OLSAS – University of Ottawa
Note: This application guide contains information for fall 2022 admission.
University program information is subject to change. View the application for the most up-to-date details.
- About the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law
- Scholarships and Financial Aid
- Equity and Student Success
- Studying Law Part-Time
- Contact Information
About the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law
The Ottawa Advantage
The University of Ottawa offers unique advantages, thanks to our location in the National Capital, home to the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal government, many non-governmental organizations and a thriving high-tech community.
Moreover, our proximity to downtown Ottawa provides you with access to a wide variety of law-related internship and practicum opportunities across many diverse fields, in government departments and beyond.
Ottawa also offers you the opportunity to take advantage of the outdoors, with our proximity to bicycle paths, ski hills, hiking trails in the Gatineau Hills and the longest skating rink in the world: The Rideau Canal.
The Common Law Section is a national and global leader in a wide variety of fields, including:
- Law and Technology
- Health Law
- Environmental Law
- Public Law
- International Law (including Immigration and Refugee Law)
We are driven by our commitment to social justice and dedicated to reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada. We have an exceptional program in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Traditions.
We have one of the best mooting programs in the country. Each year, our students bring home awards from the top mooting competitions in Canada and around the world.
We educate the leaders of tomorrow in law and society, as our alumni work as lawyers in private and public practice. Law has always been a valued education beyond the legal world, and this will only increase in the future. We will see more of our graduates working in business, governments, technology, international organizations and the not-for-profit sector.
A variety of legal clinics operate in close conjunction with the law school, allowing students to earn course credits or undertake internships while working on real legal cases.
We offer a variety of “hands-on” learning opportunities at on-campus centres and clinics, including:
- The University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic
- The uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic
- The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
- The Human Rights Research and Education Centre
- The Refugee Hub
- The Ticket Defence Program
- The Ian G. Scott Courtroom: A fully functional courtroom where sitting judges hear regular cases.
We offer an excellent full-service Faculty consisting of 2 sections: Common Law and Civil Law.
A Common Law degree is a Juris Doctor or JD (formerly referred to as a Bachelor of Laws or LLB).
A Civil Law degree is a Licentiate of Laws or LLL.
We are one of the only schools in Canada that offer 2 different types of law degrees. This unique bi-jural structure provides an ideal environment to receive training in both legal traditions.
Common Law Degree – Juris Doctor (JD)
Common Law is the system of law practiced and followed in all Canadian provinces and territories, except for Quebec. Other Common Law jurisdictions include England, Australia and the United States.
Graduates of the JD program will be eligible to write any provincial or territorial bar exam in Canada (except for Quebec’s) and, upon successful completion, will be eligible to practice law in that jurisdiction.
We offer options to study Common Law in English or French and have several partnerships with other faculties and institutions, giving you a wide range of combined programs to choose from.
Civil Law Degree – Licentiate of Laws (LLL)
Civil Law is based on a legislated civil code and is practiced and followed in Quebec and much of the non-English speaking world. Graduates of the LLL program will be eligible to write the Quebec bar exam and, upon successful completion, will be eligible to practice law in Quebec.
The Civil Law program is offered only in French.
The Civil Law Section of our faculty also provides the opportunity for comparative studies.
If you wish to apply to a program leading to the LLL, you must use the 105 application and not the OLSAS application.
We provide a comprehensive common law education for those intending to enter the practice of law, government service or any career in which knowledge of legal principles and legal process is necessary or desirable.
The English Common Law Program is open to anglophone and bilingual applicants, and the French Common Law Program is open to francophone and bilingual applicants. Applicants to the French Common Law Program may be asked to take a French language proficiency test at a cost of $115, billed to the applicant.
If you are enrolled in the English Common Law Program, you are welcome to take some courses offered in French. If you are enrolled in the French Common Law Program, you are welcome to take some courses offered in English.
