ASSIGNMENTS Get the education you need

Once the NCA finishes your assessment, we will send you a letter that describes the legal education you need (your assignments) to make sure your knowledge of Canadian law is similar to the knowledge of someone who got their law degree from an approved Canadian common law program.



Your options

To find out how the NCA assesses your education and experience, please see our Policies.

Once we have finished your assessment, you will usually follow one of three paths for meeting your assignments:

  1. Write and pass NCA exams, or
  2. Complete assigned subjects at a Canadian law school, or
  3. Complete a combination of 1 and 2 – that is, you may meet some requirements by writing NCA exams and the rest by completing related courses at a Canadian law school.

Generally, the NCA assigns these five core common law subject areas to ALL applicants.  Click on each subject to learn why it is mandatory.

NCA may also assign additional subjects as required based on your qualifications.

In some cases, the NCA will require you to complete your assignments by taking courses at a Canadian law school.

Language skills
Applicants must be able to communicate in one of Canada’s two official languages: English and French.  To find out if you meet our language requirements, the NCA may ask you to complete language testing. For more information, see section 11 or our Policy Manual, called Language Proficiency Requirement.

When you must meet your assignments

You must successfully complete your assignments within five years of the date your assessment was issued. If you do not complete your assignments within that time, you may request an extension. To do so, send an e-mail to us providing the reasons why you need an extension.

Completing NCA exams
Completing NCA exams

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you decide whether to take either the NCA exams or courses at a Canadian law school to meet your assigned requirements:

Each exam costs $350.00 CDN, plus taxes, and you must pay by credit card. The same price applies each time you re-write an NCA exam. Please note: Costs are subject to change without notice.

You can take exams twelve times a year. Check the NCA exam schedule.

You must register for NCA exams. Open and closing dates for registration are listed in the NCA schedule. You may not register once the deadline has passed.

You must study on your own for the exams (i.e. without help from the NCA) and you are responsible for getting your own NCA study materials. You must also develop your own strategy for studying, but the NCA does offer sample exams and exam outlines (syllabi). Some Canadian law schools also offer support courses or programs for NCA subjects.

Exam type
Exams are proctored online, fact-based, open-book and three hours long.  During our transition to online exams, you have four hours to complete your exams. To help, the NCA has prepared a guide: How to Answer Fact-based Law Exam Questions. NCA exams are only offered online.

Exams are graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e. 50 percent is a pass). We will release results about 10 to 12 weeks from the date of the last exam of each session.

You may write NCA exams three times (a first attempt and two re-writes). If you do not succeed, you may ask for a fourth attempt as explained in section 17.2 (Examination Attempts) of the NCA Policies.

You must cancel your exam no later than midnight (ET) the day before it is scheduled. The NCA will take an administrative fee of $50.00 CDN (plus taxes) from every refund. If you don’t cancel the exam and don’t show up to write it, your exam fee will not be refunded.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, you may apply for accommodation to our Examinations Department.

 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is a bilingual organization, so you may write your exams in English or French. To write your exam in French, send a written request to our Examinations Department by the exam registration deadline.

See Exam rules and our FAQs for more details on NCA exams.

Taking courses at a Canadian law school

If the NCA assessment requires you to study at a Canadian law school, the number of subjects assigned will depend on your legal education and professional experience. There is a good chance you will have to study at a Canadian law school if you are a law graduate from a non-common law jurisdiction and you have had little or no experience with common law. This is also true if you have completed your law degree by distance education or online learning. If you must attend a Canadian law school  or if you are considering attending Canadian law school rather than taking NCA exams to meet your assigned requirements  you need to keep these things in mind:

Choose the right law school
You must research Canadian law schools on your own and choose the one you wish to attend to meet your NCA requirements. Some schools reserve spaces for NCA applicants, but others do not. As you choose your law school, please see the Federation’s approved Canadian common law degree programs or our Assistance for NCA Students page.

Apply to law school
You must apply to law school on your own. If you have questions about the cost of studies and admission requirements, you need to contact the law school directly.

