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Like a good college, going to a quality law school can pay off for graduates. But getting into a top law school is easier said than done. College admissions is notoriously competitive at some highly selective institutions , and the same is true at the graduate level.
In fall 2020, no law school was more difficult to get into than the top-ranked program at Yale University, which accepted 7.4% of applicants. Of 3,539 applicants to Yale Law School’s full-time and part-time programs, only 262 were accepted.
By contrast, the average acceptance rate nationally for fall 2020 was 44%, per data submitted to U.S. News by 193 ranked law schools. While Yale was the only law school with a single-digit acceptance rate, on the opposite end of the spectrum was Capital University in Ohio, which accepted 73.9% of applicants in fall 2020, admitting 440 of 595 candidates. Capital is one of only three ranked law schools that reported an acceptance rate of 70% or higher.
At the 10 law schools with the lowest acceptance rates, the average shaped up to 14.5%. Eight of these 10 law schools are private; the two public institutions represented on the list below are the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.
Only two schools on this list fell outside of the top 10 in the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings: the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, which is ranked at No. 19, and Wake Forest University in North Carolina, which is tied at the No. 41 spot. Though acceptance rates do factor into the U.S. News law schools ranking methodology, that metric is weighted at only 1%.
California is home to two schools on this list, but the other eight are a geographic mix skewing toward the Northeast and Midwest.
Below are the 10 law schools with the lowest acceptance rates for full-time and part-time students who started in fall 2020. 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)||Full-time and part-time applicants (fall 2020)||Full-time and part-time acceptances (fall 2020)||Acceptance rate||U.S. News rank|
|Yale University (CT)||3,539||262||7.4%||1|
|Stanford University (CA)||3,807||399||10.5%||2|
|Harvard University (MA)||7,448||968||13%||3|
|University of Virginia||5,458||767||14.1%||8|
|University of Pennsylvania (Carey)||6,148||879||14.3%||6 (tie)|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||5,417||886||16.4%||10 (tie)|
|Columbia University (NY)||6,986||1,166||16.7%||4 (tie)|
|University of Southern California (Gould)||5,327||915||17.2%||19|
|Wake Forest University (NC)||1,808||322||17.8%||41 (tie)|
|University of Chicago||4,971||888||17.9%||4 (tie)|
Don’t see your school on this list? Access the U.S. News Law School Compass to find acceptance rates, 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 197 schools for our 2020 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 acceptance rate data above is correct as of June 15, 2021.
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