Note: The French Common Law program does not result in eligibility to write the Quebec bar exam. If you are interested in writing the Quebec bar exam, review our Civil Law program.
JD Combined Programs
Juris Doctor (JD)/Master of Arts (MA) in International Affairs
The Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University offer a combined 4-year program resulting in a JD degree and an MA (International Affairs).
The program is designed for students with a strong interest in international law and relations, as it provides an excellent basis for a career in government or the private sector, or for advanced studies in international affairs and international law.
By pursuing the 2 degrees jointly, you have the opportunity to combine your research interests in law and international relations. You are also able to tap into the extensive work on international affairs and law conducted at our National Capital region institutions.
This 4-year combined program represents a compressed period of study, allowing you to obtain both degrees more quickly than if you completed the degrees sequentially.
Students enrolled in this joint program also reduce their net credit load by 3 University of Ottawa credits and 2 Carleton half-courses, as compared with a student completing the JD and MA separately.
The deadline to submit your application for the MA program with NPSIA is January 31, 2022.
Contact the NPSIA directly for more information on their application process and assessment criteria:
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs
Colonel By Drive
Ottawa ON K1S 5B6
Juris Doctor (JD)/Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The Common Law Section offers a combined JD/MBA program in partnership with the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. The JD/MBA program is designed to be completed within 4 years.
The Faculty of Law and the School of Management make admission decisions jointly. Successful applicants are first admitted to the JD portion of the program and must then apply to the Telfer School of Management in the first year of their legal studies.
You must hold a baccalaureate degree with at least an “A-” cumulative grade point average (GPA) and satisfy the admission requirements of both programs.
Consult the MBA calendar and the Faculty of Law calendar for more information.
Note: The 3-year professional experience requirement of the MBA program may be waived if you are an exceptional student, provided you complete at least 1 year in the Law program and rank in the top 50% of your class prior to starting the MBA requirement of the joint program.
Contact the Telfer School of Management directly for more information on their application process and assessment criteria:
Telfer School of Management – Graduate Office
55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 4160
Ottawa ON K1N 6N5
Studying Both Common Law and Civil Law – Jointly or Consecutively
Knowledge of both legal systems helps to ensure access to national and international markets in an era of globalization.
A graduate with training in both of Canada’s legal systems can become licensed to practice law anywhere in Canada. They also gain the knowledge to work internationally and are well suited for the federal public service.
If you wish to obtain a Civil Law degree and a Common Law degree, you have 2 options to choose from:
The Joint Stream: Programme de droit canadien
In this 3-year combined program, you will learn Common Law and Civil Law concurrently. There are only 20 positions available in this stream, which includes several courses designed specifically for Programme de droit canadien students.
The Consecutive Stream: National Program
This is an accelerated course of study for students who already hold a Civil Law Degree from a Canadian university. Students are expected to have a high level of proficiency in both French and English, as the program is bilingual.
You can apply to the National Program after completing a civil law degree or during the final year of your civil law studies.
Admission to the National Program is based on:
- Community involvement
- Letters of recommendation
- Available space
- A personal statement explaining why you want to enroll in this program
- Curriculum vitae (CV)
- A transcript of Civil Law courses (only required of those who have completed their LLL at another university)
- 2 letters of reference from Civil Law professors (only required of those who have completed their LLL at another university)
We will only assess an application once all required documents are provided.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is not required for admission into the National Program.
Note: If you completed your LLL at the University of Ottawa’s Section de Droit Civil, you must apply by using the university’s internal application form in uoZone.
Our Civil Law Section offers a parallel program for Common Law graduates who wish to obtain an LLL degree in an accelerated timeframe.
We are interested in creating a vibrant and diverse academic environment and in preparing competent and compassionate professionals. To ensure that the student body represents the fullest possible range of social, economic, ethnic and cultural perspectives in our society, and includes students from a wide range of educational backgrounds, we consider many factors and review our admission files in a holistic manner.