Get your courses approved
If you want to take courses at a Canadian law school, you MUST have the NCA approve your courses before you take them to make sure they meet our requirements.  To get approval in advance, send us an email with your proposed plan of study:

Make sure we get your transcripts
You must arrange for your law school to send official transcripts to the NCA so the information can be included in your file.

I studied in a mixed common law jurisdiction

Additional training

If you earned your education and experience in a mixed jurisdiction that includes common law, we will consider the common law content of your programs and experience. We ask most graduates from a mixed jurisdiction to show they are competent in all eight core subjects.

I studied in a non-common law jurisdiction

Additional training

If you are from a country with a legal tradition other than common law (e.g. civil law, religious law, etc.), you must obtain common law training or education. You will have to take law school courses in a common law jurisdiction to get the education you need. You can do this by taking an LL.M. program or by enrolling in individual courses. Once you successfully complete at least four common law subjects the NCA will reconsider your file, as per NCA policy 15 (Assessment Reconsideration). We will then let you know which courses you still need to take to earn the NCA Certificate of Qualification. At this point, you can choose to satisfy the remaining subject requirements by writing NCA exams, rather than taking law school courses, if you wish. Here is the NCA’s list of required subjects:

  1. Canadian Administrative Law (mandatory)
  2. Canadian Constitutional Law (mandatory)
  3. Canadian Criminal Law (mandatory)
  4. Foundations of Canadian Law (mandatory)
  5. Canadian Professional Responsibility (mandatory)
  6. Contracts
  7. Torts
  8. Property

You can take other common law subjects – such as Family Law, Commercial Law or Remedies – to get exposure to common law concepts. However, you will need to show competency in the above eight subjects before we issue you with a Certificate of Qualification. You must complete the five mandatory Canadian subjects through an approved Canadian common law program or by NCA exam (only after you have successfully completed at least four law school courses). Before you register for your courses, please have them approved by the NCA. For help, please see our “Assistance for NCA students” page. If you attend a Canadian law school, we will not require you to take a language test (each law school has their own language testing requirements). If you have any questions about the options available to you, please email us or contact us by phone at 613.236.1700.

I studied in a Canadian civil law jurisdiction

Additional training

If you hold a Canadian civil law degree – LL.B., LL.L., Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées en Common Law nord-américaine (DESS) program of the Université de Montréal or the Diplôme de deuxième cycle de common law et droit transnational (DDCCLDT) program of the Université de Sherbrooke – the NCA will give you full credit for the courses you completed in federal law. We will usually ask you to show competence in the following subjects:

  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Property
  • Canadian Professional Responsibility (if you did not successfully complete it during your Canadian civil law education)

If you completed a Canadian civil law degree and are licensed by the Barreau du Québec, the NCA will automatically issue you a Certificate of Qualification when we review your completed application.

I completed a law degree through distance or on-line education

If you earned your law degree through distance or online education, please see section 7. (Mode of Study) of the NCA’s Policies. This policy outlines what we require for  distance education.

In-person study completed as part of a distance education program

If you took your law degree through distance education, the NCA will assign you two full years of in-person study. NCA will review your education to determine if any of your studies were completed in person or through online interactive instruction. As part of your study, you must complete the following NCA mandatory Canadian subjects (in bold). The remaining subjects may be assigned:

Your options to meet the assignments

You could consider any one of the following three options to complete your two years of in-class study:

  1. Either one year of a course-based LL.M., plus a Legal Practice Course (LPC) or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  2. Two one-year course-based LL.M. programs. If you choose this option, you could complete a course-based LL.M. at any approved law school in any common law jurisdiction.
  3. One two-year course-based LL.M. program.

Please note that, in all cases, you must take the five mandatory Canadian subjects listed below at an approved Canadian law school. If you have already completed the two-year in-person or online interactive requirement in another country, you may write the corresponding NCA examinations.

  • Canadian Administrative Law
  • Canadian Constitutional Law
  • Canadian Criminal Law
  • Foundations of Canadian Law
  • Canadian Professional Responsibility

Get your courses approved

If you want to take courses at a Canadian law school, you MUST have the NCA approve your courses before you take them to make sure they meet our requirements. To get approval in advance, send an email with your proposed plan of study to



Next step

Apply for your Certificate of Qualification once you have successfully completed your assignments.

Learn more