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Application process & Requirements
LSAT and LSDAS
Letters of recommendation/Transcripts/Other supporting documents
Visiting Penn Law
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Application Process & Requirements
Q. What are your JD application deadlines?
Early Decision (Binding) Deadlines: Early Decision applications must be submitted through LSAC no later than November 15 for Round 1 or January 7 for Round 2. All supporting documents, including the LSAC Credential Assembly Service Report, must be received by December 1 for Round 1 or January 15 for Round 2 Early Decision consideration. Penn Law’s Early Decision option allows applicants to receive a decision—Admit, Deny, or Hold for further consideration—by the end of December for Round 1 and by the end of January for Round 2. For Round 1, Early Decision applicants must take the LSAT no later than October of the application year and submit the application by November 15. For Round 2, Early Decision applicants must take the LSAT no later than December of the application year and submit the application by January 7.
Regular Admission Deadline: March 1. Decisions are made on a rolling basis from December to May.
Transfer Application Deadline: June 15
Q. Do I have to submit my application electronically?
Yes, you must submit your application electronically via the LSAC Electronic Application available here.
Q. Does Penn Law require a Dean’s Certification with the application?
No, applicants are not required to submit a Dean’s Certification. Students who are admitted to Penn Law and decide to matriculate at Penn Law are required to submit a Dean’s Certification prior to the start of their first year.
Q. How long will it take for a decision to be made on my application?
It takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks from the date that we receive an application to process and complete the applicant file. We will notify you via email of the date on which we received your application and inform you of any missing documents after we receive your Credential Assembly Service Law School report. We will also notify you via email of the date on which your application is complete. Once your file is complete, it is in the queue to be referred to the Admissions Committee, and files are evaluated on a rolling basis. Decisions are also made on a rolling basis but all initial decisions will be made by no later than May 1. You will be able to track the status of your application through the Application Status Checker, Penn Law’s online status checker. Decisions will be posted on the Application Status Checker and sent by email. Please be sure that you have allowed adequate time for your application to be processed, completed, and evaluated before inquiring with our office regarding the status of your application.
Q. Do you grant interviews for admission?
No, we do not offer evaluative interviews and/or meetings with members of the Admissions Committee during the application process. Applicants who have concerns that they wish to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee should address those concerns in an addendum to their application. The addendum may be in the form of a memo or letter, should be addressed to the Admissions Committee, and sent by email to email@example.com.
Q. In addition to GPA and LSAT, what factors are most important to the Admissions Committee?
The Admissions Committee considers the applicant’s entire academic history, including breadth and rigor of curriculum, grade trends, and advanced coursework if applicable. The Admissions Committee also evaluates the applicant’s writing ability based on the personal statements and letters of recommendation. Additionally, the Committee considers work experience, personal background and experiences, service, leadership, overcoming challenges or disadvantages, and any other factors that make an applicant unique and that will somehow positively contribute to the life of the Law School and/or the legal community. The Admissions Committee does not employ the use of matrices or indexes when evaluating applicant files and has no statistical cut-offs for review; each file is read from cover to cover in a very holistic approach to the application evaluation.
Q. Is someone with a graduate degree at an advantage in applying to law school?
The Committee will give consideration to everything included in the application. Graduate coursework could certainly enhance one’s application given that it provides additional academic training and may broaden the perspective that one brings to the law school community. However, an applicant holding a graduate degree does not necessarily have a competitive advantage over an applicant who does not.
Q. Does Penn Law offer a fee waiver of the application fee?
*Please do not submit the application fee if you are applying for an application fee waiver.
Need-Based Fee Waivers:
If LSAC has granted you a Credential Assembly Service fee waiver, your application fee will automatically be waived when you apply electronically via LSAC.
Otherwise, to request a need-based waiver of the application fee, you must submit the Fee Waiver Application directly to our office. The Fee Waiver Application is available here. In addition to the Fee Waiver Application, you must submit a copy of your most recent tax return, a copy of a recent pay stub, and an itemized list of expenses if you are not currently enrolled in an academic program. If you are presently in school full-time, you must submit a copy of your financial aid award letter (not your financial aid transcript). Additionally, you must submit a copy of your parents’ most recent tax return if they claimed you as a dependent regardless of whether you are enrolled in school.
Without supporting documentation, your application will not be evaluated. Your completed Fee Waiver Application and supporting documentation must be submitted to Penn Law Admissions by no later than February 15.
Once your fee waiver has been approved, you will be emailed a fee waiver coupon number. The fee waiver coupon number can be entered on the payment page once you select to transmit your application through LSAC.
