The Admissions Process

All applicants to Cal Northern programs must submit an application and the designated application fee by June 1st. Applications received after June 1st will be considered if space is available.

  • One certified copy of a transcript from all colleges previously attended must be submitted to Cal Northern. The transcript must be sent directly from the issuing institution. For applicants with attendance at foreign universities, in lieu of a transcript, the applicant must submit a detailed transcript evaluation from a recognized evaluation agency. Official transcripts (or credentials evaluations) must be submitted within 45 days of the first day of the term for which the student was admitted. If a student is unable to provide official transcripts (or credentials evaluations), within 45 days of the first day of the term for which the student was admitted, an exception may be granted. The student must provide one of the following within the first 45 days:
      • Unofficial transcript showing qualifying degree conferral dated prior to the semester the student intends to start
      • A letter, on the school’s letterhead, from the qualifying degree granting institution’s Office of the Registrar that includes the conferral date, degree level, and name of the degree conferred – which must be dated prior to the program start date.
  • All applicants are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Two letters of recommendation must be submitted. The letters must be sent directly to the school by the person making the recommendation.

After the online application file is complete, the applicant may be required to attend an interview with the Admissions Committee. Ask us about our Scholarship and/or Loan Programs!

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Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

All applicants are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is designed specifically to assess key skills needed for success in law school, including reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. Registration to take the test is only available online through the Law School Admission Counsel (LSAC).

*Note: Cal Northern School of Law does not participate in the LSAC Candidate Referral Service (CRS).

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LSAT is given periodically throughout the year and applicants are advised to check https://www.lsac.org/ for test dates and deadlines, and test center locations. Cal Northern is a test center for some, but not all, test dates. Applicants are urged to take the test by March in the year in which admission is sought.

In addition to the resources available at https://www.lsac.org, including a free preparation course offered by the Kahn Academy, an introduction and brief overview of the three testing categories (reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning) of the LSAT is also found at their YouTube channel.

Law School Program

Cal Northern School of Law offers a four year part-time evening law program leading to a Juris Doctor Degree. The basic structure of the curriculum is composed of a semester system with two 15-week semesters per year (Fall and Spring), 15-hours per unit and a 10-week summer session each year. Students may start the program only in the Fall semester which begins the first part of August.

The Spring semester begins in early January and the Summer session begins the first part of May. Fall and Spring classes ordinarily meet Tuesday through Thursday evenings. Summer classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays. All classes meet from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with a 20 minute break. Exceptions to this may occur and will be posted on the Schedule of Classes, in the course syllabi or otherwise announced to the students.

Admission Requirements: JD Degree

JD applicants admitted to Cal Northern School of Law are designated “Regular,” “Special,” or “Transfer” students as defined by the State Bar of California. Classification definitions are set forth below.

Regular Students

In accordance with the Rule VII, Section 81 of the Rules Regulating Admission to Practice Law in California, Cal Northern School of Law requires that applicants for admission as regular students have completed at least 60 semester units or 90 quarter units of studies constituting not less than one-half of the total acceptable for a bachelor’s degree at a qualified institution. At least 90 percent of the total credits earned must be in courses with substantive content or training. In addition, the applicant’s grade point average for all courses with substantive content must be at least equal to the average required for graduating from the institutions attended, which is ordinarily 2.0 or better on the 4.0 grading system. All students are encouraged to complete their bachelor’s degree studies before applying.

  • Special Students: A student who has a strong desire to become a lawyer, but who cannot qualify for admission as a “regular” student, may apply for admission as a “special” student. In all cases the applicant for admission as a special student must submit the same information required of regular students. Since the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score is important to the special student, persons seeking admission as special students are advised to complete the LSAT early in the processing year, but in no event later than June of the year in which admission is sought. Applicants who do not have the required 60 semester units must also take the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test prior to admission to law school. To meet the Committee of Bar Examiners’ requirements for entrance to law school, an applicant must attain passing scores on the following general examinations administered by CLEP:
    • (1) Under Composition and Literature category, College Composition, AND
    • (2)Two other examinations, each designed to correspond to full-year courses (6 semester hours each*) or four other examinations, each designed to correspond to semester courses (3 semester hours each*) that can be selected from any of the following subjects: Composition and Literature (Humanities examination only); Foreign Languages; History and Social Sciences; Science and Mathematics; Business. Effective July 1, 2001, a minimum score of 50 on each examination is required to be eligible to attend law school as a Special Student. Information and an application to take the CLEP test may be obtained from: The College Board, P.O. Box 6600, Princeton, NJ 08541-6600, (800) 257-9558, www.collegeboard.com. Applicants will not be scheduled for an interview until all CLEP test scores are received by the school. Test scores are usually mailed four to six weeks after completion of the test. All Special Students are required to take and pass the First Year Law Students Examination at the end of their first year of law study.
    • Additional Requirement for Special Student: After completing the first-year curriculum, each “special student” is required by the State Bar of California to take the State Bar’s First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX). Students may take the FYLSX up to three times. Under State Bar rules, a “special student” who does not pass the examination on their first/second attempt(s) may continue law studies if otherwise in good academic standing, but failure to pass by the third consecutive administration of the test after becoming eligible will result in loss of academic credit and dismissal from law studies. Additional information about attending law school as a “special student” is available from the Registrar’s Office and the State Bar of California.

