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Frequently Asked Questions - J.D. Admissions


FACTS & STATISTICS

What is the size of the entering class?
We aim to enroll 300-325 first-year law students every fall.

What are your median LSAT and GPA and the 25%-75% ranges for the enrolled class?
For the class that entered in fall 2014, the median LSAT was 169 and the median GPA was 3.85. The 25%-75% LSAT range was 166-170. The 25%-75% GPA range was 3.57-3.93. More

How many applicants apply?
In the 2013-14 application year, we received more than 5,200 applications.

Where may I find more information about last year’s entering class?
Class of 2017 Profile

Is preference given to Virginia residents?
Although Virginia Law is not dependent upon the Commonwealth for its budget, that has not always been the case, so we do aim to favor competitive Virginia applicants when we can. 

How is residency determined?
If you are claiming Virginia residency, which entitles you to a discount on tuition, you must submit an Application for Virginia In-State Educational Privileges when you apply for admission. For more information concerning Virginia residency status, go to: www.law.virginia.edu/residents

Please note the University, not the School of Law, makes residency determinations on the basis of guidelines mandated by the Commonwealth.

What percentage of the enrolled class matriculated via the Binding Expedited Decision Program?
We do not have a set number of spots for the Binding Expedited Decision Program. However, in some of the recent years, around 20 percent of the enrolled students were admitted through the program.

How much does it cost to attend? Tuition and Fees
 
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THE APPLICATION PROCESS

What are the basic requirements for admission?
To be eligible for consideration for admission to the J.D. program, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by August of the year you intend to enroll. To apply for admission, candidates should submit a completed application for admission; the $80 application fee; a transcript of undergraduate and any graduate work submitted through the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS); a score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT); and two letters of recommendation. All required materials must be in the file before it is referred to our Admissions Committee. See J.D. Application Requirements

What are the factors considered by the Admissions Committee?
Each year, many highly qualified college students and graduates apply for the necessarily limited number of places in the first-year J.D. class. The admissions process aims to select from the applicant pool an entering class of students who will contribute to the Law School, to the Commonwealth of Virginia, to the nation, and to the global legal community. These contributions, both before and after graduation, require exceptional academic ability. No applicant is admitted without the prospect of successfully completing the requirements for the degree, but qualifications other than academic credentials are also necessary to succeed in the legal profession today. Legal education must prepare students to work in a wide variety of settings with individuals who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Exposing students to a multiplicity of perspectives, and to classmates who will express those perspectives, is essential to preparing them for the challenges they will face in their professional lives. To that end, the admissions committee considers many factors in addition to intellectual aptitude and academic achievement. Among these are geographical, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological diversity, as well as individual traits and experiences that predict success, such as dedication or a constructive response to adversity.

The objective indicators of success presented by each applicant, namely undergraduate cumulative grade point average and LSAT score, are important factors in our selection process. However, no one is admitted or denied admission solely on the basis of any purely numerical indicator. Rather, all of the information in each application file is reviewed personally by at least two admissions professionals and, in some cases, by one or more faculty members. That review involves assessment of personal characteristics and achievements, as well as letters of recommendation, the strength of an applicant’s curriculum, the nature and quality of any work experience an applicant may have had, the nature and quality of any graduate study that the applicant may have undertaken, the personal qualities displayed by the applicant, writing ability as illustrated in the personal statement and LSAT writing sample, and any hardships or difficulties that the applicant may have overcome. Diversity, in its broadest sense, also figures in this assessment. Finally, those involved in admissions decisions strive to determine if candidates are sincerely interested in attending Virginia Law and are likely to excel and thrive in the Virginia Law community. Every applicant who, upon review of his or her file, is determined to be a competitive and serious candidate for admission is contacted and interviewed via Skype or phone, by an admissions staff member. Those who review files and conduct applicant interviews make recommendations to the Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, who conducts a final review and is charged with releasing decisions to applicants. In some cases, the Senior Assistant Dean may consult with the Dean of the Law School before releasing decisions.

In this process, no quota is set for any classification of applicants, though an effort is made to assure an appropriate balance of Virginia residents and out-of-state students. No quantitative advantage is given to any classification of applicants. Every application is considered on its merits, recognizing the strong qualifications of many applicants for a limited number of places. Finally, no separate track or special admissions procedures apply to any classification of applicants, except that resident and non-resident applications are reviewed separately from one another. Every application is evaluated individually in an effort to meet the goal of admitting a class of able and talented students who can best serve the Law School, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the global community.

