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School of Law Professional Program

The essential mission of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is to help lawyers and legal institutions to meet the demands of a rapidly changing legal and professional environment.

In serving its students, the school is committed to an active and inclusive spirit of community and to the effective, efficient, and congenial provision of service. In teaching, research, and public service, the School of Law aspires to conduct all of its programs at a nationally prominent level of quality that adds luster to the legal and business communities of Pittsburgh; that makes the school relevant to the key needs of this region's private, public, and nonprofit sectors; and that distinguishes it as one of the finest public urban law schools in the United States.

Among its first-professional degrees, the School of Law offers the Juris Doctor (JD) degree; a number of joint degree programs with other schools of the University and Carnegie Mellon University, leading to both a JD and a master's degree; and LLM degrees for foreign law graduates as well as several certificate programs. The School of Law also offers graduate programs leading to a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (SJD) degree. For further information on the graduate programs, see the School of Law—Graduate Programs section of this bulletin.

Contact Information

Charmaine C. McCall
Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid
School of Law
Barco Law Building
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-648-1413
Fax: 412-648-1318
E-mail: admitlaw@pitt.edu
www.law.pitt.edu

Admissions

Admission applications for the Pitt Law JD program will be accepted starting September 1 through our deadline of April 1. Applications are considered only for the fall semester of the upcoming academic year. You can apply online through LSAC. Pitt Law is highly competitive and decisions are based upon many factors. Once your application is complete, our Admissions Committee will review your application. If we are able to make a decision, you may be notified within several weeks.

Requirements:

  • Applicants must submit a $65 application fee.
  • Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States before the first day of law school (unless admitted through our Accelerated Law Admissions Program described here: 

           http://www.law.pitt.edu/admissions/process/accelerated.

  • In cases where an applicant has completed studies outside the United States, the requirement is education deemed by the University of Pittsburgh to be comparable to a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. Click here for more information.
  • When evaluating an undergraduate degree, the committee pays careful attention to the strength of the major field of study, as evidenced by the courses listed on the undergraduate transcript, as well as the applicant's undergraduate GPA. Pitt Law is looking for applicants who have demonstrated the discipline and ability to handle a rigorous and demanding program. The admissions committee also carefully evaluates any graduate work and professional experience.
  • Applicants are required to register with the Law School Admission Council's Credential Assembly Service (CAS) and to take the LSAT. If an applicant takes the LSAT more than one time, the highest score is considered by the admissions committee when making a decision. Scores from tests taken more than four years prior to the current admissions year will not be considered. More information can be obtained from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
  • A required personal statement gives the committee a fuller sense of the applicant and serves as the interview. This is critical in our ability to enroll a diverse class. We ask that you keep your personal statement to no more than two pages, typed and double spaced.
  • Letters of recommendation play an equally important role in this process. We recommend three letters, although none are required. Letters should be submitted through the LSAC letter of recommendation service.
  • We encourage applicants to submit a resume, as it provides the admissions committee a broader view of your achievements.
  • Applicants are required to provide full disclosure relating to issues of character and fitness, e.g., underage drinking, disorderly conduct, academic disciplinary matters, traffic violations, etc. Requirements for admission to the Bar may differ from state to state and it is the applicants’ responsibility to investigate each state’s regulations.

Admission: Transfer and Visiting Students

Transfer Students

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law will accept transfer students after those students have successfully completed the first year of academic study at another law school. Applicants must complete the law school application and submit the following:

  • application fee
  • official LSDAS report
  • letter of good standing from the current law school dean
  • certified law school transcript
  • letter of recommendation from a current law school professor
  • final official undergraduate transcript.

The deadline for submitting an application is June 1st of every year. Decisions made on transfer students depend on the number of seats available at Pitt Law, the GPA from the current law school and the competitiveness of the current law school. In keeping with the requirements of The Order of the Coif, students are eligible for Coif membership only if they complete at least 75% of their law studies in graded courses. For transfer students, any credits transferred without grades will not count toward this requirement.

Visiting Students

A student may apply to visit at Pitt Law if he/she has completed two years of law study at another law school and has the permission of the dean of the current school. Applicants must complete the law school application and submit the following:

  • application fee
  • copy of your LSDAS report
  • letter from the dean stating the third year at Pitt Law will count toward a degree from the current school
  • certified law school transcript.

The deadline for submitting an application is June 1st of every year. Decisions made on visiting students depend on the number of seats available at Pitt Law, the GPA from the current law school and the competitiveness of the current law school.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The School of Law is responsible for the awarding of both merit and need-based scholarships and will certify federal and private loans. Over 60 percent of the student body receives scholarship funds from the School of Law in the form of merit or need-based scholarship awards.

