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University of San Diego School of Law

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University of San Diego School of Law

The University of San Diego School of Law is a highly respected institution, noted for the excellence of its faculty and the strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 800 students from all over the United States and worldwide. The law school is especially respected for its business and corporate law offerings constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law, and taxation. Additionally, the law school has been elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The school's faculty is also highly respected, with many scholars and teachers having national and international reputations.


Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949. The USD School of Law is among the most prestigious law schools in the United States. The law school has a strong faculty with national and international reputations. The American Bar Association accredits the school and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

The School of Law's mission is to provide students with the education and training necessary to become successful attorneys and leaders. Their faculty's scholarship helps us educate their students in a stimulating, entrepreneurial, and compassionate environment. Additionally, their academic mission helps them better understand the law and how to educate their students.


The University of San Diego School of Law admissions committee looks at many factors when considering candidates for admission, including LSAT scores, GRE scores, and undergraduate GPAs. However, other factors such as work experience, community service, and personal recommendations are also important considerations. The committee seeks to admit a class that is diverse in viewpoints and experiences and considers the applicant's ability to succeed in law school and contribute to the legal profession. The admissions process is highly selective, and the School of Law receives many applications yearly.


Admissions Stats
Class of: 2020-2021 2021-2022
25th - 50th - 75th percentile LSAT 155 - 159 - 161 157 - 161 - 163
25th - 50th - 75th percentile GPA 3.33 - 3.65 - 3.75 3.39 - 3.7 - 3.81
Acceptance rate 39.0% 31.0%
Applications received 2928 3627
Acceptances 1143 1124
Matriculants 340 354

The University of San Diego admitted 1,124 out of 3,627 applicants in the 2022 cycle. The LSAT median was 161, and the GPA median was 3.7. The yield, or percentage of those offered admission who attended, was 22.15%. 249 out of 1,124 applicants who were offered admission were accepted.

Notification of Decision

  • Regular Admission:

The admissions committee begins reviewing completed applications in late fall. A completed application may take several weeks or months to be reviewed. Once the admissions committee has made a decision, applicants are advised of the decision as an offer of admission, an offer of a place on the waitlist, or a denial of admission. Admission decisions are typically finalized once most applications have been reviewed. Applicants who are waitlisted may not receive a final decision until late summer. If an offer of admission is extended, the admitted student must send a deposit to the admissions office by the specified date to secure a position in the entering class. The offer of admission will be withdrawn unless the required deposit is received when due.

  • Early Decision Program:

The admissions office will begin to review early decision applications in late fall. Applicants will be advised of the decision by December 22. The criteria used to evaluate applicants under this program will be the same as the criteria and selection process employed for regular admissions. Early decision is a binding admission process; you will have until January 15 to confirm your place in the entering class by submitting the required seat deposit.

Application Process

The University of San Diego offers both early decision admission and regular admission for first-year entering students. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Admission is for the fall semester only and is on a rolling basis. The priority filing deadline for regular admission is February 1, and the deadline is June 1. The early admission deadline is December 1. Applicants must pass a personal statement, an official transcript, letters of recommendation, and a current resume or list of employers.

Character and Fitness

Applicants who want to become lawyers should be aware that to be admitted to the bar in any state, character and fitness are among the qualifications that must be met. Visiting the National Conference of Bar Examiners website encourages applicants to determine these requirements in the states they want to practice law.

Official Transcript Requirement

If you are an admitted student, you must have your official transcripts on file with the Office of Admissions as soon as possible. Only transcripts that include a degree conferral date meet the official transcripts standard. Unless "extraordinary circumstances" apply, a law school must have official transcripts on file for fall matriculating students by October 15th. For students matriculating at any other time, official transcripts must be on file within four weeks of the date classes begin. Suppose the Office of Admissions determines extraordinary circumstances have delayed the receipt of an enrolled student's official transcripts by stated ABA deadlines. The Office of Admissions will add a written explanation detailing these circumstances to the student's file. If you're an enrolled student whose final transcripts don't arrive on time, you'll be automatically withdrawn from law school. You'll still be responsible for all associated fees and costs.

