Jul 21, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Juris Doctor Program


Dates of Admission

Beginning J.D. students are admitted only for the fall term.

Application for Admission

Applications should be submitted using the Law School Admission Council application service. Applications must be submitted by November 15 to be considered for early decision and by February 15 to be considered for regular decision. The applicant must file transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.

Law School Admission Test

Applicants for admission to the J.D. program must take the Law School Admission Test. Applicants are urged to take the LSAT no later than the February testing date preceding the fall term in which they seek admission.

Prelaw Studies

Although exceptions may be made in special circumstances, an entering student is required to have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university prior to enrollment in the Dedman School of Law. Admitted students must provide the school with an official transcript showing receipt of a bachelor’s degree before enrollment. The copy of the transcript supplied to the school by the CAS is adequate for preliminary determination of admission but is not an official transcript.

Dedman School of Law does not prescribe a fixed course of prelegal study, but does examine the record of each applicant to determine whether the undergraduate courses taken reflect adequate preparation for the study of law. The student should pursue a well-rounded course of study, with particular attention devoted to the development of analytical skills and facility and style in the use of the English language.

Admission by Selection

The purpose of the J.D. program is to train students for competent and ethical practice of law on behalf of both private and public clients and for intelligent use of law in business, government and other pursuits. The course of study requires reading and analysis of difficult legal materials, training in effective advocacy of positions in both oral and written form and the acquisition of other legal skills, such as the drafting of instruments, the counseling of clients and the negotiation of disputes. Only those applicants who have the capacity to acquire these skills will be admitted. In deciding whether an applicant has this capacity, Dedman School of Law relies heavily upon LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. The school also considers the types of courses taken, the schools attended, letters of recommendation, the amount of time the applicant has been required to work during his or her undergraduate career, and extracurricular activities and other maturing experiences.

Each year the number of applicants with the requisite capacity far exceeds the number of places in the entering class. In choosing among these applicants, the admissions committee looks for those whose performance at Dedman School of Law will be outstanding; those who, because of their backgrounds, will bring to the school different and unusual perspectives; and those whose homes are in areas of the country underrepresented in the student body. Applications from members of minority groups are encouraged.

Admission Deposit and Medical History

Admitted applicants must make their deposit(s) with the Dedman School of Law as set forth in their admissions packet. The due date for any deposit is not earlier than April 1. The deposit is credited toward tuition charged upon enrollment. It will be forfeited if the student fails to enroll that fall.

All students must have a Report of Medical History on file at the Memorial Health Center prior to their enrollment at SMU. In order to comply with state law, all students must provide proof of certain immunizations.

Admission with Advanced Standing (Transfers From Other Law Schools)

Students Eligible

A student who has successfully completed the traditional first-year curriculum (usually 27-30 hours) at another law school that was at the time of the student’s study a member of the Association of American Law Schools or approved by the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association may apply for admission with advanced standing. On a limited basis, a student who has successfully completed at least 20 hours in a part-time program at another law school that was at the time of the student’s study a member of the Association of American Law Schools or approved by the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association may apply for admission with advanced standing. Admission is selective. A student who has been excluded from or who is on probation at another school will not be admitted.

Dates of Admission

A transfer applicant may be admitted in any term or session.


Application for admission with advanced standing must be made using the LSAC’s online application. It must be supported by a CAS report including transcripts from all colleges and law schools previously attended. Good standing in the law school last attended must be established by a letter from the administration of that school. The application must be supported by two letters of recommendation. The committee cannot consider any application until all law school grades have been received.

Advanced Credit

The amount of advanced credit given for work completed in another law school will be determined by the assistant dean for student affairs. Credit for work completed at another law school transfers as pass/fail credit.

Minimum Hours Requirement

A student admitted with advanced standing may not qualify for a degree from Southern Methodist University until the student satisfactorily completes at least 58 credit hours at the Dedman School of Law.

Waiver of First-Year Minimum Hour Requirement

A limited number of qualified applicants who show good cause why they are unable to take the standard number of full-time credit hours required in the first year may obtain a waiver of this requirement. Except as permitted by the assistant dean for student affairs, students permitted to take a reduced course load will take seven to eleven hours per term (excluding the summer) until they have completed all first-year required courses (found in this catalog under The Curriculum). These students must meet all other requirements of the J.D. program. Applicants interested in the reduced load option should contact the Office of Admissions for additional information.

The admission procedure for applicants seeking a waiver of the first-year minimum credit-hour requirement is the same as that for the J.D. program except that applicants should submit a written statement explaining why they are unable to satisfy the standard course load requirement.