attached as a PDF to feewaiver@law.usc.edu.

b) Teach for America: Candidates who are currently participating in a Teach For America program will need to do the following:

  • Application fee waivers for the 2015-16 application cycle are available via this link.
  • Provide an official letter of employment from your Teach for America program coordinator
  • Please send an email with all your documents attached as a PDF to feewaiver@law.usc.edu.

Once we have received and reviewed your completed documents we will email a response to you (typically on Friday after receiving your documents). If you are approved, the fee waiver will reflect automatically on the electronic application at the payment window as the fee is connected to your LSAC account number.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have submitted a fee waiver request, do not submit the online application fee payment ($75) before hearing from us. We will not be able to offer you a refund if you are later approved for a fee waiver.

Can I apply for the spring semester?

USC Gould admits a law class once a year for the fall semester only.

Do you have a part time or online program?

USC Gould is accredited by the ABA as a full-time law school only. We do not have accreditation to offer a degree earned on a part-time basis. The law program at USC is a three year program, offered exclusively at the Gould School of Law on the University Park campus. We do not offer online programs.

Additionally, we recently launched an Online LL.M. for international students and an optional graduate certificate in Business Law. Please note, these offerings do NOT count towards the JD degree. Additional information is available - here.

Do you offer an early decision program?

USC Gould is pleased to offer a BINDING early decision program. Please visit the program page for additional information.

What do you require as part of my application?

The required components of our application are:

  • Application
  • $75 non-refundable application fee
  • Personal statement
  • Minimum two letters of recommendation (we will accept up to three letters of recommendation)
  • CAS Report (formerly LSDAS Report)
  • LSAT score
  • College transcripts (submitted directly to LSAC)

You may also submit a resume, diversity statement or socio-economic statement for your file. These supplemental materials must be submitted as electronic attachments to your application.

USC Gould does NOT require a Dean's letter except where noted in response to the conduct section.

When are decisions mailed out? Can I check my admissions status online?

USC Gould operates on a rolling admissions basis, with decisions going out on an on-going basis, typically from December until mid-May. Decisions may be sent via both e-mail and/or regular postal mail. We do not disclose admission decisions over the phone. Candidates can check the status of their application by clicking here.

What are your GPA and LSAT requirements?

The admissions process at USC Gould is highly competitive as each year we receive more applications than we have space for. Our Admissions Committee employs a comprehensive review process, including evaluation of your undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, personal statement, letters of recommendation and other supplemental materials. Please keep in mind that we do not use minimum or "cut-off" scores. For your reference, the median GPA for the fall 2015 entering class was a 3.76, and the median LSAT score was a 166. The 2015 Class Profile contains more specific information on the composition of the most recent entering class.

Are international applicants required to take the TOEFL exam?

USC Gould does not require the TOEFL exam when applying to the JD Program.

Are there suggested majors?

The Law School does not require applicants to take any specific undergraduate major or college course work, but looks favorably on students who have selected intellectually challenging courses of study. Whatever the discipline, the student should concentrate on developing strong written and analytic skills. Courses that require active participation in classroom dialogue and intense research projects will also be helpful in the study of law. The top majors for members of the entering class of 2014 are: Political Science, History, Economics, English, Humanities, Psychology, International Relations, Philosophy, and Sociology.

Which university should I attend for my undergraduate studies?

We do not make recommendations to prospective students with respect to the undergraduate institution they attend. The decision to attend a particular college or university is a personal one, and each student's decision will vary depending upon his or her desired major, location, and/or career specialization.

When should I take the LSAT?

The LSAT is offered four times a year for each admission cycle. USC Gould will accept all four administrations of the test. However, because we admit on a "rolling" basis, applications which are not complete by our February deadline are at a tremendous disadvantage. February test scores are usually available in March; by this time there are fewer spaces and scholarships available in the entering class (this means the process is particularly more competitive for these applicants).

We understand that applicants may have limitations in their schedule that necessitates taking the LSAT exam after the December administration. As such, you may submit your application with a pending LSAT registration or score and we will hold your file until it is complete. This means, we will NOT review a file until all LSAT scores have posted for tests which you have registered. This requires properly responding to the application question regarding future LSAT administrations. Although you may still apply with the February test date, we want you to be aware of the general nature of the pool at this late point in the process.

USC will accept LSAT scores up to 5 years old. This is measured from the December LSAT. So for a Fall 2016 applicant, the oldest LSAT we will accept is December 2011.

