How to Apply

Your Application Package

Applying with OLSAS

When applying to any law school in Ontario, you are required to use the Ontario Law School Application Service ("OLSAS"), which is a division of the Ontario University Application Centre ("OUAC").  

With the OLSAS Portal, you will be prompted to create an account to submit your basic personal information, and you will have the opportunity to review instructions for compiling and submitting your application components. OLSAS provides a very helpful Application Guide.

Please don't send any of your application documents directly to the University of Ottawa.  

( For current law students who wish to transfer to the University of Ottawa from another institution, please review the section for upper year applicants.)

 

InformationThe deadline to apply for the English JD programs commencing in September 2022 is November 1st, 2021 (11:59 pm ET). Late applications will not be accepted.                           
InformationThe deadline to apply to French JD programs commencing in September 2022 is March 1st, 2022 (11:59 pm ET). Late applications will not be accepted. 

Application Components

Your application must contain all of the following: 

  1. Official Transcripts for all post-secondary studies

  2. LSAT Reports and LSAT Writing Sample (LSATs are not required for French programs)

  3. Letters of Reference 

  4. Personal Statement 

  5. Autobiographical Sketch with verifiers 

  6. Basic personal information and an Applicant Category.

You will also be required to choose an Applicant Category which best fits your individual circumstances. Some of our Applicant Categories have additional requirements. Please review the Applicant Categories to determine what is required.  

InformationPlease visit our Admission Criteria and File Assessment Process pages for more information.

Applicant Category

There are 5 applicant categories:

  1. General Category

  2. General Category with Special Circumstances

  3. Access Category

  4. Mature Category

  5. Indigenous Category

You may choose multiple applicant categories if you wish, though your file will be reviewed only once. 


Official Transcripts

You must provide official versions of all of your transcripts from all of your post-secondary institutions. This includes undergraduate, graduate, and college transcripts. 

As with all application components, please arrange for your transcripts to be sent directly to OLSAS and not the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

International Degrees

All transcripts for degrees obtained outside of Canada and the United States must be assessed by the World Education Services ("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. You must obtain a course-by-course WES evaluation of all undergraduate transcripts. WES must then send your transcripts and their assessments directly to OLSAS for consideration.

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 be able to assess it.

While you are not required to obtain a WES evaluation of your graduate transcripts, any graduate transcripts from foreign institutions will not be taken into consideration in the assessment of your file if they are not accompanied by a WES certificate.

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.

Transcripts from colleges

While a diploma or a certificate from a college is not, by itself, considered to be adequate preparation for our JD program, we invite applications from those who have completed an undergraduate degree granted by an accredited college. For a list of acceptable degrees offered by accredited Ontario colleges, please consult the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities '  list of accredited colleges. 

As stated under "Official Transcripts", above, if you obtained a college diploma or certificate in addition to your undergraduate degree, you are required to provide your college transcripts.

 

The LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

The LSAT is required if you are applying to first year of English Common Law, without exception. For test dates and registration, please visit the Law School Admission Council.

The LSAT consists of two portions: a Multiple Choice portion (scored) and a LSAT Writing (unscored). Both portions must be completed and processed by the LSAC for your score to be released to OLSAS.

When to take the test

If you have not written the LSAT before, we strongly recommend that you write your LSAT and complete your LSAT Writing section by November 2021.

We will accept the January 2022 LSAT, but your application file might be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants' files, because we will not review your file until it is complete. (And a file without a valid LSAT report is considered incomplete.)  

If you have already written the LSAT and intend to write it for a second or subsequent time in January 2022, please note that, the Admissions Committee cannot guarantee we will be able to postpone your file's review  until the January LSAT report is received.

Reports from the March 2022 LSAT will not be accepted, as these scores are released in mid-April, which is too late in the admissions cycle. Applications which remain incomplete after April 1st 2022 are subject to cancellation without further notice. 

If you decide to write the LSAT on a date other than the one indicated on your application, please notify OLSAS as soon as possible

 

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Applications which remain incomplete after April 1st 2022 will be cancelled without further notice.

 

LSAT Writing Section

If you are a first-time test taker, you should complete your LSAT Writing as early as possible.

If you are a prior test-taker with scores from June 2017 to November 2021, and will be re-writing the LSAT, you do not need to complete the LSAT Writing (although you may choose to do so).

French Programs

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.  

 

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a critical part of the application, and should be thought of as professional interview done in writing. In reviewing personal statements, committee members assess you according to the following considerations:

  1. Capacity for critical, creative and original thinking
  2. Communication skills, including writing skills in the language of the program
  3. Evidence of capacity to manage work load and time

  4. 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
  5. Commitment to upholding ethical standards and to treating all university members with respect.
  6. For programs in French: a French-language academic history and reasons for wanting to study Common Law in French at the University of Ottawa.

The information contained in personal statements will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Please do not use the personal statement as a resumé. Instead, use the above evaluation criteria as a guide. The personal statement is similar to an interview: you should strive to explain your strengths, and describe why you are interested in studying law at the University of Ottawa.

Check out our Top 10 Tips for your Best Personal Statement.

Please do not use your personal statement to describe why you are applying in the Special Circumstances or Access categories. Dedicated forms are provided for this purpose in the application.

The maximum length of the personal statement is 8,000 characters, including spaces and punctuation.


Letters of Reference

Applicants must provide at least 2 letters of reference. At least 1 of the 2 reference letters must be from an academic referee.

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.

Academic Reference Letters

An academic referee is someone who has taught and evaluated you in an educational context at a post-secondary 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 personal 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.

Non-Academic Reference Letters

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.

A Note for Mature Applicants

Given the time that has elapsed since you were last in school, we understand you might not be able to obtain an academic reference letter. Nonetheless, you should endeavour to find a professional referee who can speak to the skills listed above.


Explanation of Applicant Categories

General

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.

Applications in the General Category must include all components listed in the Application Components section.

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.

Applications in the General – Special Circumstances category must include all components listed in the Application Components section, plus any supporting documentation the applicants wish to include.

Access Category

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 [1]; 2001, c.32, s.27 [1]); 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.

Applications in the Access category must include all components listed in the Application Components section, plus any documentation in support of the access claim.

Mature Applicants

Eligibility for the Mature category does not depend on age. Instead, it depends on the number of years that have elapsed since enrolment 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.

Applications in the Mature category must include all components listed in the Application Components section. Applicants must also submit an up-to-date resumé or CV to OLSAS via the Secure Applicant Messaging (SAM) page.

Indigenous Applicants

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.

Applicants in the Indigenous category must submit all components listed in the Application Components section. They must also submit proof of Indigenous identity, a tailored personal statement and a reference letter in support of the community connection. Applicants in this category must submit their resumé or CV to OLSAS via the SAM page.

At least 1 of your letters of reference should be from an academic source and the other should be a non-academic letter supporting your connection to the Indigenous community.

Multiple Applicant Categories

Applicants are welcome to select multiple applicant categories and are not required to choose between them. If you select multiple categories, be sure to include whatever components are required in each category. 

(Last updated October 1st 2021.)

 

Upper-Year Applicants

If you have previously studied law and wish to attend uOttawa as a Transfer Student, for a Letter of Permission, as a Special Student, or to meet requirements set out by the NCA, you must apply as an Upper-Year Applicant.

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