Dean's Scholarship: The School of Law offers scholarships for academic merit to incoming first year students. There is no application necessary for merit scholarships. Admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships on the basis of past academic performance as documented in their admissions materials. Students admitted prior to February 1st, earning a high LSAT score of 161 or better and an undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or better (on a 4.0 scale) are guaranteed the Dean's Scholarship. All admitted students are reviewed for consideration for a merit scholarship. Students awarded a merit scholarship will be notified in their acceptance letter. The minimum award amount is $10,000 per academic year with two equal payments of $5,000 per term.

Merit scholarships are renewable as long as a student maintains at least a "B" average, defined as a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better in their legal studies. Merit scholarship can be applied only to your studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. If you are attending another school or a study abroad program, your scholarship will be placed on hold and reinstated when you return to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

The School of Law also awards named merit-based scholarships (for which application is required), need-based scholarships, and scholarships based on adversity and diversity factors to qualifying students. Our Director of Financial Aid will assist students throughout the year and alert them to all outside scholarships that are available.

Federal Stafford Student Loans: The Federal Stafford Loan program is the most widely used loan program and is regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Stafford Loan is a guaranteed student loan and is NOT based on credit history. The maximum amount a graduate student can borrow in a year is $20,500. The Federal Graduate PLUS Loan program is a federal loan program available to graduate students. This is a federally backed loan that is based on simplified credit check criteria. Students can borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any other financial aid.

Flex-time Program

The School of Law offers a flex-time program for students whose outside obligations necessitate a program with fewer hours each semester. Course loads are designed to result in graduation in four years rather than the normal three years with no fewer than 10 credits per semester. Courses are offered only during the day. Students in the flex-time program pay full tuition. All requirements for the JD program must be completed within seven years of matriculation. Application materials are the same as for full-time students and must include a letter stating the reason for requesting flex-time.

Financial Assistance

The School of Law is responsible for the awarding of both merit and need-based scholarships and certifies federal and private loans. To apply for student loans and law school scholarships, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (The Title IV code for the School of Law is 008815).

Academic Standards

For students entering with the JD Class of 2016 and prior entering classes, a student must attain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 to advance from the first to the second year, to advance from the second to the third year, and to graduate. For students entering with the JD Class of 2017 and later classes, a student must attain a grade point average of at least 2.25 to advance from the first to the second year and to advance from the second to the third year, and must attain a grade point average of at least 2.0 to graduate.

Students may graduate in three years of study only if they complete six semesters in residence. To receive a semester's residence credit, a student must successfully complete a minimum of 10 credits of course work.

Students must graduate within seven years of the date upon which they matriculate.

Regular and punctual class attendance is necessary to satisfy residence and credit requirements. Regular attendance is defined as preparation for and attendance at not fewer than 80 percent of the classes held in each course or seminar. If a student fails to meet these attendance and preparation requirements, the student will be certified out of the course. Individual faculty members may impose a greater class attendance requirement for a particular course.

The School of Law Policy on Written Work for Credit, its Standards of Academic Integrity, the Grading Guidelines, and other academic policies of the school are included in the Academic Rules section of the School of Law's web site.

Advising and Placement

The School of Law's Office of Profesional and Career Development provides educational programming, individual counseling, and print and electronic resources to aid students and graduates of the School of Law in making career choices, developing job search skills, identifying job opportunities, and securing meaningful employment.

Degree Requirements

In order to graduate, a student pursuing a JD must complete 88 credits, including the following:

  • A prescribed first-year curriculum (Contracts, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Torts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Lawyering (not applicable to students entering in the Fall  2013 or 2014), Property, and Legal Analysis and Writing as well as attendance at a minimum of six programs in the Pitt Law Academy speaker series)
  • The upper-level writing requirement
  • A course in Legal Profession
  • Two credits in a course designated as satisfying the professional skills requirement
  • The one-credit Foundations of Legal Research course
  • A course designated as satisfying the international/comparative law requirement
  • A course designated as satisfying the writing ("W") requirement
  • Additional graduation requirements apply for those students whose grade point averages place them in the bottom 15% of their class at the end of their first or second year. The upper-level writing requirement and other academic requirements are described in the Academic Rules and Graduation sections of the School of Law's web site.

     

    First-Year Course Offerings

    Upper-Level Course Descriptions

    Joint Degree Programs

    In addition to the JD, the School of Law offers several joint degree options with various schools within the University as well as in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University. Students who want to enroll in any joint degree program must first be admitted to the School of Law and the cooperating school. This can be done before matriculation in either program or after the completion of part of either program. Students must then complete the online program application form. A joint admissions committee, made up of faculty from both schools, will decide upon admission to the programs.

