J.D. Application: FAQs

Application for First-Year J.D. Admission

Application Basics

  • Is there an application fee?
  • There is no fee to apply for first-year admission or for transfer admission.
  • Can I enroll for admission to the JD program in the Spring? Do you have a part-time or an evening program?
  • UC Davis Law School offers a full-time day program only, no evening and no part-time. Applicants are admitted to the Juris Doctor degree program for Fall enrollment only.
  • Are letters of recommendations submitted through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) acceptable?
  • UC Davis Law School requires applicants to submit two, but no more than three, letters of recommendation as part of the application for admission. Applicants are required to use the LSAC recommendation service.
  • Does UC Davis grant interviews?
  • Interviews are not part of the evaluation process; however, we welcome visitors and encourage you to inform us of your arrival in advance using the Tour Request Form on the Visiting King Hall section of our website.
  • Is it possible to defer admission?
  • Deferrals of admissions are generally not granted except under exceptional circumstances and are subject to the discretion of the Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid. Deferrals are limited to one year and any gift aid awarded to the applicant is not guaranteed to be available in the subsequent year. Those seeking a deferral should contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid as soon as possible to submit a request for deferred admission.
  • I do not have a bachelor's degree. Can I still apply to the law school?
  • A bachelor's degree or an equivalent degree from a college or university of approved standing is required and must have been earned prior to the time the applicant begins studies at the School of Law. Pursuant to ABA Standard 502 (d)  governing law school admissions, all matriculating students must supply an official transcript denoting conferral and date of conferral of a bachelor's degree by October 15. Failure to submit an official transcript may result in disenrollment. Disenrolled students may still be responsible for any tuition and fees incurred to date.
  • Can I combine a master's degree or Ph.D. with my J.D. studies?
  • Combined degree programs are available and students may earn a limited number of credits towards the J.D. degree for classes taken in other divisions of the university. Applicants apply to the UC Davis Graduate School of Management for the MBA and to the Department of Graduate Studies for the master of arts or master of science. Combining the J.D. with Ph.D. studies is generally not an available option. Separate applications should be submitted to each department because the evaluation and decision process are performed independently. If admitted to both programs, the applicant is required to enroll at the School of Law for the first year. For this reason, many combined degree program applicants apply for the master's program during the first year of law study. The first year is completed exclusively at the law school, the second year exclusively at the other program, and the third and fourth years are completed simultaneously. Please note that the School of Law operates on a semester schedule unlike much of the rest of the campus divisions, which operate on a quarter system.  For more information about other graduate programs, please see the UC Davis Graduate Studies website at http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/. Any student seeking a joint degree plan must spend the first year of full-time studies at UC Davis at the School of Law.

Application Timing

  • What is rolling admissions and does UC Davis use that system? What does "preferred deadline" mean?
  • Rolling admissions at UC Davis means the Admissions Committee reads files and makes decisions on a continual basis. Applicants are urged to apply and complete their files as early as possible although individual decisions are not based on the date the application was received. Applicants are informed of decisions as early as November and continuing through as late as early May. Applicants applying on or near the deadline are competing for significantly fewer seats. Our preferred application deadline for first-year admission is March 15, but we will accept applications through the final deadline of June 1. Those applying after the preferred deadline are advised that very few offers of admission are extended after early May, and generally only if a committed student drops from the class. We strongly encourage applicants to apply no later than the preferred deadline.
  • Does UC Davis have an early decision program? If so, is it binding?
  • Yes, we will accept applications from those applicants for whom UC Davis School of Law is their first choice. We begin accepting applications on September 1 and the deadline to apply is November 1. All applicants will receive a decision (admit, deny, hold, or waitlist) no later than November 30. Those applicants offered admission under the Early Decision program receive exclusive consideration for one of four Select Scholars awards.
  • What if my Early Decision application is denied?
  • If you do not receive an offer of admission through the Early Admission program, you will receive notice that your application has been denied, put on the wait list, or is being held for consideration as part of the general admissions process. If your application is put on hold status, you will receive notification of a final decision in the spring and your application will no longer constitute a binding commitment.
  • Can I apply to other schools if I am applying via the Early Decision program?
  • Yes, Early Decision program applicants may submit applications to other schools but must withdraw these applications immediately upon admission to UC Davis School of Law.
  • Can I request you hold review of my application until a future test score or other update to my application?
  • Generally, we encourage applicants to submit only complete applications that include a valid LSAT or GRE test score, all other required components, and that are ready for final decision at the time of submission. However, in limited circumstances, we will hold an application for a future LSAT or GRE test score.

