Graduation & Bar Requirements


Requirements for the receipt of the degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Southwestern follow. Please consult the Student Handbook for detailed or additional information.

  • Successful completion of 87 units. No course will be considered satisfactorily completed and no course or unit credit will be granted if a grade of F is received. A student may not graduate with a grade of incomplete on his or her transcript.
  • A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.33 (2.00 for students who completed one or more semesters prior to the implementation of the new grading policy in Fall 2005), calculated on the basis of all work completed at Southwestern.
  • Successful completion of all required courses as outlined in the Student Handbook, Part I, Graduation Requirements.
  • All required courses must be passed with a grade of D- or higher. A student who fails a required course must repeat that course during the next semester in which it is offered. Failure to pass the required course a second time will automatically result in academic disqualification.
  • Any student who anticipates graduation but has been academically disqualified and subsequently readmitted to the law school may be required to meet additional requirements as determined by the Admissions and Scholastic Standards Committee.

Note: With the written approval from the Dean of Students, a Southwestern student may take course work at another law school, and under certain circumstances as outlined in the Student Handbook, have a maximum of six (6) units counted toward completion of the Juris Doctor degree. See Section VII of the Student Handbook for complete details.

Bar Requirements

In order to prepare for the California General Bar Examination, the following is a list of applications that must be completed while attending law school. All applications and fee schedules are available in the Registration Office. The fees listed are set by the Committee of Bar Examiners of The State Bar of California, except for the MPRE fee which is set by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

The following subjects are tested on the California Bar Exam: Business Associations; Civil Procedure (including California code of Civil Procedure); Community Property; Constitutional Law; Contracts (including Sales); Criminal Law and Procedure; Evidence (including California code of Evidence); Professional Responsibility; Real Property; Remedies; Torts; Wills and Succession.

Students should visit the California State Bar website for current fees and deadlines.

Registration as a Law Student

Every student intending to seek admission to practice law in California must register within 90 days of the start of the study of law.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

Students who intend to seek admission to practice law in California must pass the MPRE. The exam may be taken anytime after completion of the first year of law school and after registering with the Committee of Bar Examiners, but it is recommended that students take the MPRE after completing Legal Profession. Students who intend to practice law in a different jurisdiction are advised to check with the board of bar examiners for that particular state since MPRE requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another. Exams are usually scheduled in March, August, and November.

Application For Determination of Moral Character

After an initial positive moral character determination, application is valid for 24 months. Students are encouraged to file an application 8-10 months prior to the date of being admitted to practicing law.

Application to take the California Bar Examination

Filing deadlines are November 1 for the February General Bar Examination and April 2 for the July General Bar Examination.

Bar Admission Requirements by State

In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Each law school applicant should secure information regarding the character and other qualifications for admission to the bar in the state in which the applicant intends to practice. Click here for the most up-to-date contact information and links for individual state bars on the American Bar Association website.

Note: External sites are not endorsed by Southwestern and are provided for informational purposes only.