J.D. Frequently Asked Questions

We receive numerous questions about Notre Dame Law School, the application process, the application components, scholarships, and transferring to the Law School. Please click through the sections below for more information:

FAQs about the Law School

What kinds of J.D. programs does Notre Dame Law offer?

Notre Dame Law School offers a full-time J.D. program. We do not offer any part-time or evening programs. 

NDLS does have three dual degree options for students interested in pursuing a J.D./MBA, J.D./M.A. in English, or J.D./M. in Global Affairs. Such programs typically require four years of courses.

Where is the Law School located?

The Law School is located in the heart of the University of Notre Dame campus in Notre Dame, Indiana. Notre Dame lies just to the north of the city of South Bend. The greater South Bend community is a vibrant and affordable community in which to live. Please visit the South Bend website to learn more.

How many students are in each entering class at NDLS? How many total students are typically enrolled at NDLS?

Class sizes can vary annually but – over the past decade – NDLS has enrolled approximately 190 students in the entering J.D. classes. Adding in our transfer students and the dual degree students who spend four years on-campus, we typically enroll over 600 students at any time. Our small class size allows us to cultivate the strong community both inside and outside of the classroom that is a hallmark of studying at NDLS.

What does it mean to “Educate a Different Kind of Lawyer?”

In the practice of law, the same legal ethical standards must be met by law school graduates of Notre Dame or any other university. What makes an NDLS education distinctive is our approach that seeks to do more than train students in a profession; it seeks to help them discover their lives as a vocation. An education at NDLS will focus on the mind as well as on the heart and soul because a different kind of lawyer – a Notre Dame Lawyer – is one who realizes the practice of law is not an end in itself but is rather the beginning of a new and highly specialized way of giving back.

What is the percentage of Catholic students NDLS?

Historically, the student population at NDLS has been approximately 60-65% Catholic. We encourage students of all faith backgrounds – or none at all – to consider if the education offered by the Law School matches what they would like for their professional and personal development.

Does NDLS offer dual degree programs?

NDLS offers a limited number of dual degree programs including J.D./MBA (both a three-year and four-year option), J.D./M.A. in English, and J.D./M. in Global Affairs. Interested students must apply to both programs individually and will be required to meet all admission criteria for both programs (i.e., GRE or GMAT).

Students who wish to combine their J.D. with another graduate program offered by the University must gain approval by both the Law School and the other department prior to enrollment.

Law students may also take up to 9 credit hours in another graduate program on campus (except for the MBA program — only students pursuing the dual J.D./MBA may take MBA courses). Such credits will count as electives towards their J.D.

What are NDLS’s specialty areas or areas of concentration?

NDLS offers eight Programs of Study to its students: Business Law; Criminal Law; Energy and Environmental Law; Global Law; Intellectual Property and Technology Law; Law, Ethics, and Public Policy; Public Law; and Real Estate Law. The programs are offered to all students but are most beneficial to students who wish to concentrate on one of these particular fields. These programs are designed to enable students to study established and/or emerging areas of law in light of modern challenges and developments. These are not certificate programs and do not result in any additional credentials upon graduation. Students are not required to select a Program of Study. Classes in other areas of law are also available. The entire course catalog is published to offer a better sense of both the breadth and depth of classes available at NDLS.

Not all students arrive with a specific academic plan in mind and that is normal. Discussions with the Career Development Office (CDO), faculty advisors, current students, and alumni will help each student craft their academic path.

What are the Law School’s job placement rates? Approximately how long does it take your students to get a job?

  • Class of 2018 – 87.3% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation.
  • Class of 2017 – 86% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation.
  • Class of 2016 – 81% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation. 

Students may find our most recent ABA employment reports on our Career Development Office’s website.

What experiential learning opportunities are available at NDLS?

Experiential learning is a core component of the Notre Dame Law School curriculum. The Law School offers five clinics and eleven externships that provide students with the ability to work with live clients under the supervision of practicing attorneys. Such experiential opportunities include positions on-campus or in the South Bend-area as well as opportunities in locations such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London.

In addition, skills courses teach students the day-to-day tools that lawyers need.

Where do NDLS graduates work?

