The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
Small classes offer an intimacy that’s lacking in large lecture halls — or crowded Zoom calls for those studying online — prompting robust discussion, greater access to professors and more pressure to participate alongside peers.
But prospective lawyers should keep in mind that class sizes vary by law school.
Among the 188 ranked law schools that submitted class size data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average number of upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students during the 2018-2019 school year was 115. At the 10 law schools that offered the most upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students, that average was more than double, at 290.
Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School tops the list, as it offered 514 of these courses in 2018-2019. Cooley Law School is followed by the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C., which had 300 upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students enrolled.
None of the other eight law schools on the list below reported 300 or more such classes. Schools on this list span the U.S. News ranks: Columbia Law School in New York earned the highest marks with a tie at No. 4, and two schools, including Cooley Law School, placed in the bottom quarter of the rankings and are thus represented by a range rather than a specific number.
At the opposite end of the class size spectrum is the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana, which reported only 22 upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students. Montana is followed by the University of Wyoming College of Law, which listed 31 classes in this category, and the University of North Dakota School of Law, which counted 32.
Below is a list of the 10 law schools that had the greatest number of upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students during the 2018-2019 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School (name) (state)||Number of upper-division courses with fewer than 25 students||U.S. News rank|
|Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School||514||148-194|
|American University (Washington) (DC)||300||76 (tie)|
|Yeshiva University (Cardozo) (NY)||299||53|
|Indiana University–Bloomington (Maurer)||280||38 (tie)|
|Columbia University (NY)||260||4 (tie)|
|George Washington University (DC)||260||23|
|Indiana University–Indianapolis (McKinney)||249||122 (tie)|
|University of Miami||248||67 (tie)|
|Golden Gate University (CA)||245||148-194|
|University of Notre Dame (IN)||240||22|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Law School Compass to find class size data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed 198 schools for our 2019 survey of law programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Law Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The class size data above is correct as of Sept. 1, 2020.
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