When are the application deadlines? Do you offer an early decision option?
Regular application deadline: Applicants should ensure that we have received a completed application by March 1. A decision will be mailed by April 15. Late applications will be accepted and reviewed, but applicants are not guaranteed an admissions decision by April 15.

Expedited Decision option: There is no separate deadline for Expedited Decision applications. Applicants may choose the binding expedited decision option when they apply at any point in the admissions cycle. Expedited Decision applicants will be notified of their decision no later than 15 days after the complete application for admission is received and residency status has been determined. More on Expedited Decision

Do you accept applications after the March 1 completion deadline?
Late applications will be accepted and reviewed, but applicants are not guaranteed an admissions decision by April 15.

How much is the application fee and how may I pay it?
The application fee is $80, which must be paid by credit card via LSAC.

How may I obtain an application fee waiver?
If you received a waiver for the LSAT or LSDAS fees from the Law School Admission Council, you automatically qualify for an application fee waiver form the University of Virginia. When you apply electronically through LSAC, the waiver will apply automatically.

Applicants serving in an established public service commitment such as Teach for America, the Peace Corps, Americorps/VISTA, CityYear, or in a Truman Public Service Fellowship, will have the application fee waived. E-mail us at lawadmit@virginia.edu for a fee waiver.

We are happy to waive the application fee for any applicant for whom payment of the fee will prevent them from applying or would pose a hardship. E-mail us at lawadmit@virginia.edu for a fee waiver.

We cannot under any circumstances refund a fee already paid via LSAC.

When are applicants notified of admission decisions?
Expedited Decision applicants will be notified of their decision no later than 15 days after the application for admission is complete and residency status has been determined. More on Expedited Decision

Regular decision applicants will be notified by April 15.

How will the Office of Admissions communicate decisions?
You can monitor the status of your application online (click here) using the ID/password you received from the Admissions Office via email shortly after submitting your application. We will call all applicants to whom we wish to make an offer, and moreover, all applicants offered admission will receive an official offer letter via regular mail. All other decisions will be communicated via email. 

May I defer my enrollment?
Should you wish to postpone entry into the School of Law, you have two options.

If you are reasonably certain that you will enroll at the University of Virginia in August 2015, you may request to defer your admission by making all required acceptance deposits, confirming your intention to accept your place in the class, and requesting a deferral at that time. Deferred applicants agree not to hold a place in another law school’s entering class, or to apply to other law schools, during the deferral term. We will ask you to reconfirm your intention to enroll in early 2015. Financial aid commitments typically cannot be deferred to a subsequent year, since awards of need-based assistance will require an updated needs analysis. Merit-based assistance may be deferred on a case-by-case basis. All deferral requests must be received by the second deposit deadline.

If you do not wish to make a commitment to attend the University of Virginia, you may elect simply to decline your offer of admission and reapply for the next academic year. While we cannot guarantee your admission, we do give substantial weight to a commitment made in a previous year. Having declined an offer of admission will not be a disadvantage in the process. Candidates reapplying for admission will be asked to complete a new application form, submit an updated personal statement, and, in the case of applicants who had not completed undergraduate school at the time of the initial application, submit a new LSDAS report that includes grades earned in the final year of study.

What are your requirements for transfer students?
See our Transfer Students page for application information.

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LSAT AND GRADE POINT AVERAGES

Where do I find out about LSDAS and the LSAT?
Find out more about both by going to www.lsac.org

Is there a minimum LSAT score or grade point average applicants must present?
No. We read every application carefully, and take all factors into account. At no point in our deliberations are numbers employed in a way that would trigger an automatic decision to offer or deny admission.

Is taking the test in February too late?
While applications with February scores will be accepted and reviewed, you should understand that we will already have made a substantial portion of our offers by the time your February results are received. This may reduce your chances for admission. If, after submitting your application with an earlier LSAT score, you decide to retake the LSAT in February, please send us a note to that effect and ask that we hold your file for consideration until those scores have arrived.

What if I am registered for a future LSAT?
If you are registered to take a future LSAT, it is still in your best interest to submit the rest of your application so that it will be complete and ready for review as soon as LSAC reports your score to us. If your LSDAS report already includes at least one LSAT score, but you would prefer no final decision be made before we receive a future LSAT score, simply include with your application a one-line addendum stating: "I will be taking the [October/December/February] LSAT and request that a final decision on my application be postponed until this most recent LSAT score is reported."

