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

How many years of study is the J.D. program?
The J.D. program is a full-time, three-year program, with six full-time academic semesters. Classes begin in late August and conclude in mid-May each academic year.

Does NDLS offer an evening or part-time program?
No. The J.D. program is a full-time program only.

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. Founded in 1842, Notre Dame stands on 1,250 acres considered by many to be among the most beautiful in the nation. From the collegiate Gothic architecture and park-like landscape to exquisite outdoor sculpture and breathtaking views, Notre Dame’s campus is a beautiful oasis. 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?
Class sizes can vary annually but – over the past decade – NDLS has enrolled approximately 180 students in the entering J.D. classes. There are approximately 600 students in the entire student body. 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 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. You can view more information regarding our most recent incoming cohort on the Class Profile page.

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

What does it mean to “Educate a Different Kind of Lawyer?”
In the practice of law, the same legal ethical standards must be met whether you are a law school graduate 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. Your 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 a J.D./M.B.A. (both a three-year and four-year option), the J.D./M.A. in English, the J.D./M. in Global Affairs, and the J.D./Master of Engineering. 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 JD with another graduate program offered by the University must gain approval by both the Law School and the other department prior to enrollment.

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. You may want to review the entire course catalog for 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), your faculty advisor, current students, and alumni will help you craft your 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 2016 – 81% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation.

Class of 2015 – 81.6% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation.

Class of 2014 – 85.4% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation.

Class of 2013 – 80.4% placed in full-time, long-term JD advantage or bar passage required positions within 10 months of graduation. 

What experiential learning opportunities are available at NDLS?
Experiential learning is a core component of the Notre Dame Law School curriculum. Clinics, externships, lawyering skills courses, immersion courses, as well as, student organizations and journals provide opportunities that complement the analytical training offered in the traditional classroom and allow students to development practical skills, explore career paths, reflect on their professional identity, and observe how the justice system functions. 

Where are NDLS graduates working?
The Career Development Office (CDO) works to provide NDLS students and alumni with the information, education, and tools they need to development fulfilling, successful careers. They promote the national and international employment of Notre Dame Lawyers so that the values, ethics, and legal talents developed by NDLS are used for the benefit of people throughout the world.

The Classes of 2012-2016 reported initial job placement in 41 states including Hawaii, as well as in Washington, D.C. Historically, NDLS graduates have placed very well in the Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles legal markets. Currently, there are NDLS graduates in all 50 states. Internationally, NDLS graduates can be found in over 80 countries around the world.

To learn more about career opportunities for our graduates, you may wish to review the Professional Life section or our Placement Map.

FAQs about the application

Where should I begin?
Before you begin the application process, we recommend that you set up an account with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). You 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 choose one of two application options – the LSAC application or the NDLS application. Students may use either of those applications to apply via Early or 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. There is no fee associated with the NDLS application found 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 Law School will waive the application fee of those students who apply via the NDLS application. 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.

What is the ideal time frame to apply to Notre Dame Law School?
You should apply in the admission cycle prior to the year in which you hope to enroll. The Admissions Committee has a rolling process for both admissions and scholarship. As such, prospective students are encouraged to apply as early in the admissions cycle as possible.

What is the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS)?
Notre Dame Law School requires applicants to register with CAS for transcript and letter of recommendation processing. Applicants must submit all transcripts and letters of recommendation through CAS for review by the NDLS Admissions Committee. Please visit the CAS website for more information about this service.

Although the Law School may provide you with a fee waiver for your LSAC application or you may choose to apply via the NDLS application, NDLS is not able to waive any CAS-related fees.

Is there a minimum GPA or standardized test score requirement for admission?
No. The Admissions Committee reads every application utilizing a holistic approach. The non-quantitative aspects of each application are extremely important, and there are no numeric cut-offs. Please see our 2018 class profile for LSAT and GPA medians.

May I apply before I take a standardized exam?
Yes. You may submit your application before taking an LSAT or GRE. However, your application will be considered incomplete until your standardized exam score is received. Once your exam score is released, the Admissions Office will mark your application as complete and continue processing it for review by the Admissions Committee.

Can I take the LSAT after submitting my application?
Yes.* If you have a prior LSAT score but are registered for an upcoming LSAT exam at the time you submit your application, by default, the Admissions Office will mark your application incomplete and will wait to complete your file when the new exam score is released. Students with a prior LSAT score desiring their application be reviewed prior to the release of an upcoming LSAT exam must specifically request that the NDLS Admissions Office process their application without the upcoming LSAT score – please email our office at bulletin@nd.edu.

