U.S. Law Program

The School of Law is pleased to continue the U.S. Law Program, which was launched in 2014 and expands its International Scholars Seminars first offered in 2008. This Program will allow non-U.S. individuals with a law degree who are professionals in law, government or business—especially foreign judges, public prosecutors, government officials, law professors, and practicing attorneys—to participate in specialized courses, research and related activities.  In special cases, an individual without a law degree but with substantial professional involvement in legal issues or the legal profession may be admitted to the Program. The Program is offered in both six-month and twelve-month units.

U.S. Law Program Structure

Courses and participants' research will run during September to February or September to August each year. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Participants will attend the program at the University of San Diego School of Law for either six months or twelve months beginning in September each year.
  • Participants will attend an orientation session as well as several week-long courses, each totaling about 7 to 14-hours of instruction, during September-October. These courses may be conducted by members of the law school faculty, the judiciary and/or the legal profession. For the 2015 program, the orientation is tentatively scheduled for September 11, 2015 and courses are scheduled to begin on September 14, 2015 to include, among others:
    • Overview of the U.S. Legal System;
    • Evidence, Civil Litigation and Criminal Procedure (including Federal Jurisdiction topics and a Court Visit);
    • Negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution;
    • Research and Writing in the U.S. Legal System;
    • Other topics which may be relevant to participants' proposed research.
  • Upon conclusion of the course series, each participant will use the remaining time at USD to conduct independent research under the supervision of a member of the law school faculty, and will submit a memorandum in English summarizing the research results as well as a copy of the completed research paper.
  • Participants may attend all appropriate law school lectures and events. For examples of the annual events at the law school, please see our events listing.
  • After satisfactory participation in all courses and research, each participant will receive a Certificate of Attendance in the U.S. Law Program.

This Program is coordinated by Graduate and International Programs under the direction of Professor John I. Forry

U.S. Law Program Application Process

This program is open to a limited number of applicants each year. Applicants must be non-U.S. individuals with a law degree and be professionals in law, government or business.

To apply for the program, the following materials are required. All submitted documents must be originals, in English:

  • A completed program application;
  • A certified, translated law school transcript;
  • A current curriculum vitae or resume;
  • A 1-2 page statement of purpose;
  • A brief research proposal;
  • At least one letter of recommendation;
  • An official English language competency test score meeting the minimum score requirement. Accepted English language proficiency exams are TOEFL (minimum score of 75 on internet-based test), IELTS (minimum score of 6.0 on academic test) or other pre-approved English language proficiency exam with equivalent minimum score. Alternatively, the faculty coordinator may conduct in English a telephonic interview of approximately 30 minutes with the applicant;
  • A non-refundable US $150 application fee; and
  • All documentation required to obtain a Form DS-2019 Certificate of Visa Eligibility (please see the Visa Status section below for financial certification details).

Application Deadline: For priority consideration, all application materials must be received no later than May 1 preceding the program start date. Applications may be accepted after the May 1 priority consideration deadline. If you wish to apply to the U.S. Law Program after the priority deadline, please contact the Office of Graduate and International Programs to inquire whether applications are still being accepted.

Please submit all program application materials to the following address:

Graduate and International Programs
University of San Diego School of Law
Warren Hall, Room 207 5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492 USA
(619) 260-4596

Deposit Deadline: Accepted participants must submit a non-refundable US $500 deposit by June 1 preceding the program start date to hold a place in the program. This deposit will be credited toward the total cost of the program.

This program is conditioned upon adequate participant enrollment. The University reserves the right to cancel the program for a given year by June 1 preceding the program start date. In such case, the University will refund deposits from accepted participants, but shall have no obligation to secure other scholar or program placements for such Program's applicants. 

U.S. Law Program Fees

Each participant in the program will pay a fee of US $7,500 for the six-month program and US $11,250 for the twelve-month program. This fee includes participation in the program's courses and research. Each program participant will receive a USD identification card that will grant full library privileges and access to university facilities and all appropriate events. Program participants are encouraged to bring laptops and make use of the wireless service that is available throughout the law school and its Legal Research Center.

The law school cannot offer financial assistance or fee waivers for this program. In addition, the law school does not provide housing, parking, office space or secretarial assistance in connection with this program.

U.S. Law Program Visa Status

All visa status details below are subject to change to reflect modifications in U.S. Government or other applicable regulations.

Each participant in the program will require J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa status. The category of J-1 Visa and associated conditions and regulations will vary depending on whether a participant attends the six- or twelve-month program. Graduate and International Programs will work with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to assist each program participant in obtaining a Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status).

In order to receive a Form DS-2019, participants must provide original documentation in English from a bank or financial institution (photocopies are not acceptable) proving that they have sufficient funds to pay for the program and to meet living expenses while in the United States. These documents cannot be dated more than six months prior to the program start date. If a business or agency (such as a law firm or government) is providing the financial support for the program, the participant must submit a notarized affidavit in English from the organization stating its intent to support the participant. Program participants bringing a spouse or dependent children into the United States will also need to demonstrate additional funds to cover the expenses of each additional person.

For the six-month program period, an outline of the total costs that must be documented is as follows:

2015 Cost of Participation: Six-Month Program*

Individual Participant
Program Fee $7,500
Living Expenses $15,000
Total $22,500
Individual Participant + Spouse
Program Fee $7,500
Living Expenses $15,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) $4,800
Total $27,300
Individual Participant + Spouse + Child
Program Fee $7,500
Living Expenses $15,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) $4,800
Living Expenses (Child 1) $1,800
Total $29,100
Individual Participant + Spouse + Children 
Program Fee $7,500
Living Expenses $15,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) $4,800
Living Expenses (Child 1) $1,800
Living Expenses (Child 2+: per child) $1,200
Total $30,300+

For participants planning to attend the twelve-month Program option, the total costs that must be documented include the Program Fee of $11,250 plus twice the Living Expenses listed above for each category of participant and dependents.

*All program fees and costs are subject to change. 

Health Insurance Requirement

Federal law requires that all international scholars on a J-1 Visa carry health insurance for themselves and their dependents for the duration of their program. All Program applicants must provide proof of health insurance coverage before a Form DS-2019 can be issued. At a minimum, the policy must include the following features:

  1. Effective throughout the program's entire duration and renewable for continuous coverage;
  2. Minimum dollar coverage per illness or injuryat least US $100,000 (not the same as $100,000 maximum benefit);
  3. Includes outpatient care (doctor visits, outpatient surgery, etc.);
  4. Includes hospitalization;
  5. Repatriation for at least US $25,000;
  6. Medical evacuation for at least $50,000; and
  7. Cost of deductible, if any (cost of deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness).

Willful failure on the participant's part to maintain the required insurance will result in the termination of his/her exchange visitor status. Additional information about the health insurance requirement is available on the OISS website.


Graduate and International Programs
Warren Hall, Room 207
Phone: (619) 260-4596
Fax: (619) 260-4515


M, T, Th, F: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
W: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.