University of Iowa
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Advanced Standing JD for Foreign-Trained Lawyers

Degree Overview

The University of Iowa College of Law offers an Advanced Standing JD for Foreign-Trained Lawyers.

This program offers a number of advantages, including:

  • First-rate training in legal writing and legal research; ideally, students graduate with professional communication skills equal to those of American students.
  • Integration with American students and immersion in English-language legal education.
  • Potential to complete the program in two years of study at Iowa Law (provided students enter with 28 hours of transfer credit and complete all other JD requirements).
  • Choice to take another semester or year to complete the JD if students select to take valuable courses that are not required but are important for the career they want to pursue.
  • By earning a JD through this program, students satisfy the legal educational requirement to sit for the Bar exam in any state in the United States.
  • Affordable option for earning a JD, especially during those semesters when students qualify for in-state tuition rates by working as Research Assistants.
  • Opportunity to study at one of the best public law schools in the United States and in one of the best college towns in the United States (Iowa City is a friendly and diverse town within driving distance of major cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis).

To learn more about how to apply to the program, see our Application Process page for this program.

Additional Information

Who can apply to this program? This program gives students who have successfully completed at least a basic legal education outside the United States the opportunity to obtain in as few as two years the same degree for which American students are required to study for three years.  Under the rules applicable to accredited US law schools, the University of Iowa College of Law may transfer to this JD program up to 28 hours of courses completed in a foreign law degree program.  The transfer of credit is not automatic and depends on accreditation, coursework, and grades.  For example, the University of Iowa College of Law cannot accept credit for online classes or from non-sanctioned schools.

What is the structure of this program? The first year of the curriculum provides students with a firm foundation in American law, focusing on core requirements, including legal writing and research.  The second year provides an opportunity to focus on elective coursework relevant to the students' interests.  Students must meet all College of Law graduation requirements to complete the JD.  The College of Law reviews and develops its curriculum, including both mandatory and elective courses, on an ongoing basis.  The Introduction to US Law and Legal Systems is specifically designed for foreign-trained law students.  It is possible that we will develop additional courses, including versions of required courses, for our foreign-trained students.  Such courses may be required for graduation.

What are the employment opportunities for graduates from this program?  Some students pursue this program so that they can practice in the United States.  Please note: even for those who qualify for and pass the bar exam, visa rules are complicated and may limit long-term opportunities for employment in the United States for those without citizenship or permanent residency and a green card.  Foreigners are allowed to stay in the United States for up to 12 months after graduation for "Optional Practical Training" if they can arrange employment in the legal profession.

Costs and Financial Aid

Tuition costs and costs of living at Iowa are significantly lower than at peer institutions.  Tuition at the University of Iowa College of Law is based on Iowa residency.  Please see this chart (and click on "International" if appropriate) for more information.  In addition to listing tuition and fees, the costs on the chart include an estimate of living expenses for twelve months.  The total indicated on that document is the amount of support from all sources that foreign students will need to show in order to obtain a student visa. It is reasonable to expect these amounts to increase somewhat each year.

Note that the tuition charts show that tuition costs are lowered to the resident rate for all students employed as quarter-time research assistants (average 10 hours per week).  Research Assistant positions are one of the main forms of financial aid Iowa Law provides. In addition to the lower tuition, research assistants also earn modest wages and enjoy reduced rates on health insurance.  Students can take advantage of this opportunity beginning in their second semester in the program.  Please note that research assistant positions are competitive and not guaranteed.

Note about Federal Aid

Under current federal regulations, only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal student loans.  Applicants who are not eligible for federal student loans may qualify for private loan programs. 

Additional Resources