    If you do not have a valid LSAT or GRE score on file (i.e., you are a first-time test taker), please do not submit your application until you are registered for a test taking place within the next 60 days, or until you have recently sat for a test. We reserve the right to close applications submitted without a valid GRE or LSAT score or registration for a future test date occurring within 60 days of the date of application submission.

    If you have a valid LSAT or GRE score on file, and your application is otherwise complete, you may request we hold final decision on your application for a future test only if you have an active registration for future LSAT or GRE occurring within 60 days of submitting your application. Your request must be submitted in writing to admissions@law.ucdavis.eduwe will not hold a file without a written request. If you register for a test occurring more than 60 days in the future, we will not hold a final decision on your application.  However, you may appeal an adverse admission decision if you later receive an increased score on a future test within the same cycle. Please contact us at admissions@law.ucdavis.edu for more information.

    **NOTE: We reserve the right to decline requests to hold our review of an application for receipt of any other application component and the right to close files for missing components.**

Application Components

  • What constitutes a complete file?
  • A complete file includes the completed application, résumé, personal statement, CAS report, all LSAT or GRE scores from the past five years, and two (2) letters of recommendation. International applicants are required to provide a TOEFL score. Applications are accepted beginning September 1. The early decision application deadline is November 1, the regular decision priority deadline is March 15, and the final regular decision deadline is June 1. Applications are evaluated only after the file is considered complete. There is NO application fee for first-year JD application.

    Please note that if you choose to apply with the GRE, you must submit all test scores from the past five years by request to ETS (the law school code is 4185). Because LSAC automatically reports all valid LSAT scores from the past five years, fairness requires that we also consider all GRE scores from the past five years as well -- you may not choose which GRE scores to submit.
  • Must letters of recommendation come from professors?
  • Our preference is for recommendations written by professors or others who can provide insight into the applicant's preparation for law study and past performance in an academic situation; however, employers or others familiar with the skills and characteristics that suggest an applicant's aptitude for legal studies can also provide excellent letters of recommendation.
  • Are résumés accepted as part of the application?
  • Applicants are required to submit a résumé as part of the application process.  Unless the applicant has considerable professional experience, the recommended length for résumés is 1-2 pages.
  • What are the requirements for the Personal Statement?
  • A personal statement is required of all applicants. The statement is usually 2-4 pages in length, double-spaced, normal margins, and 12-point font. There is no required format or content specifications for the personal statement, but applicants should assume that this is the only information the Admission Committee will have about them beyond the information provided on the application, the CAS report, and the letters of recommendation. Because interviews are not part of the admission process at UC Davis, the personal statement should be viewed as your opportunity to communicate directly with the Admission Committee. Please note that if you wish to submit optional, supplemental materials (e.g., diversity statement, non-required addenda), the combined length of the personal statement and any supplemental materials may not exceed four pages, double-spaced, 12-point font.
  • Do I need to disclose my academic or disciplinary infractions, criminal convictions, or employment termination?
  • Our application does require you to answer a series of questions regarding specific, prior academic and disciplinary infractions, pending or past criminal convictions (excluding traffic violations), and employment termination for cause. However, an affirmative answer to these questions does not necessarily preclude, or even prejudice, admission to King Hall. The Admissions Committee will review answers on an individual basis and in relation to all aspects of your experience, academic achievement, and potential. Do not assume that past problems will prevent future accomplishments. In fact, evidence of how you have overcome negative circumstances can be an asset. The application instructions (available through LSAC) provide detailed guidance on which information you must disclose and how you should approach drafting the disclosure on your application. If you have questions or would like to discuss your specific circumstances prior to submitting your application, we encourage you to Contact Us and speak with an admissions officer (please note: details of these pre-application advising appointments do not become part of your applicant record).