Merit-Based Fee Waivers:
Merit-based waivers are made available through queries to the LSAC Candidate Referral Service (CRS) database throughout the admissions cycle on a weekly basis starting in early September using various criteria; we do not grant them following individual requests.
For merit-based fee waiver consideration, please make sure you have opted-in for LSAC’s Candidate Referral Service; registered with the Credential Assembly Service; have at least one LSAT score on file; and have sent your most recent undergraduate transcripts to LSAC.
Service Recognition Fee Waivers (AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach For America, Teach For China, and the United States Military):
In recognition of your service, all past and present members of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach For America, Teach for China, and the United States Military are eligible for an application fee waiver. You must request this service recognition fee waiver from Penn Law before you transmit the electronic application through LSAC as we will not refund the application fee. To apply, please complete the Service Recognition Fee Waiver Application.
Once your participation in the designated service organization has been verified, you will be emailed a fee waiver coupon number. The fee waiver coupon number can be entered on the payment page once you select to transmit your application through LSAC. Please make sure to note your service appointment on your résumé.
Q. How will I be notified about the status of my application?
We primarily communicate with applicants via email regarding the status of their application. Applicants will be notified by email when their application is received, again when their application file is complete, and at other times to provide an update on the status of their application. Additionally, applicants will be able to check the status of their application at any time using the Application Status Checker, Penn Law’s online status checker. To access the online status checker, please click here.
Q. How will my decision be communicated to me?
All final decisions will be viewable through Penn Law’s Application Status Checker and additionally sent via email. For confidentiality reasons, we do not give decision information either over the phone or in person at the request of the applicant.
Q. How do I withdraw my JD application for Penn Law?
Leaving so soon? In all seriousness: to ensure the accuracy of our records, applicants must send a written request to the Admissions Office. This request should include your name as it appears on the application as well as your LSAC account number.
The written request can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, via fax at 215.898.9606, or mail to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, 3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
LSAT and CAS
Q. If I took the LSAT more than once, does the Admissions Committee consider the average or the higher LSAT score?
All LSAT 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 a supplemental essay explaining those circumstances. The Admissions Committee will consider such information and may, at its discretion, evaluate your application based on the higher (or highest) LSAT score.
Q. How does the Committee view a canceled LSAT score?
A single canceled LSAT score has no impact on the evaluation of an application.
Q. Will the Committee accept an older LSAT score?
We will accept LSAT results from any exam taken within the last five years prior to fall enrollment, i.e., June 2009 or thereafter for the class entering in fall 2015.
Q. Will Penn Law consider my February 2015 LSAT score?
Penn Law will consider your February LSAT score, as long as your application is received by the March 1 deadline.
Letters of recommendation/Transcripts/Other supporting documents
Q. How many letters of recommendation do you require?
Penn Law requires two letters of recommendation to complete an application. We will accept up to four letters of recommendation. We will also accept up to two evaluations from LSAC’s new evaluation service, but you still must submit the required two letters of recommendation.
Q. Does Penn Law accept letters of recommendation via LSAC or a college or graduate school credentials service?
You must submit your letters of recommendation through LSAC’s Letter of Recommendation Service. Please do not send letters of recommendation directly to our office.
Q. Is a recommendation form needed for each letter of recommendation?
Letters sent through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service should be accompanied by the LSAC letter of recommendation form. Penn Law does not have a separate letter of recommendation form.
Q. If I have been out of school for a while, from whom should I get letters of recommendation?
A professor, an employer, or anyone who can speak to your ability to succeed in a rigorous law school program may write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
Q. Do you accept faxed or emailed transcripts or letters of recommendation?
No. Faxed or emailed letters of recommendation and transcripts are not considered official documents.
Letters of recommendation must be sent via the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service.
Transcripts must be sent via LSAC. If you completed your study outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada, you must use the JD Credential Assembly Service through LSAC and have all official academic transcripts sent directly to LSAC.
Q. Do you accept faxed or emailed copies of supporting documents?
Yes. We will accept supporting documents by email (preferred method) at email@example.com or by fax at (215) 898-9606. Supporting documents include corrections and/or additions to application questions, corrected personal statements or supplemental essays, and updated resumes. As noted above, we do not accept emailed or faxed transcripts and letters of recommendation.
Q. Does Penn Law offer joint degree opportunities?
Yes, we offer dozens! And you are also free to create an ad hoc program. Information about Penn’s cross-disciplinary programs can be found here.