What is your policy on multiple LSAT scores?
The ABA requires law schools to report LSAT information using an admitted student’s highest score, so that is the score to which we give the most weight. We evaluate all information submitted as part of the application for admission, however, including all scores earned on the LSAT. Studies by the Law School Admission Council suggest that in most cases the average score is the most accurate predictor of academic performance in the first year of law school, so we encourage applicants with a significant difference in LSAT scores to include with their application any information that may be relevant to the interpretation of test results, such as illness, testing conditions, or other circumstances that may have affected LSAT performance.

Do Admissions Committee members examine transcripts? Do they take into account such factors as a heavy work schedule, significant extra-curricular activities, and changes in majors when evaluating grade point averages?
Admission Committee members review every transcript and take into consideration factors that may have had an impact on an applicant’s grade point average. We also consider trends in applicants’ grades, grading curves at that college or university, and the rigor of the courses undertaken.

Do you take into account grades received in graduate school?
While grades received in graduate studies are not counted as part of your grade point average, we do review graduate school transcripts and take note of grades received. A strong graduate school record is viewed as a plus.

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LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendations?
Applicants must provide two letters of recommendation. Letters should evaluate your potential as a law student, so letters of recommendation from members of your college or graduate school faculty who can discuss your academic performance are particularly helpful. If you have been out of school for a number of years and have difficulty securing an academic reference, you may substitute letters from employers or others who have worked closely with you. In any event, letters should address the skills necessary for rigorous, advanced academic work: the ability to read complex textual material closely, to analyze it carefully, and to present reasoned conclusions in writing and orally; maturity; self-discipline; commitment; and professionalism.

How many letters are required? May I submit more?
Two letters are required. We accept a maximum of four letters of recommendation.

Can I have those writing letters of recommendations send them directly to you?
No. All letters of recommendation should be sent via LSAC.

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PERSONAL STATEMENT

What sort of information do you like to see in a personal statement?
Include with your application a personal statement that will give the Admissions Committee any information you believe relevant to the admissions decision that is not elicited elsewhere in the application. The statement is your opportunity to tell us about yourself; it may address your intellectual interests, significant accomplishments, obstacles overcome, personal or professional goals, educational achievements, or any way in which your perspective, viewpoint, or experiences will add to the richness of the educational environment of the School of Law.

Do you put a word limit on the length of personal statements?
No, we invite applicants to write essays that are long enough to express whatever they think the Admissions Committee should know. That said, applicants should remember that succinctness is a virtue. Admissions Committee members look favorably upon personal statements that illustrate one's ability to convey his or her message in a concise fashion.

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INFORMATION FOR INTERNATIONAL OR FOREIGN-EDUCATED STUDENTS

How do I submit transcripts from a college or university outside the United States or Canada?
Transcripts of postsecondary work completed at a college or university outside the United States or Canada must be submitted through the LSAC JD Credential Assembly Service (JD CAS). The one exception to this requirement is for work completed outside the United States or Canada through a study abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, where the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript. The JD CAS service is included in the LSDAS subscription fee. A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and incorporated into your LSDAS report. 

To use the JD CAS, log in to your online account and follow the instructions for registering for the service. Be sure to print and mail a Transcript Request Form for each institution attended.

Questions about the JD Credential Assembly Service can be directed to LSAC.

Do you require TOEFL from international students?
No, we do not require TOEFL scores from J.D. applicants. (For information about TOEFL score requirements for LL.M. applicants, go to the Graduate Studies website.)  However, applicants should be aware that competency in English is critical to success in the study of law at the University of Virginia, and that demonstrated fluency in English is an important consideration in evaluating applications. Should you choose to submit a TOEFL score, you must contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and request that your TOEFL score be sent to LSAC. LSAC's TOEFL code for the JD CAS is 0058. Your score will be included in the Foreign Credential Evaluation document that will be included in your LSDAS law school report. 

Questions about the JD Credential Assembly Service can be directed to LSAC at (215) 968-1001, or lsacinfo@lsac.org

Where may I find complete information about basic international student requirements?
For information, go to International Student Admissions on the central University of Virginia Web site.

