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Dickinson School of Law

Dickinson School of Law Rating: 3.8/5 (10 votes)


In addition to the J.D., the law school offers the LL.M., S.J.D., and Master of Laws for foreign-trained lawyers. Students may take relevant courses in other programs and apply credit toward the J.D.; a maximum of 6 credits may be applied. The following joint degrees may be earned: J.D./M.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in educational theory and policy), J.D./M.Agr. (Juris Doctor/Master in Agriculture), J.D./M.B.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration), J.D./M.E.P.C. (Juris Doctor/Master of Environmental Pollution Control), J.D./M.Ed. (Juris Doctor/Master of Education in student affairs, educational leardership, higher education), J.D./M.P.A. (Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration), J.D./M.S. (Juris Doctor/Master of Science in forest resources), J.D./M.S.I.S. (Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Information Systems), and J.D./Ph.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership, higher education forest resourses, educational theory and policy).

The Dickinson School of Law offers concentrations in corporate law, criminal law, entertainment law, environmental law, family law, intellectual property law, international law, juvenile law, labor law, litigation, maritime law, media law, securities law, sports law, tax law, torts and insurance, and dispute resolution. In addition, in-house clinics include the Arts, Sports and Entertainment Law Clinic, Children’s Advocacy Clinic, and Disability Law Clinic. Students earn credit for no more than 3 semesters of clinic work and a maximum of 11 credits. A student cannot enroll in more than 1 clinic during a semester. Seminars, worth 2 to 3 credits, include the United Nations and International Law Seminar, Advanced Corporate Tax Seminar, and Advanced Evidence Seminar. Students can earn academic credit working without compensation in a government, nonprofit or public setting, similar to the field-placement clinic settings. Internships are typically taken in the summer for 3 credits. The law school offers a Washington, D.C. Semester Program through which students may spend the final semester of law school working for a government agency or nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. Research programs (Independent Study) may be arranged with full-time faculty. A maximum of 4 credits may be earned during the student’s J.D. degree enrollment. A field placement clinic is a 3-credit course, normally taken for 2 semesters for a total of 6 credits, in which students have the opportunity to work and learn outside of the law school in a variety of field placements in public service, government law offices, and judges’ chambers. Special lecture series include the Penn State Institute for Sports Law, Policy and Research lecture series; the Polisher Tax lecture Series; the Senior Speakers Dinner; the Speakers Trust Fund; and the Faculty Development Series. Study abroad programs include the Florence, Rome and Siena Study Abroad Program (5 to 6 credits); the Capitals of Europe Program (6 credits); and the Montreal Summer Study Program in Arbitration in Montreal, Quebec (5 to 6 credits). A peer-to-peer tutoring program for first-year students is part of the law school’s effort to promote academic success. Tutors are second- and third-year law students who have demonstrated a high level of competence in the first year curriculum. In addition, faculty-conducted academic success workshops are offered throughout the year. Students may also receive one-on-one assistance from a writing specialist. The most widely taken electives are Corporations, Sales, and Trusts and Estates.

To earn the J.D., candidates must complete 88 total credits, of which 35 are for required courses. They must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the required courses. The following first-year courses are required of all students: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Analysis, Research and Writing I and II, Property, and Torts. Required upper-level courses consist of Professional Responsibility and a sales or secured transations seminar. The required orientation program for first-year students lasts 2 1/2 days and is designed to introduce new students to the academic life of law school. Students receive instruction on how to read and brief cases and attend sessions on professionalism. There are several opportunities for students to meet and mingle with classmates, professors, and staff members.

In order to graduate, candidates must have a GPA of 2.0, have completed the upper-division writing requirement, and each student must successfully complete a seminar, and the Professional Responsibility course.


In the fall 2007 first-year class, 3042 applied, 1070 were accepted, and 230 enrolled. Twenty-seven transfers enrolled. The median GPA of the most recent first-year class was 3.43.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and take the LSAT. The most important admission factors include LSAT results, GPA, and academic achievement. 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, LSAT results, transcripts, a personal statement, a nonrefundable application fee of $60, 2 (preferably academic) letters of recommendation, a record of work experience and two statements: a 1-page personal statement and 1-page of interest in Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law. 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 86% 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 $32,805; maximum, $47,884. Awards are based on need and merit. Required financial statements are the FAFSA and Penn State Dickinson Financial Aid Application. The aid application deadline for fall entry is March 1. First-year students are notified about their financial aid application at time of acceptance if requred forms are received.


About 44% of the student body are women; 19%, minorities; 7%, African American; 6%, Asian American; and 5%, Hispanic. The majority of students come from Pennsylvania (45%). The average age of entering students is 25; age range is 21 to 62. About 36% of students enter directly from undergraduate school and 9% 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 Penn State Law Review. Other law reviews include the Penn State International Review the Penn State Environmental Law Review, and the World Arbitration and Mediation Review. Res Ipsa Loquitur is the student yearbook. The school generally fields as many as 10 teams in various interscholastic moot court competitions. The competitions include Jessup International, National Appellate, and National Trial. Other competitions include a securities law competition, an international commercial arbitration competition, and a labor law competition. Law student organizations, local chapters of national associations, and campus organizations include PILF, International Law Society, The Federalist Society, ABA-Law Student Division, Amnesty International, Toastmasters International, Women’s Law Caucus, Minority Law Students Association, and Phi Alpha Delta.

The law school operates on a traditional semester basis. Courses for full-time students are offered days only and must be completed within 4.5 years. For part-time students, courses are offered days only and must be completed within 7 years. New full- and part-time students are admitted in the fall. There is a 9-week summer session. Transferable summer courses are offered.

100 Beam Building
University Park, PA 16802-1910
p. 800-840-1122
f. 717-241-3503
w. <IT>www.dsl.psu.edu<RO>

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