*For the Summary of Credit Recommendations for the CLEP Examinations and further information, please contact The College Board at the above address.

Transfer Students

All persons wishing to transfer to Cal Northern School of Law must provide (1) certified transcripts from all law schools attended, showing satisfactory completion of all prior studies, and (2) a letter of academic standing from each prior law school. Transfer students will be required to meet all admission requirements. Cal Northern School of Law reserves the right to determine the number of transfer credits accepted. This determination will be made by the Registrar on an individual basis and will depend in part on an evaluation of course content and grades received in various courses. The amount of credit an applicant may receive is subject to each of the following limitations pursuant to the California Accredited Law School Rules, but is otherwise discretionary: (1) Credit may ordinarily be granted only for courses completed no more than thirty-six months prior to the date the applicant chooses to begin further law studies. In exceptional circumstances involving serious illness or personal tragedy, credit for studies completed more than thirty-six calendar months prior to the date the applicant begins further law studies may be awarded; (2) Credit may be granted only for courses in which the applicant received a grade at the good standing level or higher from the awarding law school. However, in the case of an applicant who has passed the First-Year Law Students Examination, the law school may acknowledge the credit previously granted for each completed course in Torts, Criminal Law, and Contracts, even if the grade was less than would be required for good standing. Students may transfer up to 42 units toward the Juris Doctor degree. The remaining 42 units required for graduation must be taken at Cal Northern. The Registrar makes judgments about the appropriateness of transfer credit; however, when necessary, the Registrar may consult with other appropriate personnel, such as the Dean of Admissions Committee. Transfer credit, if granted, will be entered on the student’s transcript but will not be computed in the cumulative GPA. Transfer students’ grades cannot be used to compete for Valedictorian or to graduate with honors.

Veterans

Veterans: The Veterans Affairs (VA) Education Benefits are designed to provide eligible persons with an opportunity for educational and career growth. Cal Northern is committed to the Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. Internships, independent study and on-line courses are not approvable for the training of veterans. Effective January 1, 2016, only continuing students were eligible for the training of veterans as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. We are currently seeking re-approval to provide educational benefits for our veterans and their dependents. Contact our Registrar at 530-891-6900 for further information.

Award of Credit

Students must successfully complete at least 84 units of credit to be eligible for award of the Juris Doctor degree. Each unit of credit requires 15-hours of instruction. Each regularly scheduled 3-hour class constitutes 3-hours of instruction. One hour of classroom instruction is defined as 50 minutes of instruction, consistent with the CBE Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules, Guideline 6.5(I)(3). For every hour of class time a student can expect to spend between 2 to 3 hours of outside study and preparation. Legal Externships require 45-hours of participation to equal the 15-hours of instruction required for 1-unit of credit. To complete the 84-credit hour JD program, 1,260 hours of instruction are required and students can expect to spend an additional 3,780 hours of outside study.

Typically, students take a total of 23 units in their 1st year (10 units in the Fall; 9 units in the Spring and 4 units in the Summer), 22 units in their 2nd year (9 units in the Fall and Spring and 4 units in the Summer), 22 units in their 3rd year (9 units in the Fall and Spring and 4 units in the Summer) and 17 units in their 4th year (9 units in the Fall and 8 units in the Spring).

Graduation

Students are eligible for the degree of Juris Doctor (JD) when they have:

  1. Completed a minimum of 84 semester units in accordance with the law school’s prescribed curriculum.
  2. Maintained a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or better throughout their study at the law school; and
  3. Paid all fees, charges and tuition due.

