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Law School Acceptance Rates: What You Need to Know

November 16, 2021
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When it comes to law schools offering a traditional Juris Doctor (JD) degree, extensive information is available on everything from program rankings to LSAT medians and average GPAs of current students to acceptance rates. Top 10 lists of the most selective schools are dropped each year and acceptance rates are figured into best law school rankings. However, there are numerous factors to consider when selecting a law school and program that is best for you. A JD track might not be what you are looking for, and if that’s the case, you are in luck as law schools are expanding their non-JD offerings.1

Here, we explore the various reports that cover law school acceptance rates and more.

Reports for Exploring Law School Acceptance Rates and More

These reports can be great resources to provide you with data points to consider in your law school search.

2020 Raw Data Law School Rankings Report

The 2020 Raw Data Law School Rankings Report can be used as a tool to look up information for 200 law schools in the U.S. In addition to the acceptance rate, the data includes the GPA averages of applicants, broken down by low, median and high, as well as the low, median and high averages for LSAT scores. You can further explore the student to faculty ratios, employment rates upon graduation and 10 months out and bar passage rates. This report also includes the number of print and microform volumes in a school’s law library and gender and race/ethnicity statistics.

Depending on which elements are more important to you, the report allows you to click in the various categories to see which schools are leaders in each. For example, Yale University has the lowest acceptance rate on the list at 6.9 percent, making it the most selective, but The University of Pennsylvania holds the top spot for highest employment rates after graduation and 10 months out.2

Reports from Law School Transparency

Law School Transparency (LST), which is a non-profit organization we have discussed previously on the Tulane Online Law Blog, serves up an entire data dashboard around enrollment figures, admissions standards and student retention.

LST notes that attrition rates are just as important to consider as acceptance rates when looking at law schools. American Bar Association (ABA) Standard 501 states, “A law school shall not admit an applicant who does not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.”3 This standard was enacted in part to put a stop to predatory admissions practices, as enrollment was declining after peaking in 2010 and schools began lowering admissions standards to attract more students. Law schools must accept students who will feasibly graduate and pass the bar. Being able to tell if a prospective student will be successful can be subjective. As such, the ABA added additional enforcement to Standard 501 in 2017, stating that law schools with a cumulative non-transfer attrition of 20 percent or more are not compliant with the standard.4 This threatens ABA accreditation.

U.S. News & World Report Rankings

U.S. News & World Report puts out annual education ranking lists, including Best Law School rankings are another popular resource for aspiring law students. It also hones in on various elements that go into the rankings. In a 2021 article, “10 Law Schools That Are Hardest to Get Into,” the average acceptance rates of the schools on the list were noted as being 29.5 percent below the national average, which was 44 percent for fall 2020.5 Acceptance rates are one factor that plugs into the overall rankings put out by the news organization.

U.S. News & World Report shared its methodology for the 2022 Best Law School rankings. The rankings measure 193 law schools that are accredited by the ABA on a variety of indicators.6 The indicators that are considered to give a school and overall ranking include:

  • Quality assessment
    • Peer assessment score
    • Peer assessment score
  • Selectivity
    • Median LSAT and GRE scores
    • Median undergraduate GPA
    • Acceptance rate
  • Placement success
    • Employment rates at graduation
    • Employment rates 10 months after graduation
    • Bar passage rate
    • Average debt incurred earning JD at graduation
    • Percent of law school grads incurring JD law school debt
  • Faculty, law school and library resources
    • Average spending on instruction, library and supporting services
    • Average spending on all other items, including financial aid
    • Student to faculty ratio
    • Library resources and operations

A school’s acceptance rate was weighted at 0.01 toward the overall ranking.6

Non-JD Offerings on the Rise

LST highlights the competition between law schools to attract students due to declining enrollment. Offering more non-JD program programs has been one way to increase revenue as the amount of students seeking JDs has dropped. LST notes that each year since 2006 has seen a rise in enrollment in non-JD programs.7

This rise in enrollment especially accelerated in the last few years as a greater number of non-JD programs are being offered. These programs include post-JD programs, masters-level programs aimed at non-lawyers or certificate programs.7 While the goal of expanding these programs may have been financial initially, there is a benefit to the greater variety of law programs students can now access. Legal issues continue to grow in complexity and affect a variety of industries. Non-lawyers can benefit from a legal education, and current lawyers can benefit from post-JD programs that allow them to specialize in specific areas of the legal practice.

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Are you already a working professional and want to level up in your career? Do you know what areas you want to focus on that can be enhanced with a law degree, but are not looking for a JD? Tulane University Law School is proud to offer Master of Jurisprudence degrees and professional certificates across four areas of legal expertise—labor and employment law, energy law and environmental law—delivered online and backed by the reputation of the 12th oldest law school in the U.S.

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