Two-Year JD Program for Foreign-Trained Lawyers

The University of Iowa College of Law now offers a two-year Juris Doctor Program for foreign-trained lawyers.

This program gives students who have successfully completed a legal education outside the United States the opportunity to obtain within two years the same degree for which American students are required to study for three years.

Moreover, if foreign-trained law students are eligible for a research assistant position during the second year of the program, the total tuition costs amounts to almost half of the tuition paid by regular American out-of-state students.

Compared to the one-year LLM Program, the two-year JD Program offers at least the following advantages:

  • Eligibility to take the Bar exam in any state of the United States.
  • First-rate training in legal writing and legal research; ideally, students graduate with communication skills equal to those of American students.
  • Complete integration with American students and total immersion into a foreign language for two years.

The first-year of the curriculum provides students with a firm foundation in American law (property, torts, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, civil procedure), including legal writing and research, while the second year provides an opportunity to focus on elective coursework relevant to the students’ personal and practical interests.

The University of Iowa College of Law has long been regarded as one of the very best public law schools in the country.  It is also an ideal place to study.  Located near major cities (Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis), the idyllic and internationally diverse town of Iowa City offers students a learning environment that is free of the stress and expense associated with larger cities.  While the costs of living and tuition are lower, the people are even nicer.

You are eligible to apply to the program if you are a lawyer (with a degree allowing you to practice law) or if you have completed at least three years of legal studies before matriculating at Iowa.  The school where you studied or received your degree must be one that has accreditation within its country similar to accreditation by the American Bar Association.

Apply to Iowa
You can download the application here.  Applications are not available to submit online.  They must be printed and mailed to the Office of Admissions.

  • Application Fee ($100)
  • Complete Personal Statement

The College of Law requires a personal statement from all applicants, with complete instructions on the application form.  The personal statement (limited to two to three pages) should address the following topics:

  • Why do you wish to study law?
  • Why do you want to study at the University of Iowa?
  • What has been your most significant accomplishment?
  • How would you contribute to our law school community and the legal profession?
  • Describe any life experiences that would indicate your drive, determination, motivation, and/or leadership characteristics.
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume

You should include a description of any employment or research experience in a one to two-page curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé.

  • Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit a minimum of two letters of recommendation.  At least one (preferably two) should be from law professors who can comment on your critical thinking, writing skills, and potential for success in law school.

  • Official Transcripts

Applicants are responsible for submitting an official transcript from each college of university they have attended.

  • LSAT

The LSAT is not required.  However, submitting an LSAT, GMAT or GRE score can enhance the application.


International students whose first language is not English must take the TOEFL.  The minimum score required to apply to our JD program is 620 (written) / 260 (computer) / 105 (Internet).

  • Evaluative Interview

Once your application is complete, the College of Law Admissions Committee will contact you with instructions on scheduling an interview. In most instances, the interview will be conducted electronically.

Tuition costs and costs of living at Iowa are significantly lower than at peer institutions.  The JD tuition rate is $21,964 per year for residents of the state of Iowa, and $39,500 per year for residents of other states and foreign countries.  Please see this chart (and click on "International" if appropriate) for more information.  Tuition discounts (at the resident rate) are provided for students employed by faculty as research assistants, and many students take advantage of this opportunity. The costs 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.

Financial 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.  You can find information on such private alternate loans here.  The University of Iowa International Programs also maintains a list of external grants for non-US citizens here.  Applicants should also investigate loan opportunities in their home countries.