Graduation with honors is conferred upon those students with the following grade point averages:

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3.50 – 4.00
Summa cum Laude
3.30 – 3.40
Magna cum Laude
3.00 – 3.20
Cum Laude
To be awarded honors, the student’s entire legal education must have been completed at Cal Northern.

Leave of Absence

A student may be granted an administrative leave of absence of up to one year. No leave of absence will be granted which extends a student’s study beyond five year, after beginning the study of law. A student contemplating taking a leave of absence should seek both academic and financial aid counseling.

The Dean’s permission is required for a leave of absence to be granted. In order to be granted a leave of absence the student:

  • Must be in good academic standing; and
  • Must make a written request to the Dean, explaining the reason(s) for the requested leave of absence. The request must indicate the date the leave is to commence and the end, and be signed by the student. If the request is not made prior to the proposed commencement date, the student should also explain the delay in making the written request. The Dean’s decision is final.

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Program

The Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a Master’s degree for students who wish to accomplish post-graduate studies in the law but do not want to pursue a traditional Juris Doctor law degree (JD).

The objective of the Master of Legal Studies program is to enable students to pursue diverse career choices though the acquisition of a foundational understanding of the legal system. In addition, it is the objective of the law school to enhance the professional skills and knowledge for those graduates who do not choose to sit for the California Bar Examination.

MLS Objective

The Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a Master’s degree for students who wish to accomplish post-graduate studies in the law but do not want to pursue a traditional Juris Doctor law degree (JD).

Cal Northern School of Law has established the Master of Legal Studies program (MLS) to enable individuals to attain a Master’s degree in as little as two (2) years of part-time study. This thirty-six (36) unit graduate program allows students from varied educational and professional backgrounds to gain a sophisticated understanding of the basic tenents of legal studies, legal reasoning, and the interaction between law and society. The MLS is appropriate for professionals whose work brings them into the interaction between law and their career field. The high quality of legal education for the M.L.S. is commensurate with the rigors of the traditional JD program and incorporates the very best aspects of the long history of the school of law.

The objective of the Master of Legal Studies program is to enable students to pursue diverse career choices though the acquisition of a foundational understanding of the legal system. In addition, it is the objective of the law school to enhance the professional skills and knowledge for those graduates who do not choose to sit for the California Bar Examination.

This program is designed to inform and educate professionals about the fundamentals of the law and help them gain an educated appreciation for the intricacies surrounding the intersection of law, public policy, and the professions. Master’s candidates shall take a variety of core classes in the law school curriculum in order to increase their understanding of the basic building blocks of the legal profession. Professionals from diverse fields, including banking, finance, insurance, education, law enforcement, human relations, and sales and marketing all deal with the law as it is applied to their activities. With increased sophistication regarding legal principles, Master’s candidates shall be able to increase their awareness of and preparation for legal issues which may arise in their daily lives.

MLS Expected Educational Outcomes

Upon completing the Master’s degree, program participants shall be able to identify the elements of both common law and statutory definitions of torts, crimes and contracts. They shall have an expanded knowledge of the element of constitutional legal issues and how those may be addressed in both their personal and professional lives. They shall gain specialized legal knowledge in the fields covered by their elective course offerings. Each program participant shall choose elective courses which impact or define their particular area of expertise or interest. Upon completion of the program, students shall have a broad understanding of the law coupled with an in-depth understanding of one or more unique areas of specialization.

Who Should Attend?

Any person who is either currently employed or who contemplates employment in a field where the law is a principal or significant factor in job duties or responsibilities will benefit from a Master of Legal Studies degree. Fields such as probation, law enforcement, healthcare, non-profits, public administration or the courts, school administration, finance, insurance, and human resources all require to one degree or another a clear understanding of basic legal principles and their application.

Not a Law Degree?

Individuals enrolled in the MLS program are not admitted to Cal Northern School of Law as a potential candidate for the JD degree.

Except as provided in Rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules (Legal education in a foreign state or country), completion of a professional law degree program at this law school other than for the Juris Doctor degree does not qualify a student to take the California Bar Examination or satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in California. It may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or to satisfy requirements for admission to the practice of law in any other jurisdiction. A student intending to seek admission to practice law should contact the admitting authority in the jurisdictions where the student intends to qualify to sit for the bar examination or to be admitted to practice for information regarding their legal education requirements.