Our Certificate Programs are also popular options; about 1/3 of our graduates earn a certificate.
Q. What is the application process for joint degree programs?
Students must submit a separate application for each school to which they apply and sit for any standardized testing required by each program.
The exception to this policy is the three-year JD/MBA program. If you are applying for the three-year JD/MBA, please neither fill out nor submit the Fall 2015 - First Year JD application through LSAC. Instead, you must apply exclusively through Wharton at www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/. There, you will find a Law School Application Supplement. Please reference the Law School Application Instructions through Wharton for further important information.
Q. Does Penn Law accept transfer students from other law schools?
Yes, we accept transfer applications from students who have completed one year of full-time study at a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Students wishing to apply for transfer to Penn Law must apply prior to their second year of law school. We do not accept transfer students beyond the first year of law school; however, a student may apply as a visiting student at Penn Law for up to one year of study during the student’s second or third year of law school. Please refer to the Transfer Students or Non-matriculating or Visiting Students sections here for further information on applying as a transfer or visiting student.
Q. What is the earliest date that I may submit a transfer application?
May 1, and our deadline is June 15. Your application must be complete by July 1.
Q. Does Penn Law accept transfers from part-time programs?
No. Students enrolled in a part-time or evening division program at any time during their first year of study are not eligible to apply for transfer to Penn Law. In order to be eligible to apply to transfer to Penn Law, students must be enrolled full-time at an ABA/AALS-accredited law school and must have successfully completed all the required 1L coursework of the home law school’s 1L program by the completion of the spring semester.
Q. Are admitted transfer students eligible for graduation honors?
Yes. Transfer students are eligible for graduation honors, though these honors take into account only second- and third-year grades.
Q. May admitted transfer students participate in write-on journal competitions?
Yes. A write-on competition is held just for transfer students in early August. All journals – including Law Review – participate in this process.
Q. Are transfer students at any disadvantage when it comes to registering for courses or participating in on-campus recruiting?
No. Transfer students are in the same position as returning 2Ls when registering for courses. Similarly, many steps are taken to facilitate on-campus recruiting and secure a substantial number (and wide variety) of interviews.
Q. When will decisions be made on transfer applications?
The bulk of decisions will be made between mid June and early July.
Q. Must foreign students applying for the J.D. program take the TOEFL exam?
No, foreign students are not required to take the TOEFL.
Q. If I hold an LL.M. and want to apply to the J.D. program, do I have to take the LSAT?
Q. If my degree is from a foreign institution, must I send my transcripts to a transcript translation service, such as World Education Services (WES)?
No. Penn Law School requires that any foreign transcripts be submitted through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) for applicants who completed any postsecondary work outside the U.S. (including its territories) or Canada. You must use this service for the evaluation of your foreign transcripts. The one exception to this requirement is if you completed the foreign work through a study-abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript. This service is included in the Credential Assembly Service registration fee. A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), which will be incorporated into your Credential Assembly Service report.
Q. If I hold an LL.M. or LL.B. degree, may I apply to Penn Law’s J.D. program as a transfer student?
No, you must apply as a first-year student; however, you may be granted advanced standing if you are admitted. See the question below.
Q. If I hold an LL.M. or a foreign law degree, will I be granted advanced standing for the J.D. program, i.e. will I be given credit for any of my coursework?
Students who hold an LL.M. degree will not be given credit for their LL.M. coursework; however, students who hold a foreign law degree (LL.B.) may be given credit for their law courses. Typically, students holding an LL.B. will be granted one year of credit; thus, they will be able to complete the J.D. program in two years. The evaluation of foreign law coursework is completed after the student is admitted.
Q. Do international students qualify for financial aid or scholarships?
Yes. All applicants who are admitted to the J.D. program will be considered for all merit scholarships; a separate application is not required for merit scholarships. Additionally, foreign applicants may be eligible for need-based grants. A financial aid application is required for need-based grants. The financial aid application deadline is March 1. Instructions for applying for financial aid may be found here.
Q. Are international students eligible for loans?
International students may apply for loans from private student loan lenders; however, these loans typically require a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. U.S federal student loans are not available to international students.
Q. Does Penn Law have a part-time, summer, or evening program?
Q. Can I begin at Penn Law in the spring?
No. Penn Law offers fall enrollment only.
Q. May I defer my admission?
If you are admitted and wish to defer your admission, you must (1) place a seat deposit, and (2) submit a written request to the Dean of Admissions stating your reasons for wanting the deferral. One-year deferrals are typically granted for reasons such as work, finances, completion of a graduate program, or extenuating circumstances, such as illness or injury. Two-year deferral requests are rarely approved, although they are likely if you are enrolled in a two-year program such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, or have a military commitment.