Standardized Tests

  • How are multiple LSAT and GRE scores treated?
  • The Admission Committee will use the high score for purposes of a final admission decision, however, it has access to all scores earned within the past five years (applicants must request ETS send all GRE scores from the last five years) of intended matriculation. In exceptional cases where there is a significant difference between scores, applicants may choose to provide a brief addendum of explanation. The highest score will be the recorded score in all reports and publications. We will report LSAT and GRE scores to the ABA as part of our required annual 509 (b) reporting.
  • What is the latest LSAT test date for first-time takers applying for Fall First-Year admission? For Early Decision applicants? For GRE test-takers?
  • For those applying for Early Decision and who are first-time test-takers, the latest LSAT we can accept is typically October, provided scores are released prior to the November 30 deadline for issuing early decisions. If an October score is not released by November 15, the applicant will be automatically rolled into the regular decision pool.

    All regular decision applicants taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for the first time must take the test no later than February of the year in which the applicant is seeking admission; however, we recommend first-time test takers sit for the test no later than January. Although we will accept the February LSAT for first-time test-takers applying for regular decision, applicants are advised that we typically extend a significant number of offers of admission by March 1, shortly after scores are released. Thus, if you want your score from this test date considered and/or you have never taken the LSAT, we will not look at your file until after the majority of the offers of admission are extended. 

    LSAT scores earned more than five years from the date of matriculation are not valid for first-year admission. For a list of all test dates, please visit the LSAC website.

    The GRE is offered year-round and score reports typically become available to the law school within two weeks of the test date. Therefore, we recommend taking the GRE as a first-time test-taker no later than March 1 to ensure your application is complete by the March 15 preferred application deadline and by November 1 if applying under the Early Decision program. by For additional information about test dates and sites, as well as score reports, please contact ETS.

    If you have already taken the LSAT and the GRE, you are not required to submit the GRE score(s). LSAC reports all LSAT scores from the last five years automatically -- all applicants who take the LSAT will have their scores reported to the law school. If you do wish to apply with a GRE score in addition to an LSAT score, you must submit all test scores from the last five years of matriculation.
  • Do you accept the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test? How do I submit my GRE score?
  • Yes, we now accept the GRE General Test in addition to/in lieu of the LSAT. You must submit GRE scores through ETS using school code 4185. If you have taken the LSAT and the GRE, you are not required to submit your GRE score(s). If you do plan to submit your GRE score(s) in addition to LSAT score(s), you must submit all scores from the past five years of matriculation. This ensures fairness for those applying with the LSAT because LSAC automatically reports all LSAT scores from the last five years.
  • If I take the LSAT and the GRE, which test scores do I submit?
  • LSAC automatically reports all LSAT scores from the past five years as part of the CAS report sent with your application for admission. Applicants who have taken both tests are not required to submit their GRE scores. If you wish to have us consider a GRE score in addition to the LSAT, you must submit all GRE scores from the past five years through ETS.
  • Is there a preference for the GRE or the LSAT in the evaluation process? What if I submit both a LSAT and a GRE score?
  • Applicants submitting a GRE score in lieu of an LSAT score are evaluated the same as those applying with an LSAT score. Our process equally emphasizes standardized test scores, undergraduate GPA, rigor of study, work experience, graduate study, economic or educational disadvantage, community involvement as well as all other components of the application for admission.
  • Can I apply with a JD-Next exam score in lieu of a LSAT or GRE score?
  • Although UC Davis School of Law received a variance from ABA Standard 503 to begin accepting the JD-Next score in lieu of the LSAT or GRE, the faculty has not approved any changes to our Admission Procedures & Criteria for first-year JD admission. To apply for first-year JD admission, you must submit a valid LSAT or GRE score with your application. If and when the faculty approves any changes to our Procedures & Criteria, we will promptly update our website. For more information about the JD-Next program, please visit the JD-Next website.