Do you accept transfer applications from those holding an LL.M. from a U.S. university?
We only accept applications from students currently enrolled in the University of Virginia LL.M. program or who have graduated from the University of Virginia LL.M. program within the last five years. For more information, contact gradadmitlaw@virginia.edu.

Do you give advanced credit for law courses taken in other countries? If I have a law degree earned in a foreign country must I start over to earn a J.D.?
We are unable to transfer credits from non-U.S. law schools because the curriculum and programs are quite different.

Is financial aid available for international students?
International students are fully eligible for merit-based scholarship assistance from the School of Law. International students should understand, however, that scholarship assistance from the University typically will cover only a portion of the total costs of education, so additional personal or family resources, financial assistance from the applicant’s employer or home country, or other sources of financing will be required. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible to borrow under the Stafford Student Loan Program. Private loan funds may be available to international students with a U.S. citizen as co-signer.

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FINANCIAL AID

Is financial aid available?
Admission to the School of Law is need-blind. Our goal is to ensure that every student who wishes to attend Virginia Law has access to the financial resources to make that possible. A law degree is a substantial investment. Nearly 90 percent of our students receive some form of financial assistance, either through scholarship assistance from the School of Law, participation in federal direct student loan programs, through private educational loans, or from outside sources of scholarship assistance.

For more information about the different types of financial aid and the aid application process, visit the Financial Aid website.

Are merit-based scholarships available?
Yes. All applicants accepted for admission are considered for merit-based scholarship assistance. No separate application is required. Applicants who wish to be considered for awards from scholarship funds for which financial need is also a criterion should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Selection for merit-based scholarships is based on the same range of criteria evaluated in the admissions process: intellectual aptitude and academic achievement, individual accomplishments and experiences that predict success, the nature and quality of any work experience, significant achievement in extracurricular activities in college, or contributions to campus or community through service and leadership.

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OTHER QUESTIONS

Do you offer interviews and tours of the school?
The overwhelming number of requests makes it logistically impossible for personal interviews to be offered as part of the admissions process. We do, however, sponsor tours every weekday while classes are in session. Moreover, on most Fridays in the fall, we sponsor group information sessions that include a chance for applicants to meet with students and a presentation by an admissions dean. For more information, see Visiting the School.

Does the School of Law offer concurrent or dual-degree programs?
The School of Law offers a J.D./M.B.A. in conjunction with the Darden School of Business. This program allows students to complete their dual degree in four years versus the five years that would be required if the degrees were earned sequentially. To participate in this program, you must be admitted by both the School of Law and the Darden School of Business. You may wish to check Darden's website.

We also offer dual-degree programs in medicine, accounting, government or foreign affairs, history, philosophy, public health, public policy, urban and environmental planning, and English. The Law School also includes a J.D.-Master's in Economic Law at Sciences Po in Paris, and several external collaborative programs.

Those who wish to study in other disciplines but are seeking only a J.D. degree may, with advance approval, take a limited number of courses in other graduate programs.

What is the best pre-law curriculum? How does one prepare for law school?
There is no right answer to this question, and every year we admit applicants who majored in virtually any conceivable discipline. That said, the law deals with every facet of human activity, and a lawyer should be a person with a broad base of knowledge and a range of intellectual interests. A reasonable degree of exposure to such subjects as history, literature, English composition, philosophy, political science, and economics will provide a good background for a full appreciation of the law. Whatever the courses selected, one should look for classes that require reading complex primary source material, analyzing it closely, and presenting well-reasoned conclusions in writing. One can find that preparation in almost any of the rigorous academic disciplines in a college or university.

In most cases, law courses that are offered at the undergraduate level are less analytical and less comprehensive than those you will encounter in law school, and while they may give you some familiarity with important cases or development of doctrine, they will not be a significant advantage in law school. Most admissions committee members would prefer that an applicant’s college coursework gave foundational understandings of history, economics, politics, science, and culture that will provide the context for a fuller understanding of the law and how it operates in our society.

Do you offer summer school, night-time, or part-time study of law?
No, we only offer full-time study of the law using a standard spring and fall semester. While some classes meet in the evenings, these are only available to full-time students.

Do you offer a paralegal program or online courses?
No.

Where may I find out more about student life, the University, and the Charlottesville area?
Living in Charlottesville, our online guide to Charlottesville and student life, is a valuable resource.

May I start the J.D. program in the spring semester?
No, we only permit students to begin their study in the fall semester.

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