Below, you’ll find answers to our most frequently asked questions about this program.
Is the Online J.D. Program accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA)?
Yes, Southwestern Law School’s Online J.D. Program is fully accredited by the ABA, assuring you a high-quality legal education that meets nationally recognized standards.
What is the difference between the full-time and part-time options?
The full-time option is designed to be completed in three years, while the part-time option extends the program to four years. Both options offer the same rigorous curriculum and access to our experienced faculty.
Can I work while pursuing an online J.D. program?
The part-time J.D. Program is designed for working students and students who have other commitments. We advise against full-time students working during the first year of the program; they may work up to 20 hours per week during their second and third years.
How will classes be taught?
Most classes in the Online J.D. Program are primarily asynchronous, giving students the flexibility to study according to their own schedule from a convenient location. View the locations where we offer the Online J.D. Program. The asynchronous classes also include optional Zoom sessions about every three weeks. Those sessions will be recorded for those who are not able to attend. A few electives that are skills-based may have more synchronous sessions. Some elective options may have required Zoom sessions.
What is an asynchronous course?
Asynchronous format refers to a mode of instruction in which students engage with course materials, lectures, and assignments at their own pace and on their own schedules, without requiring real-time, simultaneous participation. This format allows students to access and complete coursework at times convenient for them while meeting defined deadlines.
At Southwestern, asynchronous courses are well-planned, taught by experienced law faculty, and intentionally designed for an online audience. Faculty work with our instructional designers and multimedia specialists to determine the best way to convey the course information and enhance students’ learning process. Courses include informational videos and lectures, interactive videos, mini-quizzes, and other activities to enhance your learning and online experience. We even hired an animator to help liven up the classes! The courses also include online discussions and live online class options to elevate your understanding of the material and work through the analytical complexities inherent to the study of law.
In addition, you will have multiple opportunities throughout the program to gain practical lawyering skills and learn bar preparation strategies to ensure you are ready to practice.
Can I access course materials and lectures at any time, or must I follow a specific schedule?
All students access the material for each course one week at a time so everyone is on the same schedule and students can interact with their faculty, peers, and teaching assistants in a meaningful way. Students can access the online materials any time, day or night, to work on assignments and study. However, students must complete the lessons by the end of the week. Our week begins on Tuesday morning and ends on Monday night to best accommodate our students’ varied schedules and multiple time zones.
Is there an on-campus requirement for the Online J.D. program?
No, we do not require online students to come to campus for classes or exams. However, online students will be invited to campus activities and events such as Orientation, Homecoming, and Commencement. Most campus activities, like special lectures, student organization meetings, and some social events will also include a Zoom option. We will also record special lectures and make them available to students who could not attend.
Can I take some classes on campus if enrolled in the Online J.D. Program?
Online students will be able to register for elective courses that are offered in the residential program. However, the Online J.D. Program will have many online electives to choose from if you want or need to complete the program entirely online.
Can I take some Online J.D. Program classes online if enrolled in the residential J.D. Program?
The Online J.D. Program will have many elective options. While priority enrollment will go to students in the online program, residential students will be welcome to register for some online electives.
How are exams and assessments conducted in the Online J.D. program?
Students will complete quizzes, online activities, and discussions to demonstrate their knowledge throughout the class. Most will be conducted via Canvas, our online learning management system. The longer exams, like midterms and final exams, will be administered and proctored online.
What kind of real-world legal experience can I expect to gain during the program?
Southwestern has one of the largest externship networks among law schools nationwide. In addition, our legal clinics offer multiple opportunities to gain practical lawyering skills while providing quality legal representation to under-represented individuals and organizations. We will offer some clinics online each semester. Students can complete externships virtually or, schedule permitting, in person in Los Angeles or where they reside. We also offer an array of experiential and simulation courses, like Trial Advocacy, that will be available in the Online J.D. Program.
Who are the faculty members in the Online J.D. Program?
The faculty for the Online J.D. Program are the same esteemed professionals who teach our residential courses. They are experts in their fields and are committed to providing an interactive and enriching learning experience. Some of our most accomplished full-time and adjunct professors have volunteered to teach in the program.
What scholarships and financial aid options are available?
Southwestern automatically considers each applicant for a scholarship. We offer a wide range of merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid packages. The scholarships range from full to partial tuition and may be either renewable or applied toward the first year only. We also offer some scholarships specifically aimed at first-generation students. These scholarships are designed to make your legal education more affordable.
What types of technology and software will I need for online classes?
Students will have access to Zoom and Microsoft Office products, including email through Outlook. Students access their classes through Canvas, Southwestern’s learning management system.
For information on laptop and computer requirements, visit the following page: System Requirements for Southwestern Students.
Are support services available to Online J.D. students?
Absolutely! Online J.D. students will be assigned a Peer Mentor and a Dean’s Fellow during their first year, a faculty academic advisor, a career counselor, and will have access to all support services that our residential J.D. students enjoy (e.g., financial aid counseling, accessibility services, academic support, writing center, IT support, DEI initiatives, public-service programs, mental health services, etc.). We even have a remote librarian who will be available to work with you, and our library also hosts Zoom reference hours.
What career opportunities are available to students in the Online J.D. Program?
All students have access to our Career Services Office and a dedicated career advisor to assist in job counseling and job and internship recruitment. We also offer programming to help you learn about the breadth of career opportunities and seminars to prepare students for an externship or employment search.
To learn more, explore the Careers section of our website and click here for specific support services.
Who can I contact for more information?
For additional information or personalized assistance, contact Professor Amy McLellan, Associate Dean for Online Education, at OnlineJD@swlaw.edu.