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The following instructions are for those students interested in applying for our J.D. program. Please visit the LL.M. page or J.S.D. page if you are interested in applying to those programs.

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Notre Dame Law School (NDLS) admits new Juris Doctor students for the fall term only and begins accepting applications on September 1 for the next year's entering class. Given the competitive nature of the applicant pool and NDLS's rolling processes for both admissions and scholarship, the Admissions Committee recommends that prospective students read the following directions closely and consider applying early in the admission cycle.

Standards for Admission

The Admissions Committee seeks to enroll a highly qualified and diverse class that will help the Law School achieve its mission of educating lawyers who will serve the good of the human family.

To that end, the Admissions Committee evaluates candidates in a holistic manner and considers an array of factors including, but not limited to, the following: academic achievement and potential; undergraduate and graduate coursework; demonstrated leadership skills; community involvement; overcoming adversity; work and life experiences; and a specific interest in the study and practice of law. When completing the application, students are encouraged to consider how they may address the factors listed above. While it is not necessary to address each item in the application, many of our most competitive applicants highlight the factors they believe are the strongest, address a specific interest in the study and practice of law, and indicate how NDLS will assist them in achieving their personal and professional goals.

Application Dates

The Regular Decision application opens September 1; the application deadline is March 15. All supporting documents (i.e., letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, etc.) must be on file by March 25.

The Early Decision application opens September 1; the application deadline is February 1. All supporting documents must be on file by February 15.

Because NDLS uses a rolling process for both admissions and scholarship, applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible beginning September 1.

If applying via Early Decision, students must submit a complete application by November 15 in order to receive a decision by late-December.

Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

Students interested in attending Notre Dame Law School may apply via either Early or Regular Decision.

Early Decision is a binding process designed for applicants who have researched their law school options and have determined that NDLS is their top choice. Applying via Early Decision allows students to express their high level of interest in attending Notre Dame Law School. The Admissions Committee gives priority review to Early Decision applications. Students admitted via Early Decision will receive information regarding their scholarship offer (if any) at the time of admission; students admitted via Regular Decision will learn of their scholarship status beginning in mid-February.

As part of the Early Decision application process, students must agree to the provisions of the Early Decision Contract outlined below in the “Required Documents” section.

Students who apply via Early Decision may be admitted, denied, or offered a place on the waitlist. Students who are offered a place on the waitlist and are later admitted to Notre Dame Law School do not have to abide by the provisions of the Early Decision Contract.

Application Fee

The fee for applying to Notre Dame Law School is $75 US and may be paid by credit card, check, or money order. This fee is non refundable.

If paying by check or money order, please make these documents payable to "Notre Dame Law School." Applicants must also submit the Certification Letter with their check or money order.

A fee waiver is available for some applicants including those for whom this fee presents a burden as well as those who have one or more years of full-time service in the U.S. military, Alliance for Catholic Education, AmeriCorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Peace Corps, or Teach for America. 

Repeat Applicants

Students who applied in previous admissions cycles are encouraged to update their materials accordingly. At minimum, the Admissions Committee requests updates to the application form, personal statement, resume, and that applicants provide their most recent academic documents. Academic letters of recommendation may be re-used from previous applications but the Admissions Committee suggests that applicants provide a further letter from a recommender who can provide insight on the applicant's work since the time of the original application. Students must also disclose any updated information related to the Character and Fitness section.

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Application Materials

A complete application to Notre Dame Law School is composed of the following required documents:A complete application to Notre Dame Law School is composed of the following required documents:

  1. Application form
  2. Personal statement
  3. Resume
  4. Two letters of recommendation
  5. LSAT and/or GRE
  6. Transcripts
  7. LSAC CAS law school report
  8. Character and Fitness information
  9. TOEFL (for international students)
  10. Early Decision contract (for those applying Early Decision)
     

The following are optional or may be requested of a candidate by the Admissions Committee:

  1. “Why Notre Dame Law School?” Statement
  2. “Different Kind of Lawyer” Statement
  3. Addenda
  4. Interview

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Required Documents

Application Form

Students should answer all questions on the application form. If a question does not apply to a student - or if the student would prefer not to answer an optional question - the student may indicate as such.