Notre Dame Law School is a rarity in that it is a truly national school for employment. The biggest markets for our graduates every year tend to be Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. 

You may find our employment stats and a map of where graduates from our five most recent classes found their first jobs on the Career Development Office’s website

FAQs about the application

Where should I begin?

Before beginning the application process, we recommend setting up an account with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). Prospective applicants will also need to register to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

LSAC has also developed a campaign called DiscoverLaw.org, which provides information for racially and ethnically diverse students about career opportunities in the law. Applicants may be interested in the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity. ICLEO was established to assist Indiana minority, low income, or educationally disadvantaged college graduates in pursuing a law degree and a career in the Indiana legal community by providing a summer institute and fellowship award.

How do I apply? 

Students interested in applying to Notre Dame Law School may find our detailed application instructions here. Students may use two different application forms to apply - the LSAC Application and the NDLS Application. Notre Dame Law School has two application cycles - Early Decision and Regular Decision. 

What is the difference between the LSAC application and NDLS application?

The LSAC application can be accessed through the LSAC application website. It has an application fee of $75. It will be available on September 1 and will close on March 15. The NDLS application will be available directly on the NDLS Admissions webpage. It will also be available September 1 - March 15.

The NDLS application is designed to provide an alternative way for students to apply to the Law School. Please note that the NDLS application comes with an automatic fee waiver. While the NDLS application may be especially useful for applicants who have not yet begun the LSAC application process for other schools, all applicants are welcome to use either method. When considering how to apply, please know that both applications ask the same questions and will be given the same consideration by the Admissions Committee.

What is Early Decision? How do I apply Early Decision?

Early Decision is a binding process designed for applications who have researched their law school options and have determined that NDLS is their top choice.

Students may find more information about Early Decision here.

Students may apply Early Decision through either the LSAC or NDLS applications.

What is the ideal time frame to apply to Notre Dame Law School?

Due to the competitive and rolling nature of both our application and scholarship review processes, we encourage students to apply early in the admissions cycle. The applications will open on September 1. 

We acknowledge that some applicants may believe their file could be strengthened by waiting to submit their materials later in our application process (because of a pending LSAT/GRE exam, or to provide the Admissions Committee with one more semester of good grades). 

We typically receive 50% of our total applications for the admissions cycle by January 1 and 75% of our total applications by February 15.

What is the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS)?

CAS is the service LSAC provides to bundle an applicant’s academic documents including their transcripts, LSAT scores, and letters of recommendation. Please visit LSAC’s website for more information about this service.

Although the Law School may provide a fee waiver in order to apply, NDLS is unable to waive any CAS-related fees.

What are the median scores and GPA for NDLS?

For the entering class in 2018, the median LSAT score was a 165 and median undergraduate GPA was a 3.71. More information regarding our most recent incoming cohort is available on the Class Profile.

The 2018-2019 admissions cycle was the first for which NDLS accepted the GRE. As such, we do not have a history of median matriculating students’ GRE scores.

Is there a minimum GPA or standardized test score requirement for admission?

No, there are no minimum GPAs or scores required for admission. The Admissions Committee reads every application utilizing a holistic approach. The non-quantitative aspects of each application are extremely important, and there are no numerical cut-offs. Please see our Class Profile for our most LSAT and GPA medians and quartiles and our ABA 509 reports for historic information regarding medians and quartiles.

May I apply before I take the LSAT or GRE?

Yes, an applicant may submit their application before taking the LSAT or GRE. However, an application will be considered incomplete until we receive at least one standardized test score. 

Can I take the LSAT or GRE after submitting my application?

Yes, a student may apply and then submit a test score at a later time.

If an applicant has a prior LSAT score but is registered for an upcoming LSAT exam at the time of submitting the application, LSAC will notify NDLS of this information. By default, the NDLS Admissions Committee will be hold the application until the new exam score is released. Students in this situation may request that their application be reviewed prior to the release of their upcoming LSAT result. Please direct such requests to the Office of Admissions via email at bulletin@nd.edu.

An applicant with a prior LSAT score or GRE score on record who later decides to sit for the GRE should notify the Office of Admissions immediately regarding their future GRE plans. Please direct such requests to the Office of Admissions via email at bulletin@nd.edu. The NDLS Admissions Committee will hold the application until we receive the future GRE score.

