California Western School of Law: Academics, Admissions & Tuition

Learn about California Western School of Law. Read about its admission requirements, financial aid, and degree programs to make an informed education decision.

About California Western School of Law

California Western School of Law, formerly known as California Western University, is located in San Diego. Founded in 1924, the original university offered undergraduate and graduate programs. The university changed its name to the United States International University (USIU) in 1968, but the law school kept the name California Western School of Law (CWSL). In 1975, the law school separated from USIU to become an independent school.

CWSL is accredited by the American Bar Association and has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1967. The university features four centers and institutes, including those devoted to creative problem solving and criminal defense advocacy. This is the oldest law school in San Diego.


The primary degree offered at CWSL is the 3-year Juris Doctor (J.D.). Specializations are available in areas that include health and law policy, international law, and criminal justice. In addition to the J.D., the university offers several joint degree programs. These combine the law degree with a graduate degree in business administration, social work, or political science. A Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Trial Advocacy is also available with a specialization in federal criminal law.

More than 30 student organizations are active at CWSL. These include the Women's Law Caucus, the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Muslim Law Society, and the Environmental Law Society. Other organizations include Amnesty International and Parents in Law School.


CWSL has a rolling admissions process, so students are encouraged to apply early. The application deadline for the fall semester is July 1; the spring semester deadline is November 1. For transfer students, the fall and spring deadlines are July 15 and November 15, respectively. The application process begins by electronically submitting an application, along with transcripts, personal statement, resume, and two letters of recommendation. Additionally, applicants have the option to submit a diversity statement and an addendum statement explaining any weaknesses in their applications. Applicants must also register with Credentials Assembly Services and take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

In 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 78% of students attended CWLS full-time, although a part-time program and a 2-year program are also available. Slightly more than half of the student body was female that year, and the 2 largest ethnic groups were Caucasian and Hispanic/Latino.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition costs depend on whether a student attends on a full-time or part-time basis and whether he or she is enrolled in the J.D. or LL.M. program. In 2013-2014, total costs for J.D. students ranged from more than $55,000 to nearly $69,000 per year. The LL.M. program costs were slightly less at about $52,000. Costs included tuition, an activity fee, books, supplies, room and board, transportation, and miscellaneous fees. Financial aid options include work-study programs, student loans, scholarships, and grants.

School Type 4-year, private, not-for-profit*
Degrees Offered Master's and doctorate*
Religious Affiliation None*
Academic Calendar Trimesters**
School Setting Large city*
Student Body 859 students, all graduate-level in 2012*
Student Housing No on-campus housing available**
Schools and Programs 6 programs with various specializations**
Application Due Date July 1 for fall, November 1 for spring (7/15 and 11/15 for transfers)**
Tuition In 2013-2014:
$44,700 (full-time J.D. students),
$31,300 (part-time J.D. students),
$27,670 (LL.M. and Master of Comparative Law students)**

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **California Western School of Law.

Contact Information

  • Address: California Western Admissions, 225 Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101-3046
  • Phone Number: (619) 525-7073
  • Website:

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