Personal Statement

The Admissions Committee gives considerable emphasis in its evaluation to the personal statement. The statement should provide the Admissions Committee with insights about the applicant and the applicant's interest in pursuing both a legal education and career. The most effective personal statements also typically provide further insight into the writer's personality, background, professional interests, or matters that are not fully present in other parts of the application.

The personal statement must be the applicant's original work in their own words. It should be no more than two double-spaced pages. The personal statement must be included with the application at the time of submission. The personal statement's header must include the student's name, LSAC account number, and be titled "NDLS Personal Statement."

For further information regarding formatting preferences of the Admissions Committee, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Resume

An applicant's resume should highlight their educational, professional, leadership, and service experiences. The applicant may also wish to highlight honors, awards, or special skills. There is no page limit for the resume but one-to-two pages is typical.

For further information regarding formatting preferences of the Admissions Committee, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Two Letters of Recommendation

The Admissions Committee requires applicants to submit two letters of recommendation. Applicants may submit up to four letters if desired.

The letters of recommendation should come from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's candidacy both in terms of academic skills as well as personal qualities. At least one recommendation - preferably both - should come from an individual who instructed the applicant in either an undergraduate or graduate course. The Admissions Committee recognizes that some applicants - especially those who received their bachelor's degree a number of years ago - may have difficulty meeting this request. In such cases, letters from employers/supervisors or others who have worked closely with the applicant are acceptable substitutes.

Applicants are required to use the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service that is part of the Credential Assembly Service. LSAC will include these letters with the CAS report. Please note that LSAC will not release the CAS report until all initial recommenders have submitted their letters. LSAC will send further CAS reports if additional recommenders submit letters at a later time.

For further information regarding formatting preferences of the Admissions Committee, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and/or Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Applicants must take either the LSAT or the GRE.

Applicants must report all valid LSAT and GRE results for the period between June 2016 (for the LSAT) and July 2016 (for the GRE) and the present. Applicants may not withhold reporting any valid LSAT or GRE scores.

LSAC will provide all LSAT score reports via the CAS report.

Applicants who have taken the GRE must send their score reports to NDLS via ETS. The DI Code for NDLS is 4295.

The Office of Admissions recommends that applicants take the LSAT or the GRE within a year of applying to the Law School. 

  • The Admissions Committee should receive the results of the January 2022 LSAT or a GRE taken by January 15, 2022 with sufficient time so as to be considered as part of an Early Decision application.
  • The Admissions Committee should receive the results of the February 2022 LSAT or a GRE taken by February 28, 2022 with sufficient time so as to be considered as part of a Regular Decision application.
  • The Admissions Committee may consider the results LSATs or GREs taken on or after March 1, 2022 for applicants who are offered a place on the waitlist.

LSAC and ETS consider their exams to be valid for five admissions cycles after the exam. The oldest exams that may be considered in the 2021-2022 admissions cycle are the June 2016 LSAT and a GRE taken on or after July 1, 2016.

LSAC will inform the Office of Admissions if an applicant has registered for a future LSAT. The Admissions Committee will withhold evaluating the applicant's file until it receives the results of that future LSAT. Applicants planning to take the GRE after submitting their application must provide that information on the Standardized Testing section of this application form.

For further information regarding how the Admissions Committee considers standardized test scores, please consult the Standardized Test Policy page and Frequently Asked Questions page.

Transcripts 

The Admissions Committee considers not only the applicant's overall grades but also their coursework, major(s), minor(s), and concentrations.

Please note that LSAC will standardize an applicant's undergraduate GPA per their regulations. The LSAC-calculated GPA will include all coursework completed towards the applicant's initial bachelor's degree. Applicants must submit all post-secondary transcripts to LSAC so as to be included in the CAS report.

While neither coursework for subsequent bachelor's degrees nor for advanced degrees is factored into the LSAC-calculated GPA, the Admissions Committee gives considerable emphasis to this further academic work in its evaluation.

The Admissions Committee strongly encourages students who are applying during the course of their senior year of college or final year of graduate school to provide updated transcripts to LSAC at the completion of each subsequent academic semester or quarter. LSAC will send updated CAS reports upon receipt of such transcripts.
Students may address any concerns regarding their coursework or grades in the Addendum section of the application.

