The bar examination is offered twice a year in most jurisdictions, once in February and once in July. Most bar exams are two days long, although in some jurisdictions the exam is three days long.
Currently 36 jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). The UBE is a two-day exam and consists of the following components:
Jurisdictions that use the UBE may also require applicants to complete a jurisdiction-specific law component (e.g., New York State requires the NYLC and NYLE).
In addition to a bar exam, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. For general information, visit American Bar Association or National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Typical Bar Application Components
We encourage you to obtain and carefully review the application materials as early as possible and make careful note of the filing deadlines. Some jurisdictions accept applications as early as February; some have late filing deadlines; and others give a specific range (e.g., New York).
- New York State Bar: Applications for the New York State July bar examination must be filed between April 1 and April 30. Applications for the February examination must be filed between November 1 and November 30. The filing deadlines will not change from year to year and there are no provision for late filing.
- Massachusetts Bar: The Massachusetts Bar requires that the school certification be submitted with all other applicant documentation in one complete package. If you are planning on taking the Massachusetts bar examination, please make certain to submit the school certification form to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services as early as possible so that it can be completed upon your graduation and returned to you in time to meet the state’s submission deadline.
Many jurisdictions require a Law School (or Dean’s) Certification Form, which certifies your attendance and that you are / were in good academic and/or disciplinary standing. Sometimes, the jurisdiction sends the form directly to the Law School's Office of Registration Services, while others require that the applicant submit it. Make sure you understand clearly the deadline for receipt of the form, as the deadlines vary by jurisdiction.
Each jurisdiction for which an applicant seeks admission to the bar requires the applicant to submit to a separate Character and Fitness evaluation. This evaluation will require the applicant to provide current and historical education, employment, residential and financial information. It will also ask questions about criminal and school discipline. In addition, applicants will have to provide law-related employment affidavits and character references. Failure to be completely honest and display full candor is a grounds for not being admitted or being disbarred.
Character and Fitness Certification forms are completed by the Office of Registration Services. Sometimes, the jurisdiction sends the form directly to the Office of Registration Services, while others require that the applicant submit it.
NOTE: Applicants who need to make an amendment to their Law School application or discuss issues related to their admission to practice law should contact the Law School's Dean of Students at [email protected].
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a 60-question multiple-choice examination administered three times each year. A passing score on the test is required for admission to the bars of all but two U.S. jurisdictions (Wisconsin and Puerto Rico). Passing scores are established by each jurisdiction. Applicants are advised to contact the jurisdictions directly for the most current information regarding passing scores, rules, and policies. If you have questions regarding the MPRE, please visit http://www.ncbex.org/ or contact LSAC at 215-504-3886 or at [email protected].
The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to forward an official copy of your Columbia University transcript to the various state bar organizations. We will obtain an official copy of your transcript from the University Registrar and will forward it to the appropriate office if an official transcript is required. You do not need to make a separate request.
The Law School’s Office of Registration Services is authorized to certify handwriting samples for bar applications that have this requirement (e.g., New York State). This part of your bar application must be completed in the presence of a member of the Office Registration Services.
Registration Services holds Handwriting Sample Certification sessions in April of each year (graduating students will be notified via email of dates, times, and locations). If you are unable to attend one of these sessions, please make arrangements directly with Registration Services (212-854-2668 or [email protected]) to have your handwriting sample certified. Alternatively, you can arrange to send a notarized Handwriting Sample directly to the bar examiners by their stated deadline.
Some jurisdictions require applicants for admission to the bar to provide their fingerprints. Check your state’s bar requirements. You may be able to arrange for fingerprinting on campus by contacting Columbia’s Department of Public Safety at (212) 854-2797 to arrange an appointment.
Students interested in requesting testing accommodations for the bar exam or any accompanying bar exam component (e.g., MPRE) should first review the bar examiners' website in the jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission. Each state has its own requirements and deadlines for requesting accommodations. Please note that these deadlines are frequently well in advance of other application deadlines.
Read about additional information and general documents that may be required.