Frequently Asked Questions - February 2023
1. Why are the two schools unifying? What are the benefits of unifying both law schools?
Reuniting the two schools allows the university to advance legal education at Penn State and offer law students a more robust law school experience. With an extremely competitive marketplace for legal education and nine law schools in Pennsylvania, the university’s current two-law-school model is not the best approach for achieving excellence in legal education. Ultimately, concentrating the best of both existing programs into a single school will allow the university to build a stronger law school. Additionally, over time, the university expects to see budget savings from combining the schools’ programs.
2. Does this mean that Penn State Law is being dissolved or absorbed by Dickinson Law?
No. The law schools are reunifying into a single law school. A panel of students, staff, faculty, and alumni has been charged by Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi with determining the specifics of the reunification and ultimately what legal education at Penn State will look like in the future.
3. If I am applying for admission in Fall 2023 and want to apply to Penn State Law and/or Dickinson Law, do I need to apply to each school separately?
Yes. You must apply to either school at which you would like to enroll in Fall 2023. Both law schools continue to operate independently and will do so until reunification is complete. Applications are not shared between the law schools and each school has its own admissions process.
4. How will the reunification affect student life, financial aid, staffing, clinics, and campus resources? Will there be a decline in the quality of our experience as the schools reunify?
Penn State Law and Penn State University remain committed to providing an outstanding, fully accredited, full 3-year J.D. program of legal education in University Park to our incoming students—including career services, bar exam preparation, and professional development opportunities.
Students enrolling in Fall of 2023 will be students at Penn State Law in its current form, with all the existing, available student organizations, clinical experiences, and campus resources as Penn State Law’s current students (and as they are subject to change through the normal course of business). There are no plans to require Penn State Law students to transfer to Dickinson Law.
Penn State Law continues to offer generous financial aid packages which are guaranteed for all three years of JD study so long as the student remains in good standing.
A priority of the reunification process is to provide stability for current students, staff, and faculty at both law schools. Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi has said she is dedicated to honoring Penn State’s commitment to its current law students, as well as those who enroll in fall 2023, by continuing to provide an outstanding, fully accredited legal education, as well as professional development opportunities including bar exam preparation and job placement support, at Carlisle and University Park, through graduation.
5. If I choose to attend Penn State Law in the Fall of 2023, will I be asked to relocate or commute to Carlisle to take classes at Dickinson Law?
No. University President Neeli Bendapudi affirmed that every student currently enrolled at Penn State Law — as well as the class being admitted for 2023 — will be able to complete their degree in a fully accredited and outstanding program at their current location. Penn State is committed to fully supporting all current students as well as students enrolling in the fall 2023 semester with legal education in Carlisle and University Park, including complete bar exam preparation and job placement support.
6. What is the timeline of the unification process? When will we have a clearer picture of what this means for both law schools?
A panel has been formed and has begun to examine how to foster excellence in legal education, scholarship, service, and community, and have been charged with investigating options within the framework of one law school.
In the coming weeks, a website that will summarize the reunification panel’s work will be made available to the public so stakeholders can follow the panel’s progress. We expect the reunification will be a three-year process to complete, and Penn State will continue to share details as they become available.
The panel is expected to deliver its draft recommendations to President Bendapudi by April 30, at which time she will consult with Penn State leadership and other experts for review and comment. She will share that input with the panel, seeking its final recommendations by May 31. After considering the panel’s recommendations, Bendapudi will select the structure of the reunited law school and present it to the Penn State Board of Trustees for approval.