Group of Law Students Sitting and having a Conversation.

Law

Follow your passion by earning your Juris Doctor at a school that blends experiential learning, affordability and academic excellence. At the USD Knudson School of Law, we equip you with in-depth knowledge of legal doctrine and enriching real-world experiences as you prepare for the bar exam and begin your path toward a successful career in law.

Pursue Your Dream Career

Lawyers uphold important roles in our society, serving as leaders who can problem solve, uphold justice and serve with integrity. The legal system needs capable, grounded professionals who think creatively, analyze critically, write and speak clearly and understand the society in which they practice.

As a law student at USD, you'll receive a high-quality education that will set you up for success in the legal profession. Here you'll find that your legal education extends far beyond the textbook and exam preparation; you'll have opportunities to participate in national courtroom competitions, observe the South Dakota Supreme Court in action and gain early practice in law. Your education will be tailored to your unique interests and career aspirations, with eleven unique course tracks to choose from. And we've make our J.D. degree affordable, meaning you're getting a world-class education from a leading, flagship university while paying only a fraction of the tuition cost you might pay at other schools.

Follow your passion and join a nationally-recognized law program at the USD Knudson School of Law.     

Degrees & Offerings

Law (J.D.)

Doctorate

The Juris Doctor will prepare you to take and pass the bar exam, which is the official licensing test for lawyers, as well as give you the experience and knowledge you need to successfully practice law. You will choose one of the following course tracks based on your interests and career aspirations: business law, civil litigation, commercial law, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, employment law, environmental law, estate planning, Indian law, real estate law and tax law.

Joint Degrees: Law + Other Discipline (J.D./Master's)

Master's + Doctorate
  Vermillion Main Campus

In addition to offering the standard J.D. program, the Knudson School of Law has partnered with other academic departments to offer joint degree programs. Explore these options to see how you can earn your J.D. concurrently with a degree in business administration, adult and higher education, English, history, professional accountancy, public administration, psychology, administration, sustainability or environmental law and policy.

Explore joint law programs

Accelerated Law (Bachelor's/J.D.)

Master's + Doctorate

Begin law school as a senior and use the first year of law school to complete your bachelor's degree. The program allows you to graduate with both a bachelor's degree and Juris Doctor in six years rather than seven, saving you time and money. Eligible undergraduate programs are those which have entered into an approved 3+3 arrangement with the Knudson School of Law. You must submit an intent form, meet certain requirements and be admitted to the law school.

Program Details

Graduate

College

Contact

Law Admissions

Admission Materials

All application materials are part of the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) and will be included in your law school report. For additional information on admission materials and requirements, please refer to the current graduate catalog. 

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Knudson School of Law.  You may be interested in creating projects and hosting outreach opportunities to make friends, develop new skills and further prepare for your unique career path.

Explore Law Student Organizations

Network with fellow law students and legal professionals through the Student Bar Association.

As part of the Student Bar Association, you’ll have the opportunity to network with law students and legal professionals through social events and year-round programming. You’ll make connections and take advantage of career-building opportunities that will help further your legal career.

Our Student Bar Association is affiliated with the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Your involvement means you’ll:

  • Advocate for policies in the legal profession
  • Provide input on accreditation and academic standards
  • Have the chance to serve as delegate to the ABA’s national convention

Members of the Student Bar Association also organize the annual Barrister’s Ball, a semi-formal networking and social event for all law students that celebrates student accomplishments.

As a member of the South Dakota Moot Court Board, you'll refine your skills in appellate brief writing and oral advocacy. We offer this opportunity to outstanding second- and third-year students. You'll compete against top-performing law students at tournaments around the country.
Recent teams have placed in the top four in the nation at the prestigious New York City Bar tournament and won the regional American Bar Association moot court competition.

To be eligible for membership, all interested first-year law students must participate in the School of Law's annual Sam Masten Intramural Moot Court Competition. The competition culminates with a final round before a distinguished panel, usually composed of South Dakota Supreme Court justices.

Build your negotiating skills and face off against other colleges with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board. You'll get experience practicing law in a controlled environment, as well as network with other law students and attorneys.

The USD Law Alternative Dispute Resolution Board provides its members practical legal experience competing in four types of interscholastic competitions: Negotiation, Arbitration, Mediation, and Client Counseling. With the vast majority of civil cases settling out of court, the ADR Board provides students the opportunity to gain highly relevant experience and develop interpersonal skills as they compete against top-performing law schools across the country. Board members also earn academic credits for their competition activities.

The board is comprised of 12 outstanding students, six 2Ls and six 3Ls. In the 2017-2018 year, the board had all three of its Client Counseling teams qualify for semi-finals at the regional competition in Omaha, NE, with one team finishing as finalists in the top three. One of the board’s Negotiation teams also finished as a regional finalist, qualifying for the National Competition and placing in the Top 10 at the ABA National Negotiation Competition in Chicago, IL.

The ADR Board also hosts intraschool competitions for 1Ls each semester: Negotiation in the fall, and Client Counseling in the spring. These competitions allow 1Ls to gain experiential learning and refine their skills in front of some of the state’s most prominent attorneys. To be eligible for membership, all interested first-year law students must participate in at least one of ADR intraschool competitions.