Please note that applicants who apply and are admitted to NDLS with only a GRE score and who later sit for the LSAT will be subject to reconsideration of admission and/or scholarship. In the event admission is rescinded, any seat deposits paid will be refunded.

How important is each component of the application?

NDLS does not use an index for evaluating applicants and the Admissions Committee does not assign a quantitative value to any component of the application. The Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach in reviewing each part of the application. 

How many applications does NDLS receive?

In the recent past, we have received between 2,500 and 3,000 applications per year. Students interested in examining our historic admissions and enrollment information may examine our ABA 509 reports.

Does NDLS grant fee waivers?

Yes, NDLS does grant fee waivers.

Applicants may request a need-based or service-based fee waiver through our website. Service-based fee waivers are for applicants with one or more years of service in the U.S. Military, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Alliance of Catholic Education, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Teach for America, or a similar organization.

In addition, the Admissions Office uses the Candidate Referral Service (CRS) available via LSAC to identity and grant merit-based fee waivers. 

Please know that LSAC offers need-based waivers to those with extreme financial need. This waiver grants the applicant two free LSATs, one LSAT Writing exam, CAS registration, and six CAS Reports. Candidates can find further information about this waiver here. NDLS will grant an application fee waiver to any applicant who has received a need-based fee waiver from LSAC.

What is NDLS’ language requirement for international applicants?

NDLS welcomes applications from citizens of other countries with sufficient English language proficiency as demonstrated by an English language proficiency exam. NDLS prefers that international applicants whose first language is not English take the TOEFL, but will also accept International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. Non-native English speakers who have been awarded a post-secondary degree (BA, MA, MBA, PhD, etc.) from a U.S. university are exempted from this requirement.

Applicants must attain a minimum score of 100 points on the internet-based TOEFL (Internet based or iBT) with minimum scores of 25 in each section. Students taking the IELTS must achieve an overall band score of 7.5 or higher. Scores must be no more than 2 years old from the start date of the term at NDLS (which falls in mid-August each year). The University of Notre Dame institution code is 1841.

An applicant with an extraordinary ability with the English language (e.g., work as a translator) may request a waiver by emailing bulletin@nd.edu

What if I need to update my application after submission?

The NDLS Admissions Committee strongly prefers that applicants submit all necessary information with the initial application. If it becomes necessary to update an application, updated information can be emailed to the Admissions Office at bulletin@nd.edu. An updated transcript or an additional letter of recommendation must be sent through LSAC unless otherwise directed by a member of the NDLS Admissions staff. 

I am the child of a Notre Dame or NDLS alum – does that give me any special preference?

NDLS is happy to receive applications from the children of Notre Dame alumni (from both its undergraduate and graduate programs). However, there is no preference given in our evaluation to legacy applicants nor is there a set number of seats in the incoming class reserved for these applicants.

I applied to Notre Dame for undergrad and either was not accepted or chose not to attend. Does that negatively impact my application?

Standing alone, the fact that an applicant may have applied and been either accepted or denied to any other educational program at Notre Dame, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, will not impact the Law School’s admissions decision. 

When will I receive a decision on my application?

In general, decisions to offer admission, decline admission, or offer a place on our waitlist are made within 6-8 weeks of an application becoming complete (i.e., we have received and processed all of an individual’s application materials). Students who complete their application in September or October may have a longer wait because members of the Admissions Committee are traveling to recruitment events during that period. We typically provide initial decisions in mid-December.

Early Decision applicants are given priority review over Regular Decision applicants. To receive a decision by the end of December, an Early Decision applicant should make sure their file is complete by November 15. Early Decision applicants who complete their files after November 15 may not receive an admissions decision until after January 1.

Please note that our application volume varies throughout the cycle and will impact the timeliness of admissions decisions. We will provide applicants with a decision as soon as it is feasible.

How may I check the status of my application?

The best way to check the status of an application is by going to the link provided through the online status checker

How will NDLS notify me about my decision?

Admitted students are notified by a combination of email and letter communication.

Students who are not offered admission or are offered a place on our waitlist are notified via letter.