The Admissions Committee is composed of professors, members of the Equity and Academic Success Program, admission officers and third-year students.
Overview of Applicant Categories
There are 5 applicant categories:
- General Category
- General Category with Special Circumstances
- Access Category
- Mature Category
- Indigenous Category
Overview of Application Components
All applications to our Faculty of Law Common Law Section must include the following:
- OLSAS profile details
- LSAT Score
- LSAT Writing Sample
- All postsecondary transcripts
- Personal Statement
- 2 reference letters (minimum of 1 from an academic referee)
- Autobiographical Sketch
- List of verifiers with names, roles, and contact information
- Applicants to programs in which the language of instruction is French are not required to write the LSAT.
- Mature candidates who cannot reasonably obtain an academic reference letter will be permitted to provide 2 non-academic reference letters.
Some applications to our Faculty of Law must also include:
- CV (Mature applicants, Indigenous applicants)
- Supporting documentation, where applicable (Access applicants and Special Circumstances applicants)
- Proof of Indigenous identity (Indigenous applicants)
- World Education Services (WES) Certificate (for applicants in any category who obtained a degree or degrees outside of Canada or the United States)
All information provided will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Admission is highly competitive, with thousands of applications for approximately 300 spots in the first-year class. Except for mature students, applicants must, at minimum, have completed the equivalent of 3 years of full-time undergraduate studies (equal to 90 credits or 30 half courses) at an accredited university, prior to beginning law school. We also invite applications from those who have completed their undergraduate degree at an accredited college.
Explanation of Applicant Categories
The General Category is the most used category and is the correct choice for any applicant who does not meet the eligibility criteria for any of the other categories.
General Category – Special Circumstances
The General – Special Circumstances Category is for candidates who would otherwise be General category applicants but who experienced a significantly negative one-time event that had an adverse effect on their studies and that does not persist now.
If choosing this category, indicate which academic term(s) were affected by the adverse event and provide supporting documentation, where possible.
Examples include serious illness or injury, a seriously ill or injured family member, an unstable home environment or the death of a loved one.
We welcome students from historically excluded communities who have experienced systemic inequality or identifiable social or economic barriers to education. These students may apply in either the General or Access category.
The factors that would support your candidacy in this category are based on the Ontario Human Rights Code, which states:
“Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability” (R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s.1; 1999, c.6, s.28 ; 2001, c.32, s.27 ); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (1); 2012, c. 7, s. 1.
In addition to the protected grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Admissions Committee considers severe economic hardship to be a barrier to education, which would confer eligibility to apply in this category.
If you wish to be considered in the Access category, you are required to explain the reasons for applying in this category. Provide this explanation in the application screen identified for this purpose. You may also refer to the reasons for applying in this category in your Personal Statement, if you wish to do so.
If, in the Access category, you wish to have your academic profile or LSAT performance assessed in relation to the reasons for applying in this category, we encourage you to provide supporting documentation. We will review the application in the context of the supporting documentation and other information you provide.
Eligibility for the Mature category does not depend on age. Instead, it depends on the number of years that have elapsed since enrollment in secondary studies.
To qualify for the Mature category, at the time of application:
- you must have 5 or more years of work or other non-academic experience since completing high school studies and
- the period of non-academic experience may include part-time, but not full time, postsecondary studies.
In this category, additional consideration will be given to career and life experiences. While Mature applicants are eligible to apply without any previous undergraduate study, the academic program in law school is very demanding, so we look for evidence of ability to succeed academically. This usually includes the satisfactory completion of at least some courses at the university level.
We recognize that if a significant period of time has passed since you completed your postsecondary studies, it might not be possible to obtain a letter from an academic referee. If you are unable to obtain a letter of reference from an academic source, choose referees who can speak to your abilities as they relate to law school, namely your ability to analyze, write, conduct research, work in groups and organize your time.
Applicants in this category must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
Persons who are First Nations, Inuit or Métis may apply in this category if they wish.