Application Evaluation

  • What additional factors are considered?
  • In addition to the LSAT and/or GRE, and undergraduate GPA, the Committee will consider the rigor of the undergraduate major and the school at which the degree was earned, significant work experience, community involvement, graduate study, and economic or educational disadvantage. All information in the personal statement and letters of recommendation are given very careful consideration.
  • Are UC Davis graduates treated differently?
  • We love UC Davis graduates! In fact, UC Davis is typically our largest feeder school. Applicants who have earned their undergraduate degree at UC Davis do not face a disadvantage in the admission process nor do they necessarily receive a significant advantage over equally well-qualified applicants. Current UC Davis students are encouraged to contact the undergraduate pre-law adviser, attend our Preview Event for UC Davis students (typically taking place in January or February), and visit the school. For more information, please see Visiting King Hall.

Residency for Tuition Purposes

  • Is residency a factor in the admission process?
  • No, residency is not a factor in the J.D. Admissions evaluation process. However, because UC Davis is a public institution, residency is a factor in the assessment of tuition and fees. Any indication of residency status for tuition purposes you receive during admission is provisional until a determination is made by a campus Residence Deputy. For more information about residency for tuition purposes, please see the Office of the University Registrar. Please answer the residency question on our application based on your current permanent state of residence, not your anticipated residence or past state of residence.
  • When can I petition to change my residency status?
  • If you currently attend UC Davis, paying non-resident tuition, and you think you qualify now as a resident for tuition purposes, you should submit a Petition for Classification to Resident Status to the Office of the University Registrar for the term you think you qualify as a resident. See Petition for Classification to Resident Status on the Office of the University Registrar’s website under Residency.
  • How is residency determined?
  • Your California Residency is determined for tuition purposes by a Residence Deputy in the Office of the University Registrar after your admission. Statements of Legal Residence are required of all newly admitted students.

    Prospective applicants can read the requirements for resident status and criteria for exemptions from non-resident tuition and obtain the Statement of Legal Residence form and instructions from the Office of the University Registrar.

    All questions about this information should be directed to the Residence Deputy because it is the only University personnel authorized to provide information related to residence requirements or your residency status for tuition purposes. You can contact the Residence Deputy at residencedeputy@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-5029.

Funding Your Legal Education

  • How much are tuition and fees for the current school year?
  • The total cost of attendance, including tuition and fees for CA residents and non-residents, is listed on the Financial Aid website. All figures are subject to change without notice. Please see the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis for the most current figures.
  • How do I apply for need-based financial aid?
  • We encourage applicants to review the Financial Aid portion of our website, particularly the Types of Assistance page. All admitted students receive consideration for merit-based gift aid (scholarships), but the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the UC Davis Law Need Application ("Need Application") are required of applicants seeking need-based gift aid and federal student loans. The FAFSA is usually available on October 1, and applicants are encouraged not to wait for an admission decision to apply. The FAFSA and Need Application must be submitted no later than March 2 each year to receive consideration for the maximum amount of need-based gift aid. Applicants who intend to finance their legal education through outside sources do not need to file FAFSA and Need Application and will not receive consideration for any need-based gift aid or be eligible to receive federal student loans. All applicants are encouraged to apply for need-based gift aid regardless of prior need determinations at the undergraduate level. More information about funding your legal education at UC Davis School of Law is available on the Financial Aid section of our website.

    Undocumented/DACA-mented/AB-540 eligible students are also eligible for need-based gift aid (grants) and should submit the California Dream Act application and the Need Application no later than March 2 (parental information is not required). After submitting the Dream Act application and Need Application, undocumented students are strongly encouraged to contact us at financialaid@law.ucdavis.edu to ensure your information is downloaded from the campus system promptly. Unfortunately, neither federal student loans nor institutional loans are available. There is a list of outside scholarships on the Of Special Interest portion of our website.