    Students are not permitted to join any joint degree program after their second year of law school. Students must take the first year in the School of Law in its entirety, with no outside courses. (Most students in the program will begin law school and then enter a joint master's degree program.) Students are required to fulfill the degree requirements of both schools as modified by participation in the joint-degree program. Substantial advanced-standing credit is given by each school for the degree to be awarded by the other. Both degrees must be completed concurrently. The joint degrees currently offered are:

     

    Program Degree(s) Offered
    Law and Public Administration JD/MPA
    Law and Public and International Affairs JD/MPIA
    Law and International Development JD/MID
    Law and Business Administration JD/MBA
    Law and Public Health  JD/MPH
    Law and Social Work JD/MSW
    Law and Bioethics JD/MA
    Law and Business Administration (Carnegie Mellon) JD/MBA
    Law and Public Policy and Management (Carnegie Mellon) JD/MSPPM
    Law and Arts Management (Carnegie Mellon) JD/MAM

     

    In addition, JD students not enrolled in a joint degree program have the interdisciplinary study option to take six pre-approved graduate-level, law-related credits outside the School of Law and count such credits toward their degree.

    Law and Public Administration/Law and International Affairs/Law and International Development

    This program provides rigorous, integrated training for students preparing for a professional career that combines law and public and international affairs. Students in the joint-degree program gain a broadened knowledge base and a cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems involving the intersection of law, policy, and management.

    Law and Business Administration

    Graduates of this program not only develop more marketable professional skills and, therefore, enjoy expanded employment opportunities, but they also gain a broad-based knowledge of the fundamental roles of law and business in society—a perspective that significantly enhances the scope and quality of their professional training.

    Law and Public Health

    Graduates of this joint-degree program are academically prepared for the practice of law with private clients, serving as house counsel with health organizations and systems, and as attorneys representing state, county, and local health departments.

    Law and Social Work

    The MSW-JD program will enable students with interests in a wide range of areas where law and social work converge—such as child welfare, aging, health, mental health, juvenile and criminal justice, family issues, and housing—to engage in a highly integrative educational experience that will include academic courses, field placements, and research opportunities at the intersection of both professions.

    Law and Bioethics

    The objective of this educational program is to prepare graduates with an interdisciplinary background in law and bioethics so they can address those issues and situations that require knowledge of and expertise in both. Graduates are prepared for professional roles as lawyer-bioethicists in health care organizations, in government, in policy offices, in philanthropic organizations, or in the practice of law.

    Law and Business Administration (Carnegie Mellon)

    This dual-degree program benefits students by enabling them to receive integrated training in law and business, while saving time by reducing the period of time necessary to earn the two degrees from five years to four years. Graduates with this degree are able to more effectively merge the policy considerations underlying law and business in our society.

     

    Law and Public Policy: and Management/Law and Arts Management (Carnegie Mellon)

    Participants in the program emerge with a broad knowledge of the fundamental intersections of law, government, policy analysis, and management. The interdisciplinary nature of this program allows students to develop the practical skills to solve economic and social problems that require technological, managerial, and legal expertise.

    Specialized Areas of Studyhealth

    Students at the School of Law have the opportunity to participate in one or more of six different certificate programs or areas of concentration. Certificate program and concentration courses are taught both within and outside the law school by full-time faculty who are acknowledged experts in their fields, as well as by leading practitioners, professionals, and executives in associated industries. The six programs are civil litigation; environmental law, science and policy (being replaced with the area of concentration in energy and environmental law); health law; intellectual property and technology law (being replaced with the area of concentration in intellectual property and innovation law); international and comparative law; and tax law.

    Certificate in Health Law

    The Health Law Certificate Program is an educational program of concentration in health law for students in their second and third years of the JD curriculum. Admission is available to all students entering their second year in the JD program.

    Students must complete the following requirements to receive a Certificate in Health Law:

  • Complete a minimum of 18 credits in courses in health law, including Health Law and Policy, Current Issues in Health Law I and II, and Business Organizations
  • Write their faculty-supervised paper on a topic in health law
  • Complete a clinic, externship, or practicum
  • Take a minimum of three health law electives
  • For more information about the Health Law Certificate Program go to http://law.pitt.edu/academics/juris-doctor/specialized-areas-of-study/health

    Certificate in Environmental Law, Science, and Policy/Area of Concentration in Energy and Environmental Law

    The Environmental Law, Science, and Policy Certificate Program is an interdisciplinary program for students in their second and third years of the JD curriculum. Admission is available to all students entering their second year in the JD program.