Personal Statement

The personal statement should be around two to three pages long, and the admissions committee looks at it as an opportunity to see your writing, thinking ability, interests, and background. In your statement, you should discuss the aspects of your background and experience most relevant to the criteria for admission. You may also want to discuss why you want to study law and what you plan on doing with your legal education. Finally, you can include any other information you think is essential for the committee.

Standardized Test Requirements

All students who want to attend law school must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the GRE General Test. Both the LSAT and the GRE are offered throughout the year. Students can find more information on the LSAC website or the ETS website. To be accepted to law school, students whose native language is not English must first pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). LSAC administers the TOEFL, which can be taken at various locations worldwide.

Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Registration and Transcript Requirements

Applicants who have completed any college-level coursework or degrees outside the United States must apply to the Credential Assembly Service for JD Credential Assembly Service for Foreign-Educated Applicants. They must also send all foreign transcripts to CAS. Transcripts for work completed before registering with CAS should be sent to CAS, not to the USD School of Law. Applicants should designate the USD School of Law (code 4849) as a recipient of the CAS report. Applicants should allow approximately six weeks for the CAS process.

Letters of Recommendation

The School of Law requires letters of recommendation. Letters need to be submitted through the CAS service. The directions and forms are in the LSAT/CAS registration and information book. Letters will be forwarded to USD with an applicant's CAS report. Letters of recommendation should be from professors or individuals who can evaluate some significant aspect of the applicant's academic background and work experience. For first-year applicants, they require you to submit at least two letters, but up to three are accepted. If the candidate has been out of undergraduate school for less than five years, they prefer letters from academic sources.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The tuition at San Diego University for full-time students (12-16 units) is $60,380, while the tuition for part-time students (8-11 units) is $44,630.

Cost of Attendance

The tuition and fees for Summer 2022, Fall 2022, and Spring 2023 terms are listed below. Living expenses are based on a nine-month academic year. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the Student Accounts Office.

'​Cost of Attendance, 2022-23
Tuition $60,380 $44,630
Fees1 $481 $461
Books & Supplies $1,938 $1,486
Housing2 $14,461 14,461
Food $6,020 $6,020
Transportation3 $3,100 $3,100
Personal/Misc. $4,320 $4,320
TOTAL $90,700 $74,478

Financial Aid

The USD School of Law provides various financial assistance options to ensure that all students have access to education, regardless of their personal or family resources. Financial aid can include scholarships, low-interest loans, private loans, and work-study jobs. Students are expected to contribute a portion of their income and assets toward their expenses, but various financial aid options are available to help. It is essential to apply early for the best chance of receiving the most financial assistance.

Scholarship Programs

The University of San Diego School of Law offers a comprehensive financial aid program that helps eligible students pursue and plan a legal education. Entering students are automatically considered for merit-based as well as need-based scholarships. The Admissions Committee focuses on awarding scholarships to students with academic merit or promise and financial need. Financial aid awarded to School of Law students includes more than 350 scholarships and grants. All scholarships and grants are coordinated with any other financial aid a student receives.

USD School of Law Grants

The Law School offers several need-based partial tuition grants to students. These grants are based on the student's financial need, academic promise, potential for service to the community, and diversity of the USD community. The award totals between $21,000 and $26,000. The scholarship may be granted as a 1-year scholarship or renewable award for subsequent years. To be considered, applicants must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually and continue to establish financial need. Students will be notified in writing when the award is made, whether they are receiving a 1-year or renewable award.

Law School Culture

The University of San Diego believes in academic excellence, individual dignity, and the development of knowledge, values, and skills that will prepare their students for service to their professional, global, civic, and faith communities. They also recognize the importance of diversity among their student body and embrace all individuals, regardless of their traditions. School of Law is an active participant and supporter of the DiscoverLaw campaign, which seeks to promote legal education opportunities for all students. For more information on the LSAC's Discover Law campaign, please visit DiscoverLaw.org.

