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Application Instructions
Juris Doctor (JD) Program

Apply for free!

Application fee waived until February 1, 2020


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.

Admissions Policy Statement

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

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)

All applicants, whether taking the LSAT or GRE, must also register for LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. The CAS Report, provided by LSAC, contains your official transcripts, LSAT score(s), LSAT 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 cumulative 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 may take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Currently, the LSAT is scheduled for the following dates in the 2019-20 cycle: June 3, 2019; July 15, 2019; September 21, 2019; October 28, 2019, November 25, 2019; January 13, 2020; February 22, 2020; March 30, 2020; and April 25, 2020. LSAC has recently collaborated with the Khan Academy to provide free online LSAT test prep materials.

Because we admit on a rolling basis, applications not completed by the February 1 priority deadline are at a significant disadvantage. We will not consider any LSAT scores taken after the February 2020 administration for admission in Fall 2020. 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 consider all LSAT scores going back five years.

Additionally, if you take the LSAT, your file will not become complete until at least one LSAT Writing Sample is processed and sent via your CAS report. If you have or will have multiple LSAT scores, an application will complete with one LSAT Writing Sample, and we will not hold an application for an additional LSAT Writing Sample.

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 (four or more points) in your scores, we encourage you to submit an addendum to put the variance in context for the Admissions Committee.

Graduate Records Exam (GRE) Score

Beginning with the 2018-19 application cycle, we accept either the LSAT or the GRE. While we expect the vast majority of our applicants will continue to apply with only the LSAT, you may want to consider whether the GRE is a suitable alternative. Factors such as: plans for other graduate study, your application timeline, and whether you will apply to other law schools that accept ONLY the LSAT should be considered.

If you choose to apply with the GRE, you must submit all valid GRE test results for the last five years. You may not choose which results to share. This parallels the requirement that five years of LSAT scores be disclosed on the application. Just as with the LSAT, we will accept an explanation for discrepancies between multiple GRE scores. Space to address multiple scores is provided in the Additional Questions section of our application.

The GRE is offered year-round. Please visit the ETS website for additional information. In order to have a complete application by our February 1 priority deadline, we require that you take the GRE prior to January 11, 2020. GRE scores are officially reported approximately two weeks of the test date. This timeline should allow arrival and processing of your score by February 1. We will not consider GRE scores for tests taken after January 11.

Applicants who take the GRE (instead of or in addition to the LSAT) must have Educational Testing Service (ETS) send USC Gould all GRE scores from the prior 5-year period. The ETS school code for USC Gould School of Law is 4030.

All applicants applying with the GRE must subscribe to and utilize the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

If you choose to apply with a GRE score and have taken the LSAT, your LSAT score must be reported and is considered when reviewing your application. In other words, any GRE or LSAT taken within the past five years must be reported to USC Gould.

The GRE will not be accepted for Early Decision applicants. All Early Decision applicants must apply with the LSAT.

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.


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)


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.


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