International J.D. Applicants

  • Does the law school have additional or different requirements for international applicants applying to the J.D. program?
  • Applicants educated outside the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico are required to register with LSAC's CAS service. This service will provide the School of Law with a credential evaluation report making it unnecessary to register with other foreign credential evaluation services. Information about CAS can be found at http://www.LSAC.org.

    International applicants educated outside the United States and for whom English was not the primary language of instruction, should provide a TOEFL score as part of the required admission materials (we do not accept IELTS).  The TOEFL score should be reported to the Law School Admission Council so that it can be included with the CAS report sent to the law school. For those applicants who completed graduate studies in the United States or Canada (or other institution taught primarily in English), a TOEFL is not required. The minimum requirements for the TOEFL score are 600 on the paper version of the exam, 250 on the computerized version, and 100 on the Internet Based Test. At this time, we do not accept IELTS in lieu of TOEFL.

    Those who have extensive professional experience in an English-speaking setting, may request a TOEFL waiver by emailing the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at admissions@law.ucdavis.edu. Please attach a short description of the experience and attach a resume.

  • How do I obtain the I-20 after admission to the School of Law?
  • Those incoming first-year and transfer admitted students who indicate an intent to matriculate by submitting both seat deposits will be automatically connected with the law school immigration services. Requests for I-20 applications will not be granted until both seat deposits are paid in full. For more generation information about campus-wide resources for international students, please see the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) at http://siss.ucdavis.edu/.
  • Is Gift Aid Available to International applicants?
  • Yes, merit-based gift aid is available to international applicants, US citizens, and permanent residents of the United States. International applicants may not be eligible to secure federal student loans and need-based gift aid. Note: Applicants with AB-540 status are eligible for need-based gift aid and the Dream Loan. Please see Of Special Interest: International Students for more information or contact our financial aid professionals (financialaid@law.ucdavis.edu or 530.752.6573) for additional guidance.
  • Can I receive credit toward the J.D. degree for work completed in an LL.M. program?
  • Every applicant to the three-year full-time Juris Doctor degree program should expect to fulfill the same requirements. Credit is not given for similar coursework completed as part of an LL.M. program. Please contact the Admissions Office at admissions@law.ucdavis.edu with individual questions.

Transfer Students

  • What factors are considered for admission as a transfer?
  • Prior law school grade point average is the primary factor considered. Applicants performing in the top half of their first-year class receive serious consideration. In exceptional cases, and based on the law school attended, applicants performing in the top one-third of their class after the first semester may be offered early transfer admission. The LSAT score is considered but does not carry the same weight it does in the first-year admission process.
  • How many students are typically admitted as transfers?
  • Transfers are admitted based on space available. Offers are typically extended to 20 or 30 students. The size of the transfer applicant pool usually ranges from about 75 to 100.
  • How many units must I complete in order to be eligible to transfer to UC Davis?
  • Applicants may apply after completion of the fall semester of the first year of studies, however, most applicants will not receive serious consideration for transfer until they complete at least 30 semester units (unless the unit total for full-time first-year attendance at the prior law school is less than 30). All admitted transfer students must have completed at least 30 semester units (or the total required for full-time first-year attendance) at the time of matriculation at UC Davis. Generally, UC Davis School of Law will award up to 31 semester units earned at the prior law school.
  • I am currently enrolled at a California State approved law school. Am I eligible for transfer?
  • Only students who have completed the equivalent of a first-year full-time program at a law school approved by the American Bar Association may apply for transfer.
  • I am an international student, and I have completed an LL.M. degree at an ABA approved law school. Am I eligible to apply to transfer? How many of my LL.M. courses will be credited?
  • Currently, only students who have completed the traditional first year of a Juris Doctor degree program at an American Bar Association-approved law school may apply to transfer and credits earned in an LL.M. program will not be credited toward a Juris Doctor degree at the UC Davis Law School.