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

Can I take the GRE after submitting my application?
Yes. Applicants must notify the Admissions Committee of their plans to sit for a future GRE either through their application or via email at bulletin@nd.edu.

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?
From 2013 through 2017, we received roughly 2,500 applications per year. In the 2017-18 application cycle, we received approximately 2,900 applications.

Does NDLS grant fee waivers?
Yes. 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) to identity and grant merit-based fee waivers. To be eligible you must participate in CRS, indicate via LSAC that you intend to enroll for the upcoming academic year, have at least one LSAT score on file, and have your academic transcripts on file. Our CRS searches are updated on a monthly basis.

The Law School Admissions Council offers need-based fee waivers to those with extreme financial need. This waiver grants the applicant two free LSATs, registration to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), four CAS Reports, and an LSAT preparation book. 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 Test of English as a Foreign Language (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, or at least 600 points on the paper-based TOEFL (Paper based or PBT) with minimum scores of 60 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 date of the beginning of your studies at NDLS (which begin in August each year). The University of Notre Dame institution code is 1841.

If you have an extraordinary ability with the English language (e.g., work as a translator) you may request a waiver by emailing lawadmit@nd.edu.

What if I need to update my application?
The NDLS Admissions Committee strongly prefers that you submit all necessary information with your initial application. If it becomes necessary to update your application, email your updated information to the Admissions Office at lawyer@nd.edu. If you are sending an updated transcript or an additional letter of recommendation, you must send them through LSAC/CAS unless otherwise directed by a member of the NDLS Admissions staff. 

What are some common mistakes you see on applications?
One of the most common mistakes we see is not following instructions. Each law school to which a student applies will have slightly different requirements with respect to the personal statement, letters of recommendation, and/or additional statements. We strongly recommend students carefully review and adapt to the requirements of each application they are submitting. Similarly, it is also quite common for us to see incomplete applications.

We recommend using the name of a specific law school sparingly. All too often law schools receive materials with the name of another law school within the materials because the applicant neglected to change/remove the name.

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 post-graduate, will not impact NDLS’s admissions decision. 

What process does the Admissions Committee use to review applications?
The Admissions Office utilizes a rolling admissions process. Once an application is complete, it is assigned to the Admissions Committee for review.

Who is on the Admissions Committee?
Our admissions committee is composed of admissions counselors, the Director of Admissions, and several faculty members.

When will I receive a decision on my application?
In general, admissions decisions are made within 6-8 weeks of an application becoming complete (i.e., we have received and processed all of your application materials). Applicants who apply in September/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 by early-to-mid December.

Early Decision applicants are given priority review and will be notified of both admission and scholarship status (if admitted) by the end of the December, if a complete application was submitted by November 15. Early Decision applicants who apply after November 15 may not receive an admissions decision until after January 1.

Please note that the date on which you applied and our application volume at any given time will impact the timeliness of your decision. We do provide applicants an answer as soon as it is feasible.

How may I check the status of my application?
The best way to check the status of your application is by going to the link provided to you through correspondence from the Admissions Office. Shortly after we have received your application you will receive an email that will contain a User ID and password, and the link to your individual status checker. Visit the status check website to learn more about the on-screen messages and date changes you see.

How will NDLS notify me about their decision?
Admitted students are notified by a combination of email and letter communication.

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 you as an individual, your interest in pursuing a legal education, as well as to assess your 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. The best personal statements are authentic and do not try to cover too many different topics due to the 1-2 page space limit.

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, 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 a transcript or test score can tell us. Correspondingly, the personal statement is not the place to sell us on your credentials or summarize your transcripts and/or resume – we will review those documents in due course. 

What format should I use for my personal statement?
Personal statements should be no more than two double-spaced pages, use 12 point font and standard margins, and include a header with your name and LSAC number. It is important to note that your personal statement should be your own work and in your own words.

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. Avoid restating your resume, listing your qualifications, typographical or grammatical errors, leaving on tracked changes, name-dropping, covering too much information, or trying to use "legalese.”

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 Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). We do not have a preference for either exam. Applicants may apply with just an LSAT score, just a GRE score, or with scores from both exams.

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, timing and geographic location, and any other plans they may have for graduate study. For additional questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your 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, then 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, 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)?
You must request that all available scores be released to us directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Notre Dame Law School’s DI 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 you believe affected your performance on a prior test, we encourage you to provide an addendum explaining those circumstances. The Admissions Committee will consider such information and may, at its discretion, evaluate your application based on the highest score.