FAQs about application components

Personal Statement

What is the Admissions Committee looking for in the personal statement?

The Admissions Committee is primarily looking to learn about each applicant as an individual, their interest in pursuing a legal education, as well as to assess their writing and communication ability. 

What should I write about in my personal statement?

We do not have a specific topic or prompt for you to respond to because you are the best judge of how you should present yourself, interests, and background. You are encouraged to write about something personal, relevant, or unique to you. This may include writing about a significant aspect of your background, a quality or trait that you feel defines you, a transformative experience, or the things that interest or motivate you to pursue a legal education and the legal profession. 

Given the space restrictions of the personal statement (i.e., two double-spaced pages), it is best not to try to cover too many different topics. Please remember that you have additional places in your application to inform the Admissions Committee of your background and interests.

Do I need to tell the Admissions Committee why I want to go to law school?

Keep in mind that this is a personal statement, not a statement of purpose. You are welcome to discuss your reasons and motivations for applying to law school and pursuing a legal profession, but it is not required. However, if your preparation or interest in law school is not evident based on your experiences or background, it may be wise to discuss why you wish to enter the legal profession.

How does the personal statement fit into the rest of my application?

The personal statement is often the Admissions Committee’s favorite part of the application! It is our opportunity to learn about you and go beyond what transcripts or test scores can tell us. Put another way - your academic materials may inform us of your intellectual potential in the classroom, but your personal statement (along with you other written materials) better informs us of what you may contribute to classroom discussions and the broader NDLS community during your time here.

What format should I use for my personal statement?

Please use 12-point font, double-space your pages, and use standard margins. This will make it far easier for the Admissions Committee to read your personal statement. 

To ensure that the correct statement is attached to the correct application, please also include a header with your name and LSAC number on each page. 

What are some common mistakes seen by the Admissions Committee in personal statements?

Personal statements are very individualized so what works for one applicant may not work for another. Beyond the obvious (such as typos and grammatical errors), perhaps the most common issue we see are applicants using their personal statement inefficiently. For example, avoid re-stating your resume or simply listing your qualifications because we will see that information on your resume. It may be useful to consider what information you would like the Admissions Committee to learn about you through their review of your application and only then hone in on the specific subject that would be best for the personal statement.

If writing about an individual or experience that influenced you, be sure to focus on who you are as a result and your goals than spending too much space on describing that individual or experience.

It is ok to use the same personal statement for multiple law school applications. Please just be careful to send the correct personal statement to the correct school! A good tip is to save each personal statement as its own file on your computer and to include the name of the specific law school in the document’s file name.

What are some tips for a successful personal statement?

In general, your personal statement should be organized, straightforward, written in your own voice, and concise. Additionally, we recommend having another person (pre-law advisor, career counselor, faculty, family, or friend) read through your personal statement to provide suggestions, share their comments, and check for errors.

Standardized Exams

Does Notre Dame accept the GRE in place of the LSAT?

Notre Dame Law School accepts both the LSAT and the GRE. Applicants may apply with scores from either or both exams. If an applicant has taken both tests, the Admissions Committee will review all scores but must report the highest LSAT score to the ABA.

If I haven’t taken either exam, which one should I take?

Individuals considering either test should consider several factors, including whether they intend to apply to other law schools that may only accept the LSAT, exam availability (timing and location), and any other plans they may have for graduate study. For additional questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss specific circumstances.

Do I have to submit all test scores from the LSAT and the GRE?

Yes, applicants must report all LSAT scores and GRE scores from the past five years.  LSAC will automatically report all valid LSAT test scores from the past five years on an applicant’s CAS report. To maintain parity in the requirements between the LSAT and GRE results, applicants must also submit all valid GRE test results from the last five years. For example, if a student has taken both exams twice within the last five years, NDLS requires the student to submit all four test results. Applicants who have taken the GRE may not choose which results they will share, regardless of ScoreSelect option availability. A failure to comply with this policy may result in a withdrawal of an offer of admission and/or scholarship.

How does Notre Dame Law School’s requirement to submit all GRE scores within the past five years mesh with my ability through ETS to utilize ScoreSelect?