Academics and Curriculum

The University of San Diego School of Law offers a range of academic courses and programs to provide students with a comprehensive and rigorous legal education. The course offerings are extensive and draw on the expertise of some of the most influential legal minds in the field. They have degree programs for those entering or already established in the legal profession, making them a world-renowned institution for legal education.


​JD Program

The JD Program at USD School of Law is designed to meet its students' diverse career goals and interests. Students who wish to focus on a particular area of law can choose from various electives, and the law school also offers clinical and internship programs to provide practical experience. The JD degree can be completed in either three years of full-time study or four years of evening study. Upon recommendation of the dean and faculty, the JD degree is conferred upon law students who have completed all academic, graduation, and residency requirements.

Full-Time Program

The School of Law recommends that students not engage in employment during their first year of law school. Full-time upper-division law students are discouraged from working more than 20 hours per week. This program generally takes three years to complete, with classes scheduled Monday through Friday.

Part-Time Program

The program is designed for law students who work and cannot attend day classes. Four years of evening study are generally required to complete the degree. Classes are generally scheduled Monday through Thursday evenings, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Additional classes may be scheduled as needed. After completing the first year of the part-time program, students may take day classes or request to transfer to full-time status.

Summer Program

The University of San Diego offers a seven-week summer program for continuing students. This summer session is open to students attending USD and other law schools. Completing summer sessions can help students have a lighter class load during a subsequent semester.


The University of San Diego offers concentrated programs in ten key practice areas. These concentrations highlight curricular strengths, offering a rich selection of courses taught by leading scholars and expert practitioners. This allows students to focus their studies after the first year and develop a deeper understanding of a particular area of law.

The concentration curriculum is an informal guide that students can use to shape their education. However, if they want to focus on career preparation, they can meet the specific requirements for earning a Certificate of Concentration and transcript notation. Concentrations are available to students who began their law studies in the fall of 2008 or later. However, note that electing or pursuing a concentration area does not give students any registration or enrollment priority.

​Clinical Education

The University of San Diego School of Law has a long and rich tradition of providing high-quality legal education while offering free legal services to low-income residents in the San Diego community. Clinical education programs at USD are considered some of the most extensive and thriving in the nation. These programs provide students with practical skills and experience while instilling a sense of social responsibility and commitment to pro bono service. Clinical education programs offer students many opportunities, including training under experienced professors and attorneys, learning professional responsibility in the real world, and acquiring interpersonal skills. These are the list of the clinics.

  • Appellate Clinic
  • Child Advocacy Clinic
  • Civil Clinic
  • Education and Disability Clinic
  • Energy Law and Policy Clinic
  • Entrepreneurship Clinic
  • Federal Tax Clinic
  • Housing Rights Clinic
  • Immigration Clinic
  • Public Interest Law Clinic
  • State Income Tax Clinic – California
  • State Sales and Use Tax – California
  • Veterans Clinic
  • Workers' Rights
  • Women's Legal Clinic

Note: The University of San Diego School of Law provides legal services to clients through its Legal Clinics. These clinics are staffed by law students who are supervised by practicing attorneys. If you are interested in meeting with a law student for an intake, they cannot accommodate walk-in clients. For more information, please call 619-260-7470.

Field Placement Program

Students can receive academic credit for legal work performed at government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and business companies. In addition to hands-on work, students enroll in a pass/fail course consisting of written and academic components. Students earn one academic credit for 50 hours of legal work. List of the program below.

  • Washington DC Externship

The D.C. government offers a program that allows students to earn academic credits while working for a government agency, public interest organization, nonprofit trade association, or think tank during the fall semester. The summer semester offers the opportunity to earn 1-6 academic credits through the Agency Externship program.

  • Agency Externship

Students can earn academic credit for working with a local government agency or nonprofit organization during the school semester or summer. The number of units they can earn depends on how many hours they work, and they can only count work done during the academic semester or summer. Students who have already done Agency Externship I can do Agency Externship II.

  • Corporate Counsel Externship

The Corporate Counsel Externship program is a way for students to earn academic credit for working in a legal department of a local business. Students can earn 1-6 units of credit, depending on the amount of work they do. The program runs from the start of classes to the last day of final exams, and students cannot count work done outside of this period towards their academic credit requirements. Students who have already taken Corporate Counsel Externship I may take Counsel Externship II.