Of special note, the Admissions Committee recognizes that many institutions implemented versions of pass/fail or credit/no credit grading systems for the Spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Admissions Committee encourages applicants to provide further information regarding the grading practices at their institution for that semester via the Addendum section of the application.

LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Law School Report

Notre Dame Law School requires applicants to register with LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. Notre Dame's number for use of the service is 1841. An applicant's CAS report will include their LSAT score(s), LSAT writing section(s), all post-secondary transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Please note that LSAC charges a one-time registration fee of $195 for this service and, additionally, $45 per law school to which the student applies. Applicants may find more information regarding the CAS report on LSAC's website.

Please do not send LSAT score reports, transcripts, or letters of recommendation directly to Notre Dame Law School unless specifically requested by the NDLS Office of Admissions.

Character and Fitness Information

If a student answers "Yes" to either of the Character and Fitness questions on this application, the student must provide a full explanation of the circumstances involved and the resolution to the situation(s) in question. Students should double-space this explanation and label the attachment with their name, LSAC account number, and use the title "Character and Fitness" in the statement's header.

Students have a continuing requirement to report any updates to their Character and Fitness information throughout the application process as well as post-enrollment at Notre Dame Law School. To that end:

If a student applies to NDLS and - prior to admission or enrollment at NDLS - later engages in an action that would have led the student to answer "Yes" to either of the Character and Fitness questions, the student must immediately update the Office of Admissions regarding the incident. Please send updates to bulletin@nd.edu, subject line "Character and Fitness Update."

If a student applies to NDLS and - after admission and enrollment at NDLS - later engages in an action that would have led the student to answer "Yes" to either of the Character and Fitness questions, the student must immediately update Jenny Fox, the Law School Registrar, regarding the incident. Please send updates to jenniferfox@nd.edu, subject line "Character and Fitness Update."

In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

TOEFL

Applicants from non-English-speaking countries must take the TOEFL offered by ETS unless they have received a post-secondary degree (e.g., a B.A., M.A., MBA, Ph.D., LL.B., etc.) from a college or university whose language of instruction is English.

Applicants with an extraordinary ability for the English language (e.g., has worked as a translator, taught English, received a post-secondary degree from a college or university in an English-speaking country, etc.) may request a waiver from this requirement. Applicants should submit this request to the Office of Admissions at bulletin@nd.edu, subject line "TOEFL waiver request."

The Admissions Committee prefers that applicants sit for the TOEFL within one year of the time that they apply to the Law School. ETS will report scores up to two years after a test date.

Applicants must have copies of the official TOEFL report forwarded to LSAC directly from ETS. Please do not send official score reports to Notre Dame Law School unless specifically requested by the NDLS Office of Admissions.

Early Decision Contract (for those applying Early Decision)

Students applying to Notre Dame Law School via Early Decision must submit the Early Decision contract. The conditions outlined on the Early Decision contract are as follows:

  1. The student will not have an active binding early decision application to another law school. The student may have active applications to other law schools via a non-binding early admissions process or via regular action/decision admissions processes.
  2. If admitted to NDLS via binding Early Decision, the student will provide their confirmation deposit by the deadline noted on their decision letter (typically within 10 business days).
  3. If admitted to NDLS via binding Early Decision, the student will immediately withdraw all pending applications to other law schools and will not initiate further applications during the admissions cycle.
  4. If admitted to NDLS via binding Early Decision, the student will not submit any further applications to other law schools for the remainder of the 2021-2022 application cycle.

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Optional Documents

“Why Notre Dame Law School?” Statement

Applicants may use this optional statement as an opportunity to express a specific interest in Notre Dame Law School. Applicants may wish to address how their background, experiences, personal character, and/or career aspirations align with the legal education that NDLS provides and how the Law School can assist them with both their professional and personal formation.
The "Why Notre Dame Law School?" statement must be the applicant's own work in their own words. It should be no more than two double-spaced pages. If an applicant plans on providing this statement, it must be included with their application at the time of submission. The statement's header must include the applicant's name, LSAC account number, and be titled "Why NDLS Statement."