Q. What are the requirements to hold deferred status?
If your deferral is granted, you must submit a nonrefundable seat deposit in the amount of $500, and you must complete and sign our Deferral Agreement. The Agreement states that you will not hold deferred status at another law school nor will you apply for admission to or matriculate at any other law school while holding deferred status with Penn Law.
Q. How much is tuition?
Tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 academic year are $54,992.
Note: Penn Law affords students the opportunity to take up to four courses—related to legal study—at other graduate and professional schools in the University. Students can take these courses as part of a joint degree program, a certificate program, or an ad hoc program of study. Tuition includes the tuition transfer for up to, but no more than, four courses. Students who take courses in excess of four will be charged a pro-rated tuition for these additional courses. Students pursuing a joint degree or certificate program will incur an administrative charge ranging from $200-$400. This fee will be applied at the start of a certificate program, and at the end of the third year of study for joint degree candidates.
Q. What is the general cost for room and board?
The cost for room and board will vary according to your lifestyle, but here is an estimate for the academic year:
Q. What type of financial aid do you offer?
Penn Law is committed to assisting deserving students with the financing of their legal education. We offer a combination of merit scholarships, need-based grants, and loan sources to assist our students with the financing of tuition and living expenses. Close to 50% of our students receive merit- or need-based grants or a combination thereof. A description of our scholarships may be found at www.law.upenn.edu/prospective/jd/financing.html.
Q. How do I apply for merit-based scholarships?
Merit scholarships do not require a separate application. If you are admitted to Penn Law, you will be considered for all merit scholarships. Additional merit scholarship information is found here: www.law.upenn.edu/prospective/jd/scholarsprogram.html.
Q. How do I apply for need-based financial aid?
If you wish to apply for need-based aid you must complete the FAFSA and the Need Access financial aid application. In addition, if you are under the age of 30, we require parental and spousal (if applicable) information when determining eligibility for need based aid. If you are only applying for loans, you may complete the FAFSA without parental information. For online Financial Aid Application Instructions, visit www.law.upenn.edu/prospective/jd/financing.html.
Q. Do I need to submit parental information?
Due to limited University resources, we must consider each student’s entire financial situation. Accordingly, Penn Law requires financial aid applicants and their families (except those students over the age of 30 by December 31, of the year of enrollment) to complete the parental, student and spousal (if applicable) sections of the Need Access financial aid application. As a graduate school applicant you are considered “independent” under federal guidelines and are only required to complete the student sections of the FAFSA.
Q. What do I do if my parents will not supply information and/or will not financially contribute to my education?
There are low interest loans available that can replace parental contributions. Please click here for information on available student loans.
Q. I will not be married when I come to school in September, but plan to be married during the school year; do I need to submit prospective spousal information?
Yes. If you are married or plan to be married by October 1, 2015, you must submit spousal information.
Q. Can international students obtain financial aid?
International students may apply for need-based aid (grants) and loans from private student loan companies. Most programs will require a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. U.S federal student loans are not available to international students.
International students admitted to Penn will also be considered for the merit scholarships described above. International students are eligible to participate in our Toll Loan Assistance Repayment Program (TollRap).
Q. I am applying now to be a permanent resident; am I eligible for Federal financial aid?
You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident at the time of application to be eligible for aid.
Q. When will I find out about my financial aid package?
The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid notifies admitted students of their financial aid eligibility on a rolling basis beginning in March.
Q. What is the deadline for student loans?
It is recommended that your FAFSA form be submitted as soon as possible after January 1. Your Masters Promissory Note is recommended to be completed by June 1. Please visit www.sfs.upenn.edu for additional application instructions.
Q. What is the school code for completing the FAFSA?
The University of Pennsylvania’s school code is 003378.
Q. Can I afford to borrow money if I want to work in public interest?
No one can deny that salaries in public sector work, particularly for non-profits, legal services organizations, and other non-governmental organizations, are low, particularly compared to the average salaries earned by Penn Law graduates joining private sector organizations. But alumni take these jobs for many reasons, including the incomparable rewards of serving those in need. Penn Law has a strong Toll Loan Repayment Assistance Program (TollRap) that offers assistance in loan repayment to our graduates who choose public sector work. Since its inception, our TollRap program has offered millions of dollars of assistance to our graduates who have committed themselves to work in the public sector. To learn more about the program, go here.
