School of Law

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Admissions/Transfer Policy

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ABA Required Disclosures

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There is no prescribed or recommended pre-law curriculum. However, a good candidate for Law School generally has these qualities:

  • Has good study habits, analytical skills and critical thinking abilities
  • Is highly literate
  • Has a discriminating regard for facts
  • Can make critical judgments
  • Can engage in inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Is intellectually mature 
  • Brief Sketch of Law School Facts including:
    • Admissions data
    • Bar passage data
    • Enrollment data
    • Employment outcomes
    • Number of full-time and part-time faculty and administrators
    • Tuition, Fees, Financial Aid
  • USD ABA Law School data available at LSAC including:
    • Student to faculty ratio
    • Admissions data
    • Attrition/graduation rates
    • Bar passage data
    • Enrollment data
    • Library resources
    • Number of full-time and part-time faculty and administrators
    • Tuition, Fees, Living Costs
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Equal Opportunity Policy    

Application Status

Equal Opportunities Policy
Law School Catalog Federal Regulation including attrition/graduation rates and bar passage data
Application Tuition, Fees, Living Costs, Financial Aid, Refunds, Conditional Scholarships

Transfer Policy

A law student may apply for admission as a transfer student to the School of Law if he or she has complied with the requirements for admission and presents evidence of having satisfactorily completed at least one year of law study and eligibility to continue at any law school accredited by the American Bar Association. The School of Law awards a juris doctor degree to students who earn a minimum of 50 credit hours in residence. A minimum grade of C is required for transfer of course credits.

Admission Pathways
Accelerated Admission
Law Honor Scholars
Law Screening Program
PLSI or CLEO


Accelerated Admission
An applicant may apply, become admitted to, and enrolled in Law School without final completion of the requirements for the applicant's undergraduate degree.  It is required that the undergraduate degree actually be attained by the applicant prior to graduation from the Law School.  Graduation from the Law School will not be permitted until the undergraduate degree has been awarded.

To be considered for accelerated admission, the applicant must have completed, prior to enrollment in the Law School, at least three-fourths of the required course work for the undergraduate degree.  Additionally the applicant must submit a "plan" which shows precisely how the applicant intends to complete the requirements for the undergraduate degree prior to graduation from Law School.  The "plan" must be approved as feasible by the applicant's undergraduate faculty advisor or dean or other appropriate representative of the applicant's undergraduate institution.  Evidence of approval will be in writing and submitted to the Law School. The following factors will be considered in the review of applications seeking accelerated admission:

  • performance on the course work already accomplished;
  • performance on the LSAT; and
  • the extent to which the remaining work required for the undergraduate degree will interfere with the time and resources required by law school in the event an accelerated admission is granted.

With the exception of the required approved plan for completion of the undergraduate degree, the application process is no different than the procedures required for regular admission.

Law Honor Scholars Program
The Honors Scholars Program seeks to identify and retain outstanding South Dakota high school students dedicated to the mission of The University of South Dakota School of Law.  The Program is a cooperative effort between the School of Law, the School of Business, the Farber Center for Civic Leadership, and The University of South Dakota Honors Program.  Honors Scholars receive provisional (automatic) admission to the School of Law upon completion of the following requirements:

  • Pursue their undergraduate degree at the University of South Dakota
  • Participate in, and successfully complete, the University Honors Program
  • Graduate from the University in four years, no later than the May commencement ceremony
  • Graduate with a minimum grade point average of 3.50
  • Participate in an Honors seminar taught or co-taught by a Law School faculty member or the Introduction to Law & Legal Studies course (POLS) designed, coordinated, and taught by the Law School
  • Have a Law School faculty member serve on his or her thesis committee
  • Take the LSAT for statistical purposes only (will not be used for admission purposes).

High school students should submit the University's Common Scholarship Application materials to the undergraduate Admission Office no later than December 17 of the year they plan to enter USD. Applicants must include the application, transcripts of high school work, and confirmation of the ACT score. A selection committee will identify applicants who will be invited for interviews. Applicants must indicate on the form that they are interested in being considered for the Law Honors Scholars Program. 

A student applying for this program must be a graduating high school senior, have excellent grades at the time of application, and have a score of 27 or higher on the ACT. Beyond demonstrated academic accomplishment and potential, the selection committee will seek students with the personal qualities required of a good lawyer. These include integrity, compassion, fairness with colleagues, and a capacity for leadership.  The best candidates will have a keen desire to understand and help people.

PLSI or CLEO
Upon written recommendation of the Dean or any faculty member, and the review of the faculty evaluations by the USD summer screening faculty, the Admission Committee is authorized to accept in its discretion applicants who do not meet regular admission standards, but have successfully completed either a CLEO program or the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives (PLSI). 

The number of applicants accepted pursuant to this policy shall not exceed three from each program in any entering class.

PLSI:  lawschool.unm.edu/ailc

CLEO:  cleoscholars.com

Equal Opportunity Policies
The School of Law provides equal opportunity for the study of law and entry into the legal profession in accordance with policies of the South Dakota Board of Regents, the governing body for higher education in South Dakota; the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, the accrediting agency for United States law schools; and the Association of American Law Schools, a nonprofit corporation that promotes improvement of the legal profession through legal education and of which the School of Law is a member. 

The relevant policies are:

  • South Dakota Board of Regents Policy 1:19 (Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, Affirmative Action)
  • American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Standards 210 (Equality of Opportunity), 211 (Equal Opportunity Effort), and 212 (Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Association of American Law Schools Bylaws, Section 6-3 (Diversity: Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action)
  • Association of American Law Schools Executive Committee Regulation 6.19
  • Association of American Law Schools Notice on Military Recruiting   

Federal Regulation
As part of the admission process, current Federal Regulations require that you be made aware of certain information.
  1) Should you elect to practice law in South Dakota, it would be necessary for you to fulfill the following requirements, among others found at:
         http://www.sdjudicial.com/barexam/rulesandregulation.aspx
     a) Furnish satisfactory evidence that you graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, or that you will so graduate prior to  
          the examination, or that you have successfully completed all of the requirements for graduation prior to the examination;
     b) Qualify to sit for and to pass satisfactorily an examination conducted by the Board of Bar Examiners;
     c) State your birthplace and if not a citizen of the United States, provide a copy of the type of visa issued to you; and
     d) Be a person of good moral character and at least eighteen years of age.
  2) Seventy of seventy-four full-time students (95%) who were enrolled at USD School of Law on October 1, 2010, (class of 2013) have graduated.
  3) In 2013, 95% (41 of 43) of the graduates of USD School of Law who sat as first-time takers of the South Dakota Bar Examination passed the examination. In February 2012, 100% (1 of 1) of the USD first-time takers passed the South Dakota Bar Examination. 
  4) Graduates of the School of Law find employment both within and outside of South Dakota. Positions are secured with firms, federal and state agencies, federal and state courts, and corporate and banking institutions.