The Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


Introduction

Penn State Law is situated on the largest campus (University Park) of Penn State University, one of the world’s top public research institutions. Penn State Law in University Park is one of two law schools operated by Penn State, the other being Dickinson Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. With entering classes of 120 to 140 students and first-year course sections of fewer than 50, our students enjoy the best of both worlds — an academic experience that can be customized using the resources of a world-class university, in a small and supportive law school community. Penn State Law provides a rigorous, classic legal education enhanced with boundless experiential learning opportunities to provide students with both the knowledge and skills they need to accomplish their professional goals. Through a comprehensive program of study encompassing classroom-based and experiential learning, Penn State Law students are prepared to engage in sophisticated legal analysis and practice in an increasingly demanding global marketplace. Because of its location in University Park which is home to more than 45,000 graduate and undergraduate students and dozens of top-tier graduate programs, Penn State Law provides innumerable opportunities for students to customize their legal education with interdisciplinary study in any graduate academic area on campus.

Curriculum

Penn State Law’s curriculum is designed to reflect the broad research, teaching, and practice expertise of the faculty. In the first-year curriculum, students gain foundational knowledge and skills required to “think like a lawyer.” The required first-year curriculum includes the following courses.

Fall Semester

  • Civil Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Applied Legal Analysis and Writing
  • Legal Research Tools and Strategies
  • Torts

Spring Semester

  • Criminal Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Applied Legal Analysis and Writing II
  • Property

Upper-level students choose electives to further their individual professional goals. Students may, but are not required to, focus their coursework on one or more legal skills or practice areas:

  • Administrative Law and the Regulatory State
  • Advocacy and Litigation
  • Antitrust and Competition
  • Arbitration, Mediation, and Negotiation
  • Arts, Sports, and Entertainment
  • Banking and Financial Regulation
  • Commercial Law
  • Corporate Law and Practice
  • Constitutional Law and Civil Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Energy and Environmental Law
  • Family Law and Juvenile Law
  • Health Law
  • Immigration and Migration
  • Intellectual Property
  • International, Foreign, and Comparative Law
  • Labor and Employment
  • Law, Science, and Technology
  • National Security, Military, and Veterans
  • Public Interest
  • Taxation

Students must meet certain curricular requirements for graduation including a Professional Responsibility course, an upper level Writing Seminar course, and a minimum of six credits of experiential learning, either through regular coursework or one of our many Clinical or Externship programs.

Practical Experience (Experiential Learning)

Penn State Law students can capitalize on opportunities to develop their practice skills while serving real clients, who often cannot otherwise access legal representation. Second- and third-year students can gain legal experience and earn academic credit through our many experiential learning (learning by doing) programs.

Externships Everywhere Program

Students can get experience in a legal office anywhere in the country (or the world!) during the academic year through Externships Everywhere. Participating students substitute a whole semester (up to 12 credits) of coursework for working 40 hours a week in a legal office, including law firms. Students can supplement their credits with coursework like independent study or by “beaming in” to class at Penn State Law via our classroom connectivity technology.

Semester in Washington, D.C., Program

Students in this program work for academic credit in federal agencies, courts, nonprofits, and public interest groups in the nation’s capital. Their work is complemented with a weekly seminar on federal regulatory and legislative practice facilitated by Stan Brand, prominent D.C. attorney and Distinguished Fellow in Law and Government at Penn State Law.

Clinics

A legal clinic is like an in-house law firm in which students conduct legal work under the supervision of a faculty member. Our clinic students serve the unmet needs of local clients as well as influence policy across Pennsylvania, regionally, and nationally. Students in our clinics work on ground-breaking and important matters like U.S. Supreme Court civil rights cases, immigration policy and representation, patent filings, and humanitarian engineering and global health projects.