Q. I do not qualify for private loans because of poor credit, what should I do?
In this case you would need to secure a credit worthy co-signer. In most cases with a credit worthy co-signer you would be able to borrow. If you are not able to find a credit worthy co-signer and you are dependent on this source to fund tuition and living expenses, it is suggested that you defer your admission for a year to work on your credit score before coming to law school.
Q. Are there any other outside sources that I should consider in regard to financial aid?
We recommend that you explore organizations to which you belong that might have funding available: religious organizations, fraternal organizations, clubs, athletics, veteran groups, ethnic affiliations, unions, employers, rotary clubs, etc. Also, there are scholarship search engines that you could consider: www.collegeboard.com or www.finaid.org. Additionally, the law school has compiled a directory for admitted students in an effort to help them locate outside scholarships.
Visiting Penn Law
Q. How do I set up a visit to Penn Law?
Information Sessions are offered during the fall and winter months, typically on a weekly basis. An information session usually includes a class visit, guided tour of the law school, and an admissions and financial aid Q&A session. You may view the Information Session and Class Visit schedule, and register, here.
Q. Does your office offer guided tours of the Law School?
Penn Law currently only offers guided tours of the Law School as a part of each J.D. Information Session. The schedule can be found here.
You are also welcome to visit the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid during our office hours (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday) to obtain our self-guided tour. Self-guided tours are available on weekends, but please contact us to make prior arrangements.
Q. How many applicants are placed on the waitlist and how many are offered admission?
At its peak (just before May 1), the waitlist will include several hundred applicants. The number of individuals on the waitlist will decrease continuously. In fact, we will begin reviewing all candidates on the waitlist in early May and likely begin releasing candidates shortly thereafter. We also anticipate extending a small number of admission offers up until classes start; however, we are unable to say with certainty the number or the date by which we will do so. The number of offers we will make is fully contingent upon the number of deposited students who defer or make other plans for law school.
The waitlist evaluation process varies every year. In some years, we made almost no offers to candidates on the waitlist because the yield on our initial admission offers increased compared to previous years. Other years, we have made several offers to candidates on the waitlist.
Q. Is the waitlist ranked?
Our waitlist is not ranked. We review all candidates on the waitlist whenever we are in a position to make additional admission offers.
Q. Should I provide the Admissions Office with updated contact information?
Yes. The Admissions Committee may select candidates from the waitlist to informally interview over the telephone, but only when it is in a position to make additional admission offers. Therefore, it is important that your telephone and email address remain current and accurate over the summer.
Please understand that you are the only person with whom we can speak regarding the status of your application. While we appreciate the concern of applicants’ parents or other family members, we cannot discuss an applicant’s file or status with them.
Q. Is it helpful to supplement my application?
You are welcome to continue to provide updates to your admission file or to write a statement of continuing interest, but please exercise sound judgment and professionalism in the type and amount of correspondence that you send. Faxing (215.898.9606) or emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) information to the Admissions Office is the best method of communication.
Also, if you are completing your degree this year, you should submit your final undergraduate transcript to LSAC.
Q. May I visit the Law School and meet with a member of the Admissions Committee?
Starting May 12, waitlisted candidates may visit the Law School, take a self-guided tour of the buildings, and schedule an informational meeting with an Admissions Officer. The meeting is neither evaluative nor an interview. Waitlisted candidates may begin requesting informational meetings on May 1. To schedule a brief meeting, please call us at least a few days in advance of your visit. If you do not schedule a meeting in advance of visiting the Law School, we cannot guarantee that an Admissions Officer will be available to meet with you.
Q. What is your decision-making timeline?
We do apologize for the length of time it takes to review waitlisted candidates, but our admission process is genuinely thorough and deliberate. We will continue to closely monitor the status of the incoming class and will be prepared to make additional admissions offers should incoming students withdraw or defer between May and the end of August.
Q. I applied to Penn Law last year and was denied admission. I would like to reapply this year. What materials do I need to submit with my new application?
Applicants who are denied admission may reapply to Penn Law in a subsequent year. It should be noted, however, that candidates are unlikely to be admitted unless there is some significant change since their previous application. Previous applicants who wish to reapply must:
- Submit the current application, an updated résumé, and a new personal statement
- Submit the $80.00 application fee
- Register with the Credential Assembly Service if registration is no longer current, and pay for additional reports
- Send updated transcripts to LSAC for all academic work—undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional—completed since your last application
- While not required, we strongly suggest that an applicant submit two new letters of recommendation to replace or supplement previously submitted letters