  • Judicial Externship

The Judicial Externship Program allows students to earn academic credit for working with judges in state or federal trial or appellate courts. The primary purpose of these placements is to help students understand how the courts work and how attorneys, judges, and litigants succeed and fail in the process. By doing various work in their placements, judicial externs improve their research, writing, observation, and oral communication skills. Students earn academic credit between the start of classes and the last day of final exams. Students may count any externship work outside this period as pro bono hours, provided the student is not receiving compensation for those hours.

  • Corporate Tech Externship

The Corporate Tech Externship program places students at local law firms and companies to provide legal assistance to technology companies. Students are supervised by a law firm, company attorneys, and the professor. The course begins with six class sessions covering the core types of transactions encountered in technology startups. Students typically perform 5-15 hours at the law firm or company weekly, earning 1 unit of pass/fails credit for every 50 hours worked.

  • IP Externship

The IP Externship places students at local law firms and companies to provide legal assistance to individuals (inventors, artists, musicians, and others) and tech and media companies in intellectual property law (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and related fields). Students are supervised by the law firm, company attorneys, and the professor. The course will begin with six class sessions covering patent and trademark searching, prosecution, litigation; copyrights registrations; IP licensing; and related topics. Students typically perform 5-15 hours at the law firm or company weekly, earning 1 unit of pass/fail credit for every 50 hours worked.

Employment Prospects & Bar Passage

The average salary for a JD graduate from the University of San Diego who works in the private sector is $90,000. If they go into the private sector, they can expect to make an average of $68,000. Almost 70% of law graduates from the University of San Diego go directly to work for law firms, while only 1% clerk for a judge. Only 6.9% of graduates go into public interest. 86% of University of San Diego graduates pass the bar on their first try.

How do San Diego grads do after taking the bar? It is hard to say. The school does not report the percentage of students employed at graduation. One might suspect that this number must not reflect well on the school and it is for that reason that it is not reported. San Diego does report its percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, however: 91%. This is a mediocre number and speaks to the competition created by the plethora of law schools turning out graduates in California.

San Diego is a regional school, meaning that the majority of its graduates find work in and around the region the school is located in. While some students may choose to stay local and enjoy the warm weather of Southern California, the reality is that most San Diego grads would struggle to find jobs outside of California if they tried. Over 80% of students stayed in the state after graduation; and the remaining graduates did not go very far. In fact, less than 5% of graduates found work east of the Mississippi River.

Quality of Life

San Diego Law

At USD School of Law, many resources are available to students to ensure their experience is the best. The school strongly emphasizes building relationships and community, and there are many opportunities for students to get involved. There are student organizations, journals, advocacy teams to join, and plenty of other activities and events on campus. The school is also active, with an intramural softball team open to all law students. Whatever your interest or professional goal, USD has an outlet for it. The Office for Law Student Affairs is a great place to start if you are looking for ways to get involved in the USD law community.

The San Diego Law School student body is generally conservative and focused on pursuing law careers that will make them a lot of money. There may be better environments for students interested in public interest law. However, San Diego is a great city with many nightlife options. The city also has a lot of outdoor activities to offer, although law students may only have a little free time to take advantage of them.


In the end, it seems that San Diego Law would be a perfect fit for any student interested in staying in the San Diego area and working in private practice (especially tax law). Tuition is high, however, and prospective students should keep the school's poor employment rates in mind before sending in that seat deposit.

Contact Information

University of San Diego
Admissions Office
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4600



Established 1954
Location San Diego, CA
Dean Robert Schapiro
2022 US News Ranking 64th
LSAT Median Score 161
GPA Median Score 3.7
Bar Passage Rate 86% (2022)
Employment Rate 50% (2022)
Cost $60,380 FULL TIME(12-16 UNITS)

$44,630 PART TIME(8-11 UNITS)

Average Debt $137,203
Application Deadline February 1, 2023 (Priority);

June 1, 2023 (Regular); December 1, 2023 (Early)"

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