Admission Requirements

  1. Submission of an application form and payment of the non-refundable $55 application fee.
  2. All undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree.
  3. A personal Statement of Intent outlining the applicant’s interest in the graduate study of law (maximum of 500 words.)
  4. Two (2) letters of recommendation from individuals personally acquainted with the applicant.
  5. An interview with the Dean of the School of Law.

Applicants to the MLS Program are encouraged to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), but it is not required for admission to the program.

Foreign applicants with a non-English background will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (“TEOFL”) and submit an official score prior to admission to the program.

All admission decisions will be based upon a complete review of the admissions file as well as upon a consideration of the applicant’s work history, life experience, and previous academic success.

Program Academic Requirements

  1. Required Courses: Introduction to Law School and Legal Analysis (1 unit), Legal Writing (2 units), Legal Research (2 units), Criminal Law (4 units), Contracts (6 units), Torts (6 units), and Constitutional Law (6 units).
  2. Elective courses: The remaining nine (9) units may be selected from other courses offered in the law school curriculum, subject to pre-requisite requirement for advanced courses. Eligible courses include regular law school courses, elective courses offered on a rotational basis, and a maximum of three (3) units earned in a Cal Northern clinical program. No transfer units from another law program shall be allowed. No independent study or international study units shall be allowed.
  3. MLS students are subject to the same attendance requirements as the JD students (see “Catalog”).
  4. MLS students will be held to the same stringent standards of academic preparation as the JD students. Class participation requirements shall also be the same for MLS students.
  5. Completion of one of the following plans:
    1. Thesis or Project-A one-hour public presentation and/or oral defense of the thesis or project is required. Students may choose a specific area of the law in which to concentrate for the thesis or project. The MLS Faculty Advisor will approve topics for thesis and projects. The Thesis will be a minimum of twenty (20) pages in length and will comply with standard MLA form.
    2. Comprehensive Exams-The Faculty Advisors will administer and evaluate three hours of written comprehensive examinations, plus oral review, covering the student’s major emphasis of study. All components of the exam must receive a grade of “pass” for the degree to be awarded. Exams may normally be repeated only once, at the discretion of the Faculty Senate, no later than the following semester. The Faculty Senate may allow partial rewriting of the exam, but only once. A second failure will result in termination of the student’s course of study.
  6. MLS students must meet with the MLS Faculty Advisor as set forth below:
    1. During the 1st year of study to choose the plan of study (i.e, Thesis/Project or Comprehensive Exams).
    2. During the 2nd year of study for a degree audit and to develop an outline, if doing a Thesis/Project; or develop a study plan for the Comprehensive Exams.
    3. MLS only: By the end of the Spring Semester of the 2nd year of study, students must complete the Thesis/Project or Comprehensive Exams.
    4. MLS/JD dual degree: During the 3rd year of study by June 30 to schedule the presentation and/or oral defense of the Thesis/Project; or schedule a date for the Comprehensive Exams.
  7. All administrative policies of Cal Northern School of Law relating to examination procedures, Honor Code, tuition and fee payments, registration, and all policies and procedures described in the Student Handbook apply to the MLS Program students.
  8. A student currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program shall not be prohibited from petitioning the Dean and Academic Standards Committee for a transfer from the JD Program to the MLS Program. All units successfully earned in the JD Program (grade of 65 or higher) shall be transferrable to the MLS Program. However, no student may then re-apply to the JD Program. Once accepted, units from the JD Program are exclusively for the MLS Program and cannot be re-transferred. Under exceptional academic circumstances, a student in the MLS Program may petition the Dean of the School of Law and the Academic Standards Committee for a transfer into the JD Program as long as they have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 and have taken the LSAT. Transfer credit may be received for up to 6 units from another Master of Legal Studies or equivalent degree program at a regionally accredited institution.
  9. Each regularly scheduled 3-hour class constitutes 3-hours of instruction. One hour of classroom instruction is defined as 50 minutes of instruction, consistent with the CBE Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules, Guideline 6.5(I)(3). For every hour of class time a student can expect to spend between 2 to 3 hours of outside study and preparation. Legal Externships require 45-hours of participation to equal the 15-hours of instruction required for 1-unit of credit.
  10. Students must complete all requirements for the MLS degree within five years of beginning the program.

