Bar Exam and Admission Requirements

Bar Exam and Bar Eligibility

Many of our graduates plan to practice law in California. Our JD degree requirements are designed to qualify graduates to take the California bar exam.  There are additional requirements for bar admission, including character and fitness standards, that must be satisfactorily completed in order to be admitted to the practice of law in California. 

General information about eligibility to become a member of the California Bar is available below.  The California Bar website has detailed information about the Determination of Moral Character.  To assist students in planning and meeting deadlines, we have developed a California Bar Checklist, which is the last link under the "Bar Admission and Bar Exam" header. 

Registration with the Committee of Bar Examiners as a First Year Law Student:

Students who intend to take the California bar examination must register with the California Committee of Bar Examiners as a law student during the first 90 days of study. Students who register with the bar after this 90 day period will be charged a late registration fee. Students must register online through the State Bar of California website.

Application for the Determination of Moral Character:

A positive moral character determination is a prerequisite to being admitted to the bar and practicing law in California. The filing of the moral character application begins the process of character investigation which generally takes four to six months to complete, but could possibly take longer.

Although the Application for Moral Character may be filed at any time after the student's first year of law study, the Committee of Bar Examiners recommends that the application be filed at least 8 months prior to the date the applicant expects to be admitted to the practice of law in California. A positive determination of moral character is good for a period of 24 months from the date of the initial positive determination of moral character by the Committee of Bar Examiners. If, for any reason, the applicant has not been admitted to practice law in California during this 24 month period, the applicant may extend the positive moral character determination for an addition 24 months by filing an application for an extension no sooner than 18 months from the date of the initial determination and by paying the appropriate fee.

Additional information and the application form for the Determination of Moral Character can be found on the State Bar of California website.

The California Bar also requires that all applicants to the practice of law be fingerprinted "in order to establish the identity of the applicant and in order to determine whether the applicant or member has a record of criminal conviction." Applicants are required to submit fingerprints through the Live Scan system with the application for Moral Character Determination. A list of agencies providing the Live Scan fingerprinting service can be found at the California Attorney General - Department of Justice website. Please read the fingerprint instructions carefully for California residents contained in the Moral Character Determination Application Instructions found on the bar website.

The law school typically arranges for fingerprinting to be done on campus in late October or early November. You are required to sign up in advance for this service.

Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE):

This examination is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is one of the requirements for admission to practice law in California (and in all but three of the other U.S. jurisdictions). The exam is administered three times a year at established test centers across the country. Passing scores are established by each jurisdiction.

Complete information, including test dates and on-line registration for the examination, is available on the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. Please note: it is necessary that you request that NCBE report your score to the California Committee of Bar Examiners. Simply being a California resident or applicant will not cause the score to be reported appropriately.

Bar Examination Application:

Students graduating from law school must file an application to sit for the bar examination in California. Applications for the February examination are available October 1, and applications for the July examination are available March 1. Applications are only available on the State Bar of California website.

Complete fee information is also available through this website. Please be aware that there are timely and late filing deadlines, and that a late fee will be charged for applications submitted after the timely filing deadline has passed.

The examination application will ask for your student ID number in place of your social security number. This is the 8 digit number issued to you by the University of San Francisco when you were first admitted to the law school, otherwise know as the USF ID or CWID. This number appears on the following documents which you have received: exam instruction emails and official transcripts. Please note that this number is not printed on your university issued ID card (OneCard). If you do not have a record of this ID number you may obtain it from myUSF by clicking on the link in the "Secure Access Login" box and following the instructions. You may also obtain the CWID from the Law Registrar's office, in person only, during normal business hours. Presentation of a photo ID is required.

Testing Accommodations for the Bar Examination:

Students who have received examination accommodations while attending law school must petition the Committee of Bar Examiners to receive accommodations for the Bar Examination. Students may petition the Bar any time after having registered with the Bar, and the Committee of Bar Examiners strongly encourages students to file their petitions no later than the beginning of the last year of study. Additional information and the necessary forms for Requesting Testing Accommodations can be found on the State Bar of California website.