While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE to apply, NDLS does require all test results from the past five years. Applicants may not choose which GRE results they will share. A failure to comply with this policy may result in a withdrawal of an offer of admission and/or scholarship.

How do I submit my GRE score(s)?

Applicants must request that all available scores be released to us directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Notre Dame Law School’s Designated Score Recipient Code is 4295.

What is your policy on multiple exam scores?

All standardized test scores are noted by the Admissions Committee and are part of the application evaluation. If there are circumstances that impacted test performance, we encourage applicants to provide an addendum explaining those circumstances. 

Please know that all law schools must use a student’s highest LSAT score when reporting information about their enrolling classes to the American Bar Association.

Do you superscore the GRE?

No, we do not superscore the GRE. We will evaluate an application based on the highest composite score from one sitting, while considering any other tests taken.

How long is my test score valid?

LSAC and ETS consider test scores to be valid for five admissions cycles afterwards. For the 2019-2020 admissions cycle, the oldest exams that may be reported are the June 2014 LSAT and GRE exams taken on July 1, 2014 or later.

What are the minimum test score requirements for acceptance to Notre Dame Law School?

Although academic achievements and performance on the LSAT/GRE are important to the evaluation process, we strongly emphasize that admission to the Law School is based on a variety of quantitative and qualitative factors contained in the application, not solely on either grades or test scores. Every complete application is read by at least two members of the Admissions Committee.

  • LSAT: There is no minimum LSAT score in the consideration process for admission to Notre Dame Law School. For the 2019 entering class, the median LSAT score was 165.
  • GRE: The 2018-2019 admissions cycle was the first for which NDLS accepted the GRE. As such, we do not have a history of median matriculating students’ GRE scores.

Which do you weigh more: GPA or test score?

An applicant’s academic achievements, both on the standardized exam(s) and during their undergraduate coursework, are extremely relevant to the admissions decision. However, NDLS employs a holistic review process of each applicant’s submitted materials in its search to find students who would be a good fit for the NDLS community and for whom the NDLS community will be best for them as well. We also consider the strength of an applicant’s curriculum and any major(s) or minor(s) completed.

Are fee waivers available for the LSAT and GRE?

For more information on LSAT’s fee waiver policy, please visit LSAC.org. To learn more about the GRE Fee Reduction Program, visit ETS.org.

How should I prepare for the LSAT or GRE?

The LSAT and GRE are tests for which most students need to prepare and study. While that much is self-evident, however, the method of preparation will depend on the individual. Regardless of if you take a preparation class or study on your own, your preparation should include taking practices exams in as close to “test like” conditions as possible.

Free LSAT preparation materials for the LSAT from Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/prep/lsat

Free and low-cost test preparation materials for the GRE from ETS: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare

When should I take the LSAT and/or GRE?

NDLS utilizes a rolling admission process, so we recommend that you register for an exam prior to the start of the application cycle. For a score to be considered for Early Decision, you must have taken the exam before January 31. For Regular Decision applicants, the last score considered must come from an exam taken before February 28. Applicants on the waitlist may take a later exam for consideration for admission from the waitlist.

Resume

How long should my resume be?

Our application instructions do not specify a required length, but 1-2 pages is typical for students coming to law school directly from an undergraduate institution or with a few years of work experience. Applicants with significant scholastic, research, or career experience may need more space to adequately describe their previous experiences and achievements, and are encouraged to do so if necessary.

Please note that the “Addenda” portion of the application can be used to provide a further explanation or description of material found on the resume.

What is the Admissions Committee looking for on a resume?

An applicant’s resume can be used to demonstrate evidence of a strong work ethic, social and professional engagement, and potential contributions to the NDLS community by highlighting an applicant’s participation in community service, activities, extracurricular events, and work experience. Our Admissions Committee is particularly interested in considering an applicant’s leadership experiences. Additionally, the resume may help us contextualize and understand academic performance.

A good rule of thumb for current undergraduate students is quality of experience over quantity (e.g. joining 10 extracurricular organizations may not be as persuasive as having a deep level of involvement or leadership in two).

Is there a particular format I should use?

There is no required format, but the resume should look professional. Proofread carefully. Please use font sizes and line-spacing that allow the Committee to easily ascertain experiences and professional achievements. We recommend talking to an undergraduate career counselor for assistance.