Graduation

Students are eligible for the degree of Master of Legal Studies (MLS) when they have:

  1. Completed a minimum of 36 semester units in accordance with the law school’s prescribed curriculum, 27 units of which are mandatory and 9 are elective units as selected by the student;
  2. Maintained a numerical percentage average of 65.00 or better throughout their studies at the law school;
  3. Completed one of the following plans: (a) Thesis or Project; or (b) Comprehensive Exams; and
  4. Pay all fees (including a $100 graduation fee), charges and tuition due.

Student Advising

The MLS Program shall be under the supervision and academic direction of the MLS Faculty Advisor.

Academic & Grading Standards

All MLS Program participants shall be held to the same rigor in grading and high standards as students in the JD Program. MLS students shall also participate in Cal Northern’s process of anonymous grading of student examinations. At no time shall MLS students be identified separately from JD students in course, on course rolls, examinations, or papers. For MLS students the overall required GPA is a 1.50.

Finances

Participants in the MLS Program shall pay the same per unit tuition as students in the JD Program. All questions regarding financing shall be directed to the Registrar.

Required Courses

Introductory Courses

Course No. Course Title Units Total Units
100 Introduction to Law & Legal Analysis 1
104 Legal Writing 2
103 Legal Research 2
Total Units: 5 5

First Year

Course No. Course Title Units Total Units
101 A/B * Contracts 6
102 A/B * Criminal Law 4
105 A/B * Torts 6
Total Units: 16 21

Second Year

Course No. Course Title Units Total Units
312 A/B * Constitutional Law 6
Total Units: 6 27

Elective Courses **

Course No. Course Title Units Total Units
9 36
Total Units for Graduation: 36
* Denotes all non-severable two semester courses. Both semesters must be successfully completed.

** These courses will be taken during the summer, fall, or spring semesters as the student’s schedule permits.

NOTE: A minimum of 9 elective units are required towards the 36 unit graduation requirement. Students select their choices from the following list of rotational Elective Courses. These courses are taught on a rotational basis as professional needs or student interest demands.

Elective Courses

Course No. Course Title Units
205 A/B * Civil Procedure 5
207 A/B* Evidence 4
208 A/B* Real Property 6
210 Wills 3
209 Trusts (Wills pre-requisite) 2
309 A/B* Business Associations 6
310 Community Property/ Family Law 3
315 Estate Planning 3
314 Professional Responsibility 2
400 Advanced Legal Writing 2
406 Criminal Procedure 3
415 A/B* Remedies 4
420 Trial Advocacy 2
E-110 Alternative Dispute Resolution 2
E-115 Debtor-Creditor Law 2
E-120 Employment Law 2
E-125 Insurance Law 2
E-130 Practical Skills 2
E-200 Practical Family Law 2
E-230 Special Studies in Civil Discovery 2
E-250 California Workers Compensation 2
* Denotes all non-severable two semester courses. Both semesters must be successfully completed.

** These courses will be taken during the summer, fall, or spring semesters as the student’s schedule permits.

Withdrawal: JD & MLS Program

Official notice of (voluntary) withdrawal from the JD Program must be made in writing, electronically, or verbally to the Administration office prior to commencement of the first final examination for the semester in which the student is enrolled. Students are strongly advised to submit a written notice of their withdrawal. Students who do not submit a written notice of withdrawal prior to the commencement of the final exam, and do not subsequently sit for the exam, will receive a failing grade in the course. All students who voluntarily withdraw or who are administratively withdrawn will be held to the Refund Policy listed in this catalog. Students receiving Federal Direct loans must also refer to the Return of Title IV Funds Policy. In effect, this policy requires Cal Northern to return student loan funds used to pay for tuition and fees if a student withdraws before the 60% point of the semester, frequently resulting in the student owing the school money for tuition and fees previously paid for with financial aid funds.

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Re-Entry / Readmission After Withdrawal: JD & MLS Program

  1. A student in continued good standing or having accepted the terms of probation, is entitled to re-enter the program. A student may petition the Academic Admissions Committee (AAC) of the Faculty Senate for re-entry to the program only once.
  2. A student who other than in good standing or having accepted probation, officially or unofficially withdraws from the program, is not entitled to readmission as a matter of right, but only at the discretion of the AAC. This section also applies to a student who has been administratively withdrawn.
    1. Where the student withdrew prior to completing a course of more than one semester, no credit will be given for any semester or portion of that course.
    2. Credit for coursework previously completed is not given if two or more years have elapsed since the student’s previous law school enrollment.

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