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Application Instructions

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply, you must plan to receive a bachelor's degree before enrolling at USC Gould School of Law. If you are admitted, final transcripts confirming conferral of your undergraduate degree must be submitted prior to the beginning of classes in the fall. You must be able to attend law school full time and in person, as we do not offer online or part-time classes for our JD degree.

Application Requirements

Electronic Application

You must submit your application online through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

Application Fee

The application fee is $75. This fee is automatically waived for all applicants who apply by the priority deadline of February 1. No fee waivers are available after that date. You may submit an incomplete application prior to February 1 to ensure you receive the fee waiver and then complete your application by the April 1 final deadline.

Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Report

Provided to USC Gould by LSAC, this report will contain your official transcripts, LSAT score(s), writing sample(s) and letters of recommendation. Official transcript(s) for all post-secondary education, including graduate-level coursework, must be sent directly to LSAC. LSAC will evaluate each transcript and calculate your undergraduate GPA but not your GPA for graduate-level coursework. Any graduate-level coursework will be considered subjectively in our review of your application.

LSAT Score

To be considered for admission, you must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The test is administered four times a year: February, September, December and June. Because we admit on a rolling basis, applications not completed by the February 1 priority deadline are at a significant disadvantage, so consider our application timeline when selecting an LSAT date.

We understand that circumstances sometimes necessitate taking the LSAT after the December administration. You may submit your application with a pending LSAT score and we will hold your file until it is complete (i.e., we will not review your file until all LSAT tests for which you have registered have posted scores).

We will accept LSAT scores that are up to five years old as LSAC does not provide scores older than that.

We report only your highest LSAT score to the American Bar Association (ABA) and other organizations. However, all scores will be considered in the application review process. If there is a significant discrepancy (five or more points) in your scores, we encourage you to submit an addendum to put the variance into context for the Admissions Committee.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is your primary opportunity to discuss who you are beyond the application basics. We are particularly interested in how your background (academic or otherwise) has led to your decision to study law. This is not the place to repeat items on your résumé.

The personal statement should be two to three pages, double-spaced and in at least 12-point font. The Admissions Committee values 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 attached electronically.

Letters of Recommendation

We require two letters of recommendation and will accept a maximum of three. The most influential recommendations focus on your academic potential and are written by people who know you well and can evaluate your academic performance. Although recommendations not pertaining to academic abilities can be helpful, academic recommendations carry the most weight with the Admissions Committee. If you have been out of college for a number of years, a letter from an employer would be appropriate. We encourage employers to discuss your written and oral communication skills, leadership abilities and potential for the study of law.

Résumé

You are required to submit a résumé that illustrates your work history, volunteer commitments, extracurricular activities, and any awards and/or honors. Your résumé should be no more than two pages, and all sections should be listed chronologically (most recent first).

Qualification for Admission to the Bar

Each U.S. jurisdiction establishes bar registration and admission standards for individuals who wish to practice law within the jurisdiction. An evaluation of character and fitness is an essential aspect of those qualifications.

We encourage you to contact the Board of Bar Examiners of the state(s) in which you intend to practice to learn the qualifications for admission to the practice of law in that jurisdiction. The National Conference of Bar Examiners shares additional information on its website. If you are interested in practicing law in California, visit the State Bar of California website for information.

An affirmative answer to any of the character and fitness questions on our application requires a detailed written explanation and supporting documentation.

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 discipline, dismissal or revocation of degree if discovered at a later date.

Optional Application Components

Contribution to Diversity

We believe 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 goals of our admissions process is to enroll students who demonstrate outstanding academic and professional promise and whose background and experience will enrich USC Gould'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)

Addenda

If you believe any item in your application requires clarification, you are welcome to submit a brief addendum to address the issue. However, an addendum is not another opportunity to submit a personal statement; it should be a concise statement addressing a particular aspect of your application.

Foreign-Educated Applicants

USC Gould requires that your foreign transcripts be submitted through the LSAC JD Credential Assembly Service (CAS). If you completed any postsecondary work outside the United States (including its territories) or Canada, you must use this service (unless your foreign education was through a study abroad, consortium or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution and the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript). A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), which will be incorporated into your CAS report.

Foreign-educated applicants are not required to take the TOEFL exam. However, if you have taken the TOEFL exam, you must report your score on the application.

Non-resident applicants are considered for merit-based scholarships but are not eligible for federal financial aid.

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.