  • Arts, Sports, and Entertainment Law Clinic
  • Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic
  • Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
  • Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic
  • Family Law Clinic
  • Indigent Criminal Justice Practicum
  • Intellectual Property Clinic
  • International Sustainable Development Projects Clinic
  • Rural Economic Development Clinic
  • Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic

Externships

Externships allow students to earn academic credit to work in a legal office outside of the law school during the academic year (internships, by contrast, are typically over the summer and/or not for credit). Under the supervision of practicing attorneys, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of practices. Their experiences are complemented by a regularly scheduled class focusing on lawyering skills and students’ reflection on their achievements in their externships. Students regularly hold externships in the following offices:

  • Penn State administrative offices including the Penn State Office of General Counsel, Athletic Compliance, Student Legal Services, Development, and Office of Physical Plant (construction and real estate)
  • Federal and state judges
  • U.S. and district attorneys
  • State administrative agencies
  • Public defenders
  • Health care organizations

Joint Degrees and Customizable Academic Programs

Joint Degrees (Dual Degrees)

With Penn State Law’s location in University Park on Penn State’s largest campus, students can conveniently pursue interdisciplinary academic work with other Penn State graduate programs. Penn State Law students can create custom joint degrees with any graduate program on campus with the guidance and approval of the Penn State Law joint degree program director and the cooperating unit’s academic adviser. Preexisting joint degree programs are also available including JD/Master’s in International Affairs; JD/MBA; JD/MA in Media Studies; JD/MHA; JD/MS in Human Resources and Employment Relations; and various joint degrees with the Penn State College of Education.

Customizable Credits

Penn State Law students can take up to 12 credits of graduate coursework from Penn State graduate programs to be applied toward their JD degree requirements. That means that students can take roughly a whole semester of electives, or one elective each semester after their 1L year through a Penn State graduate program. Just a few of the graduate programs available at Penn State are:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Climate Science
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Data Analytics
  • Economics
  • Educational Leadership
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Finance
  • Forensic Science
  • Health Policy and Administration
  • Information Science
  • International Affairs
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Neuroscience
  • Public Administration
  • Public Policy
  • Strategic Communications
  • Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Faculty

The Penn State Law faculty is a group of diverse scholars including attorneys and judges, accomplished researchers, and authors who are experts in their fields. Our dedicated faculty includes:

  • Authors of more than 12 textbooks used in law schools around the country
  • Two sitting federal appeals court judges
  • A former vice-admiral and 41st judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy
  • Legal scholars with dual appointments at leading European law schools; a former general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The general counsel of Penn State
  • Former partners from top law firms
  • Consultants, advisers, and former attorneys for the United Nations, European Union, U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Trade Commission

Career Services

Our graduates find jobs across the country (and sometimes around the world) with the help of our dedicated Career Services team. In addition to individualized career counseling and specialized large group sessions for 1L students, Career Services offers an ever-expanding menu of services to our students including:

  • Mock interview program
  • Summer boot camp
  • Careers in the Law Day with alumni
  • Speed networking
  • Small group meetings with alumni
  • Weekly newsletters with job prospects
  • Access to hundreds of job listings through our Career Portal
  • Access to multiple job fairs in various cities

The Career Services team organizes a robust fall recruitment program each year, featuring employers from around the country participating in on campus interviews, video interviews, and resume collections. Career Services also facilitates our Comprehensive Mentoring Program and matches students with different mentors throughout their time in law school. Recent graduates have started their careers across the country in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, California, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and many other locations. We are equipped to help our students find jobs in any location or practice area that interests them.  

Comprehensive Mentoring

Once committed to Penn State Law and before classes begin, students are matched with mentors in the legal field, so they can immediately begin making professional connections and learning from successful practitioners. Our Comprehensive Mentoring Program matches students with additional mentors during law school as their interests grow and change. In addition, our Minority Mentor Program matches students from groups typically underrepresented in the practice of law with two additional mentors: a Penn State Law faculty member or administrator and an alumnus. The goals of the program are to help students achieve academic success and promote inclusivity in law school, as well to help students make connections in the legal profession.

Student Life

Law students engage in a variety of academically and socially focused extracurricular activities designed to enrich their educational experience and provide opportunities for fellowship and exploration of various legal practice areas and issues.  

Law Reviews

Penn State Law offers three student-edited scholarly journals featuring articles by professors, legal scholars, and lawyers:

  • Penn State Law Review
  • The Journal of Law and International Affairs
  • Penn State Arbitration Law Review

Students are selected for membership at the end of their 1L year, based on 1L academic performance or achievement in an annual writing competition.

Moot Court

Students participate in various Moot Court teams that compete in regional, national, and international competitions. This includes the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, in which the Penn State Law team won first place over 372 law schools from teams representing 87 countries worldwide in 2019.