Is work experience required?

Although work experience is a positive addition to an application - especially legally-related work experience - it is not required. Approximately 50 percent of the incoming class will have at least one or two years of work experience. 

Should I include non-legal experience?

Yes. The resume should list all employment and activities because it helps us gain a more complete picture of the applicant. Adding hours per week and weeks per year as applicable can provide further context for meaningful and long-term commitment.

What if I have a gap on my resume?

Any gaps of time on the resume should be addressed either on the resume itself or within an addendum. We recommend conferring with a career counselor for the best way to structure such comments.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation does NDLS require?

NDLS requires two letters of recommendation, but will accept up to four. 

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

We recommend that students who are coming to law school directly from an undergraduate institution supply letters of recommendation from professors who can speak to their academic and personal strengths. 

Applicants coming to law school after working for a few years (i.e., less than five) should still provide at least one letter from a professor who can speak to their academic strengths. Further letters may come from supervisors or managers who can speak to an applicant’s particular skill sets including teamwork and/or leadership skills. 

Those applying to law school after extensive work experience (i.e., more than five years) should provide letters from supervisors or managers unless they have maintained close contact with faculty members.

What should my letters of recommendation say?

Recommenders should describe the applicant’s academic and professional qualifications, strengths and any perceived weaknesses, and overall abilities – specifically those related to the successful completion of a legal education such as analytical and critical thinking skills, written and oral communication skills, and interpersonal skills. Personal characteristics such as the ability to work with others, maturity, humility, etc. are also relevant. The most helpful letters will contain substantive discussion of the applicant’s abilities and provide examples or anecdotes. 

What should I avoid in choosing recommenders?

We recommend that applicants avoid asking politicians, public figures, judges, or alumni based on their name and title alone. Choosing a recommender solely on this basis does not usually result in a helpful letter. The most important part of a letter of recommendation is the content specifically about the applicant.

Transcripts

What is the Admissions Committee looking for when reviewing transcripts?

The Admissions Committee reviews an applicant’s undergraduate and graduate transcripts for evidence of academic potential in law school. While we like to see a well-rounded and challenging course load, we do not prefer any particular major or area of study and we accept students from a wide range of undergraduate institutions.

For admissions decisions, the Admissions Committee primarily relies on an applicant’s cumulative GPA as calculated by the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). We also consider the GPA distribution at the undergraduate institution, percentile ranking in comparison to other law school candidates from the same institution (reported by CAS), the academic quality of the degree-conferring institution, majors and minors, and any trends in performance or academic honors. 

How does the Admissions Committee evaluate foreign transcripts?

Similarly to our evaluation of American/Canadian transcripts, the admissions committee will review the trend in performance, type of degree, strength of the institution, etc. Cultural context and the country’s education system will be considered as well. Applicants with international transcripts may include an addendum to provide such context if applying from a country which rarely sends students to the U.S.

What kinds of courses do you like to see on an applicant’s transcript?

We recommend that students take classes that they are interested in and that will help them develop the skills needed to succeed in law school. In addition to college major requirements, we recommend taking courses that will help with preparation for the rigor of law school writing, research, and doctrinal courses. Undergraduate school is the time to craft an individual academic curriculum broadly. 

May I attach an addendum to explain my academic record?

Yes, if an applicant believes there is a weakness in their academic record, they may explain the circumstances in a brief addendum. This should be included in the initial application and can be uploaded through LSAC. Addenda should be no more than two double-spaced pages, use 12-point font, and should include a header with the applicant’s name and LSAC number.

Optional Statements

Should I provide the optional statements?

Yes, the Admissions Committee encourages applicants to include the optional statements in their application, as long as the applicant feels that we would gain a greater knowledge of them and their interest in NDLS through the optional statements. Use of the optional statements is less compelling as a mechanism simply to add length to the Personal Statement or reiterate material already covered in other parts of the application.

What format should I use for the optional statements?

Applicants are encouraged to read and follow the instructions in the application. Additionally, these statements should be no more than two double-spaced pages, use 12-point font, and should include a header with the applicant’s name and LSAC number. Applicants are reminded that their optional statements should be their original work in their own words.