As of July 1, 2015, LSAC will no longer provide scores older than five years plus the current testing year either to law schools or to candidates. Scores earned prior to June 1, 2010 will neither be reported to law schools nor available to candidates.

Do you average multiple LSAT scores?

We report the highest LSAT score to the American Bar Association and other organizations. However, all scores (not averaged) will be considered in the admissions review process.

If there is a significant discrepancy in your scores (five or more points), we encourage you to submit an addendum in order to put the variance into context for our Admissions Committee.

How do you compute GPA? Will you consider my graduate degree/GPA when reviewing my file?

LSAC will compute your undergraduate GPA as part of your CAS report. We will also take note of the university calculated GPA reported on your transcripts. We will not include your GPA from graduate level work as part of your GPA. We encourage you to submit your graduate transcript to LSAC for inclusion in your CAS report. The Admissions Committee will consider the graduate level coursework in the review process, even though the GPA will not be a part of the overall cumulative GPA.

Do you offer interviews?

Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are unfortunately unable to grant interviews. Instead, we encourage you to use your personal statement as a vehicle for relaying information about yourself which is unique. We understand there are often personal and sometimes extraordinary circumstances associated with particular applicants. Therefore, we strongly suggest you pay particular attention when crafting your writing, so that it may appropriately serve as your voice when the Admissions Committee reviews your file.

How can I visit the law school?

USC Gould highly encourages visits to our campus. Sitting in on a class, touring our facilities, speaking with current students and staff are invaluable ways to better familiarize yourself with USC Gould.

Tours are offered year round. Each tour is guided by one of our Student Ambassadors or an admissions staff member. Each tour will run approximately 45 minutes, depending upon the number of questions guests may have. To view the current schedule of tours, please visit our law school tour website.

Class visits are available to prospective applicants. A listing of classes and our on-line reservation form may be found on our website at http://law.usc.edu/admissions/visit.cfm. Class visits are by appointment only as space is limited.

During the fall semester information sessions are also available. Our team of administrators will provide information from various departments: Admissions, Career Services, Student Services and Financial Aid. For a complete list of dates available, please visit our info session website

How can I personally talk to a current USC Gould student?

USC Gould believes that one of the best resources for you is our current law student. We have five student admissions ambassadors (2nd and 3rd years), who are available to speak with prospective students. You may contact them via email, by phone or during their on-line chat hours. Click here for information about our student ambassadors, including a brief bio of each.

Do you offer on campus housing?

USC Gould offers graduate housing on a limited basis to incoming law students. Our Terrace Law Housing program provides space for 40 incoming JD law students each year. Students are assigned to a two bedroom apartment, with each student having his/her own bedroom. As we admit 200 students on average per class, about a quarter of candidates are selected for housing at Terrace. Only admitted students are eligible to apply for the housing program

For students not selected for housing in Terrace, we provide an opt-in roommate matching service and we provide information on local housing options.

How much is tuition?

Tuition for USC Gould's 2015-2016 academic year is $58,022. After tuition, fees, books, room/board, transportation and other factors are combined, we estimate students should budget $82,333 for the full academic year. More information on costs can be found on the financial aid web pages.

As a private institution, USC Gould charges a flat tuition rate, with no distinction between in-state and out-of-state residency. Tuition and fees are set annually and are subject to change.

How can I pay for my legal education?

USC Gould provides a competitive scholarship and financial aid program, with over 90% of our incoming class receiving some kind of financial aid. Scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year ranged from $10,000 to full tuition. Additionally, once a scholarship is awarded, it is guaranteed for all three years of attendance. USC Gould also participates in several federal low-interest loan programs for students. Some of these loans are need-based, while others are not. Visit our financial aid website for more information on your options.

Can I reapply if I was denied admission previously?

Yes. We recommend that you submit a current admissions application and make sure your CAS subscription is current. We also recommend you evaluate your personal statement and other supplemental information and revise or update these materials as necessary. We recommend at least one new letter of recommendation. The LSAT should have been taken within five years of the date you plan to matriculate at USC Gould (e.g. applicants to the incoming 2015 class should have taken the LSAT no later than December 2011).

USC Gould maintains application files from previous years. The Admissions Committee will have access to your previous file and will refer to it in the review process. Therefore, you should not simply send in a new application form, without updating any other part of your file. Additionally, you MUST honestly answer each and every question on the application regardless of the information contained on your prior application, this includes all conduct and discipline related questions.

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