U.S. Law & Policy Program for International Professionals

The School of Law is pleased to continue the U.S. Law & Policy Program, which expands its International Scholars Seminars first offered in 2008. This Program allows non-U.S. individuals who are professionals in law, government, or business—especially foreign judges, public prosecutors, legislators, government officials, law professors, practicing attorneys, and business and media professionals with substantial interest in legal issues—to participate in specialized courses, research and related activities.  Research topics in this Program may focus on substantive or procedural legal matters or on the role of law in defining or implementing governmental or social policies. The Program begins in September for the Fall Program, and January for the Spring Program, of each academic year. The Program is offered in both Fall and Spring for either a six-month or a twelve-month period. Under certain foreign government-sponsored arrangements, a special 90-day unit may be offered; requirements and other details are overseen by the Program’s Faculty Director and may be obtained by qualified professionals from the Office of Graduate and International Programs identified further below.

U.S. Law & Policy Program Structure

The structure of the Program is as follows:

  • Participants attend the Program at the University of San Diego School of Law for either six months or twelve months beginning in either September or January.
  • Participants will attend an orientation session as well as several week-long courses, each totaling about 7 to 14-hours of instruction, at the beginning of the Program. These courses may be conducted by members of the law school faculty, the judiciary and/or the legal profession. For the 2017-18 Program, the orientation and courses will be scheduled for September-October 2017 in the Fall Program, and repeated in January-February 2018 in the Spring Program. The courses are anticipated to include, among others:
    • Overview of the U.S. Legal System;
    • Evidence, Civil Litigation &Criminal Procedure (including Federal Jurisdiction topics and a Court Visit);
    • Research and Writing in the U.S. Legal System;
    • Other topics - including audit by each participant of up to one full-semester course in the law school approved by the Program's Faculty Director and the course instructor - which are relevant to the participant's 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. Our current esteemed faculty research supervisors include:
  • Participants may attend all public 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 & Policy Program.

This Program is coordinated by the Office of Graduate and International Programs. The Program's Faculty Director is Fred Heller.

U.S. Law & Policy Program Application Process

This Program is open to a limited number of applicants each year. Applicants must be non-U.S. 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 application;
  • A certified, translated law school transcript or transcripts from other schools attended;
  • A current curriculum vitae or resume;
  • A one to two page statement of purpose;
  • A brief research proposal;
  • At least one letter of recommendation;
  • An official English language competency test score submitted directly from the reporting agency. Accepted English language proficiency exams are TOEFL (minimum score of 75 on internet-based test), or IELTS (minimum score of 6.0 on academic test). Alternatively, the Program's Faculty Director may conduct in English a telephonic interview of approximately 30 minutes with the applicant;
  • A non-refundable US $150 application fee.

Accepted participants must submit a non-refundable US $500 deposit by June 1 preceding the Fall Program start date or November 1 preceding the Spring Program start date to hold a place in the Program. This deposit will be credited toward the total cost of the Program.

All documentation required to obtain a Form DS-2019 Certificate of Visa Eligibility will need to provided upon admission to the Program (please see the Visa Status section below for financial certification details).

Please submit all Program application materials to the following address:

Office of Graduate and International Programs
University of San Diego School of Law
Warren Hall, Room 207
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492 USA
Tel. (+1-619) 260-7584

For priority consideration, all application materials must be received no later than May 1 preceding the Fall Program start date or October 1 preceding the Spring Program start date

This program is conditioned upon adequate participant enrollment. The University reserves the right to cancel the Fall Program for a given year by June 1 preceding the Program start date and the Spring Program by November 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 & Policy 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 & Policy Program Visa Status

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

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. The Office of 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. 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 twelve-month Program, an outline of the total costs that must be documented is as follows:

2016 Cost of Participation: Twelve-Month Program*

Individual Participant
Program Fee US $11,250
Living Expenses US $30,000
Total US $41,250
Individual Participant + Spouse
Program Fee US $11,250
Living Expenses US $30,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) US $9,600
Total US $50,850
Individual Participant + Spouse + Child
Program Fee US $11,250
Living Expenses US $30,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) US $9,600
Living Expenses (Child 1) US $3,600
Total US $54,450
Individual Participant + Spouse + Children 
Program Fee US $11,250
Living Expenses US $30,000
Living Expenses (Spouse) US $9,600
Living Expenses (Child 1) US $3,600
Living Expenses (Child 2+: per child) US $2,400
Total US $56,850+

For the six-month Program, the total costs that must be documented include the Program Fee of US $7,500 plus half 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.


Office of Graduate and International Programs
Warren Hall, Room 207
Phone: (619) 260-7584
Fax: (619) 260-4515


M-F: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.