Proof of Indigenous identity must be provided. It can take different forms. Consult the University of Ottawa’s policy on admissions streams and scholarships intended for First Nations, Inuit and Métis applicants [PDF].
If you choose to apply under the Indigenous category, we encourage you to use your Personal Statement to describe your connection to your Indigenous community, including the extent to which you are involved in your Indigenous community, if applicable.
Multiple Applicant Categories
Applicants are welcome to apply in multiple applicant categories and are not required to choose between them. If you apply under multiple categories, be sure to include whatever components are required in each category. Even if you apply under multiple categories, your file will be assessed only once.
Explanation of Application Components
The LSAT is required if you are applying to the first year of any English Common Law program, without exception. For test dates and registration, visit the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
The LSAT is not a requirement for application to French programs, as the test evaluates a candidate’s capacities for logical reasoning and written comprehension in English.
Our Faculty of Law does not set a minimum LSAT score requirement, but most successful applicants have a 157 or higher. The weight given to the LSAT varies according to the other elements in your file. If English is not your first language, the LSAT, while relevant, may carry less weight in the Admission Committee’s evaluation of your application.
You may write the LSAT multiple times if you wish. We will take into consideration only your highest score.
We strongly recommend that you write the LSAT by November 2021.
If you have already written the LSAT and you intend to write it for a second or subsequent time in January 2022, and your file is otherwise complete, we may review it prior to January. The Admissions Committee cannot guarantee holding your file until your January score is received.
If you decide to write the LSAT on a date other than the one indicated on your application, amend your OLSAS application as soon as possible.
The March 2022 LSAT will not be accepted, as these scores are released in mid-April.
LSAT results are valid for only 5 years. Therefore, results from an LSAT taken prior to June 2017 will not be accepted.
LSAT Writing Section
The LSAT consists of 2 portions: A Multiple Choice portion (which is scored) and the LSAT Writing portion (which is not scored). Both portions must be completed and processed by the LSAC for your score to be released to OLSAS.
If you are a first-time test taker, you should complete your LSAT Writing as early as possible.
If you have a valid LSAT Writing on file and you will be re-taking the LSAT, you do not need to complete the LSAT Writing again (although you may choose to do so).
Applicants must provide at least 2 letters of reference. At least 1 of the 2 reference letters must be from an academic referee. An academic referee is someone who has taught and evaluated you in an educational context at a postsecondary institution (e.g., a professor, a teaching assistant, a research supervisor). Ideally, an academic referee should indicate your performance relative to the rest of the class.
Note: High school or elementary school teachers or principals are not considered academic referees. Neither are coaches or tutors. Contact us if you are uncertain whether a referee meets our definition of an academic referee.
While you are only required to submit 1 academic reference letter, you may submit 2 academic reference letters if you wish.
Choose your referees carefully. These individuals should be able to speak to your skills and abilities as they pertain to your success as a future law student. This may include your ability to write, think critically, conduct research, work in groups, manage your responsibilities and organize your time.
A non-academic referee must be someone who knows you in more than just a social context. Family members, friends, peers, friends-of-the-family, and romantic partners are not suitable choices for your non-academic referee. Examples of acceptable choices for non-academic referees include employers, managers, co-op placement supervisors, internship supervisors, mentors, coaches, tutors and volunteer coordinators.
The Personal Statement is a critical part of your application. You can think of it as a professional interview on paper. In reviewing personal statements, committee members assess candidates according to the following considerations:
- Capacity for critical, creative and original thinking
- Communication skills, including writing skills
- Evidence of capacity to manage workload and time
- Ability to make a meaningful contribution to the overall law school environment and to the profession and the public it serves as demonstrated by, among other things:
- A record of extracurricular activities and community involvement
- Career experiences and achievements
- Personal success in dealing with challenges
- Diverse social, economic, ethnic or cultural experiences and perspectives
- Awareness of and interest in specializations and other strengths of the Faculty’s program of legal education
- Specific career aspirations
Do not simply reiterate the information contained within your Autobiographical Sketch. Instead, reflect on the 5 parameters and decide what you would like us to know about you.