Do you superscore the GRE?
No, we do not superscore the GRE.

We consider any information an applicant provides about his or her scores. If you feel that one or more of your scores is not representative of your capabilities, you may address your concerns in an addendum attached to your application. If you have already submitted your application, you may submit an addendum via email to bulletin@nd.edu with your name and LSAC number.

How long is my test score valid?
LSAC and ETS consider test scores to be valid for five admissions cycles afterwards. For the 2018-2019 admissions cycle, the oldest exams that may be reported are the June 2013 LSAT and GRE exams taken on July 1, 2013 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 clearly relevant to the selection process, we strongly emphasize that admission to the Law School is based on a variety of quantitative and qualitative factors contained in your 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 2018 entering class, the median LSAT score was 165.
  • GRE: The 2018-2019 admissions cycle is the first for which NDLS is accepting 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.

If my application is complete other than my standardized test score, can I submit it without my score or should I wait until my score has been reported?
You are able to submit the application through LSAC without an approved standardized test (LSAT or GRE) score, though we will not complete your file until we receive your CAS report from LSAC and at least one approved standardized test result.

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 November 30. 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.


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. 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 you can also use the “Addenda” portion of the application to provide a further explanation or description of material found on your 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 and social and professional engagement by highlighting an applicant’s participation in community service activities, extracurricular events, and work experience. NDLS’ Admissions Committee is particularly interested in considering an applicant’s leadership experiences. Additionally, your resume may help us contextualize and understand your undergraduate performance.

A good rule of thumb for current undergraduate students is quality of experience over quantity (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 your resume should look professional. Proofread carefully. Please use font sizes and line-spacing that allow the Committee to easily ascertain your experiences and professional achievements. We recommend talking to your undergraduate career office for assistance.

Is work experienced 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. Legal experience is helpful, but not required. Your resume should list all employment and activities because it helps us gain a more complete picture of you.

What if I have a gap on my resume?
You should address any gaps of time on your resume either on the resume itself or within an addendum. You may want to confer 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. 

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
It is recommended 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. Students coming to law school from the professional world are encouraged to include letters of recommendation from former supervisors or managers who can speak to the applicants’ particular skill sets including teamwork and/or leadership skills. Ask recommenders who will have positives things to say about you and who know you well enough to write a detailed, substantive letter.

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.

What should my letters of recommendation say?
Your recommenders should describe your 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, your maturity, etc. are also relevant. The most helpful letters will contain substantive discussion of your abilities and provide examples or anecdotes. 

Do you accept evaluations?
LSAC discontinued the use of evaluations on August 7, 2016. It is no longer possible to request evaluations, and evaluators will no longer be able to fill out or print evaluation forms.


What is the Admissions Committee looking for when reviewing transcripts?
The Admissions Committee reviews an applicant’s transcript for evidence of work ethic and overall grade trends throughout the undergraduate career. While we like to see that you have taken 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 your undergraduate institution, your percentile ranking in comparison to other law school candidates from the same institution (reported by CAS), the academic quality of the degree-conferring institution, and any trends in your performance or academic honors you have received. 

How does the Admissions Committee evaluate graduate school transcripts?
The Admissions Committee will review and consider all graduate school transcripts. Strong graduate school performance is a positive factor for your application. However, graduate GPAs are not included by CAS for cumulative GPA purposes.

How does the Admissions Committee evaluate foreign transcripts?
If you attended a foreign institution, your foreign transcripts must be submitted through CAS. A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and incorporated into your CAS report. 

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 your major requirements, it is important to include courses that will help you prepare for the rigor of law school writing, research, and doctrinal courses. Undergraduate school is the time to craft your own academic curriculum broadly. 

May I attach an addendum to explain my academic record?
Yes. If you believe there is a weakness in your academic record, you may explain the circumstances in a brief addendum. This should be included in your 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 your name and LSAC number.

Optional Statements

Should I provide the optional statements?
The Admissions Office strongly encourages applicants to include the optional essays in their application, provided the applicant uses them to add comments of significance and substance to their application. Use of the optional statements is less compelling as a mechanism to add length to the Personal Statement or to simply add length to the application.

What are the optional statements?
Per our application instructions, NDLS offers two optional statements: (1) the “Why Notre Dame Law School?” statement and (2) the “Different Kind of Lawyer” statement.

In the “Why Notre Dame Law School?” statement, applicants are asked to express their specific interest in Notre Dame Law School and address how their background, experiences, personal character, and career aspirations align with the legal education that NDLS provides. Applicants may also discuss specific programs, classes, or programs that they look forward to participating in as a student.

