Wondering how to get into Columbia law school? You're not the only one. Columbia is not only one of the most famous Ivy league schools in the world, but it is also home to a world-renowned program at the top of law school rankings. With a reputation of that magnitude comes a lot of competition for admission. If you want to attend Columbia law school, you need to know what the school is looking for and ensure that your application is competitive. In this blog, we will go over how you can do that. We'll also discuss Columbia's admissions statistics, requirements, tuition, and everything else you need to know to get into Columbia.
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Columbia Law School offers several degree options. Starting with the Juris Doctor (JD) program, which is the traditional degree associated with going to law school in the US, and the one we will be focusing on in this article. However, In addition to the JD degree, Columbia offers a one-year Master of Laws (LL.M.), which is recommended for JD graduates looking to specialize in a particular area of the law, and an ambitious Executive LL.M program for business executives. This intensive program only lasts six months and is designed to provide its graduates with a foundational understanding of U.S. corporate law. Columbia also offers the Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) degree, which prepares students for careers in legal scholarship. Additionally, Columbia Law School offers students ten joint or dual degree programs, including the popular J.D./M.B.A. program which is offered in conjunction with Columbia Business School.
The Academic Curriculum
Columbia Law School’s JD program is world-renowned for a reason. Much like Columbia’s undergraduate curriculum, the JD program is designed to give students a strong foundation during their first year and then build on it during the rest of their time at Columbia law school. The aim is to ensure that Columbia Law School students graduate with the tools and experiences needed to successfully practice law in today’s fast-paced, globalized society.
It is a three-year, full-time program that provides its students with the opportunity to work with top-tier scholars and practitioners to tackle real-world challenges, using creative combinations of data science, litigation and advocacy. Students are required to participate in a broad range of clinics, externships, simulations, policy labs, moot courts, and other public service opportunities so that they can get an insider’s view into how the law operates in practical settings. Additionally, Columbia law school students are taught to think critically about the law and its impact on individual lives, judicial institutions, and international affairs.
During the upper-class years, students get to choose one of the fourteen different areas of study to focus on. Each area of study involves learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom to ensure that students are prepared to work in the private sector, government, public interest, and beyond. These are the areas of study currently being offered:
Unclear on how the law school application process typically works? This video is for you:
Acceptance rate: 11.3% Accepted
Columbia law school is consistently ranked among the top law schools in the United States, so it is not surprising to find out that the competition to get in is quite fierce. Last year, the law school's acceptance rate into the JD program was 11.3%. For the admitted students, the median GPA and LSAT scores were 3.84 and 174, respectively. We're not saying that it isn't possible to get into law school with a low GPA. Still, Columbia's latest first-year class profile tells us that if you do not have a strong academic background, you will need to have an outstanding LSAT score, or the rest of your application must be very compelling. If you want to improve your LSAT score, hiring an LSAT tutor or enrolling in an LSAT prep course is a wise idea.
In terms of demographics, Columbia law school’s first-year classes have gotten increasingly diverse over the years. 48% of the most recent group of first-year students was women, 50% were men and 2% were non-binary or gender non-conforming. 45% of the students identify as students of color, 18% identify as members of the LGBTQ community, and 13% of the class is made of international students.
Eligibility & Recommended Courses
To be eligible for the JD program at Columbia Law School, you must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or its equivalent by matriculation. If you did not study in the US or are unsure of your bachelor's degree status, you should consult the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) as they determine if your degree is equivalent to a bachelor.
Columbia law school does not state a requirement or preference for an applicants' education before law school, and the current class has students who majored in a variety of different fields. The most popular major was political science, followed closely by social sciences. Furthermore, we know that over half of Columbia's entering class was out of college for over a year before applying to law school, and about 11% of the entering students have earned at least one graduate or professional degree. This tells us that although having a graduate degree or professional experience is not required, having one of the two can work in your favor.
The Application Process
Applicants to Columbia law school have two different application methods to choose from. They can apply through the Early Decision method or the Regular Decision method. Early decision candidates have to submit their applications in November, and they typically receive a decision from the admission committee by December. The process is considerably expedited for them. You should only use this option if Columbia is your top choice for law schools, as if successful, you will need to withdraw all pending applications to any other law schools and enroll at Columbia. If you fail to do so, Columbia law school can revoke its offer of admission. The process starts in September for Regular Decision candidates, and the deadline to submit applications is in February.
The admissions committee does not prefer one application method over the other. However, it’s important to remember that Columbia law school reviews applications on a rolling basis, meaning that you want to submit your application as early as possible. Additionally, Regular Decision applicants who submit their completed application by December 31 receive a decision by March. Those who submit all the materials by the application deadline in February are notified by the end of April.
Both Regular Decision and Early Decision candidates have to submit the following components to be considered for admission:
Columbia law school has a holistic admissions process. The admissions committee looks for students who are "curious and resourceful, committed to excellence, and motivated to effect change and serve as leaders in their fields." In order to find students who fit this bill, the admissions committee assesses the following.
Want to see a summary of what's covered below? Check out this infographic:
Your intellectual and academic qualifications
Columbia Law School uses your undergraduate transcripts (if applicable, graduate), as well as your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores to assess this. There is no minimum LSAT/GRE score or GPA requirement, but we recommend aiming for a high score if you want your application to be competitive. That said, Columbia Law School does look at more than just the numbers. The admissions committee also considers applicants' entire transcripts to try and identify trends in performance and other factors that could help them figure out if the applicant would do well at Columbia Law School.
The admissions committee focuses on applicants' resumes because they are essentially a snapshot of your academic and professional background. It tells the admissions committee how you chose to spend your time outside the classroom, what opportunities you took advantage of, and what interests you. Applicants can list their work experience, extracurricular involvement, fellowship opportunities, community service, honors and awards, publications, professional contributions, and more on their resume. You should look at law school resume examples if you're unsure how to create your own resume.
Your writing ability
According to Columbia, evidence of superior writing ability is one of the trademarks of any potential candidate for admission to their Law School. In other words, you need to nail your law school essays. Columbia requires a law school personal statement, and it also allows applicants to submit a law school optional essay.
The personal statement
The law school personal statement is the mandatory essay that all applicants must submit. It should be two pages long, double-spaced, and written in an 11 or 12 pt font. While there is no specific prompt or question that you are required to answer, the application form encourages applicants to reflect on the contributions they hope to make to the Columbia community and the legal profession while considering their personal, intellectual, and professional background.
The optional essay
Applicants may submit an optional essay such as a law school diversity statement or a law school addendum as part of their application to Columbia law school. You will need to decide what to address in your optional essay based on your background. It is important to remember that this optional essay should provide relevant information that may not have otherwise been conveyed through your other application materials. For example, if your grades suffered due to an external factor in undergrad, you can address that in your addendum. Columbia law school does not have a specific word count or page limit for this essay, so we recommend sticking to the same guidelines that the school provided for the personal statement.
Your recommender’s thoughts
How other professionals view you is important to Columbia law school. Third-party commentary can help the admissions committee figure out if you have the potential to succeed in legal study and the legal profession as a whole. This information is obtained in two main ways.
First, Columbia law school requires two letters of recommendation. For applicants who are still completing their undergraduate degree or who graduated less than two years ago, those letters need to be written y faculty members. Preferably individuals who taught the applicants in the classroom or evaluated them in a significant academic capacity. On the other hand, applicants who graduated over two years ago or have substantive work experience may submit professional references but having at least one academic letter of recommendation is strongly encouraged.
You should remember that the most impactful letters of recommendation come from someone who knows you well enough to discuss your skills, abilities, work ethic, and character using specific examples. So, make sure to select writers who have worked with you directly and who support your candidacy for law school. It would be best if you also asked them for a reference in advance so that they have the time to write a compelling letter.
Additionally, some candidates are called for an interview. Columbia Law school maintains that the interview does not carry any particular weight relative to other application components. Still, your performance during the interview will be a factor in the admission committee’s decision. If you're not sure how to prepare for a law school interview, you are encouraged to start by reviewing common law school interview questions.
Acceptance and Waitlist
If you apply to Columbia law school using the Early Decision method, you will receive a decision from the admissions board by December. You will either be offered admission, in which case you have to withdraw your application from all other law schools. Or, your application could be deferred, meaning that the admissions committee will revisit it in February with the Regular Decision applicant pool. Lastly, your application could be rejected, and unfortunately, this means that you can't reapply that same year because the JD program only has one intake in the fall of every year.
Regular Decision applicants will start getting responses from the admissions board in late January, and this continues through the end of April. Applicants will either be offered admission, a place on the waiting list, or their application will be rejected altogether. If you are offered a spot on the waiting list, do not despair. Instead, we encourage you to write a letter of continued interest to reiterate that you want to attend Columbia Law school.
Does your personal statement still need some work? You want to miss these tips:
Tuition and Funding
The table below shows the current yearly cost of tuition for the Columbia Law School JD program. This does not include additional expenses like room and board, food, or books. When you factor in those additional charges, you could be looking at close to $100 000 per academic year.
Columbia Law School offers financial aid on a demonstrated need basis, in the form of a partial tuition waiver. They also provide several fellowships that are not based on financial need. These fellowships are awarded by the admissions office when an applicant is admitted to the Law School. Law school applicants do not need to submit a separate application for these fellowships.
Additionally, eligible Columbia law students may borrow from a variety of loan programs to finance part or all of their educational expenses.
Columbia Law School Website
E-mail: [email protected]
Mailing address: 435 West 116th St.
New York, NY 10027
1. How hard is it to get into Columbia Law School?
It’s pretty hard to get into Columbia law. The school has an acceptance rate of approximately 11%, meaning that for every 100 applicants, only 11 get in.
2. Does Columbia Law School accept international students?
Yes, it does. In fact, 13% of the current first-year class are international students.
3. Can I get into Columbia law school with a 3.0 GPA?
Admission to Columbia law school is very competitive. A 3.0 GPA could actually be considered low when you factor in the fact that 50% of the current first-year class have a GPA of 3. Or higher. That said, getting in is not impossible. If you ace the LSAT, and write a compelling addendum essay, you can maximize your chances of admission.
4. What LSAT score do you need to get into Columbia Law School?
While Columbia law school itself does not have a minimum LSAT score requirement, the median score of the current first-year class is 174 so you will need a similar score or higher to get into Columbia law school.
5. How do you apply for a scholarship to Columbia Law School?
You don’t need to apply for one separately! When you apply to Columbia law school as a student, the admissions office will review your application and award any internal scholarships that you meet the requirements for. You can contact the financial aid office for additional information on this process.
6. Does Columbia Law School conduct interviews?
Yes. Some applicants may be called for an interview by the admissions office. The school is unable to interview all applicants, but not getting an interview will not affect your application negatively.
7. How expensive is law school at Columbia?
Columbia law school can cost up to $100 000 per academic year when you factor in living expenses, textbooks and tuition. It is worth noting that most students at Columbia law school are receiving some form of financial aid from the school.
8. How can I improve my chances of getting into Columbia Law School?
You can improve your chances by making sure you study for the LSAT or GRE, have a high GPA, and give yourself the time to write compelling admission essays and a strong law school resume. If you need some help with these documents, you should consider hiring a law school admissions consultant.
Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
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