You can also review our Faculty’s Top 10 Tips for a Great Personal Statement.
If you are applying in the General – Special Circumstances Category or the Access Category, dedicated forms are provided for you to explain why you are applying in that category. You do not need to use your Personal Statement for this purpose.
As with information in all application components, information contained in personal statements will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
You must provide all transcripts from your postsecondary institutions. This includes undergraduate, graduate and college transcripts.
Assessment of International Transcripts
All transcripts for degrees obtained outside of Canada and the United States must be assessed through WES. If you have done your undergraduate or graduate studies outside Canada and the United States, your institution must send an official copy of your transcripts to WES for assessment and certification. WES must then send your transcripts and their assessments directly to OLSAS for consideration.
You must obtain a course-by-course WES evaluation of all undergraduate transcripts. If you provide a transcript for an international undergraduate degree without a course-by-course WES evaluation, your application will remain incomplete, and the Admissions Committee will not assess it. While you are not required to obtain a WES evaluation of your graduate transcripts, any graduate transcripts from foreign institutions you submit without a WES evaluation will not be taken into consideration in the assessment of your file.
World Education Services
Transcripts from Study Abroad Programs or Exchange Programs
If you studied abroad temporarily while completing a degree from a Canadian institution or an American institution, you are not required to provide a WES certificate. However, you must have your exchange institution send an official copy of your transcript to OLSAS.
Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) Calculations
Undergraduate academic performance is a significant factor in the evaluation process. Most successful applicants have at least an “A-” average overall.
CGPA calculations are based on undergraduate grades. The calculation does not include graduate-level grades or grades from college programs. However, we will review all of your transcripts during the file assessment process.
Transcripts from institutions outside of Canada and the United States cannot form the basis of your CGPA. Candidates with international transcripts will have their CGPA display as 0. However, your file will still be assessed and your transcripts will be reviewed.
What do applicants in each category need to submit?
|General||General – Special Circumstances||Access||Mature||Indigenous|
(if candidate attended a postsecondary institution)
|List of Verifiers||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|2 Reference Letters (minimum 1 academic)||✓||✓||✓||The inclusion of an academic reference letter is preferred but not mandatory.||✓
(The non-academic reference letter should speak to the connection you share with your Indigenous community.)
|Demonstration of Indigenous Identity||✓|
Plus, a WES certificate if you obtained your degree outside Canada/USA.
- The deadline to apply for English programs commencing in fall 2022 is November 1, 2021.
- The deadline to apply for French programs commencing in fall 2022 is March 1, 2022.
Note: Files are not assessed until they are complete.
- Applications to English programs that remain incomplete after April 1, 2022, will be cancelled without further notice.
- Applications to French programs that remain incomplete after June 1, 2022, will be cancelled without further notice.
Plan your time carefully. It is your responsibility to take note of all applicable deadlines and to adhere to them. Application deadline extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances. Requests to submit late applications must be made in writing to the Admission Committee and must include the reason for the request, along with any applicable supporting documentation.
Application Fee Waivers
You may request a waiver for the $100 University of Ottawa application fee if you are in financial difficulty. The basic criterion for granting a waiver is an inability to pay.
We will only assess requests submitted through our fee waiver application form, which must be obtained directly from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. No other fees will be waived. No waivers will be granted retroactively.
To obtain a waiver form, contact the Common Law Section’s Recruitment and Admission Office.
If you wish to apply to have the LSAT sitting fee waived, contact the Law School Admissions Council directly.
Upper-year applicants are not required to select an applicant category.
The upper-year application deadline is May 1, 2022. Files are not assessed until they are complete and all required documents are provided. As the number of spaces available is limited, any delay in completing an application can prejudice admission. Files that are incomplete as of August 1, 2022, will be cancelled without further notice.