For the “Why NDLS” statement, I have a few reasons but I don’t think it is enough for two pages. Is it fine if this statement is shorter?

Yes, it is perfectly alright for an applicant to be succinct in their optional statements, including the “Why NDLS” statement.

FAQs about scholarships

How does NDLS award scholarship?

The majority of scholarship funds are awarded based on academic merit. The primary points of consideration in determining an applicant’s merit scholarship will be the applicant’s standardized test score (LSAT or GRE) and undergraduate GPA. Our office has the ability to consider and award a small amount of need-based scholarships on an individual basis.

For further funding options, we encourage candidates to explore external scholarships.

When will I be notified of my scholarship?

Students admitted via Early Decision will be notified of their scholarship status at the time of admission.  

The Scholarship Committee begins awarding scholarship to students admitted via Regular Decision in mid-February.

What percentage of your students receive scholarship assistance?

Approximately 85% of currently enrolled students are receiving scholarship assistance. The awards range from $5,000 per year to near full-tuition scholarships. 

If I take another standardized exam and raise my highest score, am I eligible for additional scholarship?

If an applicant retakes an exam and raises their score, the Admissions Office will review the increase and adjust the scholarship award accordingly, if funds are available.

Applicants admitted without an LSAT score who subsequently take the LSAT will be subject to reconsideration of admission and/or scholarship. In the event admission and/or scholarship is rescinded, any seat deposits paid will be refunded.

Are other scholarships available from the University of Notre Dame?

The NDLS Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is solely responsible for awarding merit-based scholarships, i.e., there are no further University-based scholarships for which applicants may apply. Please explore our external scholarship database for opportunities that exist outside of NDLS.

Do most students keep their scholarship after their 1L year?

Nearly 100% of our students retain their scholarship awards for the full three years. Our scholarships are renewable provided the student maintains good academic standing.

Can I earn additional scholarship funds once I am enrolled?

No, with one exception.

Our scholarship budget is allocated to enroll in the incoming 1L J.D. class. Once that class enrolls, we are given a new budget to enroll the following year’s class. We are given no further funds to provide to continuing students, nor incoming transfer students.

The lone exception is the Dean’s Circle. Students in the top 10% of each class are named to the Dean’s Circle. Students in the Dean’s Circle receiving less than $10,000 in scholarship assistance will be topped up to $10,000 for the subsequent year. Students already receiving $10,000 or more in assistance receive academic recognition, but do not receive further funding from the Dean’s Circle. 

How do most NDLS students fund their legal education?

Most NDLS students fund their education through a combination of merit scholarship from the Law School, external scholarships, income from part-time employment or savings, income from summer employment during law school, and graduate student loans including both private and federal loan programs. 

What federal loans are available to law students?

Federal loans available to graduate students include Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (which allows students to borrow up to $20,500 per year) and the Federal Direct PLUS Loan (which allows students to borrow up to the cost of attendance). For more information on these programs, please consult the Office of Financial Aid’s website

How do I apply for federal loans?

Students applying for federal loans must submit the FAFSA. Students may submit their FAFSA online beginning October 1. The suggested deadline for submitting it in order to receive priority processing consideration at NDLS is February 28th. The University of Notre Dame institution code is 1841. 

Can I work during my 1L year?

The first year of law school can be quite a transition. Students at NDLS are encouraged to focus their attention on their studies and extracurricular endeavors. According to the ABA standard, full-time students may work up to 20 hours per week. Students interested in working may want to consider the employment opportunities on campus

One position of note are the AR positions in the undergraduate dorms. An Assistant Rector (AR) is a head staff member who aids in the general administration of a residence facility and its programs. ARs live in undergraduate residence halls or graduate student housing facilities. ARs contract for each semester and receive a number of benefits including a stipend, room and board, and three graduate credit hours per semester. 

Students may only be ARs for their 2L and/or 3L years. The Office of Residential Life typically conducts an information session for interested Law students at the end of the fall semester. For additional information about the AR position, please visit the Office of Residential Life website.

What is the tuition and associated fees at NDLS?

Please visit our Tuition and Fees page to see the current tuition rates. The estimated total cost of attendance includes: tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation expenses. Actual costs may vary based on housing accommodations, travel, and personal expenses.

