Jun 08, 2023  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Law, School of

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Degree available from the School of Law at the University of South Dakota:

Juris Doctor

Program of Study

The School of Law is accredited as a full-time program leading to a juris doctor (J.D.)  degree upon completion of 90 semester hours of courses in six full-time semesters. Students enter the School of Law in the fall of each year.

In preparing to apply to law school, students are advised that there are moral character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to a state’s bar. The applicant, prior to matriculation, should determine what those requirements are in the state in which the applicant intends to practice. Contact information for state bar examinations is found at www.ncbex.org.

In order to qualify for the juris doctor degree, a student must complete six semesters, or their equivalent in residence. A semester is generally 15 weeks, during which a student enrolls for at least 12 credit hours and completes at least nine of these hours with passing grades.

An exception to this policy will be given if the student’s failure of courses in prior terms would require the student to take more than 18 hours in a subsequent semester in order to make up the difference in six semesters. In that event, one additional summer or semester will be allowed for completion of 90 hours. Students in the Flex-Time Program have up to five years to complete the 90 credit hours needed for the juris doctor degree.

Interim Dean: Professor Thomas Earl Geu
    Associate Dean:  Thomas L. Sorensen
    Assistant Dean:   Angela R. Ericson

The School of Law course offerings are varied and respond to the evolving and dynamic needs of the legal profession. The University of South Dakota offers a broad range of electives after students have taken the traditional first-year curriculum, including a strong curricular emphasis in Indian Law. The School of Law also offers course tracks in business law, civil litigation, commercial law, constitutional law, criminal law & procedures, employment law, estate planning, Indian law, real estate, and tax law. A broad array of co-curricular activities and professional events further enrich the educational experience.

The Law School program leads to a juris doctor degree upon successful completion of 90 hours of credit. The full-time program covers three years; the Flex-Time program permits certain well-qualified students to take less than the normal load of credits each semester and to graduate with a juris doctor degree within five years instead of three.

The University of South Dakota’s School of Law was established in 1901. It has been accredited by the American Bar Association since 1923 and has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1907.

The School of Law has a diverse, scholarly, and highly-accomplished faculty who have obtained their J.D., and in some cases advanced law degrees, from a variety of respected institutions across the country. Many faculty members have practice experience in addition to their many years of teaching experience. School of Law students come from a variety of backgrounds and, upon graduation and admission to a bar, enter law practice in South Dakota and throughout the nation.

The University of South Dakota School of Law offers a high-quality legal education at an affordable cost, in a small, friendly school with many opportunities for specialized instruction and personal assistance. Prospective students are encouraged to consider carefully the many advantages available as a student of the University of South Dakota School of Law. We encourage you to visit our website at www.usd.edu/law and to visit our campus in Vermillion. The faculty and staff are available to discuss legal education generally and how the programs at the USD School of Law can be designed to fit individual needs.  The School of Law offers joint degree programs leading to the juris doctor degree and a master’s degree (concurrently) from the University of South Dakota in three years in nine disciplines:

School of Business: JD/Master of Professional Accountancy, JD/Master of Business Administration;
Cross-Disciplinary Studies: JD/Master of Science in Administrative Studies;
School of Education: JD/Master of Arts in Education Administration (Non-certified);
College of Arts & Sciences: JD/Master of Arts in English, JD/Master of Arts in History, JD/Master of Arts in Political Science, JD/Master of Public Administration, and JD/Master of Arts in Psychology (Non-certificated).


In most recent years, the Law School is able to provide a limited number of Research Assistantships in which upper-level law students conduct research and other work for law professors. In addition, the Dean’s Office often hires several law students as Graduate Assistants. These assistantships offer a stipend and allow the students to pay one-third of resident tuition for semesters worked.  

The activities of student organizations enhance the classroom learning experiences of students at the School of Law. Students gain extraordinary experience by participating in competitions and other events through the co-curricular organizations – South Dakota Law Review, Trial Advocacy, Moot Court Board, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Board.

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