Purdue’s Online Law School Students Now Eligible to Take Bar Exam in Indiana

A recent court decision means students can become practicing lawyers in Indiana through an online program.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on February 16, 2024
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  • Purdue Global students will soon be able to take the Indiana bar exam.
  • Previously, graduates could not sit for the exam because it is a fully online program.
  • Students will need to apply for a waiver to take the bar exam.
  • Georgia and Michigan offer a similar waiver for the exam.

Graduates from Purdue Global will soon be able to sit for Indiana's bar exam thanks to a recent court decision.

The Indiana Supreme Court approved a new process allowing graduates from Purdue Global Law School, a fully online law program, to take Indiana's bar exam. The change is a significant step forward for the program, as the American Bar Association (ABA) currently does not allow students from online-only law schools to take the licensure exam in most states.

Purdue Global students must apply for a waiver with the State Board of Law Examiners to take Indiana's bar exam.

Since the school's founding in 1998, Purdue Global Law School graduates have been automatically eligible to sit for the bar exam in California but no other states — including Indiana, where the online school is based.

Once a student passes the California bar exam, North Carolina and Wisconsin allow those with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree to sit for their bar exams. Other states require 2-12 years of practicing law before a lawyer can sit for that state's bar exam.

Georgia and Michigan offer similar waivers to what Indiana's Supreme Court recently approved.

"We're excited that there's now a path for our students to become licensed lawyers in Indiana," Martin Pritikin, dean and vice president of Purdue Global Law School, said in a statement. "This is a big step for us and for others. For example, this would allow lawyers who completed their law studies internationally to apply for the bar exam waiver."

Justin Forkner, chief administrative officer for the Indiana Supreme Court, sounded the alarm concerning a state lawyer shortage in late 2023. He said Indiana has just 2.3 lawyers for every 1,000 residents, nearly half the national average of four.

"Indiana is facing a lawyer shortage, particularly in rural areas," Pritikin said, "and this new rule can help address that."

The Indiana Supreme Court's new rule goes into effect July 1. The February 2025 bar exam will be the first opportunity for Purdue Global Law School students to take the bar exam in Indiana.

Pritikin added that there are currently 24 Indiana residents enrolled in Purdue Global Law School, and 20 graduates live in the state.

He told BestColleges that Purdue Global recently asked the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee to add the online law program to the state's list of schools approved for eligibility for the state's bar exam. Connecticut has formed a subcommittee to study the issue.

Purdue Global is a private, nonprofit online school connected to Indiana-based Purdue University.

Purdue Global Law School is not accredited by the ABA because students do not take any on-campus courses as part of the program. Only graduates from law programs accredited by the ABA can sit for the bar exam without a waiver, except in California, which has its own accreditation body for law programs.