Transfer applications, for the second year of the JD program, will be accepted only from students who have successfully completed the first year of the JD program in a Canadian Common Law school. If you have undertaken or completed your legal studies outside of Canada, you cannot apply in this category.
If you are applying as a transfer applicant, explain why you wish to study at the University of Ottawa. You should use your Personal Statement to describe the personal, academic or professional reasons why you wish to continue your legal studies in Ottawa. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who have compelling circumstances that require their presence in Ottawa (e.g., family responsibilities, spousal relocation, financial challenges).
You must also submit:
- your official law school transcripts.
- 2 letters of reference, including at least 1 from a professor in law school.
- a letter from the Dean of your current law school attesting that you are in good standing and have not been the subject of any disciplinary actions.
We do not require LSAT results from transfer applicants.
Letter of Permission
You can apply in this category if you wish to complete 1 semester or 1 full year of your law studies at the University of Ottawa as a visiting student, with the permission of your law school.
You should use your Personal Statement to describe the personal, academic and professional reasons why you wish to study at the University of Ottawa. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who have compelling circumstances that require their presence in Ottawa (e.g., family responsibilities, spousal relocation, financial challenges).
You must also submit:
- your official law school transcripts.
- 2 letters of reference, including at least 1 from a professor in law school.
- a letter of permission from the Dean of your current law school attesting that you are in good standing and have not been the subject of any disciplinary actions.
We do not require LSAT results from Letter of Permission applicants.
National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) Applicants
If you have already completed a law degree from a foreign jurisdiction or from Quebec, and you now wish to practice law in a Canadian Common Law jurisdiction, you may apply for an assessment of your legal studies by the NCA. The NCA was established by the Committee of Canadian Law Deans and the Canadian Federation of Law Societies.
For further information, write directly to the National Committee on Accreditation:
Federation of Law Societies of Canada
World Exchange Plaza
1810-45 O’Connor Street
Ottawa ON K1P 1A4
If you have received advanced standing from the NCA, you may apply to the Faculty in this category. If the NCA has not granted you advanced standing, you must apply as a first-year student and complete the 3-year JD program to practice law in Canada. Email us if you are unsure whether you qualify as an NCA applicant.
If you are applying to do course work required by the NCA, use the Personal Statement to explain why you wish to complete your courses at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. Your application must include a copy of the NCA assessment, which must be sent directly by the NCA, and 2 letters of reference, 1 of which should come from an academic referee. If an official NCA assessment is provided, you are not required to send original transcripts from outside Ontario. We do not require LSAT results from applicants in this category.
Note: If you are an NCA applicant, and we do not receive your NCA assessment and your final grades from your last year of law studies by August 1, 2022, your application will be cancelled without further notice.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Our Common Law Section offers several scholarships and bursaries for first-year students. While some require an application, others are offered automatically.
Review admission scholarships and bursaries for:
Financial aid for law students is available from a variety of sources.
For complete information about financial aid and applications, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Service:
University of Ottawa
55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 3156
Ottawa ON K1N 6N5
Equity and Student Success
We are committed to increasing the participation of persons from historically excluded communities.
We offer a variety of academic supports to assist those students whose life experiences may make the transition to law school more difficult.
We encourage students to contact the Common Law Section’s Equity and Academic Success Counsellor to discuss academic accommodations and available supports to ensure that students have every opportunity to participate in the academic and social activities offered at the Faculty of Law.
Studying Law Part-Time
We do not offer a part-time program. However, part-time study may be considered as a reasonable accommodation in compliance with the University’s obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
After receiving your offer of admission, you may write to the head of the Admissions Committee to request permission to enroll in part-time studies. You must provide the reasons for your request and supporting documentation may be required.
In accordance with the Faculty’s Academic Regulations, you must complete your program within 6 years of admission.
The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 3270