In the “Different Kind of Lawyer” statement, applicants are asked to explore how their own personal background, diversity, experiences, points of view, etc. will contribute to Notre Dame’s mission to educate a “Different Kind of Lawyer.”

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 your name and LSAC number. Applicants are reminded that their optional statements should be their original work in their own words.

FAQs about scholarships

How does NDLS assess scholarship?
The majority of scholarship funds are awarded based on scholastic merit. The primary points of consideration in determining the 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 you to explore external scholarships.

When will I be notified of my scholarship?
NDLS will begin notifying admitted students of scholarship decisions in mid-February. However, early decision applicants are given priority review and will be notified of both admission and scholarship status (if admitted) by the end of December. For all other applications, we operate under a deferred timeline because it gives us a better opportunity to assess the overall merit of the admitted students and ensure equity among the scholarship funds.

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 you retake an exam and raise your score, the Admissions Office will review the increase and adjust your scholarship award accordingly, if funds are available.

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

Are other scholarships available?
The NDLS Admissions Office is solely responsible for awarding merit-based scholarships, i.e., there are no further University-base scholarships for which applicants may apply. You may choose to 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?
Students in the top 10% of each class are eligible for support from the Dean’s Circle. Students receiving less than $10,000 in scholarship assistance will receive up to $10,000 for the coming year. Students already receiving $10,000 or more in assistance receive academic recognition, but do not receive further funding from the Dean’s Circle. There are also various writing competitions and awards held throughout the year with prizes in the range of several hundred dollars to $1,000.

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, 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 here

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?
Your first year of law school can be quite a transition. As a student at NDLS, we encourage you to focus your attention on your studies and extracurricular endeavors. According to the ABA standard, full-time students may work up to 20 hours per week. For those students interested in working, you may want to consider the employment opportunities on campus. Students can apply to work in graduate, teaching, or research assistantship positions across campus.

You may also apply to be an Assistant Rector during your 2L or 3L year. 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 with a starting salary of approximately $7,000. During their appointment, ARs enjoy a furnished room and meal plan. ARs also enjoy a tuition assistance benefit for three credit hours per semester. Given the financial benefits, a significant majority of the ARs on campus are law students. For additional information about becoming an AR, visit the Division of Student Affairs website.

What is the tuition and associated fees at NDLS?
Please visit our Tuition and Fees website 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

When can I apply?
The transfer application will be available in February through June. We encourage interested students to apply early so as to maximize opportunities to bid for on-campus interviews and to participate in the journal write-on competition.

How do I apply?
An online application for transfer admission is available at the LSAC’s website.

Can I apply before I have my 1L spring grades?
Yes, interested candidates may apply after receiving first semester 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?
Both an applicant’s prelaw qualifications as well as their level of success at their previous law school are important in our evaluation. 

How many transfer applications are there? How many transfer students enroll each year?
Estimating the number of transfer applications NDLS will receive in a given year is very difficult but have typically varied between 50 and 75 applications in the past five years. In general, NDLS will enroll between 10-20 transfer students each year. 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.

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 any enrolling student 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 consider applying early in the admissions process, including prior to receipt of their spring grades.

Will I receive credits for the classes I have already completed?
If admitted as a transfer student, our Registrar will review the coursework completed during your 1L year. Grades will not transfer, however, your credit hours from an ABA-approved law school will typically transfer. We accept a maximum of 30 credit hours.

When will I register for fall classes?
If admitted as a transfer student, you will register for classes in the mid-late summer. Our Registrar will assist you in making the appropriate course selections for the upcoming fall, keeping in mind any NDLS specific requirements that must be met. 

Can I apply as a transfer student if I am currently enrolled in a part-time program?
Yes, but it is important to recognize that you may have to make up coursework at some juncture in your academic career. Students may elect to overload in courses, pursue skills or externship credits, or do our London summer program to compensate for any lack of credits. Students may also choose to take more than two years to complete their J.D. coursework at NDLS.

Are there any course requirements I need in order to transfer?
It is recommended that students interested in transferring 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 these requirements if the remainder of their application is strong. These students will be required to take these required 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, Acting 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 independently from each other through the summer. 

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?
The best way to check the status of your application is by going to the link provided to you through correspondence from the Admissions Office. Shortly after we have received your application you will receive an email that will contain a User ID and password, and the link to your individual status checker. Visit the status check website to learn more about the on-screen messages and date changes you see.

How will I be notified of my decision?
Admitted students are notified by a combination of email and and a physical admit packet.