Top 5 Law Schools in North Carolina

Are you looking for a great place to study law? Are you a little overwhelmed by the wide range of choices? That’s normal – after all, this is a big decision. And, to be fair, the United States has a wide range of schools to choose from.

To make things a little easier, we’ve created a series of articles reviewing the top law schools in each state. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 5 law schools in North Carolina. If you want to look at schools in a different state, be sure to check our other articles as well.

  1. Duke University School of Law: Located in Durham.
  2. University of North Carolina School of Law: Located in Chapel Hill.
  3. Wake Forest University School of Law: Located in Winston-Salem.
  4. Elon University School of Law: Located in Greensboro.
  5. North Carolina Central University School of Law: Located in Durham.

These are all American Bar Association-accredited law schools. If you graduate from one of these five schools, you can take the bar exam in any state in the Union.

Duke University School of Law

  • Ranking: 10.
  • Bar Passage Rates: 92.7 percent.
  • Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $180,000.
  • Acceptance Rate: 10 percent.
  • SAT Range: 1,380 to 1,540.
  • ACT Range: 31 to 35.

Ranking as one of the top 10 universities in the country means that Duke can be very picky. You’ll need to bring your A-game plus a lot more. The university turns down 9 out of 10 applications, so competition for the available spots is high.

It’s a prestigious college with an active social scene. Greek life and sports are important here. But don’t be fooled, it is a high-pressure environment.

University of North Carolina School of Law

  • Ranking: 34
  • Bar Passage Rates: 94 percent.
  • Post-Graduation Salaries: $51,500 to $130,000.
  • Acceptance Rate: 24 percent.
  • SAT Range: 1,270 to 1,460.
  • ACT Range: 28 – 33.

This public university is quite large, with around 18,400 students. The campus is lively, with a diverse range of people to interact with. There are a good number of social activities to take part in. It’s pretty easy to make friends here.

Sports are very important, but Greek life is not. Students must take care to balance their social life and studies. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the fun social events and neglect your work.

The academic standards at this school are very high. The competition for acceptance is exceptionally high, so prepare well. The UNC School of Law is one of the most affordable schools on our list.

Wake Forest University School of Law

  • Ranking: 32.
  • Bar Passage Rates: 86 percent.
  • Post-Graduation Salaries: $48,561 to $75,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 28 percent.
  • SAT Range: 1,270 to 1,410.
  • ACT Range: 28 to 32.

Wake Forest comes in a close second to Duke. It’s also a highly prestigious private college. Admission standards here are a little lower than Duke, but not by much. It’s a highly competitive admissions process.

The student body is just over 5,000 people, so it’s a smaller college. Be prepared for an active social life. Greek life and sports are extremely important here.

Some think that the school is elitist. That’s not a sentiment shared by most graduates, though.

Elon University School of Law

  • Ranking: 146.
  • Bar Passage Rates: 73 percent.
  • Post-Graduation Salaries: $49,778 to $55,000.
  • Acceptance Rate: 67 percent.
  • SAT Range: 1,140 to 1,330.
  • ACT Range: 25 to 29.

This private school has been at the center of controversy from time to time. The bar pass rates were nothing short of dismal in past years. They have, however, tightened things up. Their bar pass rate in 2019 jumped to 73 percent as a result.

We’ve included them on this list because they do offer an excellent education. The campus is of moderate size, with just over 6,000 students.

Greek life is big among the female section of the student body. Sports are also considered necessary. The fees are higher than average, but there’s less competition for admission here.

North Carolina Central University School of Law

  • Ranking: 146
  • Bar Passage Rates: 75.5 percent.
  • Post-Graduation Salaries: $50,000 to $58,000.
  • Acceptance Rate: 83 percent.
  • SAT Range: 900 to 1,030.
  • ACT Range: 17 to 20.

Don’t let the overall ranking here fool you; this is a great school. Their entry requirements are a lot lower than for the other schools, but they have a bar passage rate of 75.5 percent. That speaks to the high standard of education at the law school.

It’s a school with a proud tradition of education. It is historically a black school but is now open to a diverse range of students. Graduates describe the experience at the school as unique, friendly, and multi-cultural. Sports and Greek life are important here.

The tuition is reasonable, and it’s relatively easy to gain acceptance.

Which School is Right for Me?

One thing that North Carolina does have is a lot of great law schools. Out of our top two, it was difficult to pick a clear winner. At the end of the day, we went with Duke because it’s the most prestigious of the top three.

That said, Duke better watch out, the University of North Carolina Law School has a higher bar passage rate. It looks like it’s edging its way up the rankings as well. Wake Forest does rank higher than North Carolina, but how could we ignore an almost 95 percent bar pass rate?

The last two schools on our list don’t seem that impressive when weighed against the top three. But, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that they also offer excellent results. Considering the lower entry requirements for North Carolina Central University School of Law, the bar pass rate is spectacular.

Each school offers a different experience. If you want a big and bold campus, the University of North Carolina provides the largest student body. The other schools offer smaller class sizes and more individualized attention.

Which option is best for you? That depends on how well you’ve prepared for college entrance. Duke is notoriously difficult to get into, so that might not be an option other.

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