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Vermillion, SD 57069-2390
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w. <IT>www.usd.edu/law<RO>

School of Law

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Students may take relevant courses in other programs and apply credit toward the J.D.; a maximum of 9 credits may be applied. The following joint degrees may be earned: J.D./M.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in English, history, psychology, political science), J.D./M.B.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration), J.D./M.P.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration), J.D./M.P.Acc. (Juris Doctor/Master of Professional Accountancy), and J.D./M.S.A.S. (Juris Doctor/Master of Science in administrative studies).

The School of Law offers concentrations in environmental law and Indian law. In addition, research programs, amounting to 1 or 2 hours of credit, are available for second- and third-year students. Externships are available for third-year students, and a federal judicial externship is available for second-year students. The most widely taken electives are Business Associations, Commercial Law, and Trusts/Wills.

To earn the J.D., candidates must complete 90 total credits, of which 46 are for required courses. They must maintain a minimum GPA of 70.0 in the required courses. The following first-year courses are required of all students: Appellate Advocacy, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Legal Writing, Legal Research, Property, and Torts. Required upper-level courses consist of a Skills course (Trial Techniques; ADR; Legislation; Negotiatians, code course (Commercial Law, Secured Transactions, or Federal), Constitutional Law, Evidence, and Legal Profession. The required orientation program for first-year students lasts 5 days.

In order to graduate, candidates must have a GPA of 70.0, and have completed the upper-division writing requirement.


In the fall 2007 first-year class, 420 applied, 207 were accepted, and 65 enrolled. One transfer enrolled. The median LSAT percentile of the most recent first-year class was 53; the median GPA was 3.41 on a scale of 4.0. The lowest LSAT percentile accepted was 2; the highest was 98.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and take the LSAT. The most important admission factors include GPA, LSAT results, and character, personality. No specific undergraduate courses are required. Candidates are not interviewed.

The application deadline for fall entry is March 1. Applicants should submit an application form, a personal statement, through LSDAS for LSAT and transcripts, a nonrefundable application fee of $35, 2 letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and the LSDAS report. Notification of the admissions decision is on a rolling basis. The latest acceptable LSAT test date for fall entry is February. The law school uses the LSDAS.

Financial Aid

About 91% of current law students receive some form of aid. The average annual amount of aid from all sources combined, including scholarships, loans, and work contracts, is $19,500; maximum, $30,000. Awards are based on need and merit. Required financial statement is the FAFSA. First-year students are notified about their financial aid application at time of acceptance.


About 45% of the student body are women; 3%, minorities; 1%, African American; 1%, Hispanic; and 2%, Native American. The majority of students come from South Dakota (70%). The average age of entering students is 26; age range is 22 to 60. About 47% of students enter directly from undergraduate school and 4% have a graduate degree. About 3% drop out after the first year for academic or personal reasons; 97% remain to receive a law degree.

The primary law review is the South Dakota Law Review. Other publications include the Great Plains Natural Resources Journal. Moot court competitions are the New York Bar, ABA, and Southern Illinois University Health Law Tournament. Other competitions include ABA-LSD Competitions (Negotiations, Client Counseling, Mediation) and the Robert R. Merhige, Jr. National Negotiation Competition. Law student organizations, local chapters of national associations, and campus organizations include Native American Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Federalist Society, Women in Law, R.D. Hurd Pro Bono Society, and Student Bar Association.

The law school operates on a traditional semester basis. Courses for full-time students are offered days only and must be completed within 6 semesters. For part-time students, courses are offered days only and must be completed within 10 semesters. New full- and part-time students are admitted in the fall. There is no summer session. Transferable summer courses are not offered.

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