Academic Student Organizations

Numerous academic interest organizations give students the opportunity to network, discuss hot legal issues, and facilitate panels, speakers, and media on legal interest areas. These groups include:

  • Advocacy and Litigation Society
  • Agricultural Law Society
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
  • Alternative Spring Break Initiative
  • Arts & Culture Legal Society
  • Corporate Law Society
  • Criminal Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Family Law Society
  • Fashion and Business Law Society
  • International Law Society
  • Law and Education Alliance
  • National Security Law Society
  • Penn State International Arbitration Group
  • Sports and Entertainment Law Society
  • Student Health Law Association

Nonacademic Student Organizations

Student organizations focusing on special interests and affinity groups are also active at the law school. Students can join professional legal fraternities focusing on service (Phi Alpha Delta) and professional ethics (Phi Delta Phi), as well as join groups like the Federalist Society or Penn State Law Democrats. Student affinity groups include:

  • Asian Pacific Law Students Association
  • Black Law Student Association
  • J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  • Jewish Legal Society
  • Latinx Law Students Association
  • Military Law Caucus
  • Muslim Legal Society
  • OutLaw
  • Parents Attending Law School (PALS)
  • Women’s Law Caucus

Penn State Law also has student organizations focused on service, volunteerism, and education like the Speaker’s Trust Fund, Public Interest Law Fund, Mindfulness in Law Society, and the Student-Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Student Bar Association

All student organizations fall under the Student Bar Association, the student governing body that liaises with faculty and administration on behalf of students and coordinates student activities like intramural sports, our annual Faculty/Staff vs. Students softball tournament, and various social events for all students throughout the school year.

The Penn State Alumni Network

Graduates of Penn State Law instantly join a powerful network of more than 700,000 alumni around the world. With Penn State alumni working and living in all 50 states and more than 160 countries, Penn State Law graduates have a built-in network of connections ready and willing to open doors.

Location

Penn State Law is located on Penn State’s largest campus, University Park, in State College, Pennsylvania. The law school’s Lewis Katz building is across the street from the Smeal College of Business, four blocks from world-famous Beaver Stadium, and adjacent to the Penn State Arboretum. The campus is the academic home of a diverse population of roughly 46,000 graduate, undergraduate, and professional students, including approximately7,500 international students. In addition to Big Ten athletic events, students enjoy a lively music and arts community and a wide range of other entertainment. The University Park campus and surrounding State College are pedestrian- and bike-friendly. Law students who want to visit New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore can do so easily with a short drive or an easy bus trip. The University Park airport has direct flights to Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Tampa, with convenient connections to other major cities.

Admission and Financial Aid

Penn State Law’s application is open on September 1 and can be found on the school’s website. The standard application closes on March 31, and the early decision application closes on December 1. Applicants do not need to apply separately for a Penn State Law scholarship, and accepted applicants will learn whether they will receive a scholarship at the time of admission. Scholarships are awarded on a variety of criteria and may cover full or partial tuition. Applicants who are permanent residents of Pennsylvania or who hold (or will hold at time of law school enrollment) a bachelor’s degree or higher from Penn State admitted prior to April 1 and enrolling in Fall 2020 will receive either our Commonwealth Scholars Grant or Blue and White Alumni Grant, respectively, each covering $20,000 of tuition per year of JD study. The Financial Aid Office works with accepted students to obtain the funding necessary to finance their education.

Application Requirements

To apply to Penn State Law, applicants must submit:

  • A completed application submitted via LSAC
  • A personal statement
  • A current résumé
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one from a college or university instructor if you are applying within two years of earning your undergraduate degree. Penn State Law will not accept letters from members of the legal profession, friends, or family members with whom you have not worked in a professional or academic capacity).
  • A final undergraduate transcript and transcripts from any other undergraduate or graduate institutions
  • Any other required supporting statements or documentation per our application instructions

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Penn State Law:

3.36 to 3.83

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Penn State Law:

155 to 162

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Penn State Law:

3.36 to 3.83

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Penn State Law:

155 to 162

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Penn State Law:

3.36 to 3.83

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Penn State Law:

155 to 162

120
135
150
165
180

Contact Information

Lewis Katz Building,
University Park, PA 16802-1017,
United States