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Application Instructions

Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR)


To be eligible to apply, you must have earned or plan to earn a bachelor's degree before enrolling at USC Gould School of Law. If you hold a degree from a university within the United States, USC Graduate Admissions requires that it must be a regionally accredited institution. No degree or experience in law is required. We seek applicants whose academic background, professional aspirations, personal commitment, and communication skills align with the focus of USC Gould School of Law Center for Dispute Resolution and meet the demands of a rigorous legal graduate certificate program. While the university does not require a GPA minimum, our Admissions Committee will strongly consider those applicants who have earned an overall 3.0 (based on a 4.0 grading scale) or B average or higher. Our Admissions Committee will consider GPAs below our recommendation, provided that you meet our other admissions criteria.

We do not require work experience or an LSAT/GRE score to be considered for admission to any of our graduate degrees. Should you elect to submit an LSAT or GRE score report to supplement your application, such score will not play a key role in our admission decision-making process to ensure an equitable process for all applicants.

Note: Our MDR degree is not recommended for students intending to practice law. Pursuant to the American Bar Association Standards and USC's graduate transfer policies, credits earned in our MDR program are not eligible for transfer to a Juris Doctor (JD) program at USC or other universities. In addition, students in our MDR program are not eligible to apply for our LLM-JD Transfer program. For students who wish to become attorneys, we advise that they learn more about our JD degree.

Dates and Deadlines

USC Gould School of Law offers two starts in fall and spring with the option to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. International students who require a student visa may only enroll on a full-time basis. Below are the upcoming start dates and application deadlines:

Program Start DatePriority DeadlineFinal Application Deadline
Fall 2024: August 26, 2024February 1, 2024June 1, 2024*
Spring 2025: January 13, 2025September 1, 2024November 1, 2024*

* Final Application Deadline for international students who require initial I-20 documentation for their student visas is May 1, 2024 for Fall semester and October 1, 2024 for Spring semester. We highly encourage you to apply by our Priority Deadline in order to provide sufficient time to process any required documents, including I-20 documentation for student visas, and to apply for USC campus housing.

If you are planning to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam after our Priority Deadline, we highly recommend that you go ahead and submit your application (and any other completed materials) prior to taking the exam and we will accept your test scores after you receive your official results. The Admissions Committee will make a final admissions decision upon receipt of your complete application file.

All applicants will be automatically considered for a scholarship award and do not need to submit any further documents to request an award. In addition, applicants who apply by our Priority Deadline will be automatically considered for a housing stipend.

Application Process

To apply for admission, the following information and documents must be submitted:

  1. Online USC Gould or LSAC Application

    Note: Once you start your application by clicking above, you may be directed to complete your online application through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) if you have earned (or will earn) a degree from outside of the U.S. Applicable instructions and links will then be provided within the USC Gould application.

    2. Personal Statement

    Following the directions provided in your online application, provide a two or three-page document that includes your personal, academic, and professional background and your reasons for pursuing the LLM in ADR degree. If you have prior education or experience in alternative dispute resolution, please take a paragraph or two to tell us about it.

    3. Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

    Following the directions provided in your online application, provide a record of your employment history and list of any distinctions, publications, and licenses/credentials.

    4. Official Transcripts and Degree Verification

    You must have earned your first law degree (JD, LLB or equivalent) by the time you enroll at USC Gould School of Law. Following the directions provided in your online application, submit official transcripts from all institutions attended.

    Domestic Applicants: If all of your degrees are from within the U.S., you must submit official transcripts directly to USC Gould at the address below or by email to [email protected]. Official transcripts must be received directly from the institutions.

    Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) Degree
    USC Gould School of Law
    699 Exposition Boulevard, Room 105
    Los Angeles, California 90089-0071

    International Applicants: If you hold any degree from outside the U.S, you must submit official transcripts to LSAC for evaluation using its International Transcript Authentication and Evaluation Service (ITAES). Credential evaluation takes 2-3 weeks to complete once LSAC has received all of your documents; there may be further delay during LSAC's peak processing periods or if LSAC determines that additional information is required to complete its review. We therefore suggest that you apply as early as possible so that there is no consequential delay in LSAC transmitting its evaluation report to us. Fees charged by LSAC for utilizing its services, including for ITAES, are payable to LSAC. Please visit LSAC's website for more information about fees charged by LSAC, including its refund policy. USC Gould requires a $75 application fee, which will be waived if you apply by our priority deadline.

    5. English Proficiency

    If you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident (Green card), you must are take the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL/IELTS waiver requests will only be considered if (1) your native language is English, or (2) you possess an undergraduate degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree from an institution in which English is the primary language of instruction in accordance with the USC Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • USC Gould does not have a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score; however, we recommend a 90 TOEFL iBT and a 7.0 IELTS or above.
    • Please have your official scores sent to LSAC if you submit your application through LSAC. LSAC's institutional code is 8395.
    • Test scores must be dated within two years (24 months) of the application date.
    • USC does NOT accept MyBest TOEFL scores of applicants as valid proof of language proficiency. We will consider the single best total TOEFL or IELTS score you submit along with the sub-scores from that test.

    The LSAT or GRE exam is not required for admission. In addition, letters of recommendation are not required.

    The Admissions Committee will not review your application until all transcripts and supporting documents are received. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of your documents are submitted by the final application deadline. Be sure to regularly check the email address you have provided on the application in the event that the Admissions Committee request additional materials or information.

Application Status Check

After you submit your application through LSAC, we will send you a confirmation email that provides you with a username and password for the Application Online Status Check system. Then you may log in and create a new, personalized password and periodically check your application status.


Admissions decisions are made upon receipt of complete application files. Incomplete applications are not reviewed. We encourage you to apply by our Priority Deadline to provide sufficient time for you to complete your application file. Our Admissions Committee will provide admissions decisions generally within 2-3 weeks upon our receipt of completed applications, beginning in January for Fall semester start and beginning in July for Spring semester start. Admission decisions are sent by email and postal mail. No admission decisions will be released by telephone.

Next Steps

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We are still accepting applications for Fall 2024. Apply now to waive your $75 application fee!

You can also receive a $34 LSAC report fee waiver by completing our form.