    Students must complete the following requirements to receive a Certificate in Environmental Law, Science, and Policy:

  • Take three required courses (Environmental Law, Administrative Law, and Environmental Policy and Politics OR one non-law school course dealing with the areas of science, engineering, or policy of central relevance to environmental practice and policy making); and
  • Satisfy the upper-level writing requirement with an environmental law topic; and
  • Take at least two elective courses in the School of Law; and
  • Gain practical training in environmental law through a clinic or externship.
  • A minimum total of 19 credits is required in order to earn the certificate. The director of the certificate program is responsible for advising students with regard to certificate requirements. Please visit the Certificate Program's web site for more information at http://www.law.pitt.edu/academics/jd/specialized.

    The School of Law is currently in the process of transitioning its longstanding Environmental Law, Science & Policy Certificate Program into a new Energy & Environmental Law Area of Concentration:

     

    Students who were admitted with the Class of 2016 or earlier classes can choose either to pursue the Certificate or the Area of Concentration. Whichever choice a student makes, the student must register for, and complete the requirements of, the chosen program in order to have completion of that program reflected on their transcripts. Registration for either program must be done when students are entering their second year in the JD program.

     

    Students who are admitted with the Class of 2017 or later classes may only enroll in the Area of Concentration.

     

    The Area of Concentration requires a minimum of 12 credits. The requirements for the program are divided into three categories—foundational, elective, and skills. Students must take one foundational course (either Environmental Law & Practice or Energy Law & Regulation), 5-6 credits from among a list of elective courses, and 4-6 credits from among a list of skills courses.

     

    Certificate in International and Comparative Law

    The International and Comparative Law Certificate Program is intended to give students interested in international and comparative legal issues a foundation for careers and further study in the application of legal regimes to transnational and international relationships. Students should keep in mind that in order to be a good international or comparative lawyer, one must first be a good domestic lawyer. Thus, students in the certificate program are expected and encouraged to obtain the same broad background in law expected of all graduates of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Admission is available to all students entering their second year in the JD program. Information about the certificate program can be found at  http://www.law.pitt.edu/academics/specialized/international.

    Students must complete the following requirements to receive a Certificate in International and Comparative Law (a minimum of 20 or 21 credits):

    • Take two required courses in the School of Law: International Law and International Business Transactions and a seminar (3 credits) or independent study (2 credits) in which the student writes about an area of international or comparative law;
    • Take at least 12 credits of elective courses; and
    • Attendance at 2 designated CILE programs in each of the student's second and third years in the JD program

     

    Certificate in Civil Litigation (John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program)

    John P. Gismondi, a 1978 graduate of the School of Law and one of the country’s premier trial attorneys, has sponsored this unique program that gives students the opportunity to take specialized classes taught by preeminent Western Pennsylvania trial lawyers in which students learn pretrial and trial skills and strategies. The students also participate in clinics taught by full-time faculty members in which they may have the opportunity to represent clients in courts or before administrative agencies. Students who wish to participate in this program must register for it prior to their second year of law school.

    Students must complete the following requirements to receive a John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate (a minimum of 23 credits):

    • Complete core courses in Evidence; Trial Advocacy or Mock Trial Strategy and Practice; Federal Courts and Federal Litigation or Pennsylvania Practice
    • Complete a litigation-skills clinic or practicum
    • Complete four out of the following five courses: Pre-Trial Practice: Pleadings and Discovery, Advanced Trial Evidence, Litigation Strategy and Planning, Expert Witnesses, and Advanced Torts
    • Participate in the Murray S. Love Trial Moot Court Program or participate on the Interscholastic Mock Trial Team and complete the attendant seminar (Mock Trial Strategy and Practice)
    • Participate in the Program's Court Observation Program
    • Satisfy their upper-level writing requirement with a litigation-related topic

    Please visit the certificate program's web site for more information at http://law.pitt.edu/academics/jd/specialized/civil.

    Certificate in Intellectual Property and Technology Law/Area of Concentration in Intellectual Property and Innovation Law

    Intellectual property law, which encompasses patents, copyrights, and trademarks, and technology law, which deals with legal aspects of computers and the Internet and biotechnology, are among the most exciting and challenging areas of contemporary law practice. The Certificate Program in Intellectual Property and Technology Law is intended to provide law students with a basic grounding in intellectual property law, relevant clinical or other practical lawyering experience, and more in-depth, advanced study of advanced topics in intellectual property law and in related areas of law and legal practice involving technology-driven issues and clients. Students must elect to enter this certificate program by the beginning of their second year.