For further information regarding formatting preferences of the Admissions Committee, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

“Different Kind of Lawyer” Statement

The mission of Notre Dame Law School is to educate a "Different Kind of Lawyer" - one who see the law as more than just a profession, but as a service to others. Students are encouraged to explore not only the moral and ethical dimensions of the law but also their unique roles in furthering the cause of justice.

Following the murder of George Floyd, Dean G. Marcus Cole wrote an open letter to the Notre Dame Law Community in June 2020 in which he stated the following:

One thing that each and every one of us can do is to end the cycle of hate by ending the separation that leads to it.... Each of us needs to get to know people who differ from us. We must all make a conscious decision and effort to expand our circles.

Given the mission of Notre Dame Law School, Dean Cole's open letter, and his call to action, please provide a response to one or both of the following:

  1. What is the unique voice you will lend to the class? How will you expand your classmates' circles and improve their education because of your presence in the class?
  2. What do you hope to achieve either in law school or through your professional work that will further the cause of justice?

The "Different Kind of Lawyer" statement must be the applicant's own work in their own words. It should be no more than two double-spaced pages. If an applicant plans on providing this statement, it must be included with their application at the time of submission. The statement's header must include the applicant's name, LSAC account number, and be titled "DKL Statement."

For further information regarding formatting preferences of the Admissions Committee, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Addenda

If the applicant believes the Admissions Committee would benefit from additional information about their candidacy that is not specifically and/or fully expressed elsewhere in the application, the applicant is welcome to provide further notes via the Addendum. Examples of information typically provided in this section of the application include academic or LSAT/GRE explanations, further information regarding specific items on an applicant's resume or about the applicant's background, explanations of grading policies from the Spring 2020 semester, and eligibility for various veterans educational benefits such as the Yellow Ribbon program.

Applicants should double-space the Addenda. The Addenda's header must include the applicant's name, LSAC account number, and be titled "Addenda."

Interview

The Admissions Committee may request an interview with selected candidates either prior to or after submission of an application. Interviews may be conducted via telephone or Zoom. Applicants who are invited to interview will be contacted by the Admissions Committee with instructions.

Due to the volume of applications, the Admissions Committee cannot consider requests by applicants for interviews.

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Further Information

Scholarship Consideration

Notre Dame Law School is committed to providing a legal education of the highest quality at a tuition structure that compares favorably to other nationally regarded private law schools. Through the generosity of alumni and friends of the Law School, financial assistance in the form of scholarship may be available to members of each entering class.

Every applicant admitted to the Law School is automatically considered both for general merit-based scholarship as well as specific need-based scholarship. The Law School does not require a separate application for scholarship consideration. Funds are awarded at the time of admission for candidates admitted via Early Decision and on a rolling basis beginning in mid-February for candidates admitted via Regular Decision. The Admissions and Scholarship committees encourage students to apply early in the admissions cycle so as to maximize their potential for a scholarship offer. Scholarship awards are not negotiable.

Students are encouraged to research and apply for outside scholarships that may provide further assistance. Notre Dame Law School maintains a database of external scholarships on the Scholarships page.

Loan Assistance

In order to qualify for Federal loan programs, applicants must first file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Notre Dame's School Code is 001840. The University's Office of Financial Aid requests that applicants submit their FAFSA by February 28.

Applicants can find more information regarding Federal loans at the Office of Financial Aid’s website.

Yellow Ribbon Program

Notre Dame Law School is a proud participant in the Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program. Veterans or their beneficiaries must be 100% Post 9/11-eligible in order to qualify. The Law School will contribute funds that - when combined with matching dollars from the Veterans Administration and support from the Post 9/11 GI Bill - will equal the cost of tuition. The amount of the combined financial support will not exceed the cost of tuition.

The Admissions and Scholarship committees encourage relevant applicants to identify their eligibility and status for military and/or veterans educational benefits in both the Military Service and Addendum sections of the application. The Office of Admissions may reach out to candidates for further information as needed.

Applicants may find more information on required documents and procedures regarding military and/or veterans educational benefits on the University Registrar's website dedicated to Veterans Affairs.

Applicants may find more information regarding the University's support of active duty military, veterans, and military dependents on the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs website.

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