FAQs about transferring and transfer students

How many transfer applications do you receive? How many transfer students enroll each year?

We typically receive about 50 applications from transfer students each year and enroll between five and ten students. The exact number of students is predicated on the number of “open seats” that become available in the class through students choosing to study abroad, pursue our Chicago or Washington, D.C. externship programs, or transferring to another law school.

When can I apply?

The transfer application will be available in February through June. We encourage interested students to apply early - before May 15 - so as to maximize opportunities to bid for on-campus interviews.

How do I apply?

An online application for transfer admission is available on the LSAC website.

Can I apply before I have my 1L spring grades?

Yes, interested candidates are encouraged to apply before receiving their spring grades for 1L year. Students may be admitted conditionally based only on their first semester grades – the Admissions Committee removes the conditional status upon receipt of the student’s final transcript as long as the student’s work remains consistent.

What do you consider most when reviewing a transfer application?

Much like the 1L admissions process, the Admissions Committee takes a holistic view of the applicant’s file including their academic work (including their first year of law school) and professional goals (including their summer employment plans).

What do you like to see in letters of recommendation? May I reuse letters from my 1L application?

The Admissions Committee requires that transfer applicants submit two letters of recommendation from professors who have instructed the applicant in law school. These two letters of recommendation may be supplemented by an older letter of recommendation from the student’s original law school application (such letters are held by LSAC).

What law school grades and LSAT scores are competitive for transfer admission?

Interested applicants may find data regarding the law school GPAs of our incoming transfer students via our ABA 509 Reports.

Because we consider applications holistically, there are no minimum thresholds for students to be considered for transfer admission.

Will I be able to take advantage of on-campus interviews as a transfer student?

Yes, transfer students are able to participate in OCI after they have been admitted and provide their enrollment/deposit materials. The Career Development Office will be in touch with enrolling transfer students to ensure that they are educated about and prepared for the OCI process.

Please note the initial bidding for OCI typically concludes in late-June. Thereafter, students are eligible to bid on interviews as slots become open either because a firm has additional availability or because other students have dropped bids. As such, the Admissions Committee encourages transfer applicants to apply early in the admissions process, including prior to receipt of their spring grades.

How many transfer credits do you accept?

Enrolling transfer students must complete 60 credit hours at NDLS in order to graduate. 

When will I register for fall classes?

Our Registrar will contact our transfer students after receipt of their enrollment/deposit materials. 

Can I apply as a transfer student if I am currently enrolled in a part-time or evening legal program?

Yes, but students are only eligible to apply to transfer to NDLS if they have a minimum of 26 credit hours received prior to their potential enrollment at NDLS. We have found that part-time and evening students typically achieve this academic threshold after two years of studies.

Are there any course requirements I need in order to transfer?

It is recommended for students interested in transferring to pursue a courseload roughly similar to what 1L students at NDLS take. The NDLS 1L schedule includes:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Property
  • Torts

Transfer applicants may be admitted even if they are missing some of these requirements if the remainder of their application is strong. These students will be required to complete these courses during their 2L year at NDLS.

As a transfer student, am I able to join a journal?

Yes, transfer applicants are eligible to participate in the law journal write-on competition. Interested students should request information regarding this process from Christine Holst, Student Services Program Manager, by the end of May. Students will most likely have to submit their writing sample prior to learning their admissions decision.

Please note that admissions decisions and journal selection decisions are made independent of each other through the summer. The Admissions Committee will notify Student Services when a transfer student has been offered admission and has provided their enrollment deposit. Only then will their materials be considered by the journal selection committees.

Please know that there are further opportunities to join the journals for 3L year. 

When does the Admission Committee release decisions about transfer applications?

The Admissions Committee considers transfer applications on a rolling basis. A rolling admission process allows for extending the review process as appropriate, ensuring that each application receives full and individualized attention in the context of careful comparison to other completed applications.

There is no waitlist process for transfer candidates.

How may I check the status of my application?

Transfer applicants may utilize the online status checker to see the status of their application.

How will I be notified of my decision?

Admitted students are notified by a combination of email and a physical admit packet.