    Students must complete the following requirements to receive a Certificate in Intellectual Property and Technology Law:

    • Complete three of the following core courses in intellectual property law: Intellectual Property, Copyright Law, Patent Law, and Trademark Law
    • Complete two advanced intellectual property law or technology law courses (at least 5 credits)
    • Complete two corporate law, commercial law, advanced constitutional law, or administrative law courses (at least 5 credits)
    • Complete one intellectual property law or technology law seminar or writing project
    • Complete one "practical lawyering" course or for-credit project in the areas of intellectual property or technology law
    • Maintain a B+ grade average across all certificate-related courses and across the three "core" courses

    The number of credit hours required will vary, based on the courses taken to comply with the distributional requirements of the certificate. In most cases, successful completion of the certificate will involve courses that total at least 22 credit hours.

    Please visit the certificate program's web site for more information http://law.pitt.edu/academics/jd//specialized/intellectualproperty.

    The School of Law is currently in the process of transitioning its longstanding Intellectual Property and Technology Law Certificate Program into a new Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Area of Concentration:

    Students who were admitted with the Class of 2017 or earlier classes can choose to pursue either the Certificate or the Area of Concentration. Whichever choice a student makes, the student must register for, and complete the requirements of, the chosen program in order to have completion of that program reflected on their transcripts.

     Students who are admitted with the Class of 2018 or later classes may only enroll in the Area of Concentration.

    “Intellectual property law” encompasses patents, copyrights, and trademarks as its core subjects, along with specialized bodies of law for designs, plants, and geographical indications, among other things. “Innovation law” is meant to deal broadly with IP issues and with related business law, employment law, technology law, trade law, and free speech law questions–among many others–for individuals, firms, and governments in the arts, entertainment, privacy and security, software and computer networks, life sciences, and technology development and commercialization.  These related fields are among the most exciting and challenging areas of contemporary law practice. Pitt Law today is building on its distinguished tradition of scholarship and teaching in these disciplines.

    The Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Area of Concentration is designed to allow students to obtain a focused introduction to these bodies of law and practice while simultaneously getting a broad grounding in modern law practice generally.  No scientific or technical background is required to pursue the Area of Concentration or to practice law in any of the related fields, though students who wish to practice law as a patent prosecutor do need to have an engineering degree or other, similar technical qualification.

    The Area of Concentration requires a minimum of 14 credits. The requirements of the program are divided into three categories—foundational, elective, and skills. Students must take two foundational courses (out of a menu of four courses), 5-6 credits from among a list of elective courses, and 4-6 credits from among a list of skills courses.

    Area of Concentration in Tax Law

    The Area of Concentration in Tax Law is intended to provide students with a solid foundation in tax law that can be used either to enter a career in tax law, as a basis for pursuing further study in tax law, or as an adjunct to a career in another area of law.  Tax law is unique in that it intersects with every area of the law—from energy and environmental law to corporate law to health law to personal injury law, just to name a few examples. Knowledge of tax law is thus important whether one wishes to specialize in tax law or whether one wishes to gain a deeper knowledge of tax law to improve skills in another area of law (e.g., in advising corporations, partnerships, and other businesses).

    The Area of Concentration requires a minimum of 13 credits. The requirements for the program are divided into three categories—foundational, elective, and skills. Students must take a foundational course in tax law, 6 credits from among a list of elective courses, and 3 credits from among a list of skills courses. Please visit the Area of Concentration’s web site for more information at http://www.law.pitt.edu/academics/specialized/tax.

     

    LLM Program for Foreign Law Graduates

     The School of Law’s Master of Laws (LLM) Program for Foreign Law Graduates is a one-year program that provides lawyers who have obtained their law degree outside the United States with an opportunity to study common law in an American context.  It is designed to prepare each student to return to his or her home country with the ability to understand the basic structure and operation of the U.S. legal system and thus better work with clients and lawyers from the United States.  Details on the requirements for the LLM program can be found at http://www.law.pitt.edu/academics/foreign-lawyers/llm-degree. Information on the online opportunity to complete the LLM Program can be found at http://www.law.pitt.edu/llm-degree/online

    Contact Information

     

     

     

     

    Center for International Legal Education

    University of Pittsburgh School of Law

    3900 Forbes Avenue

    Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA

    412-648-7023

    Fax: 412-648-2648

    E-mail: CILE@pitt.edu

    http://www.law.pitt.edu/cile

    Degree Requirements

    The LLM course of study requires a total of 24 credit hours to be completed in two semesters. LLM students must graduate with a minimum 2.00 GPA. Required courses are:

    • Introduction to American Law
    • U.S. Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing
    • LLM Colloquium
    • A faculty-supervised writing requirement (seminar course or Independent Study)

    School of Law Faculty



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