Embrace your inner prosecutor by participating in USD's trial team. You'll learn how to present an argument in a trial setting while competing against students from law schools around the country.

As a law student, you'll have opportunities to hone your courtroom presentation skills through our nationally recognized trial team. You'll compete with students from other law schools around the nation and earn credit by participating in tournaments. Our trial team is a popular choice for students seeking courtroom experience - more than 42% of our graduating third-year students competed in at least one national trial competition in 2017-2018.

Our trial team has been selected to compete at the prestigious National Criminal Trial Advocacy Invitational Competition, one of the best trial advocacy programs in the nation that only invites the top trial teams in the country.

Trial team practices in which students are working to perfect their courtroom performance are open to any who wish to come watch. For information on when these practices take place, please contact Professor Laura Rose at Laura.Rose@usd.edu.

Transactional Law Team

The National Transactional Law Meet allows students interested in business law to gain hands-on experience through live, interactive competitions.

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

Join Now

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in law.
Law Students Sitting Around a Table Talking

Law Admissions

Thank you for your interest in applying to the USD Knudson School of Law. You've explored the possibilities for your degree — now it's time to get started on your application.

The Knudson School of Law Career Services Office.

Law Career Services

The Office of Career Services helps our students and graduates connect with meaningful law career and professional development opportunities. Through individual career counseling, job search strategy, professional development programming, resources and connections with employers, we will provide you with valuable opportunities to develop the necessary tools to thrive as a professional.

Federal Tax Clinic

Our federal tax clinic provides free legal representation to low-income people in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) while allowing law students to practice tax law.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Knudson School of Law. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in criminal law, family law, civil litigation, Tribal law, feminist legal theory and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Neil Fulton

Neil Fulton

Dean, School of Law
Bio Image for Faculty Member Steven Macias

Steven Macias

Associate Dean Law School
Bio Image for Faculty Member Eric Young

Eric Young

Law Library Dir/Assist Dean
Bio Image for Faculty Member Gregory Brazeal

Gregory Brazeal

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hannah Haksgaard

Hannah Haksgaard

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Wendy Hess

Wendy Hess

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Thomas Horton

Thomas Horton

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sean Kammer

Sean Kammer

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Allen Madison

Allen Madison

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mike McKey

Mike McKey

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tyler Moore

Tyler Moore

Assistant Professor of Law
Bio Image for Faculty Member Laura Rose

Laura Rose

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tom Simmons

Tom Simmons

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Marilyn Trefz

Marilyn Trefz

Visiting Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ann Tweedy

Ann Tweedy

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Susan Benton

Susan Benton

Head Tech and Collection Svs
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sarah Kammer

Sarah Kammer

Head of Public Services
Bio Image for Faculty Member Courtney Segota

Courtney Segota

Head of Instructional Services
Bio Image for Faculty Member Teresa Carlisle

Teresa Carlisle

Registration Officer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matthew Colbert

Matthew Colbert

Recruiting Officer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tracy Hummel

Tracy Hummel

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Heather McDonald

Heather McDonald

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Katey Ulrich

Katey Ulrich

Director of Admissions
Law Student Standing at a Lectern.

Practical Training for Your Career

At USD, you won't just learn about the legal profession; you will experience it.
 
All students at the Knudson School of Law participate in the experiential learning program, which provides intensive, professional development training as students prepare to embark on their careers. From performing legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney to providing pro bono legal services to low-income clients in South Dakota, you'll have opportunities to gain invaluable real-world experience and serve clients as you complete your education.


Learn More About the Experiential Learning Program
 Law Students Looking at Books in Library.

Your Academic Experience

At the USD Knudson School of Law, you will have an enriching academic experience that prepares you for success on the bar exam and in your career. With a robust curriculum, specialized career services and a comprehensive academic support program, we offer you a variety of opportunities to learn and thrive as a professional.


Learn More About Academics
Female Law Student Studying.

Leading Voices in Law

As a law student at USD, you'll have the opportunity to contribute to the South Dakota Law Review — a journal of critical commentary on current legal issues with a state, national and international circulation. Students involved in the Law Review develop their research and writing skills while earning academic credit. A student board of editors is responsible for all editorial work; students are selected for board membership during their second year on the basis of their writing, leadership and dedication to the success of the Law Review.


Learn More About Law Review

Tuition & Costs

Full-time costs are based on a schedule of 12 or more credits per semester. The costs below reflect the full academic year (fall and spring semesters).
Resident
MN Resident
Nonresident
Tuition
11736
20078
31276
Law School Activity Fee
3288
3288
3288
General Activity Fees
1769
1769
1769
Total

For more information and to see flex-time rates, see the tuition and costs page.

student success story

Success story Anthony Leonardi smiling.
Before law school, I worked as a reporter with the Washington Examiner, covering breaking news and the Supreme Court. Instead of continuing to report on developments in the law, I wanted to be part of those developments – furthering our shared ideal of equal justice under the law. At the USD Knudson School of Law, the professors take pride in seeing law students with these aspirations and support them every way they can, and rather than feeling like you're competing with your peers, there's a unanimous feeling of camaraderie and support to help each other succeed. In my mind, there's no university that does this better.

Anthony Leonardi

1L Law Student

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