Getting Into Columbia Law School

Learn what it takes to get into Columbia  Law School. 

See Acceptance Rates, Average LSAT Scores, 

GPA & More

Columbia Law School Overview

Founded in 1858, Columbia Law School consistently ranks among the top law schools in the country. However, legal education at Columbia University dates back even further, though it has gone through many changes. Prior to 1858, it was known as King’s College, and it helped groom some of the most prominent political and legal minds of colonial America.

Columbia Law has produced multiple U.S. presidents and Supreme Court Justices, as well as many prominent senators and CEOs. The alumni list includes such names as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Roy Cohn, Caroline Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. However, Columbia Law School is far more than just a few famous names.

With a celebrated faculty and highly structured curriculum, Columbia Law provides students with a top-tier legal education. Though students can study a wide variety of legal areas, Columbia Law specializes in international law. Some of Columbia’s most prominent programs include the Center for Korean Legal Studies, the Center for Chinese Legal Studies, the Center for Japanese Legal Studies, the European Legal Studies Center, the Center on Corporate Governance, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, the Center on Global Legal Transformation, the Center for Law and Economic Studies, the Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, the Center for Constitutional Governance, and the Center for International, Commercial, and Investment Arbitration.

Columbia Law offers a diverse selection of dual and joint degree programs. This allows students with interests in multiple fields of study to pursue two degrees simultaneously. Many students at Columbia Law take advantage of this opportunity, as it can save both time and money. To learn more about Columbia Law’s dual and joint degree programs, check out this link.

In addition to its many academic programs, Columbia Law is also world-renowned for its peer-reviewed journal, the Columbia Law Review. There are more than a dozen different academic journals published with the Columbia Law Review, ranging from the Columbia Human Rights Law Review to the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. The Columbia Law Review is one of the most-cited academic journals in the world.

Finally, as the professional graduate school of Columbia University, Columbia Law is located in the heart of New York City. Just steps away from the Hudson River and Central Park, Columbia Law provides students with an exciting and diverse environment in which to learn. Prospective law students from around the globe compete for a chance to join the ranks of one of the best Ivy League universities in the country.

Columbia Law School Rankings

School rankings are very important for prospective students in any discipline, but they are especially relevant for students of law. Law school rankings indicate the quality of education at each university. Additionally, rankings are often cited by employers and other academic institutions as a vital metric when evaluating a candidate’s eligibility.  Every year, dozens of independent organizations and news outlets use raw data to determine which schools currently sit at the top of the list.

While rankings vary somewhat based on which organization is doing the research and which metrics are given the most weight, the top 10 law schools in the country tend to be the same across the board. As of 2019, Columbia Law School generally falls between #3 and #5 on most lists, making it one of the best law schools in the nation.

Columbia Law School Admissions

What Is The Columbia Law School Acceptance Rate?

Law school rankings also help determine how competitive a given law school will be for prospective students. In most cases, the higher a law school ranks, the harder it is to get accepted. However, a few other metrics, such as the “prestige” of the institution and type of academic programs offered can influence admissions rates as well.

Historically, Columbia Law School has always been a competitive institution. While the average national acceptance rate for law schools is around 45%, Columbia Law consistently sets a much higher bar for its applicants. Over the past decade, acceptance rates at Columbia Law landed between 17-23%.  In 2012, the acceptance rate for incoming students was 18.4%, while that number has since climbed upward. As of 2019, Columbia Law’s acceptance rate sits at 21.89%. 

Annual variations are important, but they are often dictated by forces outside of an individual student’s or school’s control. For example, Columbia University (and any other law school) can only accommodate a certain number of students. In 2019, Columbia Law made, offers to 1,251 of the 5,716 applicants. However, the acceptance rate would likely be much higher (as a percentage of the total) if there were fewer applicants in a given year. 

In any case, there are still a number of standard metrics that help determine a school’s acceptance rate and are based on students’ abilities. Undergraduate GPA and LSAT score are perhaps the two most important metrics, though various other aspects of each application are also considered. In 2019, the average undergraduate GPA among accepted Columbia Law applicants was 3.7. This average is relatively low when compared with other Ivy League law schools, like Harvard (3.86) or Yale (3.93). 

There was less variation among the average LSAT scores between schools. The average LSAT score for incoming students at Columbia Law was 171. Both Harvard and Yale had similar average scores among their incoming students (173).  You can find more statistics on Columbia Law’s admissions for the class of 2023 in the table below:

Applications Offers Matriculated
Class of 2023 5716 1251 (21.89%) 388 (6.8%)
25% Median 75%
GPA 3.59 3.7 3.81
LSAT 168 171 173

Columbia Law School LSAT Percentiles

75th percentile 173
50th percentile 171
25th percentile 168

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2019 Entering Class Profile

Number of Students 1167
LSAT Score 171
Undergraduate GPA 3.7
% Women 47.2%
%  Students of Color 8.1%
% Enrolled Directly After College 25%

What Is The Tuition For Columbia Law School?

In-State Resident Non-Resident
Full Time $62,700 $62,700
Part-Time N/A N/A

What Are The Living Expenses At Columbia Law School

On-Campus $22,942
Off-Campus $22,942

What Are The Housing Options At  Columbia Law School

On-Campus Yes
Off-Campus Yes

BAR Passage Rates At Columbia Law School

Reporting 75.2%
First Time Takers 471
Columbia Average 92.4%
New York State Average 78.6%
National Average 54%

Application Deadlines

When will the Columbia Law application materials be available?

Columbia Law application materials are available online at any time. You can learn more about accessing the necessary application materials right here.

When does Columbia Law begin accepting applications?

Columbia Law will begin accepting applications for the next academic session on September 1st. The cutoff date for applications is February 15th.

How are applications to Columbia Law submitted?

Columbia Law School applications must be submitted through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Prospective students must follow a 9-step process in order to submit their application online. The application process is outlined on the LSAC website.

Does Columbia Law have an “early admission” or an “early decision” process?

Yes, Columbia Law does have an “early decision” process. In order to qualify, students must apply no later than November 15th. Early decisions are usually made sometime in December. You can learn more about early decision applications on Columbia Law’s website.

How much is the application fee and when is the deadline?

Application Fee $85
Early Decision Deadline November 15th
Regular Decision Deadline February 15th

Does Columbia Law grant interviews?

Yes, Columbia Law does grant interviews as part of its traditional application process. Applicants accepted by the Office of Admissions will receive an invitation via email to arrange an interview.

Employment After Columbia Law School

Median Salary Private Sector $172,000
Median Salary Public Sector $60,000

As one of the top law schools in the nation, Columbia Law has produced thousands of successful graduates. Many Columbia Law alumni go on to become politicians, judges, entrepreneurs, and successful trial lawyers. While not every graduate at Columbia will work in law, the vast majority do. Let’s look at a few of the most recent job statistics for Columbia Law alumni:

  • Employment Status – Due in part to Columbia Law’s prestigious history, almost 98% of alumni find employment within a year of graduating.
  • Location – Approximately 73% of Columbia Law alumni remain in New York following graduation. The District of Columbia is the next most popular destination, with about 6% of graduates finding work in the nation’s capital.
  • Job Sector – The vast majority of Columbus Law students go on to work in the private sector. Approximately 81% of graduates work at a law firm, 16% work in the public sector, and the remainder work for businesses,  academia, or are self-employed.
  • Salary – Law firm employees report the highest salaries by far, followed by business, and then the public sector (government) employees. Salaries for Columbia Law students range from $58,000-$190,000.

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