University of North Dakota School of Law
Established in 1899 and accredited in 1923, the University of North Dakota School of Law is the only ABA-accredited law school North Dakota. The law school is located in the small city of Grand Forks, about seventy-five miles from the Canadian border. Some of UND's most notable alumni include US Representatives Earl Pomeroy and Edward Devitt; H.F. Gierk II, chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; and several chief justices of the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Admissions & tuition
Gaining admission to the University of North Dakota School of Law requires numbers similar to those required by other Tier 3 law schools. In 2009, matriculants boasted median GPAs and LSAT scores of 3.30 and 152. Students with above-median numbers should feel good about their chances for admission. North Dakota is a slightly selective school, having accepted only 35 percent of applicants in 2009.
The University of North Dakota is a public school. Tuition is based on a tiered system, lowest for North Dakota residents at about $9,500 a year. For residents of nearby states or Canadian provinces (Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), the rate is just above $13,500 a year. For all other students, tuition is over $23,000 a year. The law school offers joint degree programs in public administration and in business administration.
The law school recently provided 32.7 percent of its students a median amount of $4,000 in grant aid. The average student in 2009 graduated with only $67,236 in law school-related debt. UND does not offer a loan repayment assistance program.
The law school teaches its 1Ls in lectures of 83 each. The law school has 21 total faculty members and a student to faculty ratio of 14.4 to 1. First-years all have the same schedule of requisite courses, including civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, legal process, property and torts. Students say the workload is heavy but manageable. Only one student dropped out after the first year of study in 2008. The professors are described as brilliant, accessible and friendly.
Quality of life
While the cost of living in North Dakota is low, Grand Forks provides all of the amenities of a college town and is lively throughout the school year. There is brand new housing on campus and a number of options for law students who wish to live off campus. North Dakota is quite cold, and students who cannot handle sub-zero temperatures should think twice before submitting their seat deposits. Crime is virtually nonexistent in Grand Forks. Student organizations do a good job of popularizing events at the law school. There are also a number of bars in the area frequented by law students and undergraduates alike.
Employment prospects & bar passage
In 2008, 90.1 percent of UND's most recent graduates were known to be employed within nine months of graduation. Of those, two thirds were working in North Dakota and the majority of other students worked in the upper Midwest. These graduates earned a median amount of $48,000 in the private sector and $47,100 in the public sector. One should be wary of the 25th percentile private sector salary of $36,000. This suggests a good number of graduates would be making a similar salary (or better) had they skipped law school.
UND, as the only law school in the state, has more prominent alumni and job opportunities in North Dakota than other law schools in the region. Students say the career services office does a great job at placing students at local firms. The Tier 3 ranking of the school, however, hurts graduates who seek employment outside of the state. The alumni network is described as close-knit and helpful, but heavily concentrated in the upper Midwest.
UND had a bar passage rate of 92.3 percent in 2008, 6 percentage points higher than the state's average.
The law school boasts a combination of rock-bottom tuition prices for residents and a decent in-state reputation. Salaries may not be high for graduates, but they are not dwarfed by the average amount of student debt. Since the cost of living in the state is low and the likelihood of getting a job is high, any debt incurred from the law school should not be completely unmanageable. Overall, students who want to work in North Dakota should have few reservations about applying to UND.
University of North Dakota School of Law
Office of JD Admissions
215 Centennial Drive, Stop 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202
U.S. News & World Report ranking: Tier 3
LSAT Median: 152
GPA Median: 3.30
Application Deadline: April 1
Application fee: $35
Entering class size: 86
Yearly Tuition: Resident, ~$9,500; Resident of a neighboring state, ~$13,500; Nonresident, $~23,000
Bar passage rate in North Dakota: 92.3%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 90.1%
Median private sector salary: $